Image by Willuconquer from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.o
Christ invited the people He came across in His ministry to, “Come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 9:59). Some took Him up on the invitation and their lives were forever changed (Mark 1:17). Some, sadly, walked away, never fully realizing the potential in that invitation (John 6:66).
Today, Jesus is still inviting us to “Come, follow Me.”
Perhaps you are thinking, “I have never heard this invitation from Christ. I am not even sure that I believe in Him. I have been to church, given alms or donations, and volunteered, but I have never heard His voice.”
Do you ever wonder why?
Our Need for Silence
There is a profound awe and humility to the Divine—with Him there is no need for spoken words. The invitation He offers is more heart to heart. And yet, trying to pray can be so challenging in this modern age. The world can infiltrate our spirits with a cacophony of sound. Making prayer a priority in light of so many other requests on our daily schedule can seem insurmountable.
Initially, we have a very natural need to hear ourselves think. Because of this we know we need to take time away to destress, focus on ourselves, and take advantage of a different pace. And when we declutter our brains a bit, we often have clearer thoughts about those things we buried under all of our day-to-day worries. We realize that these thoughts are important to us; we just have not made proper time for them.
We think we do not have the luxury of taking time for thoughts such as: Where is my life going? Am I doing the right thing? Should I do something else or should I be satisfied here? Or maybe there are worries related to your health, or that of a family member. Maybe our job and/or employer or colleagues are challenging us in unexpected ways, and we have no answers. Perhaps there is something in our marriage or a relationship that is weighing on us. These big questions nag at the back of our minds, sometimes to the point of wearing us down without our realizing it.
We tend to reach for other things to tamp down on this discomfort (e.g., food, drink, shopping, social media scrolling). But if we could just give ourselves a bit of quiet time, we might find clarity. It might eventually be revealed to us that God wants to be a part of our life. Even a part of the not-so-glamorous side of us that is filled with longings, doubts, worries, and all those ‘less-than’ feelings in our hearts.
A powerful answer to this need is within our grasp if we have courage and make just a little time. Time to wait patiently to hear God’s voice within our hearts, to have a relationship with Him. This answer can happen in Adoration. Keep at it for a while and it will happen. I promise you.
Adoration: A Gift of Presence
In Adoration we spend time with Christ before His Eucharistic Face in the Blessed Sacrament. You might be thinking. “I am not even sure I believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. ” That is okay, you are not the first, and you will not be the last to struggle with this. In fact, I think it is especially for those who are struggling in this aspect of the Catholic faith that Adoration can be most powerful.
Think about it. Catholic traditions have come and gone, and the manner in which we celebrate the Mass has withstood some changes. But since the first Eucharist (the Last Supper), this Sacrament has been the one constant in the Catholic Church for over two thousand years.
The Eucharist has not changed. Yet, people have struggled to believe, to understand, to accept the very words Jesus said: “This is My Body, this is My Blood….”
Again, it is not mandatory that you have this all figured out when you first come to Adoration. It is enough that you come and spend a few minutes in focused silence. In time you will find that what has been a roadblock for you, be it the reality of the Eucharist or something else, will seem less so.
How to Enter into Adoration
So now that we have a reason to come to Adoration, just what are the steps to practicing it?
Come into the Adoration space and know that this is an invitation to silence. This silence is the kind that should not be punctured with extraneous noise. Park those car keys in your pocket or purse before entering Adoration. Open the door carefully and do not let it slam behind you. If you can, take off your coat before coming in and then quietly lay it on your seat. Genuflect if you can (one or both knees) before the Blessed Sacrament, or bow deeply if your knees are not comfortable in genuflection.
Take a seat and get settled in. It can take ten minutes or more to shed distractions and focus, but ten minutes may be all you have. That is fine. In these visits spend your time any way you want. Read, perform mental prayers like a Rosary or Chaplet, or my favorite, just look at the Host in the monstrance.
Gaze at Jesus: He is gazing at you! Try to wrap your head around the idea that Our Lord loves each human being on this planet so much that after His death and resurrection, He just had to find another way to stay with us. To practice such an extended act of humility over the centuries, He must deeply love us. He is actually here with us! He promised He would be with us until the end of the age. And He is still here in the Eucharist.
Why did He make such a promise? What reason do we still have for Him after the gift of His sacrificial death? Why should He remain among mortals in such a humble way? These are the questions that will move you and me to deeper thoughts way beyond the ten minutes we might have in Adoration.
If you are working through a problem, and even if you do not have a strong belief in the Eucharist, you can still pray and ask for the grace and strength of a stronger faith, as well as help with your problem. Jesus is waiting to be invited into your life. He will not barge in. Again, His humility is an invitation that works both ways. He invites us to walk with Him, and He waits for our invitation asking Him to come closer to us. This is a relationship imbued with consent and respect. We have nothing to be afraid of, and every reason to trust and to hope.
Mentally place your concerns at the foot of the altar as you prepare to leave. Set them there even if you have been distracted the entire time you have been in the chapel. Even if you feel you did not pray well. Just place those concerns at His Feet and feel free to go. Do not be surprised if you begin to feel a measure of peace upon leaving Adoration!
Building the Habit of Adoration
I hope your first few visits will give you the courage to continue. Keep coming back. Do not worry if you do not have more time. Come as often as you can, for as long as you can. Some days you might only have five minutes, others a half hour. God’s power is not limited to human time measured by the sweeping hands on a clock. It is more important that we build a habit of turning to God.
As the habit of Adoration grows in us, we will be able to grow our prayer experience beyond what’s pressing immediately in our lives to an ever-growing awareness that includes the concerns of those beyond us. A prayer life that flows is one where prayer becomes a part of us, drawing us into a relationship with the Divine, so that our very existence is spent in this relationship.
We will begin to see that we are never alone.
Serafina’s perfect day swings between teaching loud middle schoolers and finding peace in an adoration chapel. A strong cup of Colombian coffee, a bite of Swiss chocolate, and the music of George Michael are the fuels that keep her going. A daily Eucharist makes everything possible.