It’s been a while since I posted anything about prayer and I think it’s about time to bring the subject up again. I’ve been praying a lot lately for guidance and strength to get me through some difficult tasks, and for the health and well being of some people I know. Tonight, I’m particularly looking forward to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow when I go to church for my hour of Eucharistic Adoration, that special one hour of the week when it’s just me and Jesus.
I tend to do my best praying when I’m in church and the best time to do that, I’ve found, is during that one hour a week I set aside to pray in front of the tabernacle during Eucharistic Adoration. I look forward to the quiet time and the feeling that I am in His presence.
I mentioned in an older post that I was still getting used to praying. I still am today. I tend to ramble. I need to be more succinct so I can fit it all in when I only have a short amount of time. I have found, though, that my time in prayer is tremendously more satisfying with less pressure on myself to get it all just right when I schedule a full hour in Eucharistic Adoration once a week and take my time.
As a Catholic I believe the bread and wine, the consecrated Hosts, are actually the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ – combined, they are the real presence of Christ. The basis for this belief is found in Matthew 26:26-28:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
For me, tomorrow is not just any night of Eucharistic Adoration. It’s Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, which, in my opinion, is the most profound and satisfying way to pray. Exposition is when the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle and exposed for Adoration in a monstrance, a sculpture with a glass enclosure that reveals the Host.
When I pray during Adoration, whether it is when the Host is exposed or not (reposed), I genuflect for most of that hour. What is significant about an hour, you ask? Well, that comes from when Jesus, after agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, finds his disciples asleep. Upon waking them, He asks Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” – Matthew 26:40.
The glory of Eucharistic Adoration is best described in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, “The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it (at Mass) but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace…We must understand that in order ‘to do’, we must first learn ‘to be’, that is to say, in the sweet company of Jesus in adoration.”
When I am in adoration I always feel a sense of calmness, of comfort, and my thoughts come to me more clearly. I find when I am laying it all on the line to Jesus, or just having a casual one-sided conversation with Him, my thoughts flow much easier than at any other time of prayer. Sometimes I catch myself doing all the “talking” and I have to quiet myself down and simply try to soak up the joy of being in His presence. In author Kathleen Carroll’s words, “The best kind of friend is the one with whom you can spend time without having to say anything. You can just share the moment and enjoy each other’s company, knowing your relationship is deeper than the spoken word. That kind of silent communication is what takes place between you and Jesus when you participate in Eucharistic Adoration.”
The first couple times I spent an hour in adoration I knelt the whole time and actually spent the entire hour having a one-sided conversation with Jesus. I would run out of things to say so I would repeat myself which made me feel a little stupid. But, the more I went, the more I observed that other adorers would spend about half their time kneeling in prayer and the other half sitting and contemplating. I asked and learned that it was okay to do that. I also learned that it is okay to spend time simply gazing at the Host and soaking up being in the presence of Jesus. It is okay to sit and consider the life of Christ and what he might say to you in light of your circumstances in life. And, it is okay to just sit and listen – listen for that still small voice, that bit of clarity that will give you the direction for which you’ve been searching. It’s okay to bring your bible and read passages from it, or your prayer book from which you might recite some prayers special to the moment. It’s okay to write in your journal about how it feels, what is on your mind, and to record the specific things for which you are praying. And, I have found the more I spend that one hour a week in the presence of Jesus I tend to agree more and more with Mother Teresa’s sentiments, “The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth.”
Most adults I know are married, have a significant other, and/or have children. Imagine the sadness we would have if we couldn’t spend at least one hour a week with them, the ones we love more than any others on earth. Then, imagine the ridiculousness of accepting that it would be okay to not schedule at least one hour a week to devote to the one’s you love the most. Now convey that thought over to our relationship with Christ. Can we not spend one hour per week getting to know Him better and letting Him help us get to know ourselves better? By doing so, will we not be able to love our families and friends here on earth more fully?
If you have not had or taken the opportunity to pray during Eucharistic Adoration, I hope you give it a try. Many parishes have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration with continuous exposure of the Blessed Sacrament, and some, like ours, offer exposure one day per week with each week having a different day. I’m sure you will find your hour well spent and that it will be a special time filled with the Lord’s peace, hope and love. For those of you reading this who do participate in weekly Adoration, I pray that you will encourage others who don’t by inviting them to join you to see what they are missing. As Fr. Sean Davidson, of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, who visited our parish to help us get Perpetual Adoration up and running, said, “The adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist also leads to greater reverence at Mass, a deeper desire for personal holiness, and a stronger sense of union with the parish and the whole Church.”
Good night, God Bless, and may you find His Grace through your hour of Eucharistic Adoration.
(Eucharistic Adoration: One Hour of Peace, Hope and Love, was first published on Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Portions of this post were excerpted from Finding Grace Through Eucharistic Adoration)