(Photo source: www.convertjournal.com)
by Kathleen Blease
During this Lenten season, Catholic parishes throughout the world are encouraged to make available Eucharistic Adoration. In fact, I just attended an Adoration last night. But this was an unusual one. Usually, Adoration is done in complete silence. But this day, the bishop joined the teenagers in the diocese for a special Adoration that included song, reflections, and talks meant to encourage the youngsters to live out their appointed vocation.
I couldn't have imagined sitting before the Blessed Sacrament while singing along with a rock band; that is, until last night. Very new indeed. Yet, somehow it was also very appropriate. The band, called Catholic FX, made music that was sweetly prayerful and moving. I wish I could convey to you the beauty of the bishop's procession--his vestments, miter, and staff; the altar boys, the other priests in Lenten vestments, and the crucifix. The moravian tile under foot. The brass chandeliers overhead. The stainglass windows sparkling in the evening sun. The three hundred teens singing out their hearts, gently raising their voices. And all of us facing the altar; at center, the tabernacle, from which the Blessed Sacrament would emerge for our adoration.
But as I said, Eucharistic Adoration is usually attended in complete silence, without such splendor. Its peace and the presence of Christ is what is magnificent. George Sipe, from Convert Journal, wrote an excellent post explaining the basics of Adoration. Click here to read his entire post. It would be worthwhile for all us Catholics (perhaps especially cradle Catholics) to give it a read.
But I'd like to share with you George's personal experience at Adoration, beginning with his getting out of bed in the middle of the night to take his post. Please note his phrases, such as: prayer felt deeper, and more personal than usual, as well as express myself and discern guidance.
His experience in his words:
The guys at my Mens Fellowship table have signed up for Thursday mornings from 3:00am to 4:00am. Some have the honor regularly while others may offer as needed. Since one of the Lenten suggestions is increased prayer, I signed up for yesterday morning (my first time).
I went to bed early but it was still a small struggle to wake up at 2:20am! There was a very light rain, but virtually no traffic so the trip took little time. Outside the adoration chapel is a large sign reminding passers-by of adoration and asking for silence. A table holds a log book for guardians which I signed.
Inside the door are holy water fonts and sufficient space to genuflect before taking a seat (the chapel seats up to 35). There were 3 other people there when I arrived. Two, including Trish whom I know, were covering the prior hour and left after a while. The chapel itself is small, very quiet, beautifully designed and appointed.
For a few minutes I just took it all in, rested and focused. It is very peaceful and easy to pray. Without rush or distractions, and in the close presence of our Lord, prayer felt deeper and more personal than usual. It was easier to both express myself and to discern guidance.
After praying, I read a short article on the Luminous Mysteries (The "Mysteries of Light" introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002). Then, surprisingly, it was 4:00am. It is always amazing to me how fast time passes when praying and studying.
Tony had arrived for an hour he was covering by then, so I left and returned home. The clock read 4:30am when I turned the light off – about two hours after waking up. As I again laid in bed, in the darkness, I suddenly sensed a taste in my mouth. I recognized it as the faint taste of communion wine. Non-believers have all manner of ways to dismiss such, but I believe God speaks to, and encourages us, in many ways.
Of course, I was moved to discuss Adoration with George via email, and I asked him if he wouldn't mind sharing his emails with us. George, thank you. Here, below is our quick discussion, starting with the comment I left on George's post.
When my nonCatholic husband and I visited Rome, my husband was struck by the beautiful devotion of the Adoration, which is readily observed and made available there. It was the first time I could see the beauty through someone else's eyes. I didn't take Adoration for granted, but I had become accustomed to the fact that our Lord was waiting for us and longing for our presence. However, I was deeply moved by how much it deeply moved my husband. A man who wasn't raised in a faith, he saw immediately the intimacy and grace of the Adoration. Beautiful and powerful. Thank you for this terrific post.
Thank you Kathleen, that is a wonderful and humbling story. We are so fortunate.
I know some parishes do not have adoration. I suppose it has something to do with size or perhaps having an appropriate chapel. I sense in some cases there may be a feeling of adoration being (bizarrely) "too Catholic".
One thing that struck me was a thread in the Catholic Answers Forum discussing significant issues someone had in their local parish. The parish was taking certain liberties in Mass they should not have to apparently further a certain agenda. A suggestion offered by many was to find another parish. Specifically any parish that offered adoration would be probably be a safe bet in that area. I am not certain what to make of that but it is interesting.
Thinking about it, adoration is an opportunity to more fully live and experience our faith.
It's been my experience that many parishes don't have adoration simply because the parishioners are reluctant to sign up for sitting with our Lord during the night. Even if the pastor and the parish council are willing and enthusiastic, they still need help, which often doesn't come. I encourage people to visit the tabernacle as often as they can. While many churches need to remain locked, others have figured out ways to let parishioners into the sanctuary so they can spend time with the Lord. At my parish, for instance, the parish center has a security entry (you have to buzz to get in) which is also connected to the sanctuary. Secretaries will let you in anytime between 8:00-4:30.
Even though visiting the tabernacle is not the same, since we cannot gaze upon the invisible Lord, we are still in our Lord's presence. I don't think people take advantage of this enough. Even after Mass, people leave DURING the recessional hymn, making a B-line for the door so they can be the first one out of the parking lot. If they only knew that our precious Lord is right there waiting for them to notice Him. They need only look to the tabernacle.
George, I can't tell you how moving those moments in front of the tabernacle have been for me. One day, I sat in silence when I felt this profound presence. I looked up at the tabernacle, and there was my Lord right in front of me. I was astounded. It's hard to explain, but something tells me you would understand. You see, I didn't see him with my eyes. I saw him in detail with my heart. Beautiful and overwhelming. I couldn't move. I didn't know what to do. I only felt this profound joy. Eventually, though, I had to leave, and it felt so odd to walk out into the sunlight and the traffic and my schedule again. But then I remembered that that is what we are called to do. When I met with my husband later that day, he said, "I can tell you went to Mass today." I didn't make it to Mass, but he could tell something moved me--again. It was a special moment that remains unique to me. It will probably remain a singular moment, but I am thankful for it!
Many times, I've taken all my worries, frustrations, and anxieties to the tabernacle and offered to leave them with the Lord. And He gave me a temporary emotional relief, all the while He was also preparing to deliver the physical relief, too. We need only ask and seek.
Let's keep encouraging all our readers to spend time with our Lord at the tabernacle. Before Mass. After Mass. During the week. Let's tell them: Don't be in such a rush!!
Thanks for all you're doing, George. I love your blog. It's reminding me all the beauty that fills our hearts when we first gaze upon our Lord and embrace His Holy Church. Even us cradle Catholics have those moments of first realizations of the Truth (a true conversion that takes place in the heart), and they are good to revisit! Thanks for giving us the opportunity.
If you have the opportunity to attend Adoration, please make every effort. If not, the tabernacle can reveal our Lord to you, too. You need only take a few moments to see His guidance and enjoy the discernment that awaits you there! God bless.