“I will lure her into the desert and speak to her heart,” says the Lord. (Hosea 2:14.) In a world that often seems like an unpleasant mardis gras, it is easy to see why God would want to call us aside for some quiet time with Him where He can be close to us and we can reconnect with Him. We can find that desert intimacy at Adoration where He waits for us in silence on the altar.
During Lent we often hear the suggestion that we deepen our relationship with Jesus by visiting the Blessed Sacrament. “But what are we supposed to do in there,” you may wonder. The thought of going into a quiet chapel to sit in silence for an hour, which is customary for the scheduled shifts of Perpetual Adoration,* can be intimidating. Even five or ten minutes of sitting still and being “unproductive,” and “un-entertained,” can be overwhelming to the rushed, busy, distracted human being of our day.
I believe I have mentioned to you, Dear Reader, that I have bad AD/HD. So I understand about this concern. If this bad AD/HD can enjoy Adoration, anybody can! If you are unfamiliar with Adoration, or would like to find ways to make it more meaningful for Jesus and for yourself, I say, “Come and see.”
Walking into a Eucharistic chapel is like coming out of the noise and bustle of life as we usually experience it, and stepping into another world. Even if you can still hear cars going by outside or people talking on the sidewalk, there is a kind of silence here that is like a quiet heart. Here is a reverent, sacred silence. Yet it is a friendly, nurturing silence that is not intimidating. It is peaceful.
There are other people here, some kneeling, one or two reading, some praying the rosary. There is usually at least one person sitting very still, lost in obviously deep prayer. Occasionally you might see someone writing; (it is probably me.) Whatever we are doing, we are all here for one thing. If you are here very long you will notice each person look up now and then or gaze toward the altar with a look of comfortable, simple love.
What we are looking at is the exposed Blessed Sacrament, Jesus physically present, as He said, as the Bread of Life that has become His true Flesh, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, waiting humbly on the altar for us to adore, love, and spend time with.
What this looks like, is a large Communion Host set in a gold stand with a round window in it so the consecrated Host can be seen. This stand is called a “monstrance.” I have very rarely seen one that was not designed to look like the sun with its rays, encircling the Host. This is not just an artistic representation of the way we feel about the Lord in the Eucharist, but a reminder that He shines on everyone like the sun pours out its light over the earth. We are here to sit at the feet of Jesus, to love Him and to listen to Him. We believe that to do this is a participation in His grace shining out on the world.
We are here, then, to catch these rays, not just for ourselves, but for the good of the Church and of the world, and, because Our Lord wants us to be with Him.
“Could you not keep watch with Me one hour?”
Yes. I can.
And I will try not to fall asleep or be everywhere at once. I will just be here. If my mind runs off, I will bring it quietly back to Your kind and holy presence.
I often say that if you sit in the sun you will get a tan whether you are thinking about the sun or not, and that, similarly, God’s power is never limited by our own perception of how “well” we are praying. I also think it is important to come as we are to God and to be natural. However, I would rather not ignore my Friend who I know loves me. I would rather give Him my best hour.
That doesn’t mean I am not going to worry about errands I have to run later, or wonder what my cat is doing. I might find myself writing a letter in my mind or be at home cooking dinner in my imagination. All those distractions are going to happen and more. Even if you don’t have AD/HD, it is still natural for the mind to act like a car that drives itself where it wants down every road of interest, no matter where you try to steer it. However, the mind is capable of behaving and it actually can, “follow the highlighted route,” at our command. We can train our minds over time and get better at driving them ourselves in peace, whatever the scenery.
One way I have found to keep myself consciously in the context of the holy, and to be the most available to the Lord, is to have a routine.
That sounds unromantic, I know. In my experience, however, having a plan allows me to be a “closed garden, a fountain sealed,” for Jesus. (Song of Songs 4:12) My little routine is just the wall around the garden, a gate I can close so I can be with Him, and be receptive to what He wants to do with our time together.
It helps to have a bag ready of things you will use while there. I bring my Bible, my journal, a pen, a rosary, my breviary, and maybe some other spiritual reading. Some books are designed specifically for use at Adoration, and those can be helpful, especially at first.
I have also brought books of great religious art along with me to ponder.
My Adoration Routine:
- Settling down and getting centered. (1-3 minutes)
- Praying a structured prayer of some kind, such as the Liturgy of the Hours or a bit of the rosary.(10 minutes or so.)
- Reading and Writing: Reading the Scriptures or some other spiritual reading and/ or writing in my prayer journal until I hear the church bells toll the half hour. (Probably around 15 minutes)
- At that time I will put everything away and just sit in silent prayer until the bells toll the hour. (About 30 minutes)*
- I like to then kneel and close my prayer time with the Divine Praises. (45 seconds or so)
- Before I leave, I try to make some small act of devotion to Mary. I might kiss my scapular, or just wave and smile at her picture or statue, or I might pray a Hail Mary. This is how I kiss our mom goodbye before I go. (A Hail Mary: 15 seconds.)
This plan is always flexible and allows room for inspiration. There are also other plans you could try out. Everyone is different. When my daughters were growing up, we often went to Adoration as a family. I would ask them, as we got into the car afterward, how their prayer time had gone. Once, Maire, my oldest, said, “I wrote a letter to Mother Mary while we were there.” I asked Roise, my littlest, then a first grader, “What did you do for Adoration?” “Oh,” she said, “I just told Jesus funny jokes.”
Many and varied are the ways to Adore.
Come and see.
P.S. If you are not Catholic, come on over if you want, and don’t be scared. It is quite nice. We love to have you with us, and no one will bother you. Just come sit down and pray in your own way, or if you don’t pray, just come be still. Stay a few seconds, or much longer. Enjoy the peace and perhaps a sense of the sacred in life. Come and go as you like. This is a great gift we would love to share with you. (Though we won’t notice when you come in and nobody will say anything to you, don’t be offended. We are glad you are here. We just aren’t the kind to try to get your number and ask you questions. Plus we are trying to be quiet and stuff. Come and “just be.”) If you don’t know where to go for Adoration, call any Catholic church and someone will tell you.
If you are Catholic, I hope you take advantage of one of the greatest riches of the Church, Jesus with us in the Eucharist, especially during this time of grace we call Lent.
*For more about what Adoration is, see http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/pea/define.htm
*If you are interested in what I am doing during that silent 30 minutes it is probably a lot like what I described in my article Five Minute Mystic http://www.austincnm.com/index.php/2013/07/five-minute-mystic/#.UxdiE46WRSU
A good Adoration book: Come to Me In The Blessed Sacrament: A Prayer Book Of Ten Different Eucharistic Holy Hours For Private Meditation by Fr. Vincent Martin Lucia and Domingo Gutierrez