As most of you are aware, this past month—in an attempt to regain some ground of normalcy in the midst of this crazy pandemic!—Fr. Trummer, Deacon Kevin, and I reintroduced our normal parish Adoration times. At St. Thomas, we have a monthly hour of Adoration on the First Saturday of every month, beginning at 8:30 am. At Our Lady of Lourdes, we expose the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday morning at 9 am and repose it at 7 pm.
Both are wonderful opportunities to commit ourselves—and our parish—to spending intentional time away from the busyness and distractions of daily life to be with our Lord, who asked His disciples, “Could you not watch with me for one hour?” Certainly, with things being as they are, our world could use our prayers!
But all of this begs the question: what is Adoration and what do I do for a whole hour (or half hour, or even five minutes) before our Lord? (Don’t worry—we’ ve all thought it!) What we commonly call “Adoration” is actually properly termed “Eucharistic Exposition,” which consists of exposing the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance (from the Latin monstrare, which means “to show”). The faithful are invited to pray in silence in the presence of Jesus, which—admittedly—can be a little intimidating if you’ve never done it before.
So what is “proper” in spending an hour with our Lord, exposed at the altar? Well, the short answer is: prayer! However that looks for you. Some might find it easy to recollect themselves, sitting quietly in the Lord’s presence. Meditation, most simply put, is just being with the Lord, relating your joys and your sorrows to Him, delighting in Him even as He delights in you. St. John Vianney often saw a farmer sitting in the back of his parish church, spending hours before the Eucharist. When he finally worked up the nerve to ask him what he did during all that time before our Lord, the farmer simply replied, “I look at Him and He looks at me!” Adoration isn’t any more complicated than that!
But for some (and I would argue most, especially as our culture has devalued quiet and calm in favor of the fast-paced and attention-getting), this is not an easy practice. Conversing with our Lord should be our primary focus, no doubt. But here are a few tips for when the silence becomes challenging and you’re tempted to quit—a few spiritual practices which can be an aid to your prayer:
Many find it helpful to bring a list of people or things they have promised to pray for. If you’re an extrovert and external processor like me, you might find it helpful to write your prayers in the form of a journal (for me, at least, this practice usually keeps my mind from wandering to my to-do list or the otherwise trivial things that pop into my mind and helps me focus on praying at length on one particular person, situation, passage of Scripture, or grace). Bringing a Bible and practicing the age-old art of lectio divina [“Ok Google: what is lectio divina?”] can be another way of getting in touch with God through His revealed Word. Spiritual reading is also a great way to spend a part of your holy hour, engaged in the lives of the saints or reading a classic on prayer or the spiritual life.
Honestly, how you spend your time in Adoration is secondary. What is primary is that you spend time with our Lord, who desires us no matter how distracted we come and pursues us no matter how far we stray. When I was in college (before I entered seminary), a priest once told me: if you want to be holy, spend an hour in Adoration every day and come to daily Mass; it will change your life. I can honestly say that the effects were not immediate or even perceptible to me at the time. But the Lord did in fact change my life. He has a way of doing that, if we let Him.
Keep spreading joy!