One of the most fruitful yet daunting experiences in my life has been Eucharistic Adoration.
Just a few years ago, I would often marvel at how some people could sit before the Blessed Sacrament and get lost in the experience. Meanwhile, I was scratching my head trying to figure out what to do or say, whether I should kneel or sit down, and so forth.
But, rather than thinking about it as something to ‘do’ or ‘achieve,’ folks wiser than myself have shown me how to make Eucharistic Adoration more like spending time with a friend.
Jesus isn’t looking for a performance. He wants you to honestly tell Him what’s going on in your life and surrender it into His hands. For years, I mistakenly thought I needed to impress Jesus with eloquent prayers. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus points out how God appreciates the tax collector’s honest prayer far more than the Pharisee’s hollow, pious utterances (Lk 18:9-14). I’ve realized that, although God already knows what’s going on, He isn’t the type to barge in on any situation. He wants you to invite Him in. Simply lay your heart out, whether you’re there to praise and thank Him, or whether you’ve come in a time of need.
God is our father and any prayer offered to Him through Jesus will surely be heard. He wants you to share all your stories, questions and intentions, both big and small. What often inspires me is the example Jesus himself offered us of how to give it all in prayer. Just before His Passion, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for the sacrifice He was about to make. He expressed the horror He was experiencing ahead of the death He knew awaited Him, He prayed for His disciples and finally He prayed for the universal Church.
One thing I’ve been working on is to try and think like a little child, who upon returning home from school, tells his Mom about his whole day: who played with whom, what the teacher did, what he accomplished that day, the challenges he faced – he tells her everything! Don’t hold back before the Lord! Tell Him about your day, your feelings, sins and desires – ask questions, complain, cry out!
Listening is probably the hardest part for most people. Trying to hear the Lord’s voice with all the noise and busyness that’s usually in my head has taken a lot of practice (and I still often mess it up!). One thing I have learned, though, is that of all the voices in my head, the Lord usually speaks softly and lovingly. Moreover, He communicates exactly what I need to hear in that moment. Sometimes Jesus also speaks to us through Scripture. What blows me away is how often after reading that passage I have felt led to, (whether it’s that day’s gospel reading or it’s just a random Bible passage that unexpectedly popped in my head), I find it fits perfectly with what I’ve just shared with Jesus in Adoration.
Now that the Lord has spoken, we have a choice to either accept or reject what the He has revealed to us. Openness to God’s word doesn’t come easily obviously (especially when God answers our prayers in ways we sometimes don’t like!), but what encourages me is that the Lord never asks me to do something without first equipping me with the power of the Holy Spirit. So if today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!
Finally, and just as importantly, along with all we say, do or listen to during our time before the Lord, we also need to just be. There’s a reason it’s called Eucharistic ‘Adoration.’ We’re expected to actually spend some time just adoring Him (surprise!). The word ‘adore’ implies both love and respect. It calls us to worship Jesus and to love the Almighty God who has humbled himself by being present to us in a tiny host. This requires grace, but is also a habit that we must developed. We must fight the desire to leave quickly out of distraction, instead sitting still in reverence and devotion, letting the Lord take over.
Start off with spending a few minutes speaking, a few minutes listening and a few minutes just being there. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Distractions will inevitably float into your mind. Learn to listen. I once heard a priest refer to prayer before the Eucharist as a divine dialogue. It’s my heart speaking to His, but more importantly, it is His heart speaking back to mine. Trust Him – don’t expect lightning to strike you as you sit before Him. Nor should you expect your life’s problems to miraculously disappear overnight, but know He always has your back. Expect something to change with time and dedication. Something will. You will.
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