The first time I visited the Blessed Sacrament, I was eight years old. I did it in the context of the preparation for my First Communion. The sister who was preparing us told us with much reverence and passion that inside the tabernacle was the door to Heaven. At eight, I took this explanation literally and I thought that when I opened that small door I could cross into a marvelous world: Heaven. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the closed Tabernacle with a consecrated host inside. I didn’t understand a thing.
This doesn’t only happen at that age. Trying to understand that a piece (almost insignificant) of bread is the very body of Christ isn’t an easy leap and, at the same time, is something which leaves you astonished. To go and adore the Blessed Sacrament, especially before you’ve made it a habit, might not be that simple. We don’t understand, we get bored, we don’t know what to say, we go in briefly, we make a quick sign of the Cross and we go back out.
If we only knew the enormous grace of Eucharistic Adoration, we would spend entire days on our knees before the altar. To adore the Blessed Sacrament is to accompany Jesus Himself in the moment of His sacrifice for humanity. He taught us so, through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (with whom this devotion started): “Every night, between Thursday and Friday, I will make you a partaker of that sorrow unto death which it was My will to suffer in the Garden of Olives.”
Thus, today we want to provide you a brief guide to visiting and adoring the Blessed Sacrament. We recommend you bring a Bible with you, or get a prayer book, or any saint’s spiritual book.
1. Initial greeting (enter in silence)
Enter in silence and reverence to the Church or the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Kneel down on both knees before Him and make the sign of the Cross. Remember that it is God who is substantially present in that piece of bread.
2. Prayer of preparation
After settling down on one of the pews or prayer stool, kneel and make a prayer to prepare your heart. It can be spontaneously made by yourself or taken from some prayer book. We recommend this prayer
“Oh Sweet Jesus who, hidden under the Eucharistic veil, piously listen to our humble pleadings, and present them to the Highest’s throne, receive now the ardent desires of our hearts. Enlighten our minds, reaffirm our wills, revitalize our constancy, and ignite in our hearts the flame of a saintly enthusiasm, so that, surpassing our littleness and conquering every difficulty, we may offer you tribute worthy of your greatness and majesty, and suitable to our longings and saint wishes. Amen.”
3. Spiritual reading and meditation
You can choose a passage right then and there, but it’s also convenient that you read the day’s Gospel, or pick a reflection from your prayer book. After this reflection, stay in silence and meditate on what you just read. It’s important that in this moment you try to silence your mind and heart, reject distracting thoughts, and listen to what God is telling you. Silence is the door that predisposes the soul for listening. If you read a scene from the Gospel, you can imagine it and meditate about what it tells you, about how you participate in it, and about the feelings and thoughts that this reading arouses in your heart.
This is a very useful personal practice. You can keep a diary especially for the Blessed Sacrament where you write some meditations about what you just thought and felt. This is a memory aid for your spiritual life and it reminds you of the moments you’ve just experienced and the insights gained therein, before God Himself. Being able to go back to our encounters with the Lord strengthens us when times are hard.
After your meditation, you can pray the Rosary, the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), another prayer about the Eucharist, or the day’s Liturgy of the Hours (the latter according to the time of your visit).
6. Do a Spiritual Communion or a Chaplet Prayer
In the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, you can receive Him in your heart by doing a spiritual communion. This form of (small-c) communion is always something to do if by some impediment you can’t receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist (for example you have failed to keep the 1-hr minimum fast, or are not in a state of grace). Here is one possible prayer to say in this instance (though it’s not the only one, there are many others you can consult). After the spiritual communion, you can do some variation of the Chaplet of the Five Wounds, which consists of praying five times the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be in memory of the five wounds of Christ Crucified, and an additional Our Father for the Pope.
“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”
7. Final prayer (the Divine Praises)
Once you finish with your Adoration, offer a departing prayer – it can be your own spontaneous aspiration, or again something your prayer book. Give thanks for the lived moment, offer your Adoration for someone in need and ask for your intentions. You can also pray the Divine Praises, which are a set of prayers that have the purpose of fighting against the world’s evil:
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.
Additional resources for your visit to the Blessed Sacrament:
Praying With the Lord in Front of the Blessed Sacrament (brochure from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas).
St. Alphonsus Liguouri’s Visits To The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary*
(*Amazon Affiliate Link and our policy)
Original artwork for Catholic-Link by Cris.
This post originally appeared here for Catholic-Link Spanish. It has been translated into English by María Isabel Giraldo.