“What is adoration?” “What does it mean to call it ‘perpetual’?” “Is adoration for everyone?” “And what am I even supposed to do in adoration?” I’ve heard questions like these in some form or another from various people, so I want to offer some practical tips and information about adoration.
Adoration is, simply put, time spent adoring the Lord. It means praying, speaking, worshipping “towards the Lord” – in other words, it’s a more emphatic and intentional form of prayer. Within Mass there are moments of adoration: when the priest shows the Consecrated Host and Chalice, or as one approaches the Eucharist for reception. But adoration as a specific form or posture of prayer usually means time spent outside of Mass in front of the Eucharist, either exposed in a monstrance or reposed in the tabernacle. Adoration is really meant to be a prolongation and a deepening of the worship that begins and ends at Mass, which is the Source and Summit of our Faith. Adoration doesn’t compete with the Mass: it extends it.
Adoration is meant for everyone; it isn’t just the quirk of a few “extra-holy” people. Adoration is essentially what Heaven is: adoring God for eternity. This is part of the reason we are moving towards perpetual adoration in our parish family: it will give more opportunity for all of us to spend time adoring God in the Eucharist. Perpetual means “ongoing”, and properly speaking perpetual adoration is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our plan is to offer adoration “mostly perpetually”, from 8am Monday through the day and night until 5pm on Friday. It will take all of us, and that’s good! Because all of us are called to spend at least some time in adoration during the week.
Some of us may be comfortable with adoration, and some of us may want to go but aren’t sure what to do when we get there, especially if we sign up for an entire hour. It isn’t too complicated really. To paraphrase a parishioner and his practice of adoration: “I look at him, and He looks at me… that’s enough.” But if we are not used to going to adoration it can be intimidating. The first thing is to remember that it is an hour spent with God, who loves you and wants this time with you. As for how to spend the hour, here are a few suggestions:
- Read a chapter or two of the Bible – specifically focusing on the Gospels, where we learn about Jesus.
- Read a chapter or section from a solid, Catholic book on spirituality.
- Read a chapter from a book written by a saint or about a saint.
- Be sure to check that books on spirituality are truly Catholic; not everything spiritual is good for us, and even things that say “Catholic” may not be orthodox. If uncertain, run it by your priest.
- We don’t want to spend our whole hour reading, but a little bit can prime us for prayer – spiritual reading is like “food for prayer”, because it gives us something to discuss with the Lord.
- Pray your rosary or some other devotion.
- Sit quietly and “do” nothing – this one is perhaps the hardest! It means we try to quiet our hearts and minds and open ourselves to receive whatever God may offer us in that moment.
These are just a few suggestions, and most of us usually have some combination of things we do. One thing that must never be excluded, though, is silence: you need time for silence in adoration, or it will just be the place where you do the other things you like to do. All of us know the experience of having people around who don’t seem to really notice or be listening to us – we don’t want to be that kind of person to the Lord! Talking and listening attentively to Him in our hearts is where the most progress is made spiritually. This conversation is sustained by things like spiritual reading, seeking advice, reflecting on the truths of our faith, etc. But all of that is at the service of our relationship with the Lord, which we nourish and deepen when we spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Continue to pray and be open to the Lord’s call to “spend an hour with Him” in adoration. While it is an act of gratitude and worship each of us owes Him, we always end up richer for the time we spend in His presence. May God bless you in the week ahead and may Mother Mary lead you more deeply into the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus. I remain,
Affectionately Yours in Christ,