In part one of “The Beginner’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration,” I laid out the fascinating history behind the practice of Adoration. In this second part, we will delve into the practical aspects and application of Adoration.
The Code Canon Law encourages the faithful to visit the Blessed Sacrament and lays out the prescription by which this should be carried out. (see Book IV: The Sanctifying Office of the Church Can. 897, 898, and 934-944). Visits may be as simple as making a quick trip to the sanctuary to say a short prayer before the Tabernacle to making a weekly commitment to spend an hour or more in prayer before the Sacrament of the Altar.
Opportunities for Adoration can be quite varied. A key feature of most spiritual retreats is time spent in Eucharistic Adoration. Many parishes offer 40-Hours Devotions and Benediction at least once a year. Other parishes might have regularly scheduled Adoration every week, and still, others offer Perpetual Adoration. If your own parish does not offer Adoration, a good resource for finding a parish that does is masstimes.org which has a tab for Adoration at the top of the webpage.
In a retreat or Adoration and Benediction situation Adoration will often be guided and offer public prayer as well as hopefully have a length of time for silent prayer and meditation. Youth retreats, in particular, are likely to offer dynamic, and emotionally powerful experiences in Adoration; appealing to many youth. Adoration in a group setting, such as a retreat can be a wonderful way to get started in the devotion and offers a sense of community as well as some direction in praying.
Many people, including yours truly, prefer the quiet solitude of private time in Adoration. Regular time spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament can be an incredibly enriching and rewarding endeavor. In fact, the Saints have had much to say on the subject.
“Trust all things to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Help of Christians and you will see what miracles are.” – St. John Bosco
“The Eucharist is connected with the Passion. ...To make sure that we do not forget, Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a memorial of his love … When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then, when you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
“Go and find Him when your patience and strength run out and you feel alone and helpless. Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Say to Him, ‘Jesus, you know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and you know all things. Come to my help.’ And then go, and don’t worry about how you are going to manage. That you have told God about it is enough. He has a good memory.” -St. Jeanne Jugan
“Good friends find pleasure in one another’s company. Let us know pleasure in the company of our best Friend, a Friend who can do everything for us, a friend who loves us beyond measure. Here in the Blessed Sacrament, we can talk to him straight from the heart.” -St Alphonsus de Liguori
“Gaze upon him, consider him, contemplate him, as you desire to imitate him.” -St Clare of Assisi
Once you’ve found a parish or Adoration Chapel to frequent you may wonder how does one spend an entire hour in silent prayer. There are so many ways to spend the time wisely and each one of us can find a manner which best fits our needs and personalities.
Ideas and variations that will help
First of all, let’s talk posture. When we enter the presence of Christ our King upon the altar, we should kneel down on both knees, one knee, or bow as our bodies will allow us and pay homage to Him who created us. After our greeting, one may sit in a pew, kneel, or walk about the sanctuary praying as one feels drawn to do. When our time is at an end, we should once again enter a posture of homage before leaving Our Lord.
Obviously, prayer is the manner in which we converse with Christ while we are in Adoration. This prayer can take many forms. I love this prayer written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori and I usually begin my holy hour with it:
“My Lord Jesus Christ, Who because of Your love for men remain night and day in the Blessed Sacrament, full of pity and of love, awaiting, calling and welcoming all who come to visit You, I believe that You are present here on the altar. I adore You, and I thank You for all the graces You have bestowed on me, especially for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me Your most holy Mother Mary to plead for me, and for having called me to visit You in this church.
I now salute Your most loving Heart, and that for three ends: first, in thanksgiving for this great gift; secondly, to make amends to You for all the outrages committed against You in this Sacrament by Your enemies; thirdly, I intend by this visit to adore You in all the places on earth in which You are present in the Blessed Sacrament and in which You are least honored and most abandoned.
My Jesus, I love You with my whole heart. I am very sorry for having so many times offended Your infinite goodness. With the help of Your grace, I purpose never to offend You again. And now, unworthy though I am, I consecrate myself to You without reserve. I renounce and give entirely to You my will, my affection, my desires and all that I possess. For the future, dispose of me and all I have as You please.
All I ask of You is Your holy love, final perseverance and that I may carry out Your will perfectly. I recommend to You the souls in Purgatory, especially those who had the greatest devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I also recommend to You all poor sinners.
Finally, my dear Savior, I unite all my desires with the desires of Your most loving Heart; and I offer them, thus united, to the Eternal Father, and beseech Him, in Your name and for love of You, to accept and grant them.”
Another method of prayer I find quite effective is to move purposefully through ACTS (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). Spend several minutes praising God and whispering words of adoration (here I picture the sweet little angel from one of my little guy’s books who bows his head and loves God as hard as he can). Next, do an examination of your conscience and ask Him to show you areas in which you’ve sinned or that you need to work on and then ask Him for forgiveness and the grace to overcome. Contemplate the many gifts you’ve been given and answers to prayer you’ve received and thank God for His goodness, graciousness, and providence. Finally, offer up any prayer intentions you might have including those intentions others have asked you to pray for. This would also be a good time to pray for the Pope, bishops, priests, and the church as well as our civil leaders.
Another way in which to pray during your holy hour could be to use favorite formulaic prayers, such as the Rosary, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, The Stations of the Cross (here you might walk about the Stations in your parish). Say these prayers slowly, deliberately, and try meditating upon a particular attribute of God or scene from the life of Christ. You might also read a specific book of prayers. My favorite is The Pieta.
Probably the most difficult type of prayer (at least it is for me) is meditative or contemplative prayer, but often it is the most rewarding. Pray for the grace to quiet your mind and wait for God to speak to you. Too often we are too busy doing all the talking, we miss out on the fact that this should be a two-way conversation. He wants to speak to us even more than we could ever desire to speak to Him. Let Him speak to you in this precious silence.
Spiritual reading can certainly effectively fill a portion of a holy hour. One might read the Bible, possibly the Mass readings for the day and reflect upon those verses. Recently I wrote a post with a sizable list of books one might choose for spiritual reading. You can find my recommendations here. Catholic Sista contributor, Lynette Bryant, reviewed 100 Holy Hours for Women here. This lovely book would be another great choice for taking to Adoration.
Journaling is something I’ve found to be quite helpful during my visits to the Sacrament of the Altar. I purchased a blank bound journal and write in it for a good portion of my hour. I do a weekly examen, write intentions, make a gratitude list, inscribe Bible verses I love, and copy prayers or writings of the Saints in my journal. I also look back at past writing to remind myself of what I’ve written and to see if there have been patterns of sin in my life I was unaware of or particular answers to prayers. If a blank journal is too daunting, you can find lovely journals which guide you in Lectio Divina or have pre-written scripture reflections.
We are blessed to belong to a parish which offers Adoration during the day three days a week. Three years ago I made the commitment during Lent to attend Adoration during the 3 o’clock hour on Fridays. It has become a valued and indispensable part of my prayer life and I look forward to my hour every week. It has born some wonderful spiritual consolation and fruits in my personal walk with the Lord. I write this as encouragement to each of you, dear sisters, to make a commitment to Adoration as you are able. Know He is there on the altar waiting for you, His beloved. Go to Him.