Eucharistic Adoration

As Catholics, we believe that during the consecration of the Mass the bread and wine become the body, blood, human soul, and divinity of Christ.  While it continues to look like bread and wine, it is in fact now our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is physically present to us in the Eucharist, and he remains physically present in the Eucharist.  (Some denominations hold that he is only present as long as the worship service lasts.)

During Eucharistic Adoration, a consecrated host is placed inside a vessel called a monstrance.  The monstrance is then displayed on an altar in order for the faithful to physically spend time with Jesus.  We know that Jesus is always with us, just as we know that when our child is in the other room that she still exists even though we can’t see her.  But Eucharistic Adoration allows us to experience Jesus in a physical form that we can see.

monstrance

It’s probably been close to two years since my priest suggested that I try going to Eucharistic Adoration.  My church has a small chapel devoted to Eucharistic Adoration, and every Friday night there is a Holy Hour in the Church with Eucharistic Adoration in the church and the sacrament of Reconciliation.  There were many weeks when I intended to go, but something would inevitably come up that kept it from happening.  I’ll be honest I was beginning to suspect I was under spiritual attack to keep me from going.  It starts at eight, but at 8:15 this past Friday night I told my husband that I had to go to adoration.

I got to the church at about 8:30.  I really didn’t know what to expect other than the monstrance because I had never, ever been to Eucharistic Adoration before.  There were about 25 people spread out in the pews of the church.  Some were sitting, and some were kneeling.  And then there was a long line for confession with about another 15 people.  Deacon Dave was sitting in the first pew wearing some special vestments, and he also had a thurible burning incense.

thurible on its stand

From what I had read, it is recommended that you sometimes bring something to adoration like a Bible, prayer book, or other suitable reading to meditate on at first.  It’s suggested that you take some time to pray.  But most importantly you should take some time, try to clear your mind, and open yourself to what God has to say to you.  After all, how often do we keep up a running commentary to God without letting Him get a word in edgewise?

In my haste I had run out the door without anything to read.  I noticed that several people had little pamphlet books, and I wondered if it was something they brought or if there had been something available in the narthex that I had completely missed when I entered the building.  So I just alternated between sitting and kneeling in my pew, as I alternated between praying and trying to remain silent and clear my mind.

Probably at about quarter ’til nine, the deacon stood up and did a series of ritual actions that included adding more incense to the thurible, using the thurible to bless the altar, and lifting the monstrance with his hands wrapped in a special shawl.  Then he led everyone through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

While I had heard the story behind this more recent Catholic devotion, I had never experienced it before.  I was really clueless about how it worked.  While I didn’t know some of the unique prayers and I certainly didn’t have my Rosary beads with me, I was able to join in on the prayers I did know and pick up on the prayer you say for each decade of beads.  In the past, I’ve always kind of had mixed feelings about saying the traditional Rosary, but I really felt at peace with the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Maybe this was because it seemed less laborious than the traditional Rosary, which has longer prayers and so many more things to remember for meditation.

After the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the deacon finished up with some more prayers, including one that ended with repeating “Jesus, I trust in you.”  That mantra really caught my attention as a simple prayer to repeat throughout the day, especially to counter-act the negative mantras that sometimes go through my head.  Then he picked up the monstrance and led everyone in singing “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” as he processed out of the church to return the monstrance to the adoration chapel.

Then everyone, except the people still in line for confession, began to leave.  I liked the idea that the priests might stay there for as long as it took to offer Reconciliation for everyone in line, because the other confession time is an hour before Mass on Saturday evenings and I know from experience that they don’t always have time for everyone in line to have a chance.

While I didn’t experience some super-great revelation from God at Eucharistic Adoration, like I’ve read about from the personal accounts of others, I found small revelations, like my new admiration for the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I’ve got a new God-centered mantra to fight back against some of the demons that plague me.  And later when I got home, had to start immediately getting everyone ready for bed, and began to lament that I had been running all day without any “time for myself”, I realized that the time I spent at the Holy Hour was time for myself.  It was just a way more productive time for myself than I would have had screwing around on Facebook.  It was liking eating a filling dinner at a quiet restaurant instead of gorging myself on a box of Swiss cake rolls on front of the television.  I definitely plan on attending Holy Hour as often as possible from now on.

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