One story told about St. John Vianney, the saintly pastor of Ars in France, concerns a farmer who sat in the back of the parish church. The saint noticed that the farmer spent long periods of time there before the Eucharist. Finally one day, the saint asked him what he did during his time of adoration. The farmer simply responded, “I look at Him and He looks at me.”
This is what eucharistic adoration is: a time for us to concentrate exclusively on Jesus present before us and allow Him to look back upon us with love.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a natural development from the celebration of the Eucharist. To receive the Eucharist at Holy Mass is an act of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoring the Blessed Sacrament outside of these times makes the times we receive Communion more spiritually mature, impacts us more deeply and allows us to experience a fuller communion with the Lord and others in our life (Pope Benedict XVI, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” #66). No wonder the Church encourages us to take time weekly for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Upon entering the place where adoration is taking place, many find their pew and genuflect. If genuflection is too difficult, one may bow toward the Blessed Sacrament. Conduct should be appropriate to visiting a church at any other time, except if the Eucharist is exposed in the monstrance. If the Eucharist is exposed, there needs to be at least one person before the Eucharist at all times. If there is no one else there and one needs to leave, there should be a procedure posted there as to what to do, as each place has slightly different procedures in this circumstance.
Once there in adoration, one may pray in many different ways:
• Prayerfully meditating on the Bible or another spiritual book
• Praying the Rosary or another devotion
• Praying using a prayer book or a set of prayers as part of a Holy Hour
• Journaling in a prayer journal
• Quietly listening to a recorded talk or spiritual music on headphones
• Spending quiet time with the Lord
There is no one way that is more correct to spend the time in adoration than another. Be flexible to what the Lord wants you to do in the time of adoration. For example, you may want to read the Bible, but when entering the adoration chapel, Jesus pulls you into silent prayer. Allow Jesus to direct the time. This will help your time in adoration to be some of the best time you will have all week.
This column appeared in a previous edition of the Review.
Father Mayo is pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in St. Louis.