NEWPORT, Mich. — As Karen Flint pulls into the St. Charles Borromeo parking lot in Newport, it’s pitch black, and the sun won’t rise for another two hours.
The main parking lot lights are turned off so as not to attract the gnats that plague the area during the summer months.
Guided by the flashlight from her cellphone, Flint navigates the steps to the door of the parish adoration chapel, types in a code, walks into a foyer and signs her name in the schedule book. Then she walks into a room where she says the Lord is waiting for her.
It’s 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and hardly a soul is awake in town while Flint is praying in a silence that reflects the calm of the world still awaiting dawn.
“It’s quiet, peaceful,” Flint told the Detroit Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Often, I just turn the lights off, sit with a candle glowing, looking at the tabernacle or Jesus on the cross. It’s all very peaceful.”
Flint and her husband started going to eucharistic adoration at their parish in 1989 when they initially signed up for the 1-2 a.m. shift.
“We had small children, so he would go or I would go. He was working a swing shift at the time, so this hour was good if he was getting off the afternoon shift at work,” she said. “If he was on a different shift, I would go, and he’d be home while the children were asleep. So it was good for us.”
Edmund Bechard of St. Charles Borromeo started going to adoration in the 1990s. He signed up for the 3 a.m. time slot because his job at Detroit Edison only gave him the middle of the night as his free time.
Bechard said adoration allows him to clear his mind and just pray in the presence of the Lord. He would usually pray a Rosary but sometimes he would sing hymns or just sit in silence and contemplation.
After his retirement from Detroit Edison, he kept the 3 a.m. time slot for Fridays and Saturdays. He doesn’t even set an alarm clock anymore, but prays to his guardian angel to wake him up in time.
Bechard said he keeps his family in his prayers when at the eucharistic chapel, in particular his wife, Karen, who died six years ago after battling kidney disease and cancer.
“Going to adoration in the middle of the night, whenever everyone else was asleep, really helped me a great deal,” Bechard said. “I felt this peace. It was therapeutic. I looked forward to having that hour to reconnect with God on a personal level. In our loud, busy world, it was a wonderful experience that I needed in that time of my life.”
Even those wary of signing up for a full hour can gain a lot of graces from even praying before the Lord for five or 15 minutes, Flint said.
“If you have five minutes, 10 minutes, that’s all it takes,” she said. “I think a person who finds themselves spending just a little bit of time with the Lord will eventually find more time for it.”
While parishes do appreciate volunteers signing up for dedicated time slots, those who wish to attend adoration at a 24/7 chapel don’t have to sign up, Flint said. In most cases, they can simply call the parish office for an access code.
Even parishes that don’t have a perpetual adoration chapel are using the current eucharistic revival in the U.S. as a chance to introduce the practice to the faithful with special events.