If you knew Jesus was waiting for you in person at St. Margaret of York (SMOY), would you come? You would jump into your car and disobey the speed limits to sit among the hundreds of thousands that would fill this church. You would anxiously wait to hear what Jesus had to say about your life, about His will, about your joy and pain.
Well, Jesus is waiting for you at our parish every single day in the Blessed Sacrament, waiting for you to stop and spend time with Him. He’s there because when He ascended into Heaven and left His disciples to carry on His work on earth, He promised He would be with us until the end of the age. (Mt 28:20) He is with us in the Real Presence, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta tells us "The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth."
Why is it important to visit with Jesus and open our hearts to Him in Adoration? Because we can adore Him most perfectly outside of the Holy Mass in Eucharistic Adoration. We can be in His presence with our hearts open to Him. Perhaps Eucharistic Adoration is new to you or maybe you have spent many Holy Hours in Adoration, either way, it is an incredible way to be with Jesus.
What is Adoration?
In its simplest form, Adoration is prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. As Catholics we can use a lot of big words to describe things, so let’s define a few of those so we’re all on the same page:
- Blessed Sacrament – The consecrated host, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Holy Communion, the Eucharist, all of these are the same thing.
- Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament - after each Mass, any consecrated hosts remaining after everyone has received Holy Communion are placed in the tabernacle in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.
- Tabernacle – It means “dwelling place.” It is used to house the Eucharist outside of Mass. At SMOY, it’s located in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.
- Eucharistic Adoration – This is prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament when it is not exposed, when it is in the tabernacle. At St. Margaret, this takes place in our Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. A red candle is lit outside the chapel to signify that Christ is in the tabernacle.
- Eucharistic Exposition – This is prayer before the consecrated host exposed in a monstrance.
- Monstrance – It comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning “to show.” The monstrance is a beautiful sacred vessel designed to display the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Typically, it is made of gold and may contain jewels or other precious metals.
- Perpetual Adoration –It is Eucharistic Exposition that continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some parishes offer this.
- Holy Hour - An hour you spend in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
What do I do in Adoration?
Adoring the Lord in prayer is as varied as we are varied as people. There is no right “way” that you need to pray, but if you are able, you should always genuflect (kneel down on the right knee) in front of the tabernacle or monstrance when coming and going. Here are some things to try in Adoration. See what you feel most comfortable with.
- Say hello to Jesus – greet Him as you would a dear friend
- Pray the Rosary
- Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Start with an “Our Father” or a “Hail Mary” to get you focused
- Read scripture and reflect on what Jesus is saying to you
- Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Pray the Divine Praises to adore Jesus
- Read about the lives of the Saints
- Journal about what you hear Jesus saying to you
- Read an inspirational book or meditation
- Pray with the Psalms
- Pray the Litany of Humility
- Just sit there in His presence, you don’t have to “do” anything
- Recite the Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner”
- Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
- Ask forgiveness for yourself
- Pray for others
- Tell Jesus how much you love Him
- Thank Jesus for your blessings and your trials
Whichever way you choose to do it, just do it! Take the opportunity to step into the chapel, that’s what Jesus wants most from you. Be with Him.
How often do I go to Adoration?
If Adoration is new to you, try going once a week. As you grow in your relationship with the Lord and in your comfort in being there, you can increase the number of times you come to Adoration.
How long do I stay in Adoration?
That’s up to you. Just being with Jesus is what He desires. You may find it difficult to sit for more than five minutes at first, that’s OK. Build up to a longer visit with Him. Some days you will lose yourself in His presence and find that you’ve been in the chapel for over an hour without realizing it. The amount of time is not what’s important, actually “going” is what matters.
What is everyone singing when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed?
The priest and congregation sing a song in Latin called “O Salutaris Hostia” (O Saving Victim). Don’t stress about your Latin language skills, sing along as best you can. The words can be found in the Missalette, a Magnificat, or on cards we have in the pews during Adoration.
What is the Benediction?
Benediction means blessing. At the end of the time for Eucharist Exposition the song “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” (Come Adore) is sung and a blessing is given in silence by the Blessed Sacrament. You’ll see that the priest or deacon is wearing what’s called a humeral veil that has pockets for his hands. He picks up the monstrance with his hands covered so that the blessing is actually coming from Jesus and not from the priest or deacon. The Divine Praises are recited and then the Blessed Sacrament is reposed (retuned to the tabernacle) as we sing the hymn “Holy God We Praise Thy Name”.
How might a Holy Hour look?
"Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed
Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. - St. Alphonsus Liguori
Come to Adoration, genuflect before the tabernacle or monstrance, and take a few deep breaths in and out. Remind your body that you are in the present moment and at this moment in the presence of Jesus.
Invite the Holy Spirit into your Holy Hour. It’s as easy as “Come Holy Spirit!”. Romans 8:26 tells us that “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”
Enter into prayer. Say an Our Father or Hail Mary to center yourself and then it’s time to focus and give ourselves over to our time with Jesus. Try any of the prayer suggestions listed above.
Practice prayer. As with all the things we want to excel at, we need to practice them. If you’re distracted, acknowledge it and ask the Holy Spirit for help again. Try a different prayer type. Even the Saints found prayer difficult at times. Persevere.
Thank God. As you reach the end of your time in Adoration, make sure to thank God for the time together and for any graces you received in prayer. Journaling is a great way to keep track of your conversations with the Lord.
Incorporate your Holy Hour into the day, week, months and years ahead. Prayer builds on itself and a revelation in today’s Holy Hour might be something you revisit again and again.
There is no one that can step into the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and not be moved and have his heart opened to love.
Links for the prayers suggested:
- Reading and Reflecting on Scripture
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Divine Praises
- Lectio Divina
- Litany of Humility
- Liturgy of the Hours
- Lives of the Saints