Several months ago, I discovered that the Catholic church around the corner from where I work has a presence chapel that’s always open during the work day. This is unusual in my area; most of the churches in my area are locked unless there’s a Mass or other service in progress. The chapel has one of those tabernacles with a little door on the front, so that the Blessed Sacrament can easily be exposed for Eucharistic Adoration.
Since then I’ve gotten in the habit of stopping by there on my way home several times a week. Some days I only stay long enough to say Evening Prayer, and maybe finish my daily rosary. Other days, I’ll stop and sit a spell. I especially like it when the tabernacle is open, but whether it is or not, He is there.
Personally, I’ve never been all that comfortable using a visual focus during prayer; I’m simply too aware that what I’m looking at is just an image, and not the real thing. But during Eucharistic Adoration, it’s all different. Yes, I see a wafer of unleavened bread; it looks much less like Jesus than the corpus on the crucifix does. But it isn’t bread; it’s my Lord. Being in His presence makes me happy. And even when the tabernacle is closed, and I can’t see Him, I know that He’s there. I can look at the tabernacle and know that He’s within, just as I can look at the semblance of bread and know that it’s Him.
There are two particularly glorious things about being in the Presence outside of Mass. The first is that there’s a grace and a peace there that really does pass understanding. I don’t see it working, but over the weeks I can see that it really does make a difference in my life. The second is, being in the Presence is compatible with almost any other form of devotion. Sitting in the chapel, I can gaze at my Lord; I can listen; I can say the rosary or the Divine Office; I can pray spontaneously (and do); I can tell Him about my day; I can do spiritual reading; I can just sit.
Sure, I can do all of those things elsewhere, just as I can call Jane on the phone or send her a text when I’m away from home. But it’s nicer to be home.
This post was first written in the fall of 2012; since then, I’ve fallen out of the habit of stopping by for adoration. But reading this, I think I need to start again.