Anytime people start talking about Eucharistic Adoration, one question always seems to come up: “A whole hour? What’ll I do for a whole hour?”
Thus begins Vinny Flynn’s new book, 21 Ways to Worship: A Guide to Eucharistic Adoration. I’ll admit, I only read it because my arm was twisted. I thought I knew the tone it would have and the attitude of eye-rolling it would inspire in me. I was, in fact, convinced I would have to work to write a favorable review.
Being wrong has rarely felt so great.
I’ve been a regular at our parish’s Eucharistic Adoration program for over ten years, and I remember the days of dragging in a couple of books, a notebook, a rosary, and two or three prayer books. I’d kneel, say hi, and get to work.
And there’s nothing wrong with that approach, though I have modified it over the years. My current approach involves a bag of tractors and two sidekicks, ages five and two. My mother-in-law kindly invited us to join her for her hour when it became obvious this was the only way I was going to get my much-needed breathing time in.
It took Vinny Flynn less than 200 pages to convince me of a few things:
- I am his newest fangirl.
- He “gets” this whole Adoration thing in a way I need to take notes from.
- The man is probably hilarious in real life.
Each of the 21 chapters—which are short and easy-to-read—has a snappy title and usually about two or three pages of down-to-earth content. This is a man writing to ME: to the me who is sooooo busy I have an excuse for everything, to the me who wonders if anyone’s listening, to the me who takes small LOUD people with me to Adoration.
In fact, I’ve gained more from this book than just suggestions for ways to pray in Adoration. I’m now looking at the pictures on my fridge as an opportunity to offer a prayer for loved ones. I’m thinking of the Psalms as letters TO ME now, instead of as 3000-year-old poems. I’m using the opportunity to pray as I breathe, an idea that was planted in me during a recent 8-week retreat with Father Gaitley’s Consoling the Heart of Jesus.
One of the biggest mistakes, I think, that many of us make as Christians, as Catholics, is that we get used to being very formal. We have some wonderful, ritual prayers that are beautiful and can be very meaningful, but this can cause us to get used to a certain formality that can carry over into our adoration time and make it hard for us to develop a deep, personal relationship with God.
[A]s Pope Benedict says, the Eucharist “is not a piece of a body, not a thing.” It’s a person—a person who loves us more than we can imagine.
We don’t need to be formal with God here. He doesn’t want us to be. We need to be real with Him!
In whatever you say, do, look at, or read during adoration, keep it personal, realizing that this is between you and God—and God is three persons, each of whom want a personal relationship with you.
How do you get closer to your spouse, to your children, to your friends? You have to spend time with them; you have to get to know them. A relationship takes time, and it takes personal involvement, personal commitment.
That’s what Eucharistic Adoration is all about. You’re there to keep Christ company, to console Him, to get to know Him, to get to know the Father, to get to know the Holy Spirit, to build a relationship, person-to-person, you and God alone.
You are getting to know this God, to know who He is, and then you start to realize who you are and who you are called to be. This is the God who didn’t just create you. He fathered you into existence, chose you from all the millions of persons who could have come from the union of your father and mother.
In this book, Flynn brilliantly and concisely makes a case, not just for Adoration, not just for a deeper prayer life, not just for a gimmick-style Christian life, but for an approach to really living and transforming your life through small actions. Call it prayer, call it worship, call it Adoration: it is, at the root of it, encouragement for those of us who struggle, for those of us who juggle unsuccessfully, for those of us who wonder if what we’re doing is ever enough.
There’s no “Catholic lite” in this book, just a toolbox packed with approaches, ideas, and sincere devotion. You won’t be able to help changing your life as you read this book. Mine’s already better. I can’t wait to read it again.