For Catholics, we celebrate 2005 as the Year of the Eucharist and if you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a weekly, or monthly, or daily opportunity to take part in Eucharistic Adoration, I hope you’ll really try to take advantage of it. It is a custom which is, it seems, making a nice little comeback which is particularly nice to read this year.
I recall Adoration as a child, and it was by stumbling into a parish during Adoration – quite by accident – that I found my way – firmly – back into the church. I happened to hear noontime bells ringing as I was driving past a Catholic parish, and the bells were like a call to prayer – I decided to stop in and sit quietly. I walked through the door and saw the monstrance, filled with the Real Presence, candles on either side, the incense still floating through the air, and something overcame me. I hit my knees in staggering wonder and awe, and stayed there for over an hour, although when I rose, I would have sworn I’d only knelt for 5 minutes.
To sit an hour in the Presence is a remarkable avenue of grace. I always liked what Sr. Breige McKenna said about Adoration. “Sitting at Adoration is like sitting in the sun. You sit there, you pray, you read, maybe you doze, and you leave feeling relaxed but not aware of anything happening, and then later you relize you’ve been burned.” It is just like that for me. I often doze for a few minutes in the course of an hour, and it’s a refreshing, remarkable sort of Holy Rest – but I credit taking advantage of the weekly Adoration offered at my parish with helping me curb the harsher edges of my sharp tongue, and enlarging my capacity for empathy. I know Baptists and Methodists, and even a Lutheran who skulk into church and spend ten or fifteen minutes in quiet Adoration. The Lutheran has told me that even though it’s not his church or his belief, the chance to take 15 minutes and sit and be SILENT, surrounded by a sense of something “other,” and by the prayers of the other people in attendance, is simply a gift he’s happy to accept!