I snuck out today, on my forty-minute lunch break, to spend some time sitting in church.
It’s one of those stormy Canadian winter days and I almost regretted my decision immediately as the wind whipped up a squall of snow right in my face the second I opened my car door. Blustery is probably the word I’m looking for.
The parish church closest to my work is beautiful. A massive stone structure it stands head and shoulders above the row of old shops and apartments in the our town’s small downtown core. I learned, after some curious digging, that it was a built in the 1800’s by a famous church architect who was so popular that he was later hired, in an ecumenical reach across the aisle, to build a bunch of Baptist churches too.
I snuck out today to sit in church because being the first Friday of the month our parish hosts all-day Eucharistic Adoration.
Of all the new things—the hidden treasures—I learned about on my journey into the Catholic Church, this was one of the things I was most excited about when I first read about it. This was something I couldn’t wait to experience.
While I’ve written about it at length elsewhere suffice it to say, the Catholic Church believes, derived from history, tradition, and Scripture, that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharistic elements. The wafer—most properly called the Host—doesn’t actually look different but becomes, following the ancient Communion Rite, the actual blood and body of Jesus Christ.
In other words, in the Eucharistic elements Jesus is actually there.
Body and soul.
And presupposing a belief in the ancient theology of the Eucharist, Catholic churches the world over offer up Eucharistic Adoration.
And while it may seem crazy it’s both theologically grounded and, as I’ve found, spiritually out-of-the-park.
That is to say, I love it.
The theology of the Eucharist blows my mind, I’ve said that before, but think about this further mind-exploding concept: If you believe the theology, I spent my lunch hour today sitting, praying, and worshiping in the actual presence of Jesus.
As in, Jesus was in the room with me… Physically!
While possibly complicated theologically, the practical aspect is humblingly simple.
The consecrated host which has become Jesus is reverently displayed on the altar and parishioners who want to can come in any time during the day and do pretty much whatever they’d like in the presence of Jesus. We can pray, read Scripture, or meditate silently. We can stand, kneel, bow, and even lay prostrate in adoration.
In a beautiful, expansive church like our local parish church the act of being there, in silence, surrounded by so much high church expression is immensely pleasurable just by itself. And there’s equal appeal of being in a simple, clandestine setting as well—simple and undistracting.
Regardless, it’s beautiful. To be in the presence of Jesus Christ, in whose Name I’m praying to, is heart-stopping.
To pray and know that Jesus is miraculously present right there is incredible.
So I on my lunch break sat, and I knelt, and I prayed.
And maybe an analogy will suit. It’s one thing to talk to my beautiful wife on the phone— when we were first dating, I remember, I was absolutely enamoured with her cute voice— it’s an entirely different thing to talk to her in the same room.
And of all the beautiful things about being Catholic, of all those hidden treasures I had no idea about before I began my journey, Eucharistic Adoration has to be number one. What a joy; what a privilege to be able to pray and worship and spend sacred time in the real, physical presence of our Lord.
This article originally appeared on my personal blog in 2014.