My first experience with Eucharistic Adoration occurred in sixth grade at my Catholic elementary school when my homeroom teacher took my entire class to the church to pray in silence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. If you’re thinking it was difficult for 35 12-year-olds to sit still and pray in silence for an hour, then you’d be right. We squirmed and fidgeted and poked our neighbors to avoid giving our undivided attention to the Lord. Our behavior earned a mild scolding from our soft-spoken teacher, who reminded us of Jesus’ own words in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”
After that, I didn’t go to Adoration again for many years. First, there was the challenge of carving out an hour in the middle of the week to get there, when so many other activities and errands felt more pressing. Secondly, I was worried that Adoration might only be for super holy people — ones who spend time with God in perfect, prayerful contentment. My mind is full of worldly concerns and distractions, so maybe Adoration wasn’t for me. Finally, my inner, fidgety sixth grader was concerned Adoration might be, well, boring. I assumed a Holy Hour would look like waiting for a big revelation from God and hearing nothing but crickets.
After moving to Colorado, though, I discovered that my new parish had a perpetual Adoration chapel, which meant I could sit with the Blessed Sacrament at any time of the day or night. And despite my years of doubts, I somehow found myself wanting to try again. Here are some things I that helped me commit to a weekly Adoration practice:
It’s not all about me
Like Mass, Adoration isn’t necessarily about what we will get out of it. True, the graces dispensed by God help us grow in holiness, but the primary purpose of Adoration is right there in the name of the act: to adore the One present to us in the Eucharist.
Remember that you don’t actually have to do anything. The Catholic faith recognizes that the greatest gift God gives us is himself, and Adoration is another way for us to recognize that gift outside of receiving the Eucharist at Mass. So, don’t overthink it. Just receive the gift.
Pray (with a little help)
If it’s been awhile since you’ve entered the Adoration chapel and you’re worried you might be a little bored (that’s understandable!), or you have no idea where to start (it’s okay!), I’ll offer the following suggestions:
- Pray the rosary. To contemplate the mysteries of Jesus’ life in the rosary is to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist given to us and the Blessed Sacrament we praise in Adoration. So, pairing these prayers is a great habit to get into.
- Write in your prayer journal. Writing in a prayer journal is a great way of making your relationship with God seem more tangible, since we’re getting the words out of our heads and onto the paper. Think of the practice as writing a letter to God. Take all your worries of the day and lay them down during Adoration. Or write to him about everything that’s going well in your life right now.
- Listen to praise and worship music. Music can be an extremely effective way to focus our thoughts on God. Just make sure you have headphones that will keep everyone else in your vicinity from hearing your music if they’d rather spend their time in meditative prayer. I usually find that slow, reflective melodies work best for this environment — anything by Audrey Assad usually does the trick for me.
- Read. While Adoration isn’t really the time to break out that thriller you’ve been working your way through, it is a great opportunity to pull out a book by one of the saints (such as “The Diary of St. Faustina,” St. Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life,” or St. Thérèse’s autobiography “The Story of a Soul.” Or prayerfully consider a few lines of the Catechism. You may also choose to read a set of devotional essays like Caryll Houselander’s “The Reed of God,” which is full of meditations on Mary. And of course, don’t forget the Bible!
You don’t have to sit still during your Holy Hour in order to make it count. It’s okay for it to be a natural extension of the rest of your prayer life. So, if there’s something that really helps you focus your prayer, bring it to Adoration. Most of all, remember to receive the gift of Christ in the Eucharist and just be present to God.
Originally published April 23, 2018.