Five times in the Gospel today the word “eats” is used. Jesus makes it very clear that the “bread from heaven”, himself, is to be consumed. Today, we know Jesus was talking about Himself in the Eucharist – His Precious Body and Blood that we receive through the consecrated bread and wine at Mass. We call this the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist. We can also experience Jesus in the Eucharist through Eucharistic Adoration.
Eucharistic Adoration has been a rich Catholic tradition since about the 4th Century when converts to the faith were invited to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 8 days. Monks also used Eucharistic Adoration to spend time with Jesus outside of the Mass. By the 11th Century, Adoration began to flourish as the Church developed the formal Rite for Eucharistic Adoration and encouraged people to visit our Lord often during the week. In the 19th Century, lay women and men founded their own societies dedicated to perpetual adoration – around the clock – for days. Many churches now have perpetual adoration chapels where this practice continues even through today.
Eucharistic Adoration is private time with our Lord as He is present in the Blessed Sacrament placed in a Monstrance on the Altar. Spending this quiet time before Him is like spending time before our Living God, giving Him the keys to our heart. We turn off our cell phone, genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, kneel in the pew, and show God our respect being present with Him.
Just as we all pray differently, we may spend time in Adoration differently. We can sit there and just relax, knit, pray, or read something spiritually uplifting. Sometimes, I work on a homily or Deacon’s Corner that’s stuck in my mind. Other times I ponder questions like: How is God working in my life?, Who does He want me to reach out to?, What is He calling me to do?, How can I be more open to His voice?, and How can I be more faithful? Or, I may just sit and rest enjoying ‘safe harbor’ from a hectic day. So restful once, that I actually fell asleep! No matter how we spend our time, sitting at His feet escaping the busyness and distractions of life allows God to lead us.
I remember as a child when people attending Eucharistic Adoration would pack the church. Now, we are lucky to have a handful of people show up. I wonder what would it take to fill the church up again? If you would like to give it a try, Eucharistic Adoration takes place every Tuesday at Sacred Heart (4:45pm to 5:45pm), and St. Mary on the Lake on the first Thursday of each month (3:30pm to 5pm). Eucharistic Adoration ends with prayer and a solemn blessing, called Benediction – where the priest or deacon uses the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people. What better way to end your day than that?