Last week we looked at the importance of Eucharistic adoration, and we promised to also share a guide on ‘HOW’ to help us develop the habit of participating in the parish adoration or find time for our private devotion with the Lord. Am sure we would want to spend entire day(s) on our knees before the altar if we knew the enormous graces in Eucharistic Adoration. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a moment to accompany Jesus Himself in the moment of His sacrifice for our salvation. He taught us this, through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (with whom this devotion started): “Every night, between Thursday and Friday, I will make you a partaker of that sorrow unto death which it was My will to suffer in the Garden of Olives.” Eucharistic devotion promotes personal intimacy with the Lord. The presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacles of Catholic Churches offers us the opportunity to pray in the company of our Lord, for in the company of the Lord, we can share a conversation.
The first time I visited the Blessed Sacrament, I was 12 years, preparing for my First Holy Communion (my parents would not have any of us receive until we are 12). My parents took me to the Church, and there was Benediction before Mass. They taught me with much reverence and passion that inside the tabernacle was the door to Heaven. At that age I took this explanation literally and I thought that when the priest opened the small box I would have a look at a marvelous world: Heaven. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the Tabernacle opened with a small host (the consecrated bread) inside. I really didn’t understand it. But now, it makes more meaning and I could easily connect with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament during adoration, though won’t deny that sometimes there is distraction. To go into the chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament, especially before you make it a habit, might not be that easy.
We don’t understand what to do, we get bored, we don’t know what to say, we go in briefly, we make a quick sign of the Cross and then leave. Here are some basic tips or guide to visit and adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It will be apt that we find very handy a Bible, prayer book, a book on the life of the Saints or any spiritual book. A Guide to How to Go To Adoration
1. Initial greeting (enter in silence) Enter in silence and give due reverence to the Lord in the Church or the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Kneel down on both knees, bowing before Him and make the sign of the Cross. Remember that it is God who is substantially present and exposed in the monstrance. Settle into a comfortable position: try to observe silence even in your mind. Distraction is the biggest obstacle to prayer; take a minute to clear your mind. Ask God to help you let go of distracting thoughts.
2. Prayer of preparation After settling down, kneel and make a prayer to prepare your heart. Give thanks to God for the blessings he has given you: life, health, work/business, family and friends. It can be spontaneous or taken from some prayer book. You can also use this prayer: “Oh Sweet Jesus abiding in this Eucharist, before you I kneel to adore and praise you because you are our God and our Redeemer. I know that your presence is very sweet and being in your beautiful company cannot be compared to being somewhere else. I dedicate this moment to you because I simply want to be with you. I want to offer you the special gift you have given me, which is the gift of my life. Use me to your greater glory. Please accept my adoration and give heed to my humble petitions, and present them to God our Father. Enlighten my mind, reaffirm my will; fill me with your spirit that I may always do your holy will. Touch my heart that it may burn only for your love. Grant that through this hour of adoration, I may obtain the petitions I place before you. Amen.
3. Spiritual reading and meditation You can choose a passage from the Sacred Scripture which could be the day’s Gospel, or pick a reflection from your prayer book. After this reflection, stay in silence and meditate on what you have read. Meditation here refers thinking deeply about the passage of Scripture you read and trying to understand the message therein. Similarly, it is important that in this moment you try to silence your mind and heart, reject distracting thoughts, and listen to what God is telling you. Silence is the door that predisposes the soul for listening. If you read a scene from the Gospel, you can imagine it and meditate about what it tells you, about how you participate in it, and about the feelings and thoughts that this reading arouses in your heart. Then share your thoughts in conversation with our Lord
4. Pray After your meditation, you can pray (communicate in love) with the passage you just read or the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, or the day’s Liturgy of the Hours (according to the time of your visit). You can use your prayer book.
5. Do a Spiritual Communion In the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, you can receive Him in your heart by doing a spiritual communion. This form of communion is always something to do if by some impediment you cannot receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist (for example you have failed to keep the 1 hour minimum fast, or are not in a state of grace). This could be said: “My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).
6. Final prayer Once you finish with your Adoration, say a closing prayer – it can be your own spontaneous prayer, or again something from your prayer book. Give thanks for the lived moment, and ask for God’s blessings. Also say One Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, for the Pope’s intention. Conclusion We will conclude this segment with some reasons given by some of our saintly Popes for spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and I hope you see them as enough reasons to begin and actively participate in your various parishes:
• Pope John Paul II- “Our communal worship at Mass must go together with our personal worship of Jesus in Eucharistic adoration in order that our love may be complete.”
• Pope Paul VI- “How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness”
• Pope John Paul II- “Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Jesus and ready to make reparation for the great evils of the world. Let your adoration never cease.”
• Pope Paul VI- “Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, God with us, day and night, he is in our midst…He restores morality, nourishes virtue, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak.” If you got an invite from Pope Francis to visit him in the Vatican, you will feel highly delighted and honoured. But this honour would be nothing compared to that which comes with Jesus’ invitation to spend an hour with him in the Blessed Sacrament. This is one of the best ways Jesus has asked us to love him in return, “Could you not watch one hour with me?” (Mt.26:40). Every moment spent with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament renews his blessings on you, your family and indeed the whole world. God bless.
• Rev. Sr. Mary Judith Madueke, EHJ, is the Director of Religious Education, Archdiocese of Lagos.