One of my all time favorite forms of prayer is Eucharistic adoration. It's there that I first really heard Christ speaking to me during some rough times in senior year, and it's there that I have been able to work every hard problem that I've had out with Jesus.
So just what is Eucharistic adoration? And what do you do during the hour?
There are many forms that adoration is present around the world. Perpetual adoration chapels in some churches, nocturnal adoration on the eve of the first Saturday of the month, daily exposition and benediction at some parishes. There are organizations around the world that promote a holy hour, and also availability of a 24/7 adoration chapel where you can stop in when you have time, even if it's less than an hour.
The history of adoration is beautiful though - As early in Church history as the year 325, around the Council of Nicea, there is evidence that the Eucharist would be reserved in churches, monasteries, and convents. This was mainly for the purpose of having it available for the anointing of the sick and dying. Yet the place it was kept was considered holy. As monasteries and community life were established, the Eucharist held a special place in even the architecture of the church building itself. The place was referred to by many names: Pastoforium, Diakonikon, Secetarium and Protehsis to name a few. Yet it was a separate room from the Church, akin to the modern day Eucharistic adoration chapel.
But there still wasn't adoration hours or chapels for the community, so when did those come into play? In the late 1000s, there was a movement that stemmed fom Berengarius, a deacon in France, who said Christ wasn't present in the Eucharist at all. The heresy became so wide spread that Pope Gregory VII told Berengarius to retract his statement. Pope Gregory VII himself had a deep love for the Eucharist, which was influenced by his time spent with the Benedictines. In his writings, he said
"I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine placed upon the altar are, by the mystery of sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and life-giving flesh and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that after the consecration, there is present the true body of Christ, which was born of the Virgin and offered up for the salvation of the world, hung on the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and that there is present the true blood of Christ which flowed from His side."
Following this statement, and many others like it, the movement of Eucharistic reverence and appreciation began in the Church. John Hardon, S.J., wrote about what this new found love of the Eucharist looked like.
"The churches in Europe began what can only be described as a Eucharistic Renascence. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament were instituted; prescribed acts of adoration were legislated; visits to Christ...were encouraged; the cells of anchoressess had windows made into the church to allow the religious to view and adore before the tabernacle."
So what does an adoration hour look like? What are you supposed to do in one? How do you start? Here are five quick tips if you're new to the adoration scene.
|When you get your own adoration hour|
1) Start off with silence.
Well, it is called Eucharistic adoration, so this seems like an obvious one, but what does that word mean? This is a time where you get to tell God how amazing He is. A little while ago I wrote about the Psalms, and how they are God's love song to Himself that we get to sing to Him. So take this time to praise Him for who He is.
We've all messed up, and what a better place to reconcile with the Lord (besides confession of course, which is also recommended) but Eucharistic adoration? If a friend hurts you, what is the preferred apology - in a text or face to face? Face to face always wins out - there is something about the humility to say you are sorry to a person when you are standing in front of them.
God knows what is on our heart before we speak it, but there is something to be said for laying out your concerns and desires before the Lord in adoration. Asking for advice on what to do, how to solve a problem, or what decision you should make is a fantastic thing to bring to His feet at adoration. And after you bring your heart's desires before Him, pray that your will be conformed to His through prayer.