What does Eucharistic Adoration Look Like?

When you get your own adoration hour 

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.

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When you get your own adoration hour

1) Start off with silence.

The world we live in is crazy.  Noise comes at us from every corner - from our car radios to the constant alerts coming from our phone.  Eucharistic adoration is an amazing time to just go and sit in silence...with nothing to distract you...and just some alone time with Christ.
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My favorite quote on the Eucharist comes from a story that Saint John Vianney told.  He went into the chapel one day and and someone came up and asked him what he did all day in adoration.  "Nothing," he replied, "I just look at Him and He looks at me."  That's friendship - the time where it's silent and you don't need to say anything, but rather experience the joy of being with someone who you have a deep relationship with. 
2) Adoration
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.
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3) Contrition
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.  

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4) Thanksgiving 

The word 'Eucharistario' means 'Thanksgiving.'  WHOA.  Can you think of a better time to give thanks to the Lord for what He has given you than when you are looking at Him in the gift of the Eucharist?  It doesn't just have to be for the big things in life - like a job interview or a great friendship.  It could be the small things (which I'm notorious for noticing): like how the pothole on your way to work today was filled, or how the wind was blowing while you were sitting outside.  Nothing small goes unnoticed by God - He keeps track of even the smallest of sparrows.  
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5) Supplication

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.

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"Jesus has made himself the Bread of Life to give us life.  Night and day.  He is there.  If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to Adoration." Mother Teresa. 

Your Brain on Summer Mission Trips

So this summer, the blog has been sorely neglected by yours truly because I was hired on to be a team member for the Prayer and Action mission trip in a diocese in our state.  It's been amazing, no it's been better than amazing. It's been like living in a slice of Heaven.

But before I tell you about my past four weeks, I have to tell you about January.  Because in January, I was kneeling in front of Christ in the Eucharist in Nashville Tennessee at a FOCUS conference and begging Him to shed some light in my life.  I told Him I would do whatever He wanted to do this summer....He only had to point the way.  I walked out of adoration and into one of my friends from another college who had played music with me one night on a retreat.  He joked,  "You should have been up there playing with Matt Maher last night!" which I quickly laughed off, but that one comment caught the attention of a priest who was standing by.  I had never met Father, but I had heard so many good things about him.

He asked, "You play guitar?" I sure did, I replied.  "What are you doing this summer" was the following question, which frankly blew me out of the water. Wow God...that was quick.  He asked me to apply for Prayer and Action team in the Salina Diocese of Kansas and I told him I'd pray on it.  I had two things for school to still line up and I couldn't go if my job wasn't held for me.  I asked for a month to pray on it.

That was Saturday.  By Monday afternoon at 3:00 pm, all three things that I had asked to be lined up were lined up.  I texted Father "Well, God keeps dropping hints and I can't say no." And that was that...I was on team.

Let me explain a little more about the mission of Prayer and Action...and if you have never experienced it, you're going to think I'm crazy. Every morning I get up at 6:00 am and then spend some quality time with the Lord in adoration.  Then we head into morning rosary by 7:10 am, which transitions to a morning Mass and time for silent reflection based on an idea presented the night before.  After that, we get to eat breakfast as a group, pack lunch and head out to work sites, where we will stay from about 9:30 am to 3:45 pm.  We start each work site off with a prayer to our patron saints, Mother Teresa (lovingly referred to as 'Mama T') and Saint Michael.  Then at noon, we break to say the Angelus, and work some more.

This isn't fluff 'n stuff work.  We scrape houses, prime fences, climb ladders and finish trim.  We mow lawns, weed gardens, and move rocks.  We get sun burnt, sweaty, and literally earn every shower that we get.  And I love it.

Then we come back to our base and we gather for skits and praise and worship and then every night we have a team member who gives a talk on some subject relating to the week at Prayer and Action or a subject relevant to high school kids.  Guess what my subject is?  You guessed it: chastity and relationships. And that talk, the one where I splay my soul out in front of wide-eyed highschoolers who can't believe that I have never been on a date, is one of my favorite nights of the week.  It's almost beat in significance by the amazing and genuine conversations that it opens up for the next day on the work sites.

The first week, we worked with over 50 college students from all over the state.  I had never met a great majority of them, and was frankly scared to death.  I'm normally pretty introverted, and it felt like everyone knew everyone but me.  But I powered through day one, went to bed half excited to start the work sites, half questioning what the heck I had gotten myself into.

But then we met the first home owner.  He's a man who lives in Stockton whose house was in horrible condition.  One side was siding, the other sides were a concrete.  The grass in front of his house was about four inches tall and his back porch was in just as bad shape as the house itself.  His wife was mostly blind, and she didn't know what she thought about Catholics.

And after that we met a Protestant minister who said the work we were doing had restored his faith in both Catholics and young adults.

And then I met a woman who was over one hundred years old whose advice was to "Just wake up in the morning and do what you have to do."

God kept flooding my life with people who made me appreciate all the gifts I had ever been given.  It was only week one.  Then high school weeks started up, and the butterfly feelings crept back into my heart.  I wasn't good enough to be a role model for these kids.  I barely knew the program myself, and these kids were coming back for the fourth, sometimes fifth time.  I was a rookie, and I was in charge.

We had almost a hundred people in the first high school week.  And every single one of them blew me out of the water with their love for God, their striving for holiness and
their desire to simply be Christ's hands and feet in a small Kansas town.  I met girls who I wished I had known when I was in high school, and the conversations that I had with the guys literally restored my hope in today's young men.

I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life.  I also don't think I've ever been so moved to tears in my life either.  Nor did I ever think that I could be such good friends with highschoolers.  But I usually found that instead of me pushing them in their faith, it was them constantly pushing me to be a better person.












And then I started to fall in love.  Whoa, now, you say, hold on.  You, Chloe, fall in love? Yep.  Trust me, I didn't see it coming either.  But I started to fall in love with someone who I saw wherever I turned.  I fell in love with someone I sat down and ate breakfast with.  I begin to not be able to live without someone who I visited every morning.  I was running to see him during a lunch break and finishing my nights with talking to him.  I was writing about him in my journal (typical homeschooler) and talking to him with everyone I encountered.

I was falling in love with Christ for maybe the first time in my life.  Because I have spent a bulk of my life talking about Christ, but not to Him.  And this summer romance was more deep and passionate than I ever could have imagined or predicted.  And I don't want it to end with the summer.

But it's not just Christ Himself who has won my heart and relentlessly pursued me.  It's how people both in the community that we serve and those who come to the program are being reflections of His love in my life.  I've seen Him in the tear-filled eyes of a home owner whose house looks like a brand new place after just a week of setting some high school kids on it.  I've seen Him in the Eucharist at midnight, as I sat in a soaking wet skirt and tee shirt after coming in from dancing in the rain.  I've seen Him in notes that people have written to me telling me how I've impacted them over the week.

He's everywhere.

And do you know what is even more beautiful than His constant presence?  If there is one thing, it's the knowledge that, at the end of this life, Heaven is going to be like this.  Heaven is going to be a constant and ever-present offering of ourselves to Christ's heart.  It's going to be an eternity of never having to say goodbye on Friday afternoon when we send the groups back out into the 'real world'...because it turns out that Heaven is going to be the reality for those who have given themselves totally over to His divine love and compassion.  Heaven is going to be amazing.  And until then, I am given the incredible blessing of seeing each and everyone of these Prayer and Action friends in the divine presence of the Holy Eucharist as I offer them and their intentions up at every Mass.

God is good.  If there is anything that I've said over and over this summer, it's that phrase right there.  God is so good, but He's more than good - He's love.  And this summer I've been given the incredible opportunity to be love with and for others...and to fall in love with the author of love Himself.

And I don't want to leave.  We only have three weeks left and I already know it's going to fly by faster than you can say "P and A."  But how exciting, how exhilarating that what I love about Prayer and Action doesn't end with that last Friday goodbye, waving to vehicles that pull out of a parking lot and drive into a world that isn't as friendly as small town Kansas.  In fact, if anything, Prayer and Action is just the beginning.  It's a call to something greater-  it's a call to be Christ in this world past the week that we provide.  It's a call to be Him for those we love the most, and are the hardest to get along with.  It's a call to serve the least of His brethren within our own four walls, and within our own families and friends.

That can be harder than taking off work for two months to serve some people you don't know.  Because it requires true sacrifice to put yourself third to your family, or to tell yourself you can sacrifice for your friend.

But it's worth it.  It's all a process of little opportunities to say 'yes' to God so that when He asks something big of us, we can respond without a second of hesitation.

So here is to summer mission trips - as crazy as they may seem.  Here is to giving until you don't think you can give anymore, and then pushing that extra mile.  Here is to God....the author of divine love, and for His goodness in providing opportunities for us to tap into a slice of Heaven.

A Thankful Heart: Day Four

Today I'm pulling the typical white girl card and saying that I'm thankful for Fall.
Or at least what's left of it here in my city.  
On Tuesday the weather is supposed to be around thirty degrees.
So I'm thankful for sweaters without coats over them.
Fall leaves without snow dripping off of them.

Walks to class without freezing my fingers off.
Drives to work without snow on the road.
And general fall weather without the
nagging feeling that winter is just around the corner.