The first time I went to Eucharistic Adoration was when I was littler than I can remember. My family had an Adoration hour at our church, and mom would bring all the littles. I could have cared less about Jesus in the Eucharist. I was more into the cheerios and coloring books mom had brought to keep us occupied for the hour.
It wasn't until I was in high school that I started to become present during Adoration (no cheerios, no coloring books). During a retreat my senior year of high school, I remember seeing Christ for the first time in Adoration as He truly was - present, under the appearance of bread, waiting for me.
After I came back from the retreat, I wanted the same exact experience over and over again. So I hightailed it to my nearest adoration chapel and begin to pray. I lasted a good 2 minutes before I was glancing at the clock and wondering how on earth time was passing so slowly. Everyone else who was in the chapel seemed to be peaceful, and thoroughly enjoying their time with Christ. I, on the other hand, was antsy and anxious for the hour to pass. Why wasn't this Adoration hour like the one that I experienced on retreat?
In college, I signed up for an Adoration hour at my campus center. I begin asking God for the desire to spend undivided time with Him. And slowly, over the course of my freshman year, I begin to look forward to my Adoration hour. It was an hour of quiet silence, a chance to focus on the thing that matters the most in this life - an intimate relationship with Christ.
Now, Joseph and I have an adoration hour together on a weekday evening. Sometimes I sit peacefully and just gaze at Christ in the Eucharist. Sometimes my heart is restless and I'm ready to go to home and go to bed. But each time, I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to sit with Our Lord and pray.
Sometimes, it can be intimidating to go to Eucharistic Adoration. It's not necessarily because we fear encountering Jesus, but instead because we're not sure what to do for such a long time of prayer. Is it okay to bring a book, read the Bible, journal, or pray a rosary during Adoration? Or do we have to sit, staring straight at the monstrance, not moving or making even the tiniest sound?
While visiting Christ in the Eucharist, there are a variety of options when it comes to prayer and meditation. How do you start? Here are five quick tips to praying in Eucharistic Adoration:
1. Be patient with yourself
There have been many an adoration hour where I will sit down from prayer and glance at the clock, sure that at least thirty minutes have passed - only to find out that I've only been in adoration for five minutes. I'll beat myself up about it, angry that I can't spend five minutes with the Lord without looking at my watch. "Have patience with all things, but first with yourself," Saint Francis de Sales once wrote.
If adoration is a struggle, focus on the beauty. True, it has only been five minutes in adoration, but you're here with Christ. There is no scripted, perfect way to spend time in adoration. In fact, my favorite story about Eucharistic adoration 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."
Grow in friendship with the Lord - you don't have to say anything, you don't have to make sure you're "doing" adoration correctly. Instead, experience the joy of being with someone who wants to have a deep, intimate, friendship with you.
2. Adore Him
Well, it is called Eucharistic Adoration, so this seems like an obvious one. But how do you go about adoring God?
We adore God when we worship Him in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. You can come for as long or short as you wish, but while you are there you can simply tell God how amazing He is. This can be done through mental prayer, journaling, or just sitting in His presence and being in awe of who He is.
You can focus on the mysteries of the rosary, the Passion of Christ, or a particular Scripture verse. But whatever way you pray, Adoration is an incredible time to be in the presence of God.
3. Practice silence
I'm just one chapter into Cardinal Sarah's The Power of Silence - Against the Dictatorship of Noise, but I would place a bet that it will be my book of the year - the one I learn the most from in this season of my life. I loved this quote that I read in adoration last night. Cardinal Sarah writes: "There is no place on earth where God is more present than in the human heart. This heart truly is God’s abode, the temple of silence. . .The Father waits for his children in their own hearts."
The world we live in is so busy and loud - noise comes at us from every corner. Our car radios, alerts from our phone, and the background noise from the television fill our days with constant noise. Eucharistic adoration is a beautiful time to sit in silence with our Lord and spend time with Him, free from distraction.
4. Come into His presence with thanksgiving
Translated from Greek, the word Eucharisteo means thanksgiving. It's all Greek to me, but Christian write Ann Voskamp explains it beautifully, writing: "The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy."
We find deep, true joy at the table of the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith as Catholics, is a call for thanksgiving. What better time to give thanks to the Lord for what He has done in our lives than while looking at Him in the gift of the Eucharist? You can thank Him for the big things in life, like a job interview that went well, or a great friendship. But you can also thank Him for the littlest gifts He's given you that day - how the sun shone on your drive to work, or how beautiful a cup of coffee tasted after a long night up with the littles. Nothing small goes unnoticed by God - He keeps track of even the smallest of sparrows.
5. Bring a book with you
I used to avoid bringing books into adoration because I thought they distracted me from quality time with God. But when I was in college I read what Saint Jerome wrote about the use of spiritual books. He said, "When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us." And Jerome is not the only saint to recommend bringing a book with you into your holy hour. "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls," Saint Alphonsus Liguori wrote.
One of the books I've been bringing to adoration lately is 100 Holy Hours for Women. Originally written as a religious sister's guide for daily adoration, it contains an amazing collection of beautiful and profound spiritual insights into the mystery of the Eucharist. Each meditation is a few pages long and focuses on one Bible verse. It begins by delving into the verse, and then finishes with a personal examination and prayer, with questions that encourage me to take a closer look at my interior life.