In the silence of a Holy Hour, He may just be there waiting for you.
A few years ago my wife was leading a bible study on the Theology of the Body at our local Dominican parish, St. Thomas Aquinas. A couple of weeks before Christmas due to her having a cold on the scheduled night for the study, I myself bundled up and trekked out into the snow to lead the study in her place.
Due to the snow, the vigil mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and little bit of scheduling confusion, only one other person showed up. As a result, I and the other gentleman only stuck very loosely to my wife’s discussion points about “Christ as the new Adam” and ended up simply pursuing tangents and enjoying our conversation. Somehow or another, we ended up talking lengthily about our love for and wonderful experiences of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
For those who might not be familiar, Eucharistic Adoration or Benediction is the practice of “adoring” Our Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, present to us as the consecrated bread and wine, is placed on the altar in the church. The faithful come to pray, worship and adore Him in this Blessed Sacrament.
It was moving, to say the least, to find myself on a cold snowy night sitting in the conference room of the parish center, sipping coffee and listening to this gentleman – many years my senior – share his love for the devotion.
It came into the conversation that Eucharistic Adoration could be very inspiring and invigorating to lukewarm believers, as it had often been to both of us. We observed that the faith was, for many of our fellow parishioners, little more than a habit. Many were very involved with the parish, but few seemed to really know Jesus Christ. It was great to see people involved with the liturgies and events – to see new members being received into the Church and receiving the sacraments for the first time. However so many of them seemed to pass quickly through the various programs and initiations only to settle into a comfortable, complacent “Sunday morning at 10:00″ Catholicism.
One reason we decided upon for this rut was that many people who became active in the church had not previously come to know Jesus Christ – in fact maybe they never even knew that they could have a personal relationship with their God or that that was the kind of relationship He wanted.
These misconceptions are unfortunate ones. The Catholic faith is tasked with making Christ present in the world, making Him present in the sacraments. Yet many people to go through all the programs, prayers, and motions and somehow miss the person of Christ, the most important part of the faith. Even among those Catholics who attend the holy sacrifice of the mass every week, there are still many who would balk or stare at their feet were the doctrine of the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist explained in their midst.
With all this in mind we conjectured that Eucharistic adoration, if we were able to get people to attend, could be particularly effective in trying to fill in that crucial gap in the faith lives of many Catholics in our community. The devotion is unique and powerful in the simple and frank way in which it faces the participant with the presence of Christ. In addition, the meditative silence that usually accompanies a Holy Hour is uniquely purifying. We agreed that more people ought to be persuaded – nay, dared – to try a Holy Hour.
In fact our conversation confirmed what I have thought for a while: Not just that Adoration is a great devotion (for the obvious reasons) but that it is a particularly great devotion for the souls of modern men and women (for slightly less obvious reasons). It is my opinion that Eucharistic Adoration could be that spark that finally starts thawing a few of our many “frozen chosen”. Let me explain.