Counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, this one activity can say a lot about who you are, and who you want to be.
One of the best activities for a young person — one that gives them counter-cultural bona fides — is to volunteer for a scheduled hour of Adoration, and here are five counter-intuitive reasons why:
- No high school or college in the country will give community service hours or credit for this activity.
- Such activity pays zero dollars. Adoration offers no material gain.
- Such activity does not offer good opportunities for “selfies” to post on FaceBook, Twitter, or Instagram. Adoration is not a good opportunity for self-promotion.
- If it’s a perpetual Adoration chapel, the folks who run it are always looking for people to fill shifts between midnight and 6 a.m. Should you volunteer, chances are, you will find yourself in an exhausted state at 3 a.m. before the Sacrament, the perfect condition for allowing your mind to wander.
- Such activity brings the young person into the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, which is always a good thing. It brings the young person closer to the ultimate model of Christian humility, Christ.
Christ never took a selfie. He never went out of his way to document his wit, wisdom, or bravery. He did some epic, miraculous stuff. There are people who have written books about themselves and made money by talking about themselves. But none of them has turned water into wine, cured the blind, walked on water, risen from the grave, or offered mankind eternal salvation.
When I was young, the man who raised me used to go to Adoration. I never went. I never saw the point. But as I recollect my experiences with that superstitious, strange man — my father — I’m humbled to recall the quiet way he lived his fatherhood, everywhere: giving money to homeless people when he thought no one was watching; helping friends and neighbors without waiting to be asked; sacrificing, both materially and spiritually, for the sake of my mother, my sister, and me. I never asked him why he did what he did, but I’ve come to believe that it was the time he spent in the presence of a God who was bold enough to take humble-but-radical action — to incarnate, to live with his creatures, and to die for them.
Recently, I wrote about how my father quietly gave me children’s catechisms that I needed to grow into. I’ve wondered, who advised him? He obviously learned how to do the father gig from someone else. He must have had an example or a mentor somewhere. A “father’s consultant”, perhaps. Then, I remembered. He did. He sought this example of fatherhood out and knelt when he found it. He didn’t talk at all, either; he just listened. Sometimes for hours. He was able to be such a loving father because he spent so much time listening to the greatest of fathers.
And in pondering this, I offer a sixth reason — the very best reason — why teenagers and young adults would benefit by volunteering an hour a week at Adoration: In this era of broken families, it is the fastest path — the shortest and easiest route — of a profound journey, one that brings us the parental-intimacy so many of us lack, and the instruction that will make better parents of them, too, someday.