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Prayer is a kiss: What we learn from the Latin roots of ‘adore’


Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP - published on 12/04/22

Adoration is a deeply intimate expression of love — prayer as embrace.

The reason we can adore God is because the Father “has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son” (CCC 2782). Adoration is our prayerful reciprocation to the belonging that we are part of.

In the best sense of the word, adoration is an act of submission. The Catechism tells us that “to adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the ‘nothingness of the creature’ who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things (2097). This is not about groveling or obsequiousness, but affection. Adoration is the kind of submission we willingly show to someone we love.

Cardinal Ratzinger emphasizes the Latin roots of “adoration”— ad oratio refers to mouth to mouth contact. In other words, a kiss. Adoration is a deeply intimate expression of love— prayer as embrace. The submission that is adoration “liberates us deep within.” 

No wonder the loving closeness of adoration is most appropriately practiced before the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration is literally living out the Holy Communion that the Eucharist is. Pope St. Paul VI said that to visit the Blessed Sacrament is “a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.” Just witnessing another person in adoration before Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist moves and transforms us. St. John Vianney was struck by a peasant in his town of Ars who would come to the church regularly and sit for long stretches of time silently before the tabernacle. When the Curé of Ars inquired about this, the man replied, “I look at Him and He looks at me.” 

Fr. Alfred Delp, a heroic German Jesuit who was executed by the Nazis, wrote these astounding words while incarcerated: “Bread is important, freedom is more important, but most important of all is unbroken fidelity and faithful adoration.” 


Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.

See some of the earlier pieces:

PrayerPrayer Is:Spiritual Life
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