Today numerous Catholic parishes expose the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass for short or prolonged periods of adoration. Some Catholics may even have a chapel in their area devoted specifically to this traditional form of worship. But whether for just a brief moment or all day, every day, the focus of our visit should not be on ourselves, but on the One who is present in the monstrance. He welcomes us as we come and seeks to change our hearts before we leave.
The motives for engaging in Eucharistic adoration are many. We may enter the Lord’s presence overcome with grief. We may seek to vent a litany of frustrations and disappointments. We may even look for refuge to express fears over what we don’t have but want, forgetful that we should give thanks for all that we do have. Regardless of the reason, we seek the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for reorientation in a world that seems all too often very disorienting.
When we go for Eucharistic adoration, we affirm the foundation of our faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ” where “the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (CCC, 1374). Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament thus serves as the “first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator” (CCC, 2628). Our longing for clearer answers, greater direction, perhaps even a stronger sense of importance during our dreariest days, brings us back to the Lord in respectful silence. We discover inner peace when we kneel before Christ in the Eucharist with adoring humility. Through sensory realities that please us perfectly, what we search for in limited faith is ultimately found in the One who meets us with unlimited love.
Surely such an extraordinary encounter will leave us different than when we arrived. Our mood will change because the “worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world” (CCC, 2097). We will reach outward selflessly instead of inward selfishly. We will gaze toward the pressing needs of our families. We will look to what we can do for others in our communities and our world. And we will proceed with greater courage and with all our newfound energy to proclaim the greater glory of God in our words and actions.
Hearts of Eucharistic adoration first express themselves when we seek the Lord: when we’re disheartened, suffering with a heart broken, or looking to discuss matters dear to our heart. On the search to set our hearts at rest, we will always find in Eucharistic adoration the Source and Summit of our faith, the One after our heart, and the Sacred Heart through whom we lose our stony heart of disbelief and receive a new heart of belief. And as we go forth with a change of heart and with all our heart, we take heart in knowing that he is with us always until the end.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.