How to Have a More Fruitful Hour of Adoration
Adoring the Eucharist flows naturally from the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The mystery of the Incarnation intertwines with the Eucharist, which has its roots in the Holy Trinity—and God’s master plan to draw humanity into Himself. Here is the Son of God, who in humility and great love, becomes man (cf. Phil 2:6-11) and lays down His life for fallen humanity. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not leave the disciples on their own; He left the Church and the sacraments to draw us into Himself, and sent the Holy Spirit to give us the graces we need. And, in the sacrament of sacraments, we unite ourselves to Jesus and the entire Mystical Body of Christ every time we receive the Eucharist. Going to Eucharistic adoration doesn’t compete with the Mass, but “is simply the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, #66). Receiving the Eucharist at Mass “only reaches its true depths when it is supported and surrounded by adoration” (Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 90). Mass and adoration have a circular flow into each other.
All that, in what our eyes see as a mere piece of bread! Venerable Fulton Sheen called this the greatest love story of all time. In the presence of the divine love, our only response can be worship. So go to adoration and cast the nets of your heart out into the deep (cf. Luke 5:4)—the depths of Jesus’ Sacred Heart, and the love and mercy that flow from it. Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to have a fruitful holy hour!
What You Bring In
“Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Be mindful of what you’re bringing in: the troubles of the day, stress, and distraction. Bringing those things to Jesus in Eucharistic adoration is highly recommended! There’s no one better to talk to than Jesus.
At the same time, be mindful not to let those things completely overtake your hour of prayer. I’ve gone to adoration, telling the Lord what’s on my mind, my stresses, anxieties, how work is going… all of a sudden, it’s twenty minutes later and all I’ve done is think about the emails waiting for me to answer, the presentation I have to finish, the shopping list. It takes practice and effort to develop the mental discipline to fend those thoughts off. If that’s happened more than once, try preparing an adoration to do list: prayers to say, people to pray for, other intentions, a particular Scripture passage to read. Even if you’re not a “list person,” it can be very helpful in maintaining focus.
It’s also important to set your expectations at a reasonable level. Sometimes prayer is amazing and touches us on an emotional level. Just as often—if not more so—we don’t get those sort of warm feelings during prayer. If you spend an hour in adoration and come out with no “feelings,” or having experienced the heights of contemplation, you’re not doing anything wrong. St. Teresa of Calcutta was arguably one of the holiest women of the 20th century; she experienced a decades-long dryness in prayer. If you experience arid prayer, focus on the virtues of perseverance and humility. Stick it out and pray with as much confidence as you can muster. Remember that God sends us trials out of love (however counterintuitive that is to us) and seeks to draw you closer to Himself. Also remember that arid prayer still carries weight to it, no matter how it feels. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
Let Silence Open the Mysteries
“The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me.” (John 17:22-23)
Reserve some time for silence during adoration. The goal of all prayer is union with Christ, and there are a myriad of avenues to get to that destination. Spiritual reading, praying the rosary, saying a novena, the Liturgy of the Hours, lectio divina, and many more practices usher us closer to Jesus. All of those things are very good, but still allot time for silence during your holy hour. In the quiet, let the mystery of the Eucharist unfold itself to you. Hidden from our senses, the Eucharist is Jesus Himself. “In the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a ‘thing,’ but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and reveals the ultimate origin of this love.” (Sacramentum Caritatis #7)
In the quiet, open your heart to Him. Try to mirror the self-giving love that Jesus has for us, offering everything in your life to Him. The world around us is full of noise. Distraction with worldly pursuits can drive a wedge between us and God, obscuring the importance of our relationship with God. Distraction can also serve to reduce our relationship with God down to the same level as a “friend” on social media: interacting without actually speaking, knowing things about someone instead of knowing them.
Me, Me, Me
“I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from the Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:15-17)
By entrusting the sacrament of the Eucharist to the Church, Jesus did something at once collective and individual. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church, as well as communion with each person. He meant for us to have both: a community of believers as well as a direct path to Him. Take some time to remember that while Jesus came for humanity, and died for us, He came for you. He laid down his life for you. Our personal relationship with Jesus has to be there to ever expect union with Him to take root. Without a relationship, the spiritual life loses its meaning; it can easily die if there’s no heart behind it.
If that’s a difficult place to get to, start by reflecting on all the blessings of your life. Jesus has showered you with graces and love, regardless of your sins or receptivity. Why? “Because you have been loved with predilection. There is no other explanation… What confidence He had in you, to give Himself in this way” (Fr. Jean C.J. d’Elbée, I Believe in Love, p. 12).
Let that sink deep into your heart. Not only did God love you into being, but He desires your heart so much and trusts you to an extent that’s crazy for us to think about. The omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God made Himself vulnerable so that you and I could be united to Him. St. Paul expressed this personal union beautifully: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20) Union with Christ, made possible by His love for us, causes a wellspring of love in our hearts.
Loving Christ is within the capacity of every single person. Don’t think this is only for the saints. Uniting ourselves to Him is possible for anyone who believes! In His Eucharistic presence, ask for this union.
Please and Thank You
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5:16-18)
Praying in the presence of Our Lord is the perfect place to bring special intentions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests a starting point for any petitions brought before the Lord: humbly asking forgiveness. In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable of the prayer of a Pharisee and a tax collector. The tax collector begins his prayer with, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Be careful not to approach God in such a manner that He owes us this or that. Follow the example of the tax collector, and come to the throne of God in humility.
There’s plenty to pray for in the world today! In addition to prayers for your family, friends, and loved ones, remember prayers for the Church. If the world has any hope of turning around, the only way is through Jesus. And, He gave the Church to be a sacrament to the world. Pray for the Church, but priests and bishops especially!
The gratitude of the Church that’s expressed in the offering of the Eucharist contains more than just the words “thank you.” That’s partially due to the immense list of things to be thankful for! The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the beginning of that list. First, when the Eucharist is offered at Mass, it is a sacrifice of praise for all of creation. We offer Jesus back to the Father, through Whom all things were made, visible and invisible (CCC #1359). In the Eucharist, we also give praise to the Father for the salvation of the human race, accomplished by Jesus, the priest and victim (#1360). The whole Church is united within the Eucharist, whether on earth, in purgatory, or in heaven. St. John Paul II called the Eucharist “the supreme sacramental manifestation of communion in the Church.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #38)
God gave us everything we have: our world, our lives, His Son, the offering of heaven, and a Church to get us there. If thanksgiving isn’t part of your usual prayer life, start today!
Pope Benedict XVI ended Sacramentum Caritatis by reminding us of what’s possible when the Eucharist is part of our life. Be holy and become saints!
“Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is at the root of every form of holiness, and each of us is called to the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit. How many saints have advanced along the way of perfection thanks to their Eucharistic devotion! From Saint Ignatius of Antioch to Saint Augustine, from Saint Anthony Abbot to Saint Benedict, from Saint Francis of Assisi to Saint Thomas Aquinas, from Saint Clare of Assisi to Saint Catherine of Siena, from Saint Paschal Baylon to Saint Peter Julian Eymard, from Saint Alphonsus Liguori to Blessed Charles de Foucauld, from Saint John Mary Vianney to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, from Saint Pius of Pietrelcina to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, from Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati to Blessed Ivan Merz, to name only a few, holiness has always found its centre in the sacrament of the Eucharist.” (Sacramentum Caritatis, #94)