Bulletin Q&A Article, published 6-4-23:

Many of my friends say they are going to the church for adoration. Can you explain a little about this?

I remember from my childhood learning the mnemonic, ACTS, to learn the different ways to pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. And at Mass we pray with all these intentions. We confess our sinfulness and ask for forgiveness in the Penitential Rite. We offer our supplications to God in the Prayers of the Faithful. We give thanks to God as the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayers—Eucharist means thanksgiving. And then, with us on our knees, the priest holds up the host facing the people and says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” This is a special time for adoration. The Catechism states: “Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil” (CCC #2628).

Our time spent adoring God during Mass is brief, and so it a good thing to spend additional time outside of Mass to visit the church and spend quiet time adoring Jesus present in the tabernacle. The bishops state that it “serves to deepen our hunger for Communion with Christ and the rest of the Church.” Many people go for adoration and strive to make a “holy hour” once per week. For some this is more than their schedule allows. And then, there are some who spend an hour in adoration every day. Whatever time you can spend, it is of great spiritual benefit to draw closer to Jesus, to bring Him your needs, to look for guidance in your life. You can simply sit quietly and speak with Jesus in the stillness of your heart guided by the Holy Spirit. You can pray the rosary or the chaplet of Divine Mercy. You can read the Bible or some other spiritual material. You can write in your journal to document your spiritual journey.

While we can adore Christ present in the tabernacle, there are special times of adoration when the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance on the altar so that we can gaze upon Jesus’ presence as we pray. The Church even provides a “Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction” to provide guidance for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Exposition can take place for an hour, for an extended period of time during the day, for 40 hours, or, in some locations, there can be “perpetual adoration” where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on a continual basis. At the end of a period of exposition, before the Blessed Sacrament is reposed once again in the tabernacle, the people receive a special blessing called Benediction. The priest or deacon wears a humeral veil, a stole-like vestment that goes over the shoulders and has pockets for the celebrant’s hands. The pockets allow the celebrant to pick up the monstrance without directly touching it. The celebrant then raises the monstrance and makes the sign of the cross over the people. The humeral veil conceals the celebrant to signify the blessing received is directly from Jesus, not from the priest or deacon.

St. Alphonsus de Ligouri wrote: “Certainly amongst all devotions, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds the first place, is the most pleasing to God, and the most useful to ourselves. Be not then loth, devout soul, now to begin; and forsaking the conversations of men, dwell each day, from this time forward, for at least half or quarter of an hour, in some church, in the presence of Jesus Christ under the sacramental species. … Only try this devotion, and by experience you will see the great benefit that you will derive from it. Be assured that the time you will thus spend with devotion before this Most Divine Sacrament, will be the most profitable to you in life, and the source of your greatest consolations in death and in eternity.”

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