From Alexandria to Zimmerman, adoration is gaining momentum

Categories: Guest Views

So why do we spend time adoring the Blessed Sacrament?

June 20, 2014, edition

We Catholics are blessed with an abundance of devotions and rituals that add breadth to our prayer lives. Praying the holy rosary and acknowledging feast days are just two examples of how we can reach out through the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints and martyrs to grow closer to God.

But of all the ways we seek communion with God, the Eucharist is the “source and summit of our faith”(Lumen Gentium #11). Since we celebrate the Eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass, that makes the Mass our highest form of liturgical worship.

Receiving its power from the Mass, one unique activity gives us a chance to experience Jesus directly in a special way: eucharistic adoration.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes eucharistic adoration as “. . . an extension of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which occurs in every Mass: ‘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’ ” (usccb.org/adoration and holy hours).

What’s the purpose?

If you aren’t familiar with eucharistic adoration it’s important to note that it’s actually a liturgy, not simply a devotion. As such, it is regulated by the church in a work called the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction.

It begins by the priest or deacon removing the consecrated host from the tabernacle and placing it in the monstrance on the altar. The monstrance is a vessel with a small window in the center called a luna through which the consecrated host can be exposed. The liturgy typically includes Scripture readings, hymns and prayers. There can be variations of the liturgy.

Once the Blessed Sacrament has been placed on the altar for solemn exposition, adorers take turns spending “holy hours” in its presence. As long as the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, it is not to be left unattended.

So why do we spend time adoring the Blessed Sacrament?

Because Jesus is present body, blood, soul and divinity under the appearance of the consecrated host.

Why do we believe this?

Because Jesus wants us to believe it. If you ever have doubts about the Real Presence, go to John’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 22-71, commonly referred to as the “Bread of Life” discourse. Pay special attention to the clear, concrete language Jesus uses.

When you are done with that, read Mark 14: 22-24 where Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. These Scripture passages form the bedrock of our belief that Jesus is fully present in the consecrated host and that eating this ‘living bread that came down from heaven’ is essential if we are to have life within us.

Here in the St. Cloud Diocese a growing number of people are turning to eucharistic adoration for the spiritual blessings it provides.

Rita Olson, a member of St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Foreston, independently volunteers her time promoting adoration throughout the diocese.

She maintains a list of parish locations, dates and times when adoration is held. She offers assistance to parishes interested in starting adoration and meets quarterly with adoration coordinators from as many as 25 churches. She and another volunteer, Joelene Calvert, also publish a quarterly adoration newsletter.

According to Olson, when she first compiled the list of parishes sponsoring adoration in 2009 there were 64. When she updated the list at the beginning of 2014 that number had grown nearly 40 percent to 88, and included parishes across all seven deaneries.

This tremendous growth surely is due in some measure to the efforts of Olson and the volunteers who work with her.

What’s the benefit?

For the past 15 years, my wife and I have been blessed to have our own adoration hour. When I explain our love for being in front of the Blessed Sacrament I get a lot of interesting looks even from some of our Catholic friends.

This always makes me chuckle because I know these same folks go camping to get closer to nature, attend concerts to experience the performance, but still have a hard time believing that you can go to church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and feel more intensely the presence of God!

If you already are an advocate of eucharistic adoration, you are in good company. Here’s what Pope John Paul II had to say about it.

“The church and the world have great need of eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and contemplation full of faith. And let us be ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease” (Dominicae Cenae: Letter to Priests, Holy Thursday, 1980).

Pope Benedict repeated the need for widespread eucharistic adoration.

“In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering. . . . therefore, I heartily recommend to the church’s pastors and to the People of God the practice of eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community” (Feb. 22, 2007, Sacramentum Caritatis, Post-Synodal Apostolic exhortation).

More recently, Pope Francis led a worldwide hour of eucharistic adoration from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome praying for the church and for everyone living on the margins of society.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to spend consistent time praying, thinking and just being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, consider giving it a try. The gifts received from frequent adoration can’t be explained as much as they have to be felt.

If your parish doesn’t offer adoration, email Rita Olson at thedivinesolution@yahoo.com to find the closest adoration opportunity to you. And talk with your pastor about starting eucharistic adoration in your own parish.

You’ll never be sorry that you did.

Doug Scott is a member of St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Foreston.