The Eucharist—A Priceless Treasure
To continue our discussion on Eucharistic Adoration, let’s consider what Pope St. John Paul II had to say about it in his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
“It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!
This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints. Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”. The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace.”
During the parish mission conducted recently at St. Francis of Assisi in Castle Rock, signup sheets were available for people to volunteer to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament—face time with Jesus. This is part of the ongoing efforts to generate a practice of “perpetual adoration.” The goal of perpetual adoration is to have one or more people committed to one of the 168 hours a week to sit in the Real Presence and pray to Jesus. To some that may sound like a hard commitment to make, but to reiterate a point from the last post on this topic, it’s only one hour a week. Giving God an hour of our time seems like a pretty uneven swap when we think about what He’s done for each of us and His particular love for each and every one of us.
Starting with the first week of Advent for the 2015-2016 liturgical year, the USCCB has a downloadable guide for lectio divina (Latin for “divine reading”) prayer each week. This is a great starting point for anyone who might want to expand their approach to prayer while in Eucharistic Adoration (or at any other time as well). In his book, Praying Constantly: Bringing Your Faith to Life, the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F,R., provides a nice summary of lectio divina at pp. 94 - 97:
- Calm ourselves—become silent and receptive to whatever God has to say
- Begin to read a passage slowly—as slowly as possible, dwelling on words and phrases—NOT analyzing or interpreting, but remaining open to let God speak to us. We don’t need to read too much
- Pause when something speaks to us in a special way—stop to ponder it—this is the meditation part of divine reading
- Repeat this over and over for the passage through which God seems to be speaking clearly to us
- Slowly we move from reading—to meditation—and to prayer
- In the prayer part, we let God take the lead and we listen to Him, letting Him guide us in a gentle dialogue
- Contemplation is the final stage, which involves letting go of words and thoughts, and comes from the grace of God, not from our efforts and happens according to His schedule, not ours.
Father Benedict closes by telling us, “The point of lectio divina is simple. It is merely to be with God in a stillness interrupted by nothing more than the holy words of Scripture. It is to let God remove the barriers between Himself and us, one by one, until we are as open as we possibly can be to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit…the rewards can be enormous.”
For more information on how to use lectio divina, take a look at Dan Burke’s post at Catholic Spiritual Direction.
There Are Other Ways as Well
If we don’t feel like doing divine reading, we can just go to visit Jesus and talk with Him. We can let Him know what’s on our mind, and share with Him what we’re grateful for. We can let Him know what’s troubling us and let Him help us:
Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” – Mt. 11: 28-30
At the end of the day, it’s not so much how we pray but that we actually visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament routinely. He’s waiting, and He wants desperately to see each one of us there. Let us not disappoint Him.