“United with the angels and saints of the heavenly Church, let us adore the most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.” —Pope St. John Paul II
Growing up my brother and I got along well. We went to the same college and had friends in common. As adults, life happened. He moved out to the East Coast for a job. I started a family and we didn’t stay very connected. We told each other that with the busyness of life and jobs and kids, we just didn’t have the mental, physical, or emotional energy to talk on the phone. We knew we loved each other and we didn’t need to have that contact. We were important to each other and that was what mattered.
We were two people vaguely acknowledging that we were in a relationship. The actual relationship was weak. We didn’t prioritize each other. Our lives didn’t often intersect. It wasn’t a lack of love—I always loved him—it was a lack of making time. It was a reluctance to put forth effort. Frankly, it was laziness and selfishness.
Qualities of a Meaningful Friendship
Something changed five years ago. It might be that we both got better data plans. It might be that the Holy Spirit smacked us upside our heads. It doesn’t matter. We began to text. Our relationship blossomed. We finally decided that we like each other enough to put forth some effort and we started to share stories and pictures of our kids, jokes, and snippets of mundane life happenings. I started looking out for simple things I could text him: a funny name on a yard sign, a photo of a flower I grew, musings on world weirdness. Over time, he became one of my best friends. I look forward to my phone dinging and his name popping up because I’ve developed a deep, meaningful and really fun friendship with someone who already loved me.
Then the Holy Spirit struck again and showed me that my relationship with my brother is analogous to my relationship with Jesus. Despite growing up Catholic and attending thirteen years of Catholic school, despite knowing Jesus loves me and in fact loving him back, despite praying most days and attending Sunday Mass, my relationship with him was marginal. I was really busy after all. I had kids to shuttle, a house to clean, dinner to cook, a husband to spend time with, friends, work, volunteering, blah, blah, blah. I knew I should pray but how in the world could I get all the other stuff done if I did?
“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.”—St. Teresa of Calcutta
Visit Him Often in the Eucharist
It was around this time that I discovered eucharistic adoration. More likely, the Holy Spirit interceded again somehow. An organization in my hometown, Arise Milwaukee, sponsors a weekly event called Cor Jesu. This is where I learned that eucharistic adoration is a life changer. Each week, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, music is played, reconciliation is offered and Mass follows. Each week the church is filled with people seeking, and finding, Our Lord through the Eucharist.
The first time I attended, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I’d entered a strange land and I couldn’t settle my mind. I was looking for a feeling. I hadn’t yet learned that faith isn’t a feeling and it’s OK if God is quiet.
Praying is like texting—it’s communication with someone we love. It’s a statement of validation: I love you so much Jesus that I am going to put effort into this relationship. I am going to show up. The prayers went from thank yous and petitions to sharing hopes, dreams, worries, and frustrations to conversation. And sometimes, just being quiet together.
“Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit him often.” —St. John Bosco.
The Greatest Love Story
Fr. John Bartunek, LC at spiritualdirection.com, reminds us of Mary and Martha. Martha complained that Mary wasn’t doing anything while she, Martha, prepared dinner. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the right path: she was sitting with Jesus, spending time with him. Prayer can seem like a waste of time to some. Edith Stein, St. John Paul II, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dorothy Day and John Henry Newman would disagree. They spent hours in front of Jesus and with his grace were able to accomplish great things for God’s kingdom.
When we are with Jesus, wonderful things begin to happen in our hearts. There is power in the Blessed Sacrament. That small piece of bread is Jesus present with us in a way we can understand.
God created us for intimacy and connection with each other and him. We desire human contact but we also need it. Part of how we love people is through our bodies, says Fr. Mike Schmitz (SEEK 2015 conference). We are corporal creatures and Jesus gave us his body in the Eucharist as a tangible reminder of his constant presence. We are invited to be with his body through Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.
“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Simply Being in His Presence
But what do we DO when we are at Adoration? We can do nothing if we like. Just being present is a joy to Jesus. If we have trouble quieting our minds we can read Scripture (any Gospel, the daily readings, the Psalms). We know that Scripture is God speaking to us in a real and living way. Read his Word and listen for what he is saying while you sit with his Son. We can read about the lives of the saints or any other religious book (Fr. Jacques Philippe has some wonderful little books perfect for this).
Praying the Rosary is a beautiful way to encounter Jesus, and the repetition of the Hail Mary prayer can settle us so that we can reflect on the mysteries. Reciting a simple prayer such as “Jesus I trust in you” or “Jesus have mercy on me, a sinner” can also help us to enter into a quiet state and be receptive.
As with anything worthwhile, eucharistic adoration takes practice and God will not leave us to flounder alone. If we make the effort and ask for help, he will surely send his grace. When I first started attending adoration, I felt like not much was happening. As time went on, I started to appreciate simply being in his presence.
Abundant Measure of Grace
There are great fruits to adoration. Our faith deepens; we grow closer to Jesus and are able to hear what he is telling us. We grow in virtues of holiness: obedience, humility, patience. Our love for Jesus becomes greater and we experience peace and joy. Our prayer is also good for the Body of the Church of which we are part.
Our world and our Church need prayer warriors now more than ever. By remembering the great gift of the Eucharist and spending time with Jesus, we are answering the invitation of God to be united with him and we are inviting him further into our hearts.
“Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, ‘Ask, and you shall receive,’ but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.”
—St. Alphonsus Liguori
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About Merridith Frediani
Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three teenagers. She loves leading small faith groups for moms and looking for God in the silly and ordinary. She blogs and writes for her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee.