By Laura Melius
The sign in front of the local Catholic parish says, “Mass Sundays at 9 a.m., Eucharistic Adoration Tuesdays at 6 p.m.” We know what the Mass is, but what, exactly, is eucharistic adoration and who should attend?
Eucharistic adoration is, simply, time spent with Jesus in the Eucharist outside of Mass. At Mass, we physically receive Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. At adoration, the host is displayed on the altar in a vessel, or monstrance, for the faithful to pray in Jesus’ presence.
Adoration has been a part of the Catholic faith for centuries, with several saints having a great devotion to praying in this way. St. Teresa of Calcutta believed, “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.”
For many young people, they want the very thing St. Teresa is talking about, but they haven’t experienced adoration yet. When they do, it is often the catalyst that changes their relationship with their Lord.
Inspired to adore
Anna Mitzel, a student at Roncalli High School in Aberdeen, has a great appreciation for adoration and first began attending this time of prayer with her grandparents.
“I began going to adoration when my grandpa and grandma had two times that they would go on Wednesdays,” Anna said. “I would go because I wanted to deepen my faith and not just go to Sunday Mass. I also found peace in adoration.”
Finding this peace led Anna to keep adoration as an important part of her life. “Taking one hour out of my day to go find peace and sit in the loving gaze of our Lord really helps me keep drawing to the Lord,” Anna said.
Brandon Hageman, a student at South Dakota State University (SDSU), discovered adoration through SEEK, an annual national conference for Catholic college students. The conference concluded with two hours devoted to eucharistic adoration.
“Having spent the entire day meditating and preparing for that moment, there was a weight to it that I had never experienced before,” Brandon recalls. “I finally understood that Jesus was actually there, in that room, inside the monstrance, and I had the privilege to spend time with him.”
He now attends adoration regularly four mornings a week at the Pius XII Newman Center on the SDSU campus.
Spend the time well
Typically, one devotes an hour of prayer in adoration. How that time is spent depends upon the individual, and that can change throughout one’s life.
“I remember how hard it seemed to fill an entire hour in prayer. I always struggled to keep focused,” Brandon recalls of his first experiences in adoration. “Reciting the Rosary, reading Scripture or praying novenas are all good ways to spend some of your time during adoration, but my biggest recommendation is to just be present with the Lord,” he suggests.
Anna encourages those attending adoration for the first time not to be intimidated. “It’s like you are going to hang out with one of your best friends. You are going to go to the Lord’s house, and you can talk to him about everything,” she says.
“Allow yourself to be silent with the Lord as well,” Brandon suggests. “You may be surprised how much easier it is to hear him in the silence.”
Anna agrees. “There’s been more than once I have found an overwhelming peace and comfort in the chapel. Just being in his presence brings me the joy and peace that you can’t find in worldly things.”
Fire of love
Developing a closer relationship with Jesus and a greater appreciation for the Eucharist will make time in adoration even more meaningful. Brandon strengthened his relationship with Jesus by seeking him more each day.
“I slowly developed this relationship by making him a bigger part of my daily life,” Brandon said. “The more time I gave to my faith, the more time I realized I had to begin with.”
Brandon’s love of the Eucharist changed greatly as this relationship and his faith matured. “Once I understood the meaning behind this sacrament and realized that I am receiving the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, my heart was set on fire with love of him.”
Anna has found a greater love for the Eucharist as she has come to understand more of what Jesus has done for and given to those who love him.
“He went and died to give us the Eucharist to save us,” she said. “Even when we don’t deserve the Eucharist and his love after all we have done, he still opens his arms and lets us share in his glory and grace. Even though it’s hard to trust him, I can come back to the Eucharist and find him there, like an anchor on a boat.”
Love spills over
Both Brandon and Anna have found that a deeper relationship with Jesus and prayer in adoration have strengthened the relationships in their lives as well. In her relationships with friends, Anna has realized that she is able to help point them toward unconditional love.
“I am able to try and show people how you can find true happiness and love,” she said. “You don’t need to go to worldly things to find it.”
Brandon and his fiancé, Hope Osborn, regularly attend Mass and adoration together.
“These have added a fruitfulness to our relationship in which I can be a better future spouse for her, and she for me,” Brandon said. “Because she loves God above me, she can offer me a love that is more pure and unconditional.”
Anna and Brandon agree that any time spent with Jesus in eucharistic adoration will be blessed.
“It has really done wonders in my life. I have been able to deepen my life with God and trust him more,” Anna said.
Brandon finds the gift of adoration to be nothing short of miraculous. “Being in the presence of the Lord through eucharistic adoration never ceases to bring me peace, even when the stress and anxiety of the world is heavy. That itself is a miracle to me.”