Draw Near to the Eucharist

Eucharistic adoration may not be what it appears at first glance. It is not a static, personal time of silent reflection spent gazing at a consecrated host. Or, at least, it does not have to be. Eucharistic adoration is much, much more. It is a dynamic encounter, a thrilling embrace, a challenging conversation, and an exciting engagement.

Eucharistic adoration is about being human. God made us to adore; we were all born to be “wow” people. We all have an innate capacity for awe. Every man and woman, every child and elderly person; people of every race, nation, color, orientation, and social class: Each one has been given the gift of wonder by the God who is always greater and more amazing. So adoration is about who we are as human beings. It is something deeply rooted in our humanity.

It is what a mother feels as she cradles her newborn baby in her arms for the very first time. It is the trembling we experience when we are caught up in the overwhelming power of a storm. It is the wonder that widens the eyes and heart of a child captivated by the magic contained in the adventure of life. It is the spontaneous applause or the emotion in moist eyes before the beauty of a symphony or a tiny flower. It is the admiration we feel in the face of an act of heroism.

Our sense of wonder as human beings is a spiritual adventure as well. It is the dynamic quality of our relationship with God, deeply engraved in our hearts, where our littleness and fragility become dependent on God's transcendence. It is when fear becomes reverence, astonishment becomes the gaze of contemplation open to the divine mystery, and applause dies away to be lost in worship and praise. That is when wonder becomes adoration.

And so eucharistic adoration, which may seem to some like “wasting time” in church, is really about recognizing Jesus in the bread and feeling like dancing. It is a tender embrace that opens wide to encircle the whole world. It is having your heart set on fire.

Eucharistic adoration is about identifying with the Son, who adores the Father and loves us. Like Jesus, adoration is about giving new and abundant life to all around us. It is a passionate need to care deeply about others, about people, about the world we live in, and about the whole of creation. It is wanting to make a difference—ready to be fully committed, as bread that is broken in God's hands for everyone, for always, in the Eucharist.

Adoration is also ministry because to adore Jesus in the Eucharist also means being involved in his cause, following his style of life, and walking in the path of his destiny. It is to meditate on the words “this is my body which will be given up for you” and rejoice in his redeeming action made present in each Eucharist. It is to nourish in oneself the desire for self-giving. It is to learn to commit one's self and to give one's life for our brothers and sisters. It is learning to love without limits. It is praying for all those we hear about and get to know through television and news headlines and for all those whose suffering is ignored or denied.

To adore Jesus in the Eucharist is also to enter into the reality of bread, which “earth has given and human hands have made"—the hands of people of our time and in our country and all over the world. It is a space where we can allow ourselves to be touched by a greater spirit of solidarity, to become one with all people, as Jesus did.

To adore Jesus in the Eucharist is also a lesson in littleness. To contemplate Jesus is to look upon one who was rich but made himself poor; the all-powerful one who made himself weak; the great God who became a child, a man, a piece of bread. It is to contemplate the one who fills the universe but who emptied himself. It is to look with pure eyes and a clean heart that sees God in poor and vulnerable ones. It is to discover the beauty that is hidden in humility. One leaves eucharistic adoration and takes farewell of Jesus, perhaps a little smaller in one's own eyes.

Adoration is so many things, but above all, it is an appointment, a date, time spent “hanging out” with Jesus Christ and with all that he was and all that he is—just being with him, present in the host. It is time, too, spent with the whole of humanity, with all that is and all that can be—an appointment that places us at the heart of reality and at the center of history.

Hidden beneath the surface of eucharistic adoration is a whole new world. Eucharistic adoration cannot be separated from who we are as human beings, created by God and followers of Jesus Christ. It is ours to discover and explore.

This text on eucharistic adoration was taken from a reflection by Sister Margaret Scott, acj (www.srmargaret-aci.com). Sister Margaret has held leadership positions in her community, the Handmaids of the Sacred heart of Jesus, and is a regular speaker in various countries. She writes for several magazines and has published her first book, The Eucharist and Social Justice (Paulist Press, 2009).