Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 11, 2005
Watching with the Lord
Eucharistic adoration is a prayer of vigil
The Shepherd Speaks
By ARCHBISHOP THOMAS COLLINS
Throughout the world in recent years there has been a resurgence of the practice of Eucharistic Adoration. Where this has taken place, the spiritual benefits have been remarkable. Pope John Paul encouraged this practice, especially in this Year of the Eucharist.
In our own archdiocese, many parishes have set aside extensive periods for eucharistic adoration, either in the simple form of prayer before the tabernacle, or in the more developed form of Eucharistic Exposition.
I strongly encourage this practice in all of our parishes, and urge parishioners to take part in this vital dimension of their parish life. To offer even more opportunities for the prayer of adoration, on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, on Sunday, May 29 of this year, I will inaugurate Perpetual Adoration, 24 hours a day, in a chapel at St. Andrew's Parish in Edmonton. It seems appropriate to consider carefully the meaning and purpose of Eucharistic Adoration, and how it fits into the Christian life.
Time with the Lord
Essentially, Eucharistic Adoration is a kind of prayer of vigil, where a person spends time "watching with the Lord," and often this kind of prayer involves praying for extensive periods throughout the day or throughout the night.
Our Lord himself gives us several examples of this. In the first pages of the Gospel of Mark we hear how Jesus rose long before dawn to spend time in prayer with his heavenly Father: "And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed" (Mark 2:35).
Before the busyness of his daily work, he gives first priority to prayerful spiritual communion. It is noteworthy that whenever Jesus tries to do this, he is often interrupted by the apostles, who break in upon his contemplative peace. He serenely turns to their needs, reminding us that our time of prayerful vigil must always be set within the context of concern for the needs of others.
Before choosing the 12 apostles, Jesus spends the whole night in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). Important moments and decisions in life require a vigil of prayer. We bring to God our cares and problems, and seek in prayer the guidance we need. Often that guidance is found at least partially in our deepened awareness through prayer of the divine context of our earthly actions.
Realizing that (which is hard to do in the frenzy of life) we can see more clearly how to proceed. This is what happens when we spend time in adoration before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, either in our parish church or in the chapel at St. Andrew's.
Before entering into the passion, Jesus gave the three key apostles a hint of his glory, in the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13). This experience is a marvellous foreshadowing of Eucharistic Adoration, for in our times of humble adoration before the awesome mystery of the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist we become more aware of the glory of the Lord, and this helps us to prepare for the way of the cross which is often our lot in life if we are faithful disciples, called to take up our cross and follow him.
The apostles were refreshed by the glorious experience on Mount Tabor, and so are we when be spend time with the Lord, especially in Eucharistic Adoration.
But the key point is we are not called to spend our lives at the top of the mountain. We are meant to come down into the struggles of life, as Jesus and the apostles do immediately after their experience of glory, when Jesus reaches out to heal a suffering child (Matthew 17:14-21).
Our experience of divine majesty energizes us for the service of our neighbour. Mother Teresa would spend time in Eucharistic Adoration, then join in the celebration of the Eucharist, and finally give the rest of the day to action serving others, a good model for us all, according to the circumstances of our own lives.
The Mass gets its name from the Latin expression which ends the celebration: "Ite, missa est." This means: get out of here, and start fulfilling your mission of serving those around you. Eucharistic Adoration is simply a way of extending the Mass in a spirit of contemplation.
We come away from our busy lives to celebrate the Eucharist, and also to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration. We are sent away from each renewed in our commitment to love God and neighbour, for in both celebration and adoration we are challenged to see beyond our daily lives to recognize in faith the divine reality which gives meaning and direction to our lives as disciples.
(First in a series of articles)
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