By Christian Bergmann
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life;… who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives.” – St. John Paul II, Homily, August 19, 2000-
At Holy Family Parish, Eucharistic Adoration has become frequently available. This is an absolute grace. In his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Saint Pope John-Paul the Great mourned the neglect of Eucharist Adoration in some parts of the Church, since it is “an inexhaustible source of holiness” (10). Now that some of the legal restrictions are being lifted in Victoria and other states across Australia, we can start to feel hope that maybe things are beginning to return to normal. However, since Mass is unable to be made available for large numbers of people, I would like to encourage everybody to take advantage of this precious gift of Eucharistic Adoration that is able to be provided for us. Let’s use this opportunity to re-energise our spiritual life so that spiritually we don’t go back to normal, back to the way we did (or didn’t) pray before, but can begin a new and exciting kind of normal, one that keeps us in touch with the presence of Jesus in our midst.
In a sense, though, Eucharistic Adoration is actually more difficult than attending Mass. In Mass, there is a certain amount of stimulation and reception on our part. We are listening to the words of the Scriptures, we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Sacred Host. We are amongst our community. During Adoration, there is utter silence, and that silence places a demand on us. It means we have to sit still, to be quiet, to listen to God speak in those places we’re not used to him speaking. It’s a difficult thing.
However, if we let ourselves sit before Blessed Sacrament, like the Beloved Disciple rested against the heart of Jesus at the Last Supper, we can cultivate an intimacy with Christ we have never known before.
In my experience, there are some things that can truly help make Adoration a more fruitful experience. Usually I find concentrating during Adoration difficult. As soon as I sit down, I feel like everything inside of me becomes noisy. It’s hard to find interior silence. Along the way, though, I have been taught some things by people who know a lot more than me about how I can spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. It’s helped.
1. Focus on Breathing
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, there is a strong emphasis on focussing your breathing whilst you pray. What’s more, whilst you focus on your breathing, recite words of Scripture so that you have an object of contemplation and your mind isn’t running in a bunch of different directions. The famous Orthodox prayer is the Jesus Prayer, taken from the Gospel of Luke. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Breathe in on the first part: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Breathe out on the second part: “Have mercy on me a sinner.” This is a powerful, contemplative prayer. It will help settle you internally. The other passage that’s easy to recite is Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God.” Breathe in on the first part: “Be still and know.” Breathe out on the second: “That I am God.”
2. Read the Scriptures
God speaks to us through his Word. Saint Jerome said: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” We cannot seek to known him intimately unless we are willing to spend time with him. There are a number of different methods of praying with the Scriptures, one of which is the Lectio Divina, which I will discuss in another article. But there is no better way to spend time in the presence of Jesus than by reading the words of Jesus.
3. Spiritual Reading
Get in touch with the saints. Get in touch with the mystics. Feel free to read small portions of the spiritual writings of the saints during Adoration and allow their words to inspire you, to move you to prayer. There are a lot of people who know how to pray better than me, who knew Jesus better than I do. Reading them, in small passages at a time, so that I can really contemplate slowly, is very powerful. At the moment, I am reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. I would also recommend Saint Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, or Thomas Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation, or C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.
These are just some of the things I have found to be powerful tools in helping me enter into the silence during Adoration. Let’s not let this time go to waste. Let’s make use of it.
If you would like to sign up for a Holy Hour, you can do so by going to the Holy Family website: www.holyfamily.melbourne and making booking online, or by calling the Parish Office.