Today we had a half-day RCIA session from noon to five o’clock. For the most part it was like our regular classes, but at the end they surprised us with an hour of Adoration. We knelt on the concrete floor as the deacon brought in the monstrance, then our adult education director invited us to come before the consecrated host one by one to say a prayer.
The vibe in the room wasn’t exactly conducive to prayerful reflection (it was a gymnasium-type building with bright, glaring florescent lights and the A/C set on “arctic”), but I was excited nonetheless. I’ve heard so many good things about it, I wondered what it felt like to participate in this event that so many people believe involves the real presence of Jesus Christ. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
As part of the normal ebb and flow of my budding spirituality I’ve been having another dry spell where I don’t feel particularly in tune with God. I’ve been praying daily for my faith to be strengthened and hoped that maybe something at this RCIA retreat would help. So when our director announced that we were going to have Adoration I thought, “This is it!” and sat back and waited for my powerful religious experience.
I smelled the incense and watched the deacon walk down the isle in his elaborate, beautiful robe. I saw many people go before me to recite the prayer of devotion to Jesus, often becoming overwhelmed with tears. I stared at the monstrance, waiting to feel something, waiting to feel that Jesus was truly present in this most sacred of events. I tried to silence my usual racing, scattered, overly-analytical thoughts and simply let God speak to me and lead me in the right direction.
So it was with a heavy heart that I realized I felt nothing as I watched person after person get up from kneeling to wipe tears from their eyes. A moment before I went up to take my turn I begged God to let me know if this was the right path, to give me some sort of feeling or sign that he is truly present here, that we’re not all just woefully misled, just revering manmade objects. And still, I felt nothing. I returned home from the retreat and Adoration about the same spiritually as before I left.
Normally it’s no surprise when experiences that are spiritually powerful for others don’t affect me — as I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m spiritually inept. But I’ve heard so much about Adoration I suppose I just took for granted that it was going to be a thunder-and-lightning sort of experience, that this was the big gun you pull out when you’re flailing and in need of direction. In the back of my mind I always thought, “Well, if I get too far off course and my doubts get too overwhelming I’ll just go to Adoration, that’ll fix it.” Looking back I see it was silly to think that there’s some sort of insta-quick-fix for matters of faith, but it was disappointing to come to that realization nonetheless.
So, I’m not sure what to make of that. Obviously I’m not going to give up on Adoration based on this one experience. Hopefully I was just having an off day or something. But since one of the main purposes of this site is to give a completely honest, uncensored chronicle my experiences with faith, both good and bad, I wanted to share this story.
I also want to hear what my readers think: Have you ever had a setback like this, something you thought would be powerful and transformative but fell flat? Also, was it perhaps something I did wrong? Was there something I should have done to put myself in a better mindset to appreciate it?
Prayers and thoughts appreciated, as always.
UPDATE: A wonderful Part II to this post is here.
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