On Friday I told you about the idea of keeping an “Adoration List.” The idea first came to me in the beginning of March, so though it was frustrating to have to wait almost 30 days to see the fruits of the habit, it was a great relief to have a way to let go of the little daily worries that linger in the back of my mind. At least once a day I thought of how eager I was for the first Friday to roll around!
When Friday finally arrived, I was so eager to get down to the nearest Adoration chapel and go over this list. It had grown rather long, and I couldn’t wait to see what I’d find through prayer: what would I find to be the big issues worth addressing? What would turn out to be things that seemed like a big deal at the time but are really not worth worrying about at all? There were so many scattered thoughts scribbled down on that paper, I was glad I wrote everything down since it would be impossible to remember it all.
As I prepared to get out of the house, things were already Not Going How I Wanted Them to Go™. I had let time slip by and it was getting late. I didn’t finish some things I wanted to get done before I left. My mother had made a wonderful last-minute offer to babysit so that my husband could go with me, but the kids were uncharacteristically fussy about us leaving, and it required the skill of a snake charmer to extricate ourselves from the chaos without all three of them having simultaneous meltdowns. When we were finally in the car and on the road, I still felt tense and stressed, but took great comfort in knowing that I would finally be able to bring my long list of worries before the Lord. I will leave it up to your imagination as to how I reacted when I realized:
I forgot the list.
I. Forgot. The. *%@!&#. List. And there was no turning back — it was already late, we were more than half way to the church, going back in the house would get the kids all wound up again, and I had no idea where I’d left it anyway. I was beside myself. I had been looking forward to this every single day for weeks, I really felt like it was an idea I’d been led to through prayer, and now it was all for naught because of an absent-minded mistake (it was with bitter irony that I recalled that one of the items on the list was “Am I too forgetful?”).
To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have even gone to Adoration if my husband hadn’t been with me. The self-pitying, control-freak, not-trusting-in-God side of my personality had been kicked into overdrive by this situation, and I was so frustrated about it all that I wanted to just forget the whole thing and go pout somewhere. At some point it did briefly occur to me that perhaps I should turn to God in calm trust that this was part of his plan and he’d lead me where I needed to go, but that thought was quickly drown out with more important concerns like, “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HAVE A PRODUCTIVE ADORATION WITHOUT MY LIST?!” (That is what John Paul II emphasized in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, right? That Adoration of the Eucharist is supposed to be productive?)
Anyway, when we arrived at the church my heart softened a bit. Outside the chapel was a write-on/wipe-off board where people could list their prayer intentions, and just reading through all the things that other people were praying for helped put it all in perspective. I added my own note to the board and was about to head into the little chapel when something else caught my eye: the schedule of people who had signed up to sit with the Blessed Sacrament while it was exposed for Adoration.
I’d known about this, but until I saw that schedule I’d forgotten that the consecrated Host is never left alone, so in order to offer Adoration a church has to make sure that at least one person will be there at all times. I was amazed as I looked at the schedule for the 24 hours of Adoration: there were names next to the slots for the 1:00am – 2:00am hour, the 2:00am – 3:00am hour, the 3:00am – 4:00am hour, and so on. It was so touching to see all these people who were willing to get out of their beds in the middle of the night and go sit with the Lord. It reminded me of why I think of churches as places of hope.
When I walked into the silent chapel, I saw the man who was scheduled to sit with the Blessed Sacrament that hour sitting in the back row. I noticed that he wasn’t reading or doing anything. He was just sitting quietly. I took a seat and immediately set about the task of trying to mentally review my forgotten list. But it wouldn’t work. I just couldn’t. It was like my mind was being blocked from doing any efficient, analytical thinking. I am the type of person who always has about a million different trains of thought running through my head, and for the first time in a long while, all my scattered thoughts were silenced. My mind was quiet. The only thing I felt like doing — really, the only thing I could do — was bask in feelings of overwhelming appreciation of God’s presence.
I knew, with absolute certainty, that I was not meant to bring a list. I wouldn’t have looked at it even if I’d had it.
For the longest time all I could do was offer prayers of thanksgiving and adoration. I didn’t feel like I needed anything anymore. The only thing I needed at that moment was to give God as much love and gratitude as possible. (I’ve gone back and forth a few times about whether or not to mention this next part because it sounds kind of odd, but here it is anyway…) After a while I felt strongly drawn to pray for a specific person. Here’s the crazy part: it’s someone whom I never knew, who was not a believer, and who died in 2005. The only connection I had to her was that I read her blog a few times. But I spent the rest of my time at Adoration praying for her soul.
When I left the Adoration chapel, I felt lighter. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. My only concern was how I was going to do this more often. Later in the evening I was still marveling at how powerful the draw had been to spend most of my time in silent appreciation, to just be, and then I checked comments to my post about taking a list to Adoration. I was amazed as I read through others’ experiences with this devotion.
It seems that whenever I go to adoration with something in mind to do (reading, journaling, decision-making, etc.) I end up just being quiet with Jesus, because that’s what I really needed–some quiet and just to BE and not DO, because that’s all Jesus wants is just plain old ME, and turns out what I needed most was Him.
I always leave peaceful. You’re going to love Adoration, I’m sure of it.
Anne Marie wrote:
Adoration: My favorite devotion. Period. Like spending time with, well, GOD. I’ve been known to bail out of a particularly difficult day for a few hours to run up to the perpetual Adoration chapel an hour away from us just to get some perspective before returning to the fray…Perspective, yes, that’s what’s needed, perspective. Adoration is just the ticket.
Adoration is like a drug. Once you get a taste of it, you need to keep going back for more….I cannot even begin to expound on the graces that have come to our family because of our commitment to adoration. Give it a try and you will find yourself desiring it more and more!
You might only have the opportunity to go monthly, but it will quickly become a much-anticipated ritual for you…I’m still not entirely sure what I should be doing in that first 40 minutes….but there is something undeniably moving about being in a still church with others in the presence of God…The best way I can describe it is that, short of attending daily Mass…it’s the next best thing to keeping that Sunday feeling all week long. You are in the presence of a miracle.
If you find yourself oozing out ‘Praise and Adoration’ do NOT stop, keep it up as that is the highest form [of prayer]…I’m sure you had a blessed time this evening. The Lord falls over those who spend time with Him.
I’ve only been to Adoration twice, but that was more than enough for me to get “hooked” on it!…I’ve noticed that while I take things along with me to do, in the end I tend to just fall silent and “be” there.
I can’t remember where I read this recently but there was a little, old man who would spend hours and hours on end in Adoration. He was asked once what on earth he was doing in there for all that time and he replied to the effect of – “I look at Jesus and He looks at me and we are happy together.”
Adoration will bring a certain kind of peace to you life…What I found out the first few times I went was that it’s ok to just not do anything, to just be still. I think the Lord will guide you in your Adoration prayers. You may find yourself coming with a certain prayer in mind or with a book or journal and then God says, “I’d rather you do it my way.” Funny how His way always gives you exactly what you need.
Those are just some of the comments where others shared their experiences with Adoration. What struck me all weekend as I watched these comments roll in is how precisely they pinpointed what had happened. It was uncanny to see how closely my experience of Adoration matched that of others. “Do these people have crystal balls or something?” I joked to my husband at one point.
So, back to the original subject, I don’t really know what to make of the Adoration List. I still think it’s a good idea and plan to keep that sheet of paper out in my kitchen. Maybe I’ll try to take it with me again next month. All I know is that going to Adoration was like a spiritual cleansing, that even though I forgot my list and didn’t think about solutions for any of my worries and the only active praying I did was for a deceased person whom I never met…I walked out of the chapel knowing that God had given me what I needed. I didn’t (and still don’t) know what the exact solutions are to any of my little problems…but I don’t feel as much like I need to know. I’m starting to think that maybe all I need is more quiet time in front of the Lord.
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