It would be beneficial throughout this new year for us to spend more time in adoration. Not just because the Lord asks us to do so, but because we receive unexplained benefits that strengthen our faith and our purpose.
Saint John Vianney loved to tell the story of the farmer who stopped into church every day before work. Someone asked him what he was doing and he replied, “I look at the good God and the good God looks at me.”
How many of us take the time to look at the good God, and let him look at us?
Any talk of adoration brings to mind Mother Angelica of EWTN’s story about the man who came to Mass every day just for five minutes and then left. One day the priest asked him what he was doing and the man explained that he worked on the train and it only stopped there for a few minutes so that’s all the time that he had to walk in and say, “Hello Jesus. It’s Jim.” Well one day there was a train wreck and Jim was dying in the hospital and the priest was called up to his room. As he entered, he heard a voice saying, “Hello Jim. It’s Jesus.”
Philosophy Professor Peter Kreeft writes in his book Jesus Shock:
“Adoring God is the first and greatest commandment. And Christ is God. Therefore adoring Christ is the first and greatest commandment, our Commander’s first command for spiritual battle …The war is about salvation vs. damnation. Heaven vs. Hell.”
We don’t have to be like Archbishop Fulton Sheen who spent a Holy Hour every day of his adult life before the Blessed Sacrament unless we’re really called to do it, but Saint John Vianney exhorts us to adore more:
“If we really love the good God, we should make it our joy and happiness to come a few minutes to adore Him, and ask Him for the grace of forgiveness. We should regard those moments as the happiest in our lives.” I heartily agree with this. It is so sublime to just sit in peace for a while.”
Vianney the Patron Saint of Parish Priests had tremendous zeal himself in his Adoration: “I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master.”
Saint Francis of Assisi was ecstatic about the Eucharist:
“What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation”
“…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.”
Professor Kreeft goes on to say,
“This is one of the most practical things you can possibly do. For there will come a day, sooner than you wish, when you will be alone with Him and unable to return to your friends or your family or your home or the pleasures of the world, ever again. You will be alone with Christ at the border of eternity. Why wait for that moment to be alone with Him? Why not practice?”
After reading the inspired advice and wisdom of these esteemed men, I decided to really make an effort to do more adoration. The time spent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament are some of the happiest moments of my life. In fact, when you attend regularly, you begin to recognize the same people. Some of the people I observe in the chapel inspire me and I hope they inspire you as well.
She always sits on the front row, this tiny grey-haired woman. After a while, she rises from her seat. reaches for her cane, and walks very slowly up to the monstrance. Holding onto her cane, she lowers herself onto the kneeler and remains there for some time. Then, she slowly rises and exits the chapel.
I remember when she was in good health. She would gesture emphatically, clasping her hands together and talking with such passion about our Lord. I am so impressed now that when she talks to me outside the chapel about our Lord, she puts down her cane and talks with the same exuberance about how much she loves him and how grateful she is for his blessings. Maybe it’s all those hours sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but her zeal has not diminished with the onset of illness and pain. She is such a testimony of faith.
Then there is the grey-haired woman with an ankle-length skirt that bows before the Blessed Sacrament. She then touches the statues of our Lord and Pope Saint John Paul. She turns and I can see her face. She inhales deeply, a smile of peaceful satisfaction for she is full of something better than food – new life. “Behold, I make all things new,” (Revelation 21:5) are the last words our Lord spoke in Scripture as Professor Kreeft points out in his book.
The man with the sonorous voice never misses the 4:30 Sunday Benediction. His soaring renditions of Tantum Ergo and Holy God We Praise Thy Name are greatly appreciated as he keeps the rest of us on pitch. He might only cantor at the Sunday Benediction and the Mass each week, but the passion for his faith that he presents in his voice is so important, especially to those around him. Any little effort that one makes becomes so big when it’s done for the Lord.
Lately, I have noticed that this one woman who is always at the church for every group that I attend, whether it’s Bible Study, New Year’s Eve Adoration, Charismatic Renewal or whatever. I sometimes wonder if she’s in church more than she is at her home. She always seems to volunteer for more service. She certainly shows us by example that the more we do for the Lord, the more we want to do. Last week, I noticed her as she was kissing the image on a prayer book she was reading, after she closed the book. She certainly loves the Lord.
Many of us might think that adoration is just for us old folks. On the contrary, every week a teenage boy comes into the chapel, bows reverently, walks to a pew and kneels quietly for about 15 minutes. (A long time for a teenager, if you ask me.) His presence in the chapel gives many of us hope in the future generations. Of course, there are many other teenagers like him who attention Mass most Sundays, but you don’t often hear about them. But, they are out there, striving to serve the Lord.
I like to see the little prayer groups that come to adoration. On the last Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe there was a Rosary group in the church and a Divine Mercy Chaplet group in the chapel. Their prayers echoed through the church are a divine memory that I always will savor. As the groups died down and slowly left, there was just one woman in the chapel with me. She was whispering some prayer so softly that I couldn’t tell what they were. We stayed together like this for about a half an hour. I just sat there in gratitude that this was the most peace that I had ever felt in my life. I often call upon that memory in difficult times. I think that sometimes the faithful might not be aware of how important each witness is to our Lord and to others. We may not know it, but our devotions are seen by others and can inspire others.
Like John Vianney’s farmer who stopped into church every day to look at the good God and let the good God look at him, this new year, give God the opportunity to see you and for you to see him. The blessings you reap will be abundant.
O come let us adore Him, in any way we can.
Have an adoring New Year!
Photography: Emily Byrne