In good company: adoration isn't so much about adoring as it is about spending time with a friend.AS A STUDENT AT ST. SIMON'S ELEMENTARY SCHOOL elementary school: see school. , I remember kneeling before the altar, gazing at the Blessed Sacrament displayed in its metal sunburst of a monstrance mon·strance
n. Roman Catholic Church
A receptacle in which the host is held. Also called ostensorium.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin . I remember our pastor walking the host slowly around the church, blessing the congregation, while my classmates Classmates can refer to either:
1. Careful to fulfill obligations.
2. Expressing or filled with a sense of obligation.
du stumbling through the intricate Latin.
In spite of my teachers' attempts to explain these rituals, adoration never spoke to my soul. To me, it meant staring at a small wafer and trying vainly to find a string of prayerful prayer·ful
1. Inclined or given to praying frequently; devout.
2. Typical or indicative of prayer, as a mannerism, gesture, or facial expression. words to fill the time. It felt exaggerated; it felt artificial. It wasn't how I connected with God.
Admittedly in those days my understanding of the Blessed Sacrament was vague at best. Belief in the Real Presence has always been the foundation for adoration, which became popular during the Middle Ages and was expanded after the Council of Trent Noun 1. Council of Trent - a council of the Roman Catholic Church convened in Trento in three sessions between 1545 and 1563 to examine and condemn the teachings of Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers; redefined the Roman Catholic doctrine and abolished , which reaffirmed the church's constant teaching that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist.
It's taken me years to fully understand this, but now I'm a huge Eucharist fan. I'm profoundly moved that Christ would make himself so small, so humble, to meet us.
But even as an adult I never felt drawn to kneel adoringly before the host. Liturgy of the Eucharist excepted, when I think of spending time "Spending Time" is the first single released by Christian artist Stellar Kart.
The lyrics describe the band members desire to spend "more time with God". "Sometimes it’s a real struggle to spend time with God. with Christ, I think of reaching out to others in service: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do to me" (Matt. 25:40). And I've always had a hard time believing that Christ wants me to spend my time gazing at him in formal, soulful adoration. I imagine him looking at me on my knees and saying, "There's a whole world out there that needs fixing. What are you doing in here?"
Then last year I attended a Catholic conference at a retreat center with a chapel that had round-the-clock adoration. One of my friends, who was pregnant at the time, spent an hour in the chapel one evening, just sitting peacefully. "I wanted to introduce the Peanut to the Big Guy," she told me the next morning, hands on her belly.
I liked that idea of quietly spending time with Christ--not dramatically, but softly. Although I didn't venture into the chapel myself, the image stayed with me.
A few months later, walking downtown, I passed a beautiful little church. I popped inside and knelt in the back to pray. Early evening light was slanting through the stained glass stained glass, in general, windows made of colored glass. To a large extent, the name is a misnomer, for staining is only one of the methods of coloring employed, and the best medieval glass made little use of it. . The only other people in the church were an elderly man and woman up in the second pew, sitting together. Pausing in my prayer, I looked up at the altar. Two blue votive candles glowed in the yellow evening light. Then I realized they stood on either side of a small monstrance. I'd walked into adoration without knowing it.
The couple up front clearly knew. I sat back and watched them. They weren't kneeling; they were sitting side by side, shoulders touching. Both of them were quietly looking up at the altar. They had the attitude of those spending time with a friend or of parents watching a sleeping child. There was a naturalness there, a profound lack of drama. There was a palpable sense of peace.
I WALKED OUT OF THAT CHURCH WITH A NEW UNDERSTANDING. Adoration isn't really about adoration, at least in the sense that I'd always understood it. It doesn't have to be grandiose and medieval. It's as simple and beautiful as being in the same room as a good friend. That's what adoration is, after all: the presence of a loved one, front and center, where we can't miss him. In this shared silence we can be fully ourselves, formality aside. Whether we pray, meditate med·i·tate
v. med·i·tat·ed, med·i·tat·ing, med·i·tates
1. To reflect on; contemplate.
2. To plan in the mind; intend: meditated a visit to her daughter. , or let our minds wander, we're strengthened simply by knowing that Christ is sharing the vast space that surrounds us.
This is why adoration now speaks to my soul. It nurtures the relationship that is the very center of my faith. It helps me remember that service, love, and compassion flow out of that center, just as rays flow out of the sun. And in a very real and tangible way, adoration reminds me of Christ's everlasting promise to us all: No matter what happens, we'll never be left to rattle around this world on our own.
GINNY MOYER, a writer and teacher in San Mateo, California San Mateo is a city in San Mateo County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is one of the larger suburbs on the San Francisco Peninsula, located between Burlingame to the north, Foster City to the East, and Belmont to the south. .