There is water here

This post was originally published on November 4, 2008.

Our church is doing 24 hours of Adoration for people who want to pray before the election. After the kids went to bed last night I wanted nothing more than to go collapse into bed myself, but instead I grabbed my purse and headed out into the night to go to our church.

adoration1 There is water here
Adoration started after the daily Mass yesterday and will continue until the Mass this afternoon, right around the time the polls close.

adoration sanctuary2 There is water here
It was late on a weeknight, so I was surprised that there were about 40 other people there. As usual, the group was of all different ages and backgrounds. After I sat down three hispanic teenaged boys dressed in baggy clothes slid into the pew in front of me and knelt on the kneelers to pray. Behind me were some middle-aged gentlemen in business attire praying Rosaries.

Last night I didn’t feel any big emotions like I sometimes do. Maybe I was just too tired, but the wave of inspiration that sometimes hits me during Adoration wasn’t there. Nevertheless, something did happen that always happens: after praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, my thoughts were ordered. There was a clarity there that wasn’t there before, that I did not come to on my own.

adoration sanctuary There is water hereProbably the most interesting “religious experience” I’ve had since my conversion is Adoration. It doesn’t seem like something I’d be attracted to; though I found the doctrine of the Real Presence to be perfectly reasonable, I’ve never had a gut-level understanding that Christ is actually there, physically, in what appears to be bread. And when I walk into Adoration each time, I still look at the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and think something like, “How is this possible?”

I look around and marvel at how many people flock to this devotion, and what they sacrifice to do so. Though Adoration last night was in our beautiful sanctuary, many churches hold it in a small room in another part of the church so that Adoration can continue during Masses and other services. There is usually very little visual stimulation, just the exposed Sacrament in a nondescript room and the one red candle. Maybe some flowers or other candles, but that’s usually it. There is never any music. It is always completely silent. There is no “payoff” in terms of sensory experience.

Also, the exposed Sacrament can never be left alone, so each church has to come up with an elaborate sign-up system managed by at least one person and a backup to make sure that the room is never empty. In our area there are a few perpetual Adoration chapels, which means that the host is exposed 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays.

adoration narthex There is water hereChristmas night at 3:00 in the morning? Someone has to set their alarm, get out of bed, and be there.

The Fourth of July at 2:00 in the afternoon? Someone is there.

The stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? Someone is there.

I always feel a sting of tears when I see the schedule at an Adoration chapel, seeing the handwritten names in blocks like 2:00 in the morning on a Tuesday or 4:00 in the morning on a Saturday. It’s touching to see so many people sitting there in silence, just spending time with the Lord, often grabbing a Kleenex to dab their eyes. Adoration chapels always have lots of Kleenex.

When I think of the impact that Adoration has had on my own life, the intense pull I feel towards it, even when it’s late on a Monday night and I’d rather be in bed, and the way it gets people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t, leaving their homes in all types of weather at all hours of the night to come sit in a still room in front of a monstrance, I am reminded of an oasis.

I might not be able to see Christ’s presence in the Host or even understand exactly how it works that he is there; yet I see the results of him being there. I see how my own thoughts are ordered and transformed by something external to myself, even when I can’t muster up much emotion about it or would rather be in bed; I see what people sacrifice to sit in the same room with him, and know humans well enough to know that you couldn’t get that number of people to do that if they hadn’t experienced something real; I see the Kleenex boxes, the vases of flowers people bring from their homes, the fact that almost every parish can get enough people to sign up to sit with the Blessed Sacrament so that they can host 24 hours of Adoration once a month (and many can have their own perpetual Adoration chapels), and it’s like coming across an oasis of lush, flowering land in the desert. I might not be able to see the running water in a form I’d expect, but I see it in the fat, green plants that could not get such nourishment from anything else. I might not understand exactly how it got there, but I see overwhelming evidence of its presence. Looking around at the flourishing life in an environment where such a scene is rare, I’d know there is water here.

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Enter the Conversation...

14 Responses to “There is water here”
  1. Ciska says:

    As a recent convert (will be welcomed Easter 2011), I have to say I have no interest in adoration. I attended once, kind of by accident and I couldn’t leave (or I would have). To be honest, it freaks me out a bit. Okay, yes, that’s Christ. I believe it, I accept it, but I really don’t understand the whole adoration thing.

    • Joseph says:

      Ciska,

      That’s OK. Don’t let it worry you, it’s not a requirement. Congratulations on joining the church!

      Adoration has a way of sneaking up on people who are searching for a deeper relationship with Christ. Maybe some day when your mind is troubled and you don’t know what to do, make a visit to a church with the intention of just visiting for 15 minutes – see if it helps.

      My wife and I do one of those awkward times Jennifer mentioned – 11:00 p.m. Saturday to 1:00 a.m. Sunday. My wife was the one who signed up, and at first I went with her mostly out of guilt. Now, my week seems messed up if I don’t make it. I’m actually considering finding a second time each week. I’m not surprised that many great saints spent an hour a day before the Blessed Sacrament – it’s weirdly addicting, in a good mind-clearing way.

      But mostly, don’t let it trouble you, and rejoice in whatever prayers and liturgies of the Church do comfort you.

    • Christine says:

      Ciska,

      I am a lot like you… it’s difficult for me to really understand adoration & I’ve been Catholic for about 6 years (Protestant background). I appreciate Joseph’s reply – I’m sure at some point it will “hit” me too.

      For me adoration happens in the few seconds when I’m handed the Eucharist.. I have to look at Him & thank him before I consume – for now, this is my adoration moment. I do look forward to the time when I’ll be able to sit in contemplation & adoration like my fellow parishioners.

      Peace in Christ
      Christine recently posted..Hot Days in East Tennessee

  2. Julie Cragon says:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  3. Tina Fisher says:

    Our church is going to have 24/7. I am going to sign up! We live two blocks from church….how blessed we are!
    Tina Fisher recently posted..Multitude Monday Vol 10

  4. Theresa in Alberta says:

    Going to Adoration is like the relief you feel after you have been out in the heat of the day without any cold water. That feeling of comforting relief is what keeps me going back. This is where I read my spiritual books. This is where the Lord becomes my personal tutor and spiritual director. Teaching without critizing, pruning with pain but then he becomes the gentle father bandaging the wound and giving comfort. (I try to remember to have kleenex in my purse) it does not matter if the time I am there is 2 minutes, 1/2 an hour, I am always amazed at what the Lord shows me in the time allowed. sometimes i can almost hear him saying “no teaching today, lets just cuddle and enjoy each others company”!

  5. Young Mom says:

    Thanks, I have got to find a parish close to my house that will do adoration.
    Young Mom recently posted..Why Im not sure if Ill Homeschool

  6. Margo says:

    I made an effort over the summer months to try to go to our Adoration Chapel at least twice a week. But I started watching my nephew daily in late August which changed my schedule and made it impossible for me to continue going. I definitely felt (and feel) the absence of it. I wish our Adoration Chapel were open 24 hours, but it isn’t. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this post, thank you..
    Margo recently posted..God Has a Plan

  7. Rachel says:

    Twice in the last few years, I’ve been trapped in an Adoration chapel because whoever was signed out to cover the time slot didn’t show up, and I had to stay into a second hour so as not to leave our Lord alone.

    Both of those times, there was some big issue I needed to pray about, and both of those times, I had some breakthrough and God straightened me out– in the second hour.

    It’s really amazing when I think about it. The love and condescension of God to reach out like that and keep me with Him! :)
    Rachel recently posted..Catholic- Orthodox report promising progress on unity

  8. Amanda says:

    I recently found your blog and thought you may have posted something new today so I checked. Strange. My Church has perpetual adoration and about a month ago I started going late at night. My family was going through something and I would work at night and head over afterwards. (There were always people there) Anyway I have had a tugging at my heart to go back and struggle between going home to see my family (I’m currently breastfeeding so I rush home to feed my little one) and going in to pray. Lately my family has been winning but I still feel like God is calling me to go back to adoration and today this was your post. Think I’ll be going sometime in the next 24 hours. Thank you.

  9. Jennifer says:

    My church has perpetual adoration at the local hospital chapel. I had done it once or twice to ‘fill in’ for regulars and then decided during lent to use it as my ‘sacrifice’ of my time once or twice a week. I signed up for 2am and 3am slots on weekends, or whenever they needed me. You’d think it would be miserable to do this at that time of night, but I learned that it really wasn’t a sacrifice on my part but truly a blessing. I am bright eyed awake (you’d think you’d fall asleep at that hour in the silence) and enjoy saying the rosary, chatting with the lord or reading and learning about my faith with the books that are available in the chapel. 2am and 3am (the holy hour ya know) are hard to fill, so they call often. I’m so glad I started participating!! The other bonus is seeing the other faithful people that you relieve when you arrive and that relieve you at the end of your hour. I highly recommend it.

  10. Katherine says:

    I felt called to Adoration, and I didn’t want to go at all!

    I told Father Joe, “I just want to sit on my swing and read Harry Potter.”

    The first time I went it was only after doing major battle with myself, I finally grabbed up the car keys and stormed out the door in a very resentful state of mind.

    I DIDN’T WANT TO GO!!

    But there I was and at first I felt scared, but I examined that feeling decided it wasn’t from God, and put it behind me.

    Then I bowed my head and wondered what to think about, having a blank mind wasn’t one of my options.

    As I prayed I let my mind wander and I started to literally count all my blessings. For the next hour I thought of all of my blessings one by one and said, “Thank you”.

    At the end of the hour I was left in such a state of complete peace that it’s hard to describe.

    If I go too long in between visits, my dh will actually offer to watch the kids just so I can go. He really likes having a peaceful partner.

    Katherine

  11. Betsy says:

    Thank you for the reminder of the beauty of Adoration. I am ridiculously blessed and spoiled to live DIRECTLY across the street from our parish which has perpetual Adoration. I keep kicking myself for not attending regularly, but strangely, kicking doesn’t accomplish anything. I need to get my tush off the couch and walk across the street! :) God bless you!

  12. Kara says:

    I just found your blog today via another blog who posted your pro life testimony (amazing!) and I am so happy I did.

    I love adoration, and I think the more time anyone spends there the better it becomes. And to know that Jesus is there at any time, in any number of churches is so comforting to me, because we all know how much we just need that quiet time with Him once in a while.

    I am also a convert and many Catholic beliefs made little sense to me before I “felt” it.

    Thanks for such a wonderful blog. I can’t wait to read more.