In the dictionary, adoration has two meanings. The first is deep love or respect. The second is worship and veneration. Eucharistic Adoration is the act of being present with Our Lord Jesus Christ in a very real and physical way. The consecrated host, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is exposed and vulnerable. We, the faithful, are called to worship and venerate Him. We are called to love him.
I am a lifelong Catholic, but I did not grow up with any knowledge of Eucharistic Adoration. The diocese of my childhood had substantial land mass, but dwindling membership. Churches were closing and consolidating, and oftentimes all that the priests could manage was providing the sacraments. That changed when I was in college. Following my junior year, I did an internship in the Diocese of Wichita. The parish I attended that summer had a good, holy priest, who led a Eucharistic Procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi. I knew that a man at the facility where I was working was Catholic, so I asked him about it. He explained what had happened, as well as told me about Perpetual Adoration. This man had four children under the age of eight, but every Tuesday, he spent the 1 AM hour in the Adoration Chapel.
To say that I thought this was weird would be an understatement. I returned to college, and didn’t really think of it again. Then, a few weeks after classes resumed, the priest at my home parish announced twenty-four hours of Adoration and asked for volunteers. I looked at the sign up sheet on my way out the door, and I saw that the middle of the night hours were woefully blank. I signed up for the 3 AM and 4 AM time slots.
I didn’t know what to do during my time there, but there were a few other people who also signed up for those hours, so we prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet together. I brought The Imitation of Christ and did my best to read it. When I went home, I was glad I had attended, even though I wasn’t sure I had “done it right”.
After graduation, I returned to the Diocese of Wichita. Every week, as I walked into Mass, I saw a sign with available hours for Perpetual Adoration. I silently bargained with God, “If that 6 PM one is still there next week, I’ll take it.” But it was several weeks before I fulfilled my end of the bargain. Since then, nearly a decade ago, I have always lived in places with Perpetual Adoration, and God has always provided an opportunity to be a regular Adorer.
When my daughter was born a little over two years ago, my husband and I discussed what we would do with her during my Adoration hour. He often worked during that time, and since she and I were working on building our nursing relationship, it only made sense for me to bring her with me. She was three weeks old the first time her and I walked into that chapel together. In one of those visits in the early months of her life, she was hungry. She had struggled to nurse, usually leaving both of us frustrated. As I fumbled, trying to get her to latch, she cried and fought me, growing increasingly upset.
“Everything you want is right there!” I finally said in exasperation. Then my eyes glanced up, and I saw Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Everything you want is right there. My daughter finally latched on, and as she nursed, I had my first spiritual revelations of motherhood.
Jesus gave his body to be our food. Intellectually, I have known and understood this for decades. But I did not feel the magnitude of that sacrifice in my heart. Offering yourself for another over and over again, day after day, month after month, year after year is hard. Choosing to continue to do that can only come from a place of love. Loving the other through pain. Loving the other through anger. Loving the other even when you don’t particularly want to.
Jesus has been choosing, every hour of every day, across the entire world, to love us. He loves us when we’re hurting, when we’re joyful, when we separate ourselves from Him. He loves us when we think we know better, when we think we don’t need Him. He is there, over and over again, becoming vulnerable and exposed, at every Mass, in every Adoration Chapel, waiting for us.
Everything we need is right there. Jesus is longing for us to go to Him. He can provide for all of our needs. He will heal us. He will celebrate with us. He will love us. But I fight Him, looking for fulfillment and satisfaction elsewhere. I look for it in my relationship with my husband, in my status as a wife and a mother. I look for it in validation from coworkers and superiors. I look for it online, with likes and comments and shares. But everything I need is right there. Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is in front of me, in the form of bread. What else is there?
In all of my years of Adoration, I often worried about “doing it right”. Was I pious enough? Did I pray enough? Did I honor God in the right way? But on this day, it hit me. Just like my daughter, struggling to latch onto what would provide her with life-giving nourishment, I was struggling to get out of my own way and let myself cling to the Lord.
In all honesty, not much has changed in the last two years. I’m not suddenly good at letting Jesus nourish me just because I finally realized that’s what He’s been trying to do all this time. Lucky for me, Jesus doesn’t need me to be good at it. He just asks me to come, to bring my longing for true food and true drink, and let him meet me
Cathy Torrez is a lifelong Catholic, three years a wife and step-mother, and two years a mother. She takes her two small children to Adoration with her every week by choice. Intercessory prayer and offering up sufferings are her strengths