Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Back in 2002, the associate pastor at our parish suggested praying for an hour a week before the Blessed Sacrament. I thought, “This is crazy. I’ve got five kids. I don’t have time…” but found myself spending an hour a week. Sometimes, I’d pray the Rosary. Sometimes, I’d fall asleep. When I told the priest, he laughed and told me, “You’re in good company, the apostles couldn’t stay awake either.” And added, maybe Jesus knew, I needed the rest.
Life got crazy and gradually, I fell away from the practice until last August, when a fierce demand in my own spiritual life required I do something to jolt my soul out of what felt like a dull spot. Every day of August, I paid a visit to the 24-hour adoration chapel near my home. Some days, it was 15 minutes, some days it was “Hello Jesus, I’m just checking in today. I love you.” And many days, what I planned to be a short visit, became something much longer and richer. I tried to keep it up for months afterward, but it was admittedly, not as consistent as that one month. This August, I’m repeating the experience, and coming into the chapel feels like a return home to a warmer hearth than I remember. Sitting before the Eucharist, I wondered why it sometimes feels hard to muster the energy to go, or to stay. The question led to other questions. If we believe the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is fully present in the consecrated host, why are we not venerating Him night and day, practicing for Heaven here on Earth via the discipline of adoration?
Answer… because we forget, I forget, all the time we forget, the same way the apostles forgot even in Jesus’s presence for three years, having witnessed the feeding of the 5000, the calming of the storm, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, and walking on water. Saint Martha could forget when the cares of hospitality overtook her, the better part of being present at the feet of Jesus. We can witness miracles in our own lives, we can know Jesus is, we can know Jesus heals, we can know Jesus saves and still we forget.
Christ in his mercy, always invites us back. He waits like an anxious lover for our response to His offer to heal all that needs healing within us, and bring us into greater joy than we imagined possible. Why, one might ask, do we resist? Why are we so stubbornly resistant to the God who is love?
If we examine the lives of the Servants of God, the Blessed, the Venerable and the Saints, they all held a devotion to Our Lord. They all loved the Eucharist, and sought Christ out, both in the slums hidden as the suffering, and in the quiet chapel in the form of consecrated bread and wine. They knew Jesus, and the more they knew Jesus, the more they saw Jesus, the more they heard Jesus, the more they loved Jesus.
Why, if we have access to the one Person who can calm all the storms in our hearts, who can heal all wounds, even sin and death, who is the King and Source of true peace and true joy, are we not storming the churches for a chance to sit before the Lord, to receive what He’s offering to give? Because again, we forget, we act out of our fallenness. We keep trying to right the world or even our own lives independently. We do not want to lean on Jesus, much less cling to Him like a toddler to his father’s leg.
So consider starting a habit of dropping by, of saying “Hello,” or “thank you,” or just “I love you.” You may struggle, you may sometimes fall asleep, but you’ll also find, as you continue, you begin to stay and tell Jesus about your day, and hear God’s words in your heart. Jesus will share His daily graces with you. Make time and you’ll find your friendship with God will deepen beyond what you thought possible. Find a local church where there’s perpetual adoration and make a point of making a visit, and go often. The only one who will be happier than you if you do this, is Jesus.