Susan Klemond is a freelance writer living in St. Paul, Minn., who writes news and feature articles for the Register, OSV Newsweekly and the Catholic Spirit, the diocesan paper for St. Paul-Minneapolis. She also has worked in marketing, editing and magazine production. She thinks about St. Peter’s exhortation to ‘always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.’ While some days it’s probably better that no one asks, she keeps working on it.
Last year after statues of the Magi were placed in the Nativity scene beneath the altar in my parish’s perpetual adoration chapel, I found myself offering homage with the Wise Men – both to the newborn Savior under the altar and the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance above.
I reflected on how many knees had touched down on that carpet in front of the altar. Some linger long in prayer in the aisle before taking a seat. Others kneel with difficulty. But many of us, I think, kneel to greet Our Eucharistic Lord out of habit more than in adoration.
What does it mean to adore? The Magi gave their full attention to the Christ child, aware that they were in the presence of the King of Kings. They didn’t occupy themselves with spiritual reading, journaling, Bible study homework or devotions. Of course, these are all good and profitable things to do in adoration, but sometimes it’s even better to spend time just being in the Lord’s presence.
After fulfilling their quest to reach the star’s resting place, the Wise Men could only look on in wonder at what they found: the astounding miracle of the Incarnation. They allowed the newborn Christ to work in their hearts and change them.
God continues to change the hearts of those who seek him. St. John Vianney told the story of an elderly peasant who spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament. When St. John asked him what he said to Our Lord during all that time, the gentleman said simply, “Nothing. I look at him and he looks at me.”
Nothing could be more simple — yet more difficult — than adoring the Lord. Many of us are uncomfortable if we’re not occupied with an activity. In our culture of noise, quiet is not only illusive, it’s intimidating. I heard a priest say recently that when we really allow ourselves to be sit in quiet before the Lord, whatever is in us — feelings, anxieties, everything — is magnified.
It is possible to find the Lord in all that internal and external noise. Many days I lack the power to fervently adore him as the Magi did. But while sitting in quiet before the Blessed Sacrament, even with dryness and distractions, I can take my eyes off myself and give homage to God by with prayers of thanksgiving.
I’m sure the Wise Men had their own distractions and difficulties. Probably they were tired and had saddle sores from riding on camels. Maybe they were hungry. But their faith helped them look past those problems to focus on the baby Jesus, for whom they had searched for so long.
We know Jesus came to us as a newborn and continues to be with us in his body and blood. Like the Magi, we can come and adore him, too.