Soon will be the season to sing one of our most cherished carols: “Adeste Fideles — O Come Let Us Adore Him.”
This heartfelt carol should remind us that adoring Jesus isn’t limited to Christmastime. We can do that all year long at Eucharistic adoration. Just ask Lucy Gatza, coordinator for the daily adoration at Church of the Incarnation in Sarasota, Fla.
“At Christmas, when we look in the crib and at that beauty of the crèche, we’re all drawn to the central image: baby Jesus and his face. And we can imagine what it was like for Joseph and Mary to see that face for the first time,” Gatza says.
She’s constantly amazed at how drawn people are to the innocence and simplicity of a baby’s face, especially Jesus’ face at Christmas.
“And that’s what we do at adoration,” she says. “We are in awe of what we see, and that awe is one of peace, love, joy and fulfillment. What we gaze upon is so simple and beautiful. There’s no artificiality. We gaze upon the beauty of the living God. That’s an echo of looking at the crib at Christmas, and it’s a continuing gift throughout the year.”
Her parish emphasizes this gift during 26.5 hours of Eucharistic adoration every week. Here and in other parishes doing likewise, Jesus is not in a crèche but in the monstrance on the altar or in an adoration chapel. It is the same Jesus who was born on that first Christmas.
Addressing an International Eucharistic Congress, Pius XII reminded the faithful “that the risen Savior never really left the earth. He is both in heaven and on earth. The same identical Jesus whom the angels and saints behold in the beatific vision is with us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. This is the Real Presence.”
In his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission), Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself.”
And writing about Eucharistic adoration, Servant of God Father John Hardon said that Jesus in the Eucharist is not only adorable but entreatable. “He is not only to be adored. … He is also to be asked for what we need.”
Father Bernard Evanofski, the pastor of Church of the Incarnation, cites the prayers of a mother at Eucharistic adoration for her son’s return to the Church. “Her son did come back,” Father Evanofski says, “and she attributes that to her praying before the Blessed Sacrament.”
He has seen many return to the faith through adoration, whether they’ve come “to adoration through the suggestion of another person or family or friends who pray during adoration for them to come back to the Church.”
It’s like the Christ Child at Christmas is giving us gifts, too. The many gifts — good fruits — Father Evanofski has seen from adoration include increases in devotion, faith, reconciliation, daily Mass attendance and greater unity among parishioners.
“It’s an overall strengthening of the parish,” he says.
Father Evanofski isn’t the only one who has witnessed the “adoration miracles.” So has Gatza. She often hears of amazing answers to prayer. One was homegrown. Her son-in-law was Lutheran and her daughter a faithful Catholic. He attended Mass with his wife for several years. At one Mass, after hearing a priest from the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament preach about the benefits of perpetual adoration, he asked his wife when they could attend adoration together.
“After weekly adoration for six months, he became a Catholic,” Gatza says. “Today he’s a leader in his parish.”
Other amazing outcomes: many physical problems resolved and hearts healed as people have softened their anger or stopped fighting, due to the peace that comes over them in adoration.
Ever notice how silent children are around the Christmas crèche as they gaze in wonder? That happens at adoration, too.
Father Evanofski notices the state of awe the children have before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as they come for adoration, class by class, from the parish school. “They’re silent — and how respectful and adoring they are of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
This happens to be what Benedict recommended in Sacramentum Caritatis: “Especially in their preparation for first holy Communion, children [should] be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist.”
Father Evanofski saw the same take place at his former parish with high-school students from different countries as they prepared for the sacraments. Back then, he was “amazed at the profound attention and respect they showed Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” he says.
Silence is a gift. “In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment,” the Pope told Polish priests in 2006, “there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host.”
That’s one main lesson parishioners of Holy Family Catholic Church in Denver have learned from their pastor, Father James Moreno, who is also the archdiocese’s judicial vicar. Holy Family has early morning exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by Benediction and Mass, then exposition from mid-afternoon into late evening in the parish’s adoration chapel.
“I tell the people we need to spend time in the presence of Our Lord, who talks to us in silence,” Father Moreno says, pointing out it’s the answer to the chaotic world we live in. “I encourage them to make visits daily to the adoration chapel.”
The church bulletin always contains the reminder: “Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day.”
Among other benefits the parish has received are vocations: Several of the young men have gone on to seminary, and several have become good, holy husbands in marriage. Young people come to Holy Hours, individuals volunteer with the parish’s ministries and outreach, and families attend adoration on First Fridays.
Adoration brings this exchange of gifts. Like the Magi did, we bring the gift of ourselves to the Blessed Sacrament during the year.
“We come bearing gifts,” Gatza says, “but what we take away from adoration is far more.”
Adds Father Moreno, “Just like the Magi showed up to be in the presence of Our Lord, in similar ways we’re in his divine presence — body, blood, soul and divinity.”
All year long we can be there with the shepherds, Joseph and Mary. Every day should have us singing, “O come let us adore him!”
Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
The Church gives us a bonus gift for Eucharistic adoration: a partial indulgence granted under the usual conditions for those who visit the Blessed Sacrament to adore Christ; a plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions if the visit lasts at least half an hour.