The Art of Adoration
“In Heaven God is adored unceasingly ... is it not fitting to begin adoring God on earth?”
Newman House Press has published a new book that will change the way you think about Eucharistic Adoration. Likely, it will change the way you practice Adoration as well.
Adoration in Spirit and Truth, written by Reverend Alain-Maria de Lassus, a priest of the Congregation of St. John is a small book but within its pages is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. In it, Fr. de Lassus traces the nature and origins of adoration from Old Testament times through the present. It’s a fascinating historical survey of this devotion that we can so easily take for granted. The author also delves into the theology of adoration, outlining the meaning and impact it has on the soul.
Adoration, Fr. de Lassus explains, is a natural human act and one that is not exclusive to Christianity. He draws the analogy of a child’s natural love for his mother for the simple reason that a mother is the source of life for her children.
“We can reason analogously in our relationship with God. God communicates existence to us. This communication constitutes the foundation of a natural love for God. This natural love is adoration. It is therefore natural to love God as the source of our existence. We need to understand that communicating existence is something deeper and more radical than communicating life. Our parents communicated life to us, but God communicates to us our existence. God alone can do this, for he is the Creator,” he wrote.
This love for God, our Creator, leads us into contemplation of him – adoration.
In the Old Testament, adoration took the form of offering sacrifice to God or even by the erection of an altar. This goes all the way back to the beginning of the Book of Genesis, with the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, Noah, and patriarchs. In the Ten Commandments, God specifically requires adoration of himself by his people. Jesus echoes this in the New Testament when he tells his disciples, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:10). It was interesting for me to note a different spin on the golden calf forged by the Hebrews under Aaron’s leadership. The calf, Fr. de Lassus explained, was not a symbol of another god but rather a symbol of Yahweh and this showed a lack of respect for God’s transcendence by lowering Yahweh to the sensible level. The Hebrews sin was not worshiping a false god but rather misrepresenting the One True God.
The author’s discourse on adoration as seen in the Book of Revelation is compelling. He mentions the twenty-four elders casting their crowns before the throne of God, and acknowledgment that their nobility and glory were given to them by God as a free gift.
“We therefore have in this passage the most beautiful description of heavenly adoration. This adoration is given ‘day and night,’ for it accompanies the living beings’ praise. In Heaven God is adored unceasingly; all are in a permanent act of adoration. If such is life in Heaven, is it not fitting to begin adoring God on earth?” he asked.
That, in my opinion, is the most profound and important point in the book. We begin adoring God here on earth in anticipation of adoring him eternally in Heaven. Therefore, our adoration must be fervent, in docility to the Holy Spirit and taking hold of our hearts to their very depths. For this, we need peace, surrender, inner silence, humility, detachment, and obedience. We experience this when we place ourselves before the Real Presence but we also can experience it interiorly when we focus on the indwelling presence. God is present in our hearts and we can and should adore him there when we are unable to participate in Eucharistic Adoration.
“We have seen that the Greek word for adoration (proskynesis) means ‘prostration.’ There is no doubt that performing this outward gesture encourages adoration. However, in practice it is not always possible to do this. It can then be replaced by kneeling. Still, we should not abandon adoration in the places it is impossible either to prostrate ourselves or to kneel. Since adoration is first a spiritual act, obviously nothing prevents it being practiced in planes, on buses, in trains, or in the office. But when we find ourselves in a church or in our room, it is preferable for inner adoration to be accompanied by an outward attitude that favors it,” Fr. de Lassus advised.
For me, this is the biggest take away from Adoration in Spirit and Truth. We can adore our Lord at any time and in any place, allowing us to live in the spirit of adoration throughout our lives.