I Adore This Devotion
Given his Protestant background, Catholic convert Douglas Kneibert was slow to warm up to the idea of Eucharistic adoration. That changed in a hurry when he gave Christ a chance.
The first time that some of my fellow parishioners were promoting Eucharistic adoration, I dismissed the practice as something that wasn’t up my spiritual alley. As a Protestant for 63 years and a Catholic for only eight, Eucharistic adoration smacked too much of what I considered “old school” Catholicism.
God had other plans.
One morning, an adoration sign-up sheet went around the church. To my surprise, I found myself committing to an hour a week. What the heck, I thought, if it doesn’t work out, someone else can take my slot.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In fact, the teaching helped convert me to the Catholic faith. But spending a full hour contemplating Jesus in a monstrance — was that really for me?
As my first adoration assignment approached, I decided to use the hour to practice Christian meditation, something I had often wanted to do but never seemed to accomplish with any regularity.
There are various approaches to Christian meditation, but I wanted to soak in the New Testament passages that indirectly point to Eucharistic adoration. I began by contemplating Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse, the part of St. John’s Gospel that is so rich in Eucharistic theology.
As I read through, my attention was drawn to John 6:40: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
I had always understood the “believes” part, which denotes faith — the need for which Protestants traditionally have stressed. But how do we “see” Jesus today? This verse obviously wasn’t intended just for those who had seen Jesus in the flesh. The context of the passage is profoundly Eucharistic, which provided a clue as to what Jesus was getting at.
As these words began to come alive for me in the adoration chapel, the pieces began to fall into place. Unlike the disciples who saw Jesus in person, we see him today in various “disguises.” First and foremost among these is the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus clearly thought it was important that his followers down through the ages had a chance to see him even after he’d ascended into heaven. In that chapel, for the first time, I saw him in a way I’d never seen him before. I saw him exteriorly, under the appearance of bread. And I saw him interiorly, through my meditation on the connection between his words and his identify as the Word made flesh.
The Catholic Church always has seen and worshipped Jesus in this form, both in the celebration of the holy Eucharist and in Eucharistic adoration. This is the Church’s greatest treasure — “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, No. 11) — but it can only be perceived through eyes of faith.
I thank God for the role the beautiful devotion of Eucharistic adoration has played in advancing my spiritual life, despite my initial doubts. Me, an adoration aficionado? I wouldn’t see it if I hadn’t believed it with my own eyes.
F. Douglas Kneibert writes from