‘The Gaze of Jesus’: Face-to-Face With Our Lord

Eucharistic adoration reawakens the faith of college students and young adults.

Clockwise from left: Spending time with Jesus is a source of peace and consolation for young-adult members of Crossroads 4 Christ and college students at Lindenwood University and Seton Hall.
Clockwise from left: Spending time with Jesus is a source of peace and consolation for young-adult members of Crossroads 4 Christ and college students at Lindenwood University and Seton Hall. (photo: Courtesy photos)

A few years ago on the campus of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, Marie Putbrese met a new friend.

“She was going by a different name that she chose by herself, one that was not necessarily feminine or masculine, and she was going by ‘they, them’ pronouns.” Then one day, she got “involved in a Bible study. And when she got involved in Bible study, she really encountered Jesus, like she never encountered him before,” even though she grew up in a Christian home.

And, exposed to the Eucharistic Lord in the monstrance, her youthful heart was called to prayer.

“She started going to Mass with us regularly, and she started to go to adoration with us regularly,” Putbrese, 28, continued. “She would even veil at Mass eventually. She started praying the Rosary regularly over the years, and she knew that the Church had Jesus present because of her experience in the Mass and because of her experience at adoration.”

A year ago, she “decided to go by her name her parents gave her — Cassie — and go by her feminine pronouns. It has just been amazing to see her life totally changed.” She was “coming to adoration and Mass regularly three years prior to her entering the Church,” Putbrese explained. “And then, this Easter, she entered the Church.”

Reflecting on Cassie’s story, Putbrese firmly believes that “the graces of adoration and the grace of coming to Mass present with Jesus in the Eucharist greatly affected her conversion.”

As a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary, Putbrese has seen other students find the same Eucharistic road Cassie has because, “as they spend time with Jesus in adoration, their faith just grows and deepens and matures tremendously.”

College students and young adults who make a habit of Eucharistic adoration know the benefits of time spent with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.


‘I Love Adoration’

Why do they go to adoration? When did they begin? What draws them? 

Several shared their stories to help others see the beauty of adoration.

“I love adoration,” Putbrese said, “because I get to be in the Presence of Jesus, to adore him, and be able to be loved by Jesus in a really present way.”

Her first experience of Eucharistic adoration was in 2011 at World Youth Day in Madrid. “That was when I first realized that Jesus was real, that he loves me and he cared about me and my life,” she told the Register. 

Now, Putbrese brings her personal experience and love for adoration to students at Lindenwood University. Her group of 15 college students meets regularly for adoration.

“In the Presence of the Eucharist, in prayer and adoration, was when I was first convicted of all of those things,” she recalled of Madrid. “So my devotion to the Eucharist, especially as I’ve contemplated my own conversion, and am working for the conversions of students, has only grown, considering that my own conversion happened in Eucharistic adoration.”

Similarly, Anjelo Rocero, 28, a FOCUS team director at Drexel University in Philadelphia, goes to Eucharistic adoration daily “simply because my relationship with the Lord has grown so much in the last eight years of my life, from being a college student to being a missionary, that having a face-to-face conversation with Our Lord daily has truly tremendously changed my life,” he told the Register. 

“I go because I truly have seen the face of mercy, as Pope Francis has said, and I can’t live without talking to God every single day,” whether in the college chapel or at an adoration chapel at a South Philadelphia parish or at the Pink Sisters Chapel of Divine Love.

Rocero shared that he loves adoration “mainly because it brings peace, and just seeing the face of God, and actually seeing the gaze of Jesus has truly changed the way I pray.”

“I’ve seen the face of mercy so much that I’m just still attracted to go in adoration daily because Jesus has truly changed the way I live my life.” He imagines “Jesus’ gaze shining light,” and he loves “that sense of peace and belonging” at adoration.


‘Being in the Presence’

Anna Holland, a 19-year-old sophomore at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, goes to adoration because “besides the Mass and receiving Jesus, that’s really the closest we can get to him. It’s just such a beautiful time of reflection and peacefulness that you can’t get anywhere else. There’s something really, really special: It’s truly being in the Presence.”

Peace at adoration is a big draw for these young adults. Seton Hall FOCUS team leader Jessica Brinker, 25, emphasized that at Eucharistic adoration she finds “a lot of peace. As I’ve been a missionary, I become more and more convicted Jesus is truly present — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. I just love being able to sit and pray and just look at Jesus face-to-face as I’m sharing and talking to him and praying. So I just find a lot of peace and joy — and just being present with Our Lord in a very visible way … I can look at him.”

Adoration is very important to her, she added, “because of the peace that is there on the craziest day... to be able to step into the chapel, see Jesus and be reminded that the battle has already been won. Everything I’m going through will all be okay. Even if it doesn’t work out the way that I want it to, it is according to the Lord’s plan. Just seeing Jesus and walking in and being overwhelmed with peace is why I love it.”


Weekly Prayer Habit

Two years ago, Peter Cosentino, a senior and member of the Newman Catholic Center at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, began to go to adoration to develop prayer habits. During his last two semesters, he has “been trying to do more of a consistent hour for a Holy Hour throughout the entire week,” he said. He finds it a time free of distractions, “a time to center your attention on something bigger than yourself or your schoolwork.”

Montclair junior Patrick Horvat began making adoration a habit by joining others from the Newman Center for adoration one night a week. He found that “being able to see the Host is one of the best parts, being able to see your Creator in such a humble form, too.” That led to increasing his time at Eucharistic adoration during the week. He highly recommends having “a time of silence to reflect on your day — anything that’s going on in your life. If I can’t make it to Eucharistic adoration, I always try to do a Holy Hour in front of the tabernacle.”

Eucharistic adoration also strengthens personal faith. 

At the University of Virginia, FOCUS missionary Brittany Worthington, 26, loves to go to Eucharistic adoration because she gets “to be with Jesus, with God who has hidden himself to be with us. For me, adoration and the miracle of the Eucharist draws me back to the Church constantly,” she told the Register. “Seeing his Presence, I can come to terms with what the Catholic Church teaches as well.”

Worthington added, “Being In his Presence gives depth and peace in my prayers.”

Peace of Christ

Sarah Schwartz was first introduced to adoration as a young teenager. “We had a small chapel in my high school, where there was adoration available one day a week. I started stopping in during my free period on Fridays and found that it was an incredibly peaceful time. It was very fulfilling for me.”

Today, Schwartz, in her early 30s, is chapter leader of Crossroads 4 Christ’s Greater Hartford Chapter in Connecticut, where, one night a week, young-adult members gather for faith formation, fellowship and Eucharistic adoration at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New Britain. Their talks and discussion always point to and end with an hour of Eucharistic adoration.

Eucharistic Adoration is important for Schwartz “because we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. So when you go to adoration, you’re actually spending time with Jesus. Even though you can spend time in personal prayer at home, and that’s important, there’s something about being at adoration and its physical Presence.”

As young adults, “there are so many things going on in our lives, and so many questions that we’re trying to answer,” she said. “Everyone’s looking for a sense of purpose, and everyone’s looking for inner peace. And there’s no better way that you can find that then by spending at least just one hour a week in adoration with the Lord.”

Schwartz advises others not familiar with adoration, “Spend that time and see what fruits it brings about in your life.”

“I just hear, time and time again from young adults, how important that one hour a week has become in their lives,” she continued. “It’s where a lot of people find clarity about some of the most important questions they’re asking. It’s where they found that they really developed a relationship with God.”