When my husband and I got married, the wedding liturgy was the most important part of our planning. We knew we were stepping into something profound and we wanted to treat it as such. One choice we made was to have an extended time of adoration following Communion. After the congregation had received, we spent about 15-20 minutes before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and sang songs of praise. We wanted the first moments of our lives as a married couple to be spent receiving and adoring Jesus.
Our guest list included many loved ones who don’t share our Catholic faith, but that didn’t discourage us from making this decision because, at the end of the day, Jesus really is present in the Blessed Sacrament and we believe spending time in his presence is always powerful, whether that power is fully understood or not.
That’s the beauty of adoration — you don’t have to “get it” for it to be good, powerful and meaningful. Sure, our hearts can be more fully disposed to grace when we have been formed in the faith, which can make adoration more profoundly transformative for us. Yet, God can still work when someone who has never met him steps into his presence.
Unlike liturgical celebrations, many retreats or parish programs, with a little bit of guidance, virtually anyone can go to eucharistic adoration and — regardless of what they feel — spend their time in the presence of Jesus. This reality should move us to consider who in our lives might benefit from an invitation to do just that! Who — regardless of their religious background — can we ask to join us for a brief time of adoration, allowing them to simply be in the presence of Jesus?
While we all probably have several family, friends, coworkers and neighbors on that list, making the actual invitation to adoration should be done thoughtfully and with the right intention. As you consider who you might want to bring to your next opportunity for adoration, especially during this season of eucharistic revival, try to incorporate the following steps:
Share your experience
Just like you wouldn’t invite a friend to meet someone new without explaining why you like them, you probably shouldn’t invite a friend to adoration without sharing the good you have personally experienced by spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist. Share how your time in adoration has been comforting, peaceful, healing or transformative. And if you’d like to invite someone who is dealing with struggles you can relate to, share how bringing those struggles to adoration has been beneficial for you.
Offer some guidance
Walking someone into adoration with no direction or context is a little risky. There are some aspects of our faith and how we practice it that should be explained in kindness to a newcomer to adoration, to help them feel more comfortable and at ease in a new environment! If a friend is joining you for adoration for the first time, gently offer the following as some guidance for them
- Catholics believe Jesus is truly present in what appears as a piece of bread inside the monstrance.
- During adoration, most people will spend time in silent prayer, meditation and contemplation – some pray the rosary, read books or Scripture or contemplate a particular story or mystery of God. There aren’t “rules” so you are free to spend the time however you want, but always with the sense of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. If you don’t know what to do or how to spend the time, just rest in the silence! And you can always speak to Jesus from your heart, and listen for his voice in any new insights or inspirations that might come to you.
- It is appropriate to keep the silence and genuflect upon entering and exiting the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pray for them
Don’t underestimate the power of your intercession for someone who is spending time with Jesus for the first time. Ask Jesus to make his presence known to them, for their hearts to be consoled by him, and invite your friend’s guardian angel to protect your friend from anything that would prevent them from receiving the grace Jesus desires to give them in his presence.
After bringing a friend to adoration, make a point to ask about their experience and maybe help them unpack it a bit further. Maybe this is over coffee immediately after, a brief conversation the next time you see them or even a quick check-in via text. If they’re eager to share or ask questions about their experience, be available to them, and if they’re seeking to explore the faith further, consider directing them to a priest or spiritual director who can more pastorally guide them on their journey.
Keep inviting them
One invitation, in many cases, should lead to another! If you have a weekly or monthly habit of going to adoration, keep inviting your friend to join you every time you go! Of course, if they’ve set a boundary and are not interested in joining you, respect that and don’t press them further. But if they have gone with you before and have had a good experience — even if that just meant they appreciated sitting in silence for 30 minutes — invite them again! We may never fully know the ways Jesus works when we spend time in his presence, but we can be confident that every time we do is time well spent!