We’ve all been there: you’re sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, trying to be holy and hear the voice of God. But there seems to be a wall up between you and the Person in front of you, and, well, it’s so easy to get distracted!
Bad news first: that’s not going to stop. Even the greatest saints admitted to getting distracted in Adoration – and look how they turned out! And now for the good news: even if you’re sitting in the chapel thinking about all the homework you have due the next day, you can still get something out it other than anxiety about impending assignments.
What do I mean? Speaking as someone with a very short attention span and a lot of things on my mind, some of the most beneficial times I’ve had in Adoration have been those times when I expected nothing and gained everything. And over the past few years, I’ve figured out a few common things that help me to keep a positive mindset regarding Adoration and to get more out of going.
- You’re never not going to get something from sitting in front of Jesus. If I had a dollar for every time someone had told me that they loved Adoration, and it was great, but this time around they just hadn’t received anything… well, I may not be rich, but I’d have more than my current seven dollars. Fact of the matter is: you’re sitting in front of the Creator of the universe. He’s talking to you, even if you can’t hear Him. He’s pouring out graces that you can’t even begin to imagine. And you have the audacity to say that you didn’t receive anything? Or maybe you had a really fruitful time in Adoration – there you go – that’s its own reward. You prayed a lot but didn’t hear anything? You spent that much more time talking to God and growing closer to Him – which is what we are all called to do. You spent time in the Bible or another spiritual book because you kept getting distracted? You’ve learned about your spiritual forerunners, whose goal it is to get you to Heaven. You were distracted and spent the whole half hour daydreaming about that television show? Well, hopefully you’ve learned more about yourself, as well as passively receiving the graces that your simply being there brought down.
- It’s very unlikely that you’re going to be knocked off your horse, so lower your expectations. Obviously, you should expect something – if you don’t ask, it can’t be given to you. But there are some things that only harm you if you expect them – for example, a very physical conversion experience, or a specific spiritual gift. Visions are not for everyone – don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive one while everyone else in the youth group does! At numerous adoration nights our youth group has held, I’ve felt like the only one who didn’t have an emotional experience. But get this – the emotional aspect is not everything. Yes, emotions can be a way of bringing us to Christ, since we are humans and therefore emotional creatures. But it is not everything! It is more important that you personally grow closer to Jesus over the course of time, whether you feel it or not, than you feel strongly one night and then leave the chapel, your Holy Spirit high evaporating the farther you get from the church. Realize that everyone has their own spiritual gifts – what is good for one person may not be good for you, and vice versa. If you enter into a time of Adoration telling God that you expect only what he has in store for you, and better His Will than yours, it will be a much more fruitful time than if you outline precisely the gifts you’d like to receive.
- He only wants what is best for you – don’t be afraid to ask! If you have a question regarding your life or your future, bring it before the Eucharist. You may not receive a clear black-and-white answer, but you will receive peace and hope deep down in your soul. Once I was in Adoration with the rest of the youth group, and I was having trouble with several things that had been giving me serious anxiety and panic. I brought them before Christ, trying not to dwell on them but instead to present them as something that I didn’t want to hold on to. In the back of my mind, I realized how great it would be to have one of my peers pray over me, but didn’t go any further than thinking about it. As the night drew to a close, one of the girls in my small group came over without any encouragement on my part and prayed over me for five minutes or so. The fact that God had answered my subconscious prayer really alerted me to the fact that He only wants what is best for me, and that he knows what that is better than I do. Ask, and it shall be given unto you – if you have a concern or a problem, bring it before the Lord before you talk about it to your friends or the internet. He knows better than anyone else what is best for you and what your future holds – “‘For I know well the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans to give you a future full of hope.’”
The Eucharist is one of our greatest claims as Catholics, yet it is so sorely underutilized. Why not spend an hour in Adoration this weekend instead of wasting time on Twitter? You’ll definitely get something out of it, as Father Stan Fortuna says in his song “School of the Eucharist.” “At this school where I sit even just a little bit, I get hit with the power that made the veil in the temple split.” Maybe the King of Kings has more in store for you than you think!