December 16, 2011
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
Close your eyes for a moment and meditate on that first nativity scene: Mary and Joseph are there with their newborn son, and worshipers have come from near and far to give homage to the Christ Child, the Babe of Bethlehem. Some have traveled for days, bearing precious gifts, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy Infant. Can you picture yourself there, together with shepherds, magi, angels, oxen and ass, rejoicing in the birth of the newborn King and giving praise to God for the miracle you are being blessed to witness? What a feeling - to be in the presence of Christ, our King and Savior, in the presence of God! Now, ponder this - how far would you travel to see Jesus today?
The familiar chorus above is sung throughout the world in celebration of Christ’s birth, and perhaps during this season, more than any other, we are made aware of God’s manifestation here on Earth. As Catholics, we are truly privileged to know Jesus in the Eucharist - body, blood, soul and divinity - just as He was, swaddled and lying in the manger in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. Many incredible gifts and experiences come to us by way of the Eucharist, and we are regularly afforded the opportunity of visiting the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration right here in our own parish - no lengthy journey necessary. In fact, most of us could probably get there by camel within a couple hours’ time!
Stew Baxter, husband and father of four, has been involved with Eucharistic Adoration here at Saint Alphonsus Liguori for almost 20 years now, and during that time, he has personally filled numerous hours left vacant on the sign-up sheet. For many years, there were only a handful of people devoted to this ministry, according to Baxter, so between them, they made sure Jesus was never left alone in the monstrance. Baxter recalls one parishioner who often spent 10 - 12 hours at a time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
The past few years have seen a change in participation with regards to devotion to the Holy Eucharist. “Father O’Keeffe has done a wonderful job of bringing awareness,” Baxter said, adding that the Knights of Columbus have also made such an impact that the hours are almost all accounted for. “But there still are hours that people forget.” Besides some late night time slots, there are commonly a few gaps in the schedule around lunch and dinnertime.
|"Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, 'Ask, and you shall receive,' but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace." -St. Alphonsus Liguori
“So many people are looking for the Lord, and with Adoration, we have Him,” Baxter said, expressively. “ All we have to do is put ourselves in His presence and He’ll let us know that He’s there. It’s just a tremendous gift.” But you have to experience it for yourself, Baxter suggests. It’s not something that can be conveyed adequately with words. “If you make the effort, if you make the commitment, the rewards will be there,” he said.
Baxter encourages our Catechists to spend time in Adoration, not only praying, but preparing lesson plans. “I do it all the time,” he said. “If I’ve got a talk I’m going to give, that’s definitely where I’m going to be.” He also spends time in front of Our Blessed Lord in preparation for his role as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and believes others would benefit from the same devotion. On being a regular visitor to Eucharistic Adoration, Baxter said, “I don’t miss it because it’s always a gift.”
Baxter would love to see someone spearhead the cause for Perpetual Adoration. “I think that would be the next step,” he said. He believes that the Eucharistic Celebrations the parish currently supports, such as 40 hours, First Friday Adoration and every Friday during Lent and Advent has garnered a regular turnout, and with just a little effort, we could have the foundation to support Perpetual Adoration at our parish. “In most other parishes, it requires a core of about 200 people willing to commit one hour a week,” he said. “We’re getting to the size and we’re getting enough participation, that it is a possibility in the future.”
|"The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth," - Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Here are some things to consider when you go before Our Lord in Adoration:
- It is appropriate, when coming face to face with Jesus, that you show reverence to God by genuflecting upon entering and leaving His presence.
- Options for prayer and reflection include reading scripture, devotionals or other inspirational material, praying a rosary or novena and meditating on the Stations of the Cross.
- Prepare a witness. Journal - write down your thoughts and inspirations.
- Commune with God - give praise and thanksgiving, offer contrition and lay your petitions before Him.
- Just be still and listen and bathe in the warmth of His love.
“Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.” -Blessed Pope John Paul II