I used to sleep through Eucharistic Adoration. When I was a kid, my mom took us to “Holy Hour” every week. I knelt down, elbows resting on the back of the pew in front of me, hands clasped in praying form, propping up my head.
I tried to pray, but it was so calm and quiet, the incense was so heady, and I began drifting off to sleep.
So I sat down, and switched to reading whatever “holy book” I brought with me. Eyes… closing… can’t keep them… open…
Then I blinked, and it was time to go.
Yes mom, I will admit it now, I often slept through Adoration.
The Agony in the Garden
I’m not the first one to sleep through Holy Hour.
In the Gospel, on the night before Jesus died, he took his disciples out to a deserted garden.
He selected Peter, James, and John to accompany him – to keep vigil, to watch and pray.
While Jesus was in agony, his three closest friends…
They lay right down and went to sleep.
When Jesus returned, he woke them up, saying,
“So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:40-41
He retired to pray; they fell asleep again.
This time, when he returned, he just let them sleep.
Three Holy Hours in a row, they spent sleeping.
The Truth About Human Nature
This story reveals the truth about human nature: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Our spirit longs for Christ, it thirsts for him, but our flesh gets lazy when it comes to spending time with him.
Our heart cries out for relationship with him, but we often find our bodies unwilling to make the sacrifice.
Our relationship with Jesus is the most necessary thing in our lives. We need to watch and pray, to spend time being with him and talking to him.
Our lives are filled with trials, temptations, and tests.
Only the grace we draw from Christ can uphold us through it all.
What is Eucharistic Adoration?
Eucharistic Adoration is a gift that Jesus gives us. He calls us to come to him and spend time with him.
During Eucharistic Adoration, the priest sets up a monstrance – a fancy golden stand that holds the Eucharist, displaying it in the church.
Extra candles surround the monstrance, and sometimes incense will be burning.
Just like Jesus asked the apostles to keep watch for one hour, the most common Adoration practice is the “Holy Hour.”
Holy Hour is often a time of silent prayer.
You can sit or kneel.
You can talk to Jesus from your heart, pray the Rosary, do spiritual reading, or simply sit and be with him in the silence of your heart.
Sometimes, an organized holy hour may include praying the Rosary aloud, some Bible readings, or even a homily.
But the most important thing to remember is that this is an opportunity to draw grace from being in Jesus’ presence.
Jesus is always present to us in the Eucharist, even when he’s hidden within the tabernacle, but Adoration is your chance to be more present to him.
When you keep watch at Adoration, you are strengthened against trial and temptation.
The Gift of Silence
Silent Adoration is my favorite. Our modern lives are filled with noise and distraction. We are constantly surrounded by screens, music, alerts, and notifications.
You can’t even stand at the gas pump without being bombarded with advertising.
Silence is missing.
And silence is so badly needed – not just for praying – but for our mental and emotional well-being, too.
Have you ever noticed that as soon as it’s silent, all the deep thoughts start flooding into your mind?
When it’s silent, we have the opportunity to reflect on and process our day.
When it’s silent, we become introspective.
When it’s silent, we can hear the voice of God whispering in our hearts.
We can struggle to carve out quiet time in our lives, but if we can get to Adoration, that quiet time is there.
As we reflect on our day, we can lay it at Jesus’ feet.
As we become introspective, and begin to realize all our faults and failings, we can allow Jesus to transform us.
As we experience God’s voice whispering in our hearts, we can become filled with hope and direction.
The Silence of Eucharistic Adoration is an antidote to the noisy lives we live, that keep us from becoming the people God made us to be.
What if I Fall Asleep?
Let me tell you the truth – you’re going to fall asleep at Adoration sometimes. It really is such a calming, peaceful experience, you won’t be able to help it once in a while.
The important thing is, you were still there with Jesus.
Once, a priest shared a story I will never forget. He said that when he’s exhausted, worn down, at the end of his strength, he goes to the church. He lays down in the pew. And he sleeps.
He turns to Jesus for the rest and rejuvenation he needs.
If he’s going to sleep, he may as well sleep at Jesus’ feet.
So don’t let sleep keep you away. Come back again, and again. You may try bringing something to keep you awake: a book or your rosary beads, or a pen and paper to write down your conversation with Jesus.
But if you just. need. to. sleep, what better place to sleep than at Jesus’ feet?
“Come to me, all you that are weary… and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28
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