I recently read an article where the author (Elizabeth Scalia) recounted a conversation that she had with a fellow Catholic. Her friend was a very active Catholic, one who certainly believed in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. But when the topic of Eucharistic Adoration came up, her friend dismissed the practice.
Here is how she describes it:
Eucharistic Adoration he dismissed as well, calling it a leftover from medieval times, when reception at Mass was deeply limited, and Adoration and “Spiritual Communions” were the best most Catholics could hope for. He declared the modern-day practice of Adoration to be both irrelevant and unnecessary, and added that Jesus “doesn’t need it.”
Later in the article, Scalia offers a very powerful reflection in response to her friend’s objection to adoration, writing:
My friend’s argument against the need for Eucharistic Adoration seemed very earthbound to me, grounded in a worldly considerations of history and utilitarianism—“Christ doesn’t need it.” Well, maybe not, but he asked for it—“Could you not keep watch with me one hour?” (Matt 26:40)—which suggests that on some level he wants our quiet companionship.
My fear is that when we hear about the practice of holding a 40 Hours Devotion, we can get caught in a sort of utilitarian thinking. You hear me inviting you to sign up for an hour and you may think my purpose is to ensure that we have all our slots filled, as though we have some sort of quota to fill. We need all the slots full because I do not want Jesus left alone, with nobody to adore Him while He is exposed in the monstrance on the altar. Does He need adorers for those slots? No, but He wants them.
If we speak about need when it comes to Eucharistic Adoration, it is not really at all about what Jesus needs or what the parish needs. It is each of us who are in need. We need to spend time with Jesus. We need to be in His presence, to let ourselves be still enough to let Him gaze upon us with His unconditional love for us.
As you read this, you might be thinking of how many other things you could be doing during those hours, precious hours which on the weekend are opportunities to get caught up on chores, to enjoy hobbies, to spend time with the family, or to sleep! All of those are good things, but how much better is taking time to be with the Lord?
Perhaps you might be reading this thinking that spending time in adoration is just a waste of time. If you are thinking that, or worried about losing out on valuable time to do those other things, then you are the person who most needs to come and spend and hour with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration, for He desires to reveal to you how real His love is for you, and in revealing that love, to help you to intentionally choose to make Him the priority in your life – not one among many, but the one above all things.
So you can check to see if there are any slots that still need to be filled for our 40 Hours Devotion next weekend, and if you see an empty spot, hear the Lord saying to you – “This is where you need to be, because I want to spend this time with you.”