Catholics have many ways to deepen their relationships with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. You can hear the words of the priest at your local parish and meditate on various Scripture passages. You can listen to the stories of modern and historical saints whose lives serve as an example of how you can live a life of deeper faith and dependence on God. You can fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, participating together in the ordinances Christ has established through His teachings.
Another way you can grow in your walk with Jesus is through Eucharistic Adoration. But what is Eucharistic Adoration for Catholics, and how do you participate in it? Let’s take a deep dive into this topic so you can understand the Adoration of the Eucharist and how to make it a part of your own life as a Catholic.
What Is Eucharistic Adoration?
The Adoration of the Holy Eucharist, or Eucharistic Adoration, is an opportunity for the faithful to pray to Jesus Christ before the Eucharist at their local parish. The term “the faithful” refers to Catholics who wish to express and deepen their love of Christ. But what makes praying during Eucharistic Adoration any different than the prayers you say throughout your daily life?
True, you can pray to God anywhere. God is omnipresent, which means He is everywhere at all times. As the Word of God says in Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” God is always near, and thus, you can always enter into His presence in prayer.
God is also omniscient, which means He knows everything, including your thoughts. King David says in Psalm 139:1-4, “Lord, You have probed me, you know me: You know when I sit and stand; You understand my thoughts from afar. You sift through my travels and my rest; with all my ways You are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, You know it all.”
God’s omnipresence and omniscience are both wonderful truths that Catholics can take comfort in every day, whether at home, work or worshipping at your local parish. But Eucharistic Adoration differs from your daily prayers in one key aspect. Catholics believe the body, blood, soul and divinity are substantially present in the Eucharist. In other words, when you participate in Eucharistic Adoration, you pray and worship Jesus in a more intimate, present and real way.
Why Is the Eucharist Celebrated?
The Eucharist represents the body of Jesus, the son of God who died so that humankind could have eternal hope. Catholics believe that, in communion, we receive the actual body of Jesus. In that moment, you share in Christ’s suffering on the cross. It’s a sobering, beautiful concept to meditate on, one that can leave you with feelings of overwhelming love and adoration for Jesus and His work on the cross.
The symbol of the cross is front and center during Eucharistic Adoration. When you enter a time of adoring the Eucharist, you can have faith that you’re entering into the true, substantial presence of Jesus. As you contemplate drawing near the blood, body, divinity and soul of Jesus Christ, you can experience a rejuvenation of spiritual nourishment and strength in a more unique, powerful way than you might experience in your daily prayers.
When Can You Go?
With Eucharistic Adoration offering the potential for such an impactful moment between you and Christ, you may wonder when you can participate in it for yourself. The answer to this depends on your local parish. Most parishes have specific times set aside for Adoration throughout the week. Whether the window of opportunity is on a certain day or several times throughout the week, you should have ample opportunities to practice Eucharistic Adoration for yourself at a nearby parish.
Some parishes have Perpetual Adoration. This means you can pray in the presence of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration at any time throughout the week, night or day. Perpetual Adoration lets you participate in Eucharistic Adoration at any time that works for your schedule or whenever the Holy Spirit leads you. For Parishes to offer Perpetual Adoration, they must have at least one person present at all times. For this reason, few parishes offer Perpetual Adoration.
See when your local parish offers Eucharistic Adoration. The times may be convenient for your schedule, but if you’re serious about incorporating Eucharistic Adoration into your life, prepare yourself to sacrifice some of your personal time to engage in this sacred moment for your spiritual growth. If your parish offers Perpetual Adoration, then you have more freedom of choice regarding when you go.
What Do You Do During Adoration?
Once you’ve decided to go to Eucharistic Adoration, the next common question to answer is what you should or can do while there. Catholics of all ages who attend Eucharistic Adoration for the first time feel at a loss regarding what they should be doing. Should you sit or stand? Should you kneel like the person in the seat next to you? Is it OK that one person is reading while another seems to be writing something in a notebook?
Questions like these are normal. Most people have asked them or at least wondered about them at some point in their Catholic walk. What matters is that you have the desire and intention to attend Eucharistic Adoration to deepen your walk with Jesus Christ and experience His presence in your life in a new way. The last thing you want is to do something wrong or disrespectful while in the presence of your beloved Savior.
If you feel at a loss about what you should do during Eucharistic Adoration, take heart with the knowledge that many people now and in times past have felt the same way. Below, you’ll find a list of acceptable actions you can take so you can enter the presence of Jesus with confidence and humility and experience the blessing of the Adoration of the Eucharist.
One of the most foundational things you can do in regards to Eucharistic Adoration is to “be there.” The first step is always to show up, and it’s a simple yet important step any Catholic can take. Leave all your fear about specifics at the door and simply approach Jesus with humility and reverence.
There are no specific rules about what you should do during Eucharistic Adoration. Just “be there” in Jesus’ presence. Reflect on His work on the cross and adore Him for all He has done for you and humankind. That would be a time of Eucharistic Adoration well-spent.
Pray the Rosary
Many Catholics use their time in Eucharistic Adoration to pray the Rosary. The Rosary offers a helpful way to spend a large chunk of time in prayer while meditating on various mysteries of the Catholic faith. Through meditation and prayer of the Rosary, you can feel closer to God and use the time to be productive with your faith.
If you’d like to know more about how to pray the Rosary, we invite you to read our Ultimate Guide for Praying the Rosary.
Write in a Prayer Journal
For many Catholics, memorizing prayers and knowing how to pray can seem hard. Everyone has different natural abilities, and some think better and are more thoughtful when they write. The act of writing allows their inner thoughts to come forth and can help them process their true feelings about a certain matter. It’s for this reason so many people engage in the practice of daily journaling.
If this sounds like you, try writing in a prayer journal during Eucharistic Adoration. Use the time in Jesus’ presence to write down prayers that come to your mind. You can make a list of requests, blessings and situations in your life, and you’ll have them forever to look back on and see how God answered you.
Pray on Your Own
Another great activity you can participate in during Eucharistic Adoration is praying on your own. Simply bow before Jesus and pray as the Holy Spirit leads you. You can approach God in prayer without planning anything in advance or having something memorized. Talk to Jesus like you would if you were in His presence — because you are. As a result, you can experience your prayer life grow.
Listen to Music
Music can be a powerful spiritual blessing during your time of Eucharistic Adoration. Pick a playlist of songs that will help you focus your thoughts on God and the gift of His son Jesus. Choose music that is worshipful and reverent — something that will help you in your efforts to draw nearer to Jesus’ presence. Just be sure to use headphones that keep the sound so only you hear it to avoid disturbing others who may be around you.
Reading is another wonderful activity to do during Eucharistic Adoration. There are many great reading options available that can help you make the most of this sacred time, including the following:
- Scripture: Read the holy Word of God while meditating in Jesus’ presence. Whether you’re on a reading plan or open to one of your favorite passages, time in God’s Word is always time well-spent.
- Daily devotional book: Daily devotional books are great for reading a passage of Scripture and getting a concise application for your life to think about throughout the day.
- Religious book: Many high-quality religious books are out there to enrich your spiritual walk and help focus your mind on truth. Talk to a leader at your parish or a trusted brother or sister in Christ for recommendations on good religious books to read during Eucharistic Adoration.
The Physical Elements of Adoration
Before you can get the full experience of Eucharistic Adoration, it’s important to understand the physical elements that are present. Here are the main elements:
- The tabernacle: The tabernacle is a locked container in which the parish priest stores the Eucharist. The priest will open the tabernacle to retrieve the Eucharist during Communion and Eucharistic Adoration.
- The consecrated host: The consecrated host is a physical element that has been transformed into the actual body or blood of Christ. This is a foundational doctrine held by Catholics called transubstantiation. Transubstantiation is a technical term that means, in the case of Eucharistic Adoration, the bread on display is literally the body of Christ and contains His presence, despite having the appearance, taste, smell and texture of regular bread. The priest transforms the bread into the body of Christ at Mass.
- The monstrance: The monstrance is the item that exposes and displays the Eucharist before those who come before it in Adoration. It can take various appearances, but one of the most common types of monstrance has a sunburst shape atop a long stem with a wider base to keep it secure. The monstrance also contains another part called the luna.
- The luna: The luna, or lunette, is a class compartment in which the priest places the Eucharist during Eucharistic adoration. It is often at the center of the sunburst shape, displaying the glory of Christ’s presence within the Eucharist.
Take Part in the Eucharistic Revival
There is a Eucharistic revival happening now, and you can be a part of it. The United States Conference of Catholics Bishops (USCCB) has called for a three-year National Eucharistic Revival from June 2022 to Pentecost 2025. During this period, all members of the Catholic Church from young children to members of the diocese are invited to recommit and deepen their faith and devotion in the real presence of Jesus Christ within the Holy Eucharist.
The truth is that we live in difficult times. Disease, war, political turmoil and public unrest seem to mar the land. Divisions among people groups are raising tensions, and it can seem like the world is spinning out of control. But as Catholics, we have a hope greater than all these things — our hope in Jesus Christ.
The National Eucharistic Revival is the Catholic Church’s grassroots response to the difficulties and darkness of the world. Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, which commands us to go out into the world, spread the Good News of Jesus and help people lead lives that can continue to make a difference in every nation.
As Catholics, we can only hope to accomplish this goal by first deepening our own faith in the presence of Jesus Christ at the Eucharist. For many, this personal journey of impacting the world begins by recommitting to Eucharistic Adoration.
Share the Miracle of Adoration With Others
As a Catholic, Jesus has called you to be a vessel of mercy, having compassion on the nations and being a help to people in need. One of the ways we can accomplish this together is by sharing the miracle of Eucharistic Adoration with others.
There are many Catholic churches and parishes around the world that lack resources, including monstrances in which to display the Holy Eucharist. This causes groups of Catholics to miss out on the blessing that Eucharistic Adoration can be in their lives.
At Catholic World Mission, one of the ways we help those in need while contributing to the National Eucharistic Revival is by distributing monstrances to underprivileged churches around the world. We’ve been doing this since 2012 because we know how important Eucharistic Adoration is in the lives of all Catholics.
Aside from participating in Eucharistic Adoration during the National Eucharistic Revival, there’s another way you can get involved — by donating to Catholic World Mission’s monstrances program. With your generous donation, we can ensure parishes in need have the resources they need to promote Eucharistic Adoration. Donate to our monstrances program today!
Deacon Rick Medina is the Executive Director of Catholic World Mission and oversees the management of all of Catholic World Mission's projects in over 35 countries. He was ordained a deacon of the archdiocese of Atlanta in 2013. He currently serves at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, and is active in several ministries, including RCIA, baptism preparation, Life Teen, Altar Server group, Grief Share, and Adult Faith Formation.