“...Tantum ergo sacramentum...” Down in Adoration Falling....
I open my eyes. I smell the cathedral incense, a smell which has become a favorite of mine over the years, as well as become part of my definition of home. Sitting in our beautifully vibrant cathedral, I start to beam. A flow of grace washes over me. I look at my surroundings forever memorized by the wonder and mystery her majesty holds. I turn my attention towards the altar where He sits. Laid out for all to see. Waiting. I feel grateful to be sitting here before Him.
There’s a certain aspect about Adoration that provides or creates a certain intimacy for me. Different from the reminder of His sacrifice depicted up on the crucifix, in Adoration, as Catholics we believe Christ is truly present and fully exposed. He’s transparent, in His purest and most full form. We become face to face with one another.
For me, silence help provides more effort towards focus. Focus on Christ. Someone once told me that monks do not reach deep prayer until their second hour of Adoration. I didn’t always understand what this meant. When I first met silence, through learning that faith and love are both actions, not only mere nouns, did it then start to make sense. Acting with what was human nature, I was uncomfortable by the silence. It was awkward and made me feel vulnerable, as it does and is meant to do. I just didn’t know what I was being vulnerable with or for, which left me with more unknown, which in turn only resulted in becoming more uncomfortable, or so it did usually. I felt as though I needed to be doing something, trying to fill my time, or kept continuously thinking of all the things I could be doing.
As I became more busy in my life, too busy that I hadn’t made time for reflection or silence, I became very frustrated and soon realized that I was too concerned about doing vs. being worried about just being. Like anything in life, balance has to be created, maintained, or and found. It was only when I returned to the silence, felt my way through it’s uncomfortableness, and in finally willingly being vulnerable did I find more balance, beauty, and peace in the chaos.
To me I best find silence in Adoration. I love Adoration and yet still struggle through the uncomfortability to be present, present only in that one moment. Adoration is perfect also in the way that it usually is refreshing, and it brings happiness or a peace extraneous from myself. I call it an effect of grace. Grace is something I am unable to provide for myself, and something which can only to be obtainable from God.
In the attempt to describe the indescribable, grace is the joy one can feel, or peace that can even come in sorrow. It’s beauty seen through nature on a warm, windy, fall day. It’s the renewal of life or light after a paralyzing snow storm. I find grace not only in Adoration, but also when I reflect and find gratitude in life is where I also tend to find it most. I search for things to be grateful for, which should be everything, as there’s always something to be grateful for. Gratitude grounds and humbles. It brings me back to the beginning, helps me to remember. A smile creeps across my faith, feeling lucky to be alive, to be present in that given moment. He chose me and I will forever continue to chose him.
Adoration gives me the time to be with him, to be vulnerable with Him. My mind still can struggle to find my way to Him from time to time, and to be honest, it does most of the time. However, being in His presence, His full presence, while I try to quiet my mind, is the only thing that can help me quiet my mind.
And so in learning to quiet my mind, I finally understood the saying about monks and prayer. Sometimes I find myself only beginning to quiet my mind, right as Adoration begins to conclude. I experience a moment of frustration. Interestingly enough, I find myself wanting more. I crave more. Still longing. As I am sure is to be designed. We yearn for Him and His love, His example, His morality. ..And so balance is again created. Doing vs. Being.
I don’t always find His grace at or through Adoration, but besides in people, it happens to be my most favorite, challenging, and one of the easiest ways I do encounter Him and His grace. It’s where and when I lay my concerns with Him, at the foot of His cross, in His trust, allowing for His guidance and help, being vulnerable and open. It’s a balance, as well as a challenge as I submit and surrender to Him all control in that moment, giving all I can give, remembering I never had full control in the first place, nor ever will. Gratitude transcends and His grace flows over me.
Header Image: Cathedral of the Madeleine