Authored by Jay-Ar San Juan
There is a beautiful story of when St. Thomas Aquinas was writing his treatise on the Eucharist for the Summa Theologiae. The story goes that he was very dissatisfied with it; he believed that his work did not do justice for the great mystery of the Eucharist. He was later praying in his cell before an icon of Our Crucified Lord, still disappointed at his supposed failure. It was said that a voice then came from that icon that said, “Thomas, you have written well about My Body. What would you have as your reward?” Aquinas answered, “Non nisi Te, Domine”, which in English translates as, “Nothing if not You, Lord.”
As I heard that story, I thought about how beautiful and true his answer was. It was beautiful because it expressed the great love that Aquinas had for Our Lord, and it was true because only loving union with Christ can truly satisfy us. Since hearing that story about Aquinas, I have made it a priority to foster that great sense of love for Christ in the Eucharist, especially in Eucharistic Adoration.
Eucharistic Adoration can be difficult for many of us who are not used to periods of silence, especially since our culture conditions us to be constantly stimulated by different sensations – noise, vivid visuals, and of course, combinations of those. Someone I know was once talking to a priest about how she finds it easier to either pray the rosary, pray a novena to a saint or even listen to some religious music to connect with God. The priest responded, “But Christ is right there in the Eucharist! All of your thoughts, questions and concerns, He’s right there so bring them to him!” Those other prayers are certainly valuable in themselves, especially when they foster a deeper devotion to Christ. But they should lead you to seek time with Our Lord, who is truly and fully present in the Eucharist. All of the great saints and spiritual masters have recommended the practice of spending time in Eucharistic Adoration because it is before the Eucharist that we literally make a personal encounter with the Lord of heaven and earth.
One of the great things about Eucharistic Adoration is that it is simple, one needs to simply abide in the loving presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. A nun I know once put it as ‘being present to THE Presence’. There are real and efficacious graces that come by just being present before the Eucharist. There are conversion stories of people, including those who are non-Catholic, who simply came and prayed before the Eucharist, and then had that profound personal encounter with the Lord. Certainly you can do some personal prayers or bring some spiritual reading, and all of these do help your experience of adoration, but they are not absolutely necessary because the silent presence of the Lord alone gives us the grace to abide in Him. As Cardinal Sarah says, “… [The] most beautiful joy is to remain simply with God, allowing Him to clothe us in light and purity.”
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary offer perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine in Boston, and daily adoration at St. Francis Chapel in Boston, at Holy Ghost parish in Denver, and at St. Peter Chanel parish in Hawaiian Gardens, CA. They know that Eucharistic Adoration is a real and effective means by which one may experience a personal encounter with the Lord and grow more deeply in love with Him. In my seminary formation, I have personally benefited from and received many graces by spending at least an hour a day in Eucharistic Adoration. So I invite you to make some time in your schedules to regularly spend time with the Lord in adoration. Bring to Him your prayers, your concerns, or come to simply rest silently in His presence. Allow that time of adoration to deepen your love for Jesus so that you too, like St. Thomas, may say, “I want nothing but You, Lord.”