"I'm looking for people to sign up for Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Could you commit to one hour on Tuesdays?" Gloria's sparkling, dark eyes attempt to corner my evasive look.
“Well, I . . . uh . . .” Usually I have no problem saying no. In fact, anything that strikes me as requiring too much commitment or responsibility triggers an immediate nervous response—sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, and mental synapses tripping out a myriad of excuses. Really sorry, but I’m busy that day (or week, or year). . . I have to . . . (fill in the blank). But this request left me intrigued as well as intimidated.
“It’s twenty-four-hour Adoration, and we really need people to sign up for a specific time so that all hours are covered.” The sparkle in Gloria’s gaze had turned into a penetrating stare. I imagined her reading my cowardly soul like an open book.
What am I afraid of? I asked myself. Don’t I think I can pray for an hour? After all, for the past year I’ve been attending a weekly Catholic charismatic prayer meeting for women. I’ve participated in praise and worship, prayed over people, and witnessed physical and spiritual healings. Lately, I’ve developed a thirst to share Jesus with others and have been praying for courage to step out in faith.
With these thoughts swirling through my mind, I turned to Gloria, peered into her expectant eyes, screwed up my courage, and made my bold declaration: “I’ll pray about it.”
Getting to Yes. Timid as that promise was, God did not let me forget it. Over the next few weeks, it crossed my mind at unexpected moments, and I’d find myself imagining what it might be like to spend a whole hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
Would I have intense, heart-to-heart revelations with Jesus, like the saints—or would I just spend the time planning my dinner menu? Would it be like my nightly attempts at praying the Rosary? Often, my focus on the mysteries gave way to worrisome thoughts and eventually, to sleep, with the forgotten rosary beads leaving a line of embarrassing round imprints across my cheek.
Finally, after weeks of wondering, I knew it was time to take action. The next time I saw Gloria, I told her, “If you still need someone for that hour, I’d love to take it.” Then I began planning exactly how I would spend my first sixty minutes before the Lord.
Another Way to Pray. At 11 a.m. the following Tuesday, I walked into the small Adoration chapel, installed myself quietly in the front pew, and began the Rosary. This time for sure, I would actually finish it without falling asleep in the middle of a Hail Mary—and without acquiring my usual rosary bead cheek tattoo.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty” . . . wow, look at that large depiction of Jesus of Mercy! I must read the diary of Saint Faustina. . . . “Creator of heaven and earth.” . . . she used to fall asleep during her hours of Adoration. There’s no shame in that. Our Lord can work with us better when we’re asleep. Dear Jesus, help me stop yawning! . . . “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” . . . that is one huge crucifix! Jesus, how you suffered for our sins. I’m sorry for being such a sinner . . . “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” . . . Mary, please intercede for my family. . .
I continued in this disjointed fashion for one hour and barely managed to finish five mysteries. The following week, I repeated the process.
Discouraged about my lack of focus, I asked Gloria for advice. She suggested I begin my hour on my knees, praising Jesus. “Praise him both for the good things in your life and for the trials. Then sit and wait in silence for him to speak. Try leaving the Rosary for your home prayers.”
I had a sudden mental image of myself drooling into my pillow, rosary beads pinned beneath my cheek. I smiled sheepishly. “See what joy our Lord is giving you already!” Gloria exclaimed.
Not Your Usual Litany. And so, the following Tuesday, I knelt before the monstrance and began praising God. I praised him for my husband and four children and all our material blessings—cars, a beautiful house, clothes in our closets, and food in our pantry.
Then I praised him for my husband’s unemployment and the cloud of uncertainty that hung over the family. I praised him for bringing us from our safe Canadian province of Nova Scotia to the strange new land of Texas. I praised him for the insanely huge and terrifying Texas bugs and for the fire ants that were all over our lawn. I praised him for the leaking water heater in our attic, for the resulting water damage throughout the three levels of the house, and for the cost of drying out the floors and walls before black mold set in.
I praised God for the frightening tornado warnings that beeped regularly on our television screen and caused anxiety in the children. I praised him for the cost of medical care in the United States and for my children’s health issues. I praised him for my dad’s recent death from cancer, after having survived a five-bypass heart operation.
And then I cried.
And when I was finished, too drained to have another thought in my head, Jesus whispered to my heart and filled it with his peace. I placed all my worries and fears at the foot of his cross and left that chapel feeling lighter than I had felt in a long time.
Grace Upon Grace. That was years ago. I’ve been going to weekly Adoration ever since—first in Texas and then in New Hampshire, where my husband found a job that replanted our family. Though the move changed my litany somewhat (no more fire ants to praise God for!), I still thanked him for trials as well as good things.
Since reading the Diary of Saint Faustina, I’ve made the Chaplet of Divine Mercy a regular part of my Adoration. Mostly, however, I spend that hour simply listening for God. His inspirations come in the form of instructive thoughts or Scripture passages that feed my soul, calm my fears, and give me guidance. If I sometimes wear a silly grin during these quiet times, it’s because of the sheer joy of being in Jesus’ presence and knowing that he loves me and is taking care of all my worries, fears, and hopes.
Jesus has given me so much in return for my one small hour of weekly Adoration! I praise him for the inspirations to attend daily Mass, go to Confession more often, read Scripture and the lives of the saints, and get involved in my parish and in the pro-life movement. I praise him for bringing my husband and children along on this wonderful spiritual ride. And I praise him for Gloria, who nudged me out of my timid, noncommittal comfort zone seven years ago.
So now it’s my turn to prod: Is the Lord inviting you to meet him in a weekly hour of Adoration? Or is there something else that he’s asking you to consider? Just try it! You’ll discover that God will reward your little efforts with a peace, joy, and fruitfulness that far exceed your expectations.
Jacqueline Vromans-McCoy lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.