Eucharistic Adoration

Adoration is the act of worshipping or giving homage to someone or something. For Christians, adoration is reserved to God. While we venerate the saints and Mary, we adore God alone. In Eucharistic adoration then, it is not the consecrated host we adore but the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This adoration can take place in formal, communal settings when the consecrated host is placed in a monstrance or chalice, both sacred vessels used during Eucharistic celebrations. Yet we also practice Eucharistic adoration when we visit a church in order to pray and meditate in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle. 

Adoration is different from prayer of thanksgiving or petition; it is about giving God glory or praise for who He is. We adore God when we honor Him simply for being God. There are many different ways of adoring God. Some people, for example, adore the Lord in silence. Others sing charismatic songs or pray in tongues. However we offer worship, the central act of Eucharistic adoration is simply spending time with our Lord.

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) from the Second Vatican Council teaches that the celebration of the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (#11). It is in the celebration of Sunday Mass particularly that we are powerfully formed into Christians and are sustained in our growth as disciples. It is also at Sunday Mass that we rejoice most fully in our life in Christ and experience the greatest foretaste of heaven as we encounter the presence of Christ among us.

We experience Christ present in our fellowship with one another, in the Word proclaimed and preached, in the person of the priest, and in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine that become for us Christ’s body and blood - the very presence of God in our midst (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium], #7).

The Church refers to Christ’s presence in the Eucharistic elements as the “Real Presence.” In 1965 Pope Paul VI wrote, “This presence is called ‘real’ not to exclude the idea that the others are ‘real’ too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man” (Mysterium Fidei, #39). Simply put, Christ becomes entirely, completely, perfectly present to us in Holy Communion. Eucharistic adoration flows from and points us back to the startling reality that the essence of our God comes to us in Holy Communion. By embracing the Real Presence in Holy Communion, we become what we consume - the Body of Christ, living and acting in our world.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:8). The transubstantiation of the bread and the wine is ultimately wasted on us if we ourselves are not transubstantiated—if the substance of who we are is not also transformed into the presence of Christ.

Our eternal hope and ongoing challenge is to be able to say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Transformed through the Eucharist, we seek then to make our lives a living adoration of God, giving glory to God precisely through becoming His presence in the world.