WHAT IS EUCHARISTIC ADORATION?
Eucharistic Adoration is going to a Catholic church or chapel and spending time before the Blessed Sacrament for at least one hour per week, in prayer, thankfulness and adoration, and developing a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As we spend more and more time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, to make Jesus more and more the center of our life, we will grow in holiness, develop a deeper love for Jesus, be able to feel His love for us, and receive the strength and hope that we all need in our daily lives.
As Catholics, we believe that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, within the Blessed Sacrament, veiled as a piece of bread or host. How can this be? In order to understand why we would adore a host or a piece of bread during Eucharistic Adoration, it must be explained how this host had become the Blessed Sacrament in which Our Lord is present in His "Flesh and Blood".
In the Catholic Church we celebrate the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" on Sundays instead of a "Worship Service", as is done by our many Protestant brothers and sisters. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass continues the one and only Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross in a unbloody manner throughout time until He comes again to establishes His reign upon the earth.
The Sacrifice at the Last Supper, the Sacrifice of the Cross, and the Sacrifice of the Mass are not three separate sacrifices, but the selfsame Sacrifice. During the Sacrifice of the Mass, it is Christ Himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the "Eternal Victim", offering Himself through His Church by the priest and the faithful; to give honor and glory to God, and to apply the fruits of His Passion and Death to our souls according to our dispositions.
At the Last Supper, Christ offered up to God His Passion and Death for the redemption of mankind. "This is My Body," He says, "which is delivered up for you; this is My Blood which is shed for you unto the remission of sins." This One Offering was completed and carried out on the Cross. The sacrifice which Christ offered at the Last Supper and the sacrifice of the Cross are one and the same sacrifice. By the words: "Do this for a commemoration of Me" He gave His Apostles and their successors not only the power, but the command also, to do what He Himself had just done. He made them priests and thereby perpetuated the Sacrifice of our Redemption in His Church.
During the Consecration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Crucified Christ becomes present on the altar, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the form of the bread and wine, and is offered up once again in an unbloody manner to the Father, along with all our personal petitions and supplications, acts of reparation for our sins and those of others (living or dead), and loving expressions of adoration and gratitude, praises and thanksgiving for our God.
After the consecration we, as Catholics, receive during Communion the Holy Eucharist, which is the actual Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. For Our Lord has told us in John 6: "I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world." (Jn 6:51) When the Jews argued among themselves, asking, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" (Jn 6:52) Jesus pointed out that His words are to be taken literally. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; (Jn 6:53) he who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6:54) For my Flesh is food indeed, and my Blood is drink indeed. (Jn 6:55) He who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood abides in me, and I in him. (Jn 6:56) As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. (Jn 6:57) This is the Bread which came down from Heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this Bread will live forever." (Jn 6:58)
The terms Holy Eucharist and Blessed Sacrament are used interchangeably. The Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Eucharist are both Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in consecrated hosts, but the Blessed Sacrament is a consecrated Host or Holy Eucharist that is much larger (about 3 inches) than the consecrated Host or Eucharist received at Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament usually resides in the Tabernacle and is considered the Physical Presence of Jesus in each of His Catholic Churches. A red sanctuary lamp near the tabernacle denotes His presence. The Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Tabernacle for Holy Hours, prolonged Eucharistic Adoration, etc..
One might ask why it is necessary for the Blessed Sacrament to be exposed in a monstrance? The difference between spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance, rather than in the tabernacle, is the same as the difference between conversing with a friend face-to-face instead of having a closed door between you. Most adorers say that seeing Jesus under the appearance of the Sacred Host is much more conducive to intimacy than Him being hidden in a tabernacle. It helps adorers to be faithful to their scheduled hours because they know that Jesus cannot be left alone in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance. The scheduled adorers are guardians of the Blessed Sacrament, so their presence is necessary. Yet, the most compelling reason for exposition is because the Holy Spirit asks for it. During his Eucharistic discourse, Jesus made this unmistakably clear: "Indeed this is the will of My Heavenly Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him, shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day." (John 6:40)
Pope John Paul II expresses these thoughts on the Eucharist: "The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it (during Mass) but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace."
Eucharistic Adoration is a door always open. It is a sign of the open arms of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament always inviting, welcoming and embracing each one who comes to Him. In the Blessed Sacrament the Word continues to become flesh and dwell among us.