There’s nothing quite like shutting your gob for an hour to recharge your batteries, but we all know that finding time to be quiet can be a real challenge. It’s a struggle I deal with regularly, and not always successfully, even when I’m at home and no one is making any immediate demands on my time. I tend to find all kinds of things to work on, or fret over, instead of being still.
A wonderful respite from this can be found in making what we Catholics call a “Holy Hour”, and there are many ways to go about having one. The basics are that you take one hour out of your day, be quiet, and listen to what God is trying to say to you, with no distractions. Perhaps you pray silently, or do some spiritual reading, or study the Bible – and no, not just the fun bits, like when Saul goes to visit a witch, or Jezebel gets thrown out of a window by a group of eunuchs.
For me, the best kind of Holy Hour is during “Eucharistic Adoration”, or just “Adoration” for short. In my neighborhood, Epiphany Parish has Adoration every Wednesday from 5:30-6:30pm, and I try to make it over there on my way home whenever I can. If you’ve ever stopped by a Catholic church and seen people kneeling or sitting around quietly praying, while a large, gilded object – called a “monstrance” – sits out on the altar, you’ve probably wandered into Adoration.
Because Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, for us Adoration isn’t just stopping to pray, it’s also a form of worship. As you can read in this brief presentation on Adoration from an historic Polish-American church in Chicago, it’s like getting to pay homage to Jesus, and then sit down with Him and hear what He wants to say to you. Some parishes, such as the aforementioned Chicago parish, are fortunate to have places set aside for “Perpetual Adoration”, where one can go to pray 24/7.
Why go to Adoration at all? Human beings are not pure spirit, any more than we are pure matter: we are both. This is why our spirits can be uplifted by listening to beautiful music for example, or by admiring a spectacular sunset, even though that spiritual uplift is obviously taking place through physical means. It’s also why Catholics and other credal Christians express their belief in the eventual physical resurrection of the body, not just in the survival of the spirit alone after death.
When I head over to Adoration, I’m physically removing myself from secular, mundane things that might otherwise distract me from focusing on my spiritual relationship with God – the phone, the computer, The Cat whining to be let out, etc. Freed from such distractions, and before the Blessed Sacrament, I find myself in the physical presence of Christ, a reality that is difficult to describe in mere words. You simply become aware, on a very deep level, that He is there, at that moment, with you and with everyone else there.
If it’s been awhile since you last went to Adoration, Lent might be a good time to pick up that practice once again. If you’ve never been to Adoration, or even if you’re not Catholic, why not give it a try? Spending an hour in quiet contemplation is probably going to do you more physical and spiritual good than you realize. You may not walk out of there with the answers to all of the problems that have been bugging you, but you will walk out of there feeling more refreshed in body and soul than when you went in.