Part 4 of a 4-part series on Eucharistic Adoration
Over the past three weeks we have explored various aspects of Eucharistic Adoration, including Nocturnal Adoration, why making a Holy Hour before the True Presence of Christ Jesus matters, and what to do (or, how to pray) before the Blessed Sacrament when simply “being” there feels insufficient. So it seems reasonable to end our series by recommending some books meant to help us along as we learn to become quiet and contemplative.
If you’re not fully sure what the Holy Eucharist truly is, or how it becomes the Body and Blood of Christ, or if you simply want to deepen your understanding of the Eucharist and thus better grasp why our Adoration matters, Bishop Robert Barron’s Eucharist is a good place to start.
You can’t go wrong with a basic Treasury of Classic Catholic Prayers, something that gives you a smorgasbord of prayers, litanies, devotions. Especially if you’re feeling tongue-tied in prayer, such collections of prayers can be a huge help.
For more specifically “Adoration-oriented” assistance, the Daughters of St. Paul offer the simply-titled Eucharistic Adoration Prayerbook by Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP, or check out Jesus Present Before Me: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. One of my own favorites is A Manual for Eucharistic Adoration, put out by the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration—who are experts, after all!
If you’re drawn toward the classics, try St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s Visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Thomas Á Kempis’ Imitation of Christ is always a good bet too (St. Thérèse of Lisieux used it at her Holy Hours), and while newer translations are fine, I have to admit, I like the pocket-sized old-lingo version still published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, with its “thees” and “thous” and its etchings so reminiscent of Gustave Dore.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ can be a delicious read at Adoration, if taken in pieces. Read a little, look at Christ, talk to him about it all. Read a little more. Talk a little more.
The idea of reading and talking at Adoration, and taking instruction in this way, leads to me recommending a newly published book, A God Who Questions by Leonard DeLorenzo. He’s taken the questions Christ Jesus asks in the Gospels and turned them into terrific meditations. Our instinct is to always question Christ, but it’s remarkable what happens when we begin to take seriously the questions Christ has for us.
Two other fairly new (and very different) releases that can be useful at Adoration: Deacon Greg Kandra’s accessible and helpful Busy Person’s Guide to Prayer (another useful kick-start to prayer), and Kathryn Jean Lopez’s heavier (and yet soul-lightening) A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living, which delivers brief, often breathtaking excerpts from the writings of our great mystics, and then helpfully shares a thought or two for consideration.
Adoration is where I learned how to pray The Liturgy of the Hours, and praying these psalms, canticles, and prayers in the Presence of Christ . . . well, there is nothing like it.
If you’re sitting before the Lord and talking to him about the deep wounds to the Church, revelations that have left us reeling for the past few years, Bishop Barron’s Letter to a Suffering Church is worth reading while before the Lord, the most productive place to pour out our feelings and thoughts and pleadings on this matter.
One “last but not least” recommendation, and it goes along with the recommendation to keep a journal with you while at Adoration, is In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart; The Journal of a Priest at Prayer. It is simply what it claims to be—the Adoration journal of a Benedictine monk—and a true spiritual treasure that will both instruct and inspire you, and will be a huge boon toward developing a habit of lectio divina practiced before the Lord. This is not always an “easy” book. But it is very powerful.