I was 15 years old, sitting in the pew next to my friend Jennifer, who was rolling her eyes at all the rules of communion and nonchalantly telling me, "Just copy me." It was my first time at a Catholic church. I had been to church three times a week since birth but my church was more evangelical Protestant and non-denominational styles, and this was a lot to take in. Looking around, I saw stained glass, tall ceilings, and gorgeous exposed wood beams. The smell in the air was new to me, a certain smoky aroma that made my nose scrunch up, but I liked it. The music was pretty, and the people were friendly. What hit me the most, though, was the peace I felt. My soul felt at home, like I had traveled for decades and finally was back. I carried that moment with me the next three decades, calling me to come back home.
I toyed with the idea of conversion a few times going forward into adulthood but never was able to fully make the leap. Growing up Protestant, Catholicism is not an accepted option. My grandparents were preachers, and that side of the family had very strong ideas of what was wrong and right, and obeying grandparents was on that list. I attempted one time to talk with that grandma about it, and my takeaway was that it just was not worth it, but my soul longed for it. After they both passed and after a lot of prayer, I decided, I’m going for it. I’m not living in this fear of what people will do if I don’t do what they say. What’s the first commandment? Don’t have any God above me. I was making fear my guide instead of God. It was time to hand over family worries and beliefs to God.
I started my classes last year, and I’ve been getting to know Catholicism slowly, taking it all in, and looking at it like the beautiful piece of artwork that it is. I pick it up, turn it around, and watch the light reflect off of it, dancing on the ceiling. It is truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. God’s presence is so strongly in the workings, and to watch God’s Spirit play out through the rituals and wonder is simply beautiful. God has inspired so many lovely, amazing things and helped so many; it is truly majestic.
One of the facets sparkling in the sun is adoration. Adoration is this opportunity to simply sit and soak in the presence of the Holy Spirit. That pretty piece of artwork you see that is golden and looks like the sun, the priest takes a piece of the communion bread that has been prayed over to become the Eucharist and places it inside that piece of artwork and asks that the Holy Spirit be present to all. People then sit in quiet meditation. The first time I knew about this, I decided to go and check it out. My church offers it on Fridays. I walked into the area where it was set up and instantly was hit with a very strong presence of the Holy Spirit. It is quite a cool experience if you’ve never gone, and you like soaking in spiritual energy; it is open to the public, and you’re welcome to go and soak in this awesome presence. Find a Catholic church near you and look up their Adoration schedule, it's usually listed on their website.
So, my random thoughts about this ancient ritual. One, the energy from the Holy Spirit through Adoration is very strong, not every time I go, but many times. Adoration also gives me a time of solitude. No person is leading it; there’s no instructions; I can simply be. That is such a gift. It’s free. Where else can we just go for free, independently soak in the Holy Spirit, and leave? There’s no start and stop to this; you don’t need to join the church, go to mass, say hi to anyone; you can wear whatever you want; it is an incredible gift from every Catholic church that does this to the surrounding communities.
From an energetic, quantum physics kind of viewpoint, it takes up space. However you want to define, label, try to make sense of this, it’s something you can sense, and when the Priest stops the prayer, it stops. I love the growth of science and our little machines measuring things. I look forward to the day that spiritual energy is truly understood and measurable, and I wonder what will the next questions that come out of that be? How do people go from cellular bodies to spiritual bodies? Maybe that will be what they research next.
So if you're ever in need of some solitude, feel free to join us at adoration, there's usually a few others basking in the sun in the pews. You don't need any special clothes or need to know any prayers. You can just sit and enjoy the sonshine.