By Brother Augustine Marie, KHE
(SNR) - Many people feel the call to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. But many may be intimidated by the idea, especially if they have never done it before.
Some might be worried that they won’t know what to do. Others may be afraid to embarrass themselves by not knowing what to do. Others might be intimidated by the idea of being alone with Jesus.
The following 10 suggestions can help anyone get started regularly visiting with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in formal adoration or just visiting him in the tabernacle.
1. Show up!
First, you must show up. Many people think about going to visit Jesus but never put it into practice. Just showing up is much of the work. If you don’t do your part by showing up, how can Jesus do his? If you never visit it won’t matter how much you “meant” to. Jesus is already eagerly waiting for you all day, and he will be happy to see you at any time.
2. There’s no ‘score’
Second, there will be no score given at the end of your visit. Jesus is not waiting to judge how well you do in matters of posture, complexity of prayer, or how many times you quote the Psalms.
Nor will he deduct points for you having to yawn, or stand to stretch your legs. Jesus is waiting in the tabernacle to spend time with you, not to judge you in the “world’s fanciest prayer competition.” He knows where you are at right now, and still wants to spend time with you.
3. Come prepared
Come prepared in heart and mind. We need to properly dispose ourselves to be with Jesus. This means trying to clear the mind of distractions and focus on being in the presence of Jesus. You will only have so much time to spend with Jesus, whether it be 15 minutes or two hours, and that time will go fast. It is best to be in the right state of mind when you arrive. That way you won’t have to spend a lot of time “getting focused” when you visit.
If you can, try to quiet your mind of distractions on the way to your visit. It may help to say to yourself, “I am on my way to visit Jesus” or, “I will get a private audience with the king of the universe.”
You could try singing favorite hymns in your car, or just talk with Jesus, or Mary and the saints on the way, asking the Holy Spirit for a clear and attentive heart.
Don’t expect immediate success. It is a habit that must be developed. If you still have distractions, don’t worry. Change will come in time.
4. Greeting Jesus properly in respect
Don’t forget to properly greet Jesus when you enter the adoration chapel or church. When Jesus is either in the tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance, you should genuflect on your right knee before Jesus, if you are physically able. If you are not, a bow will do just fine. It is traditional for one to genuflect on two knees if Jesus is exposed in the monstrance or a ciborium.
You should genuflect any time you arrive or leave, if you pass in front of Jesus, or take a seat. This may seem obvious but, people can forget these little things. We do this because even though Jesus is our friend, he is also our maker and king. We need to show him the respect and honor he deserves.
5. Dress with respect for Jesus, for you
The fifth suggestion is also about respect: dress properly for your visit with Jesus. In our casual culture, we often forget the importance of proper dress. What you wear sends a message about yourself, and the person you are going to meet.
Dress well not just for Jesus, but also for yourself. You are a child of God and adopted son or daughter of the Father. That does not mean that you always need your Sunday-best, but there are some things you should avoid when visiting the Sacrament: sleeveless shirts, shorts, skirts or dresses that cut off above the knee, tight clothes like athletic wear or yoga pants, or anything that might reasonably be considered sloppy, such as sweat pants or muddy work boots. Avoid items with large tears or holes.
The sixth piece of advice is to maintain an appropriate level of quiet. You are there to converse with Jesus, so don’t allow yourself to be distracted by socializing. You will just be cheating yourself, and be a nuisance to others who are trying to pray.
That goes double for cellphones. It is very easy to forget to turn them off. Always double-check your phone to make sure it is off. No one likes it when they are in a deep, intimate conversation with a friend and their phone goes off.
7. Don’t leave Him alone
When Jesus is exposed, don’t ever leave him alone! While it may be tempting to leave early or exactly when your time is up, you must wait for the next person to arrive and replace you. It is a matter of safety and respect. You would not want to risk Jesus being handled improperly, or taken because you were not around.
Usually if such an occasion happens it is during regularly scheduled adoration, and there should be an emergency contact number. Call that person first.
8. A good book
Bring a good book. By a “good book,” it is meant a book that is good for you.
Bring something that will help you pray if you can’t think of anything to pray on. Pick something you will be able to easily share with Jesus. For example, The Imitation of Christ, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, the life of a favorite saint (like St. Francis), the Gospels, anything that can help you to pray.
9. Fix the date
Ninth, fix a date! Try to keep a regular time for visiting Jesus, at least once a week if you can. Time is the seedbed of relationships. The more you make time, the more your love will grow. As your love grows, it will bear great fruit in your life, for you and others.
Jesus wants to spend the time with you now so that he can spend eternity with you in Heaven.
10. Of course...
Finally, pray, pray and pray some more.
When you visit Jesus, have an intimate conversation with him. Prayer is mostly speaking to God from the heart. Jesus does not care how well you can speak to him, only that what you say comes from your heart. But, if you have trouble think of the eighth point and books to help you pray.
There is also the acronym A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). Going through the A.C.T.S. process is a good way to teach yourself the habit of prayer.
Just be careful of thinking any one method is required to talk to Jesus. Sometimes it may be best to be quiet. It may be that he wants you to do the listening, or just to be with him and keep him company.
Take these principles to heart and you will do fine during your first-time visiting Jesus for adoration, or just to say hello. Hopefully these points will encourage you to begin visiting the Blessed Sacrament. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Most of all, remember Jesus is waiting for you in the Blessed Sacrament; he is waiting to be your intimate friend. Who could ask for a better one?