Parishes throughout Archdiocese of Newark are providing more opportunities for a personal encounter with Jesus; not only at Mass, where the Eucharist is consumed, but in chapels and churches through the powerful worship experience of eucharistic adoration.
Sixty-nine parishes in the archdiocese now offer eucharistic adoration and interest continues to expand. Eucharistic adoration is a devotion in which the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the tabernacle to be displayed in a monstrance, where the faithful have an opportunity to worship the Lord in the physical form of the Host.
Because the Eucharist is Jesus' body and blood and not merely a symbol, those who pray in front of the Eucharist are, in essence, praying in front of the Lord Himself—the Real Presence.
The first parish in the archdiocese to offer perpetual adoration, St. John the Apostle in Linden, will celebrate its 11th anniversary of perpetual adoration on Dec. 8. "We began perpetual adoration at St. John's because it was our late pastor's dream for us," Michele Krystofik, a parishioner and the associate director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office, said. Krystofik was referring to Msgr. Richard M. McGuinness, who died Aug. 9, 2006 at the age of 80 (see The Catholic Advocate, Aug. 23, 2006).
"Currently, we have over 400 volunteers who have signed up for designated times to adore the Eucharist, and I believe our parish has grown immensely because of it," Krystofik continued. "We have a very active parish and at least two vocations since we began offering adoration. I believe they stem directly from offering that opportunity for prayer and time with the Lord."
"There is more of a devotion to Mass since we started eucharistic adoration (in 1998)," Msgr. Joseph J. Granato, the pastor of St. Lucy's Parish in Newark said. "Daily Mass attendance has increased and we now offer eight masses each day, with a substantial number of attendees at each one."
The practice of eucharistic adoration dates as far back as the Middle Ages. Believing in the power of the Real Presence exposed to the faithful, monasteries and convents held the Blessed Sacrament in places for viewing apart from Mass and Holy Communion. Pope Clement VIII, before the end of the 16th century, issued a historic document, Quarant Ore, which outlined a devotional consisting of 40 hours of continual prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.
"I truly believe that God wishes us to adore His Son in His Real Presence in the Eucharist," said Michael Adriance, a parishioner at St. Joseph's Parish in Bogota, which offers adoration on a daily basis. "I go to adoration to 'be still and know God.' When I am there I know that God is greater than every situation in my life. I lay before Jesus all my sinfulness and weakness. I gather so much strength from that."
Cynthia Torres, the organizer of eucharistic adoration at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, agrees. "It's the strength you get to carry on. It's a taste of heaven. For me, one hour is not enough," she said, referencing the hour most spend in Eucharistic adoration in order to fulfill Jesus' request to "Stay awake one hour" in prayer with Him (Matthew 26:40).
The Church continues to hold eucharistic adoration in high regard, supporting its practice in all Catholic Churches around the world. Before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II wrote that the "Church and the world have great need of eucharistic adoration," adding that "Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and contemplation full of faith...may our adoration never cease."
Although many parishes in the archdiocese provide eucharistic adoration on a monthly basis, in conjunction with the First Friday devotion, many now offer it on a daily basis. A handful of those parishes have also begun to offer adoration around the clock, with the Eucharist continually exposed and available to those who wish to worship at any hour of the day or night. This ensures that someone is always in prayer before the Holy Eucharist.
Much like St. Lucy's Parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel also has seen blessings they count as direct results from their offering of eucharistic adoration. "People come from all over and they become parishioners," Torres said. "So many people have a love for the Holy Eucharist."
"There are a great many people who come to the adoration chapel (at St. Joseph's Parish in Bogota)," Adriance observed. "The people I have spoken to are so very grateful to have our Lord present in such a profound way. Jesus heals wounded souls individually in the chapel, and those increase the health of the 'whole body', the parish."
"It's a very simple thing to do," Torres added. "In adoration, your prayer life is conditioned and when the soul is happy, the body follows. It's important to keep the soul healthy and that will keep the body happy. It's the peace that comes when you know God is there, listening to you. It's a wonderful journey."
(Editor's note: Readers are advised to contact archdiocesan parishes to confirm specific dates and times for the devotion. More information on eucharistic adoration can be found online at www.therealpresence.org).