Adoration is the act of worshipping or giving homage to someone or something. For Christians, adoration is reserved to God. While we venerate the saints and Mary, we adore God alone. In Eucharistic adoration then, it is not the consecrated host we adore but the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This adoration can take place in formal, communal settings when the consecrated host is placed in a monstrance or chalice, both sacred vessels used during Eucharistic celebrations. Yet we also practice Eucharistic adoration when we visit a church in order to pray and meditate in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle.

Adoration is different from prayer of thanksgiving or petition; it is about giving God glory or praise for who he is. We adore God when we honor him simply for being God. There are many different ways of adoring God. Some people, for example, adore the Lord in silence. Others sing charismatic songs or pray in tongues. However, we offer worship, the central act of Eucharistic adoration is simply spending time with our Lord.

Origins of Eucharistic Adoration

The origins of Eucharistic adoration in its liturgical form are usually associated with  the establishment in 1264 of the Feast of Corpus Christi. This feast is now known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ and is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday after Pentecost. In fact, the Tantum Ergo comes from the last two verses of Pange Lingua, a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi. The simple spiritual practice of praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament is of course much older.

Ways to pray during Eucharistic Adoration

+Make a weekly holy hour at church before the Blessed Sacrament. Try praying for a single intention--that your love and desire for union with God grows more vibrant each day.

+Practice a nightly examination of conscience, reviewing your days as if you were watching them in a movie. Give thanks to God for the times in which you recognized Christ's presence in others or were able to be Christ's presence for another. Ask forgiveness for the times you failed to recognize or be his presence.

+Arrive to church ten minutes early and make a family visit to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle.

+After leaving Sunday Mass each week, identify three concrete ways you will "go in peace to love and serve the Lord" by being Christ's hands and feet in the world during the coming week.

+At dinnertime or bedtime invite each family member to write down a person's name who that day was Christ's presence, or to whom each family member tried to be Christ's presence. Gather the names in visible place and thank God for these people each day.