On 22 December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Roman Curia in these terms:
‘Before any activity, before the world can change there must be adoration…The Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio – mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love’.
From where does adoration stem? Consider the baby Jesus lying in the manger in Bethlehem when, at the behest of an angel, some shepherds visited Jesus, gave his parents the message passed to them by the angel and went back to their labours, ‘glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen’ (Luke 2:8-20). They had gazed upon the face of Jesus, the Christ.
Sometime later, the Magi from the east following a star, visited a house in the same town where ‘they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage.’ (Matthew 1-12).
In Mark’s gospel, he recounts the episode known as the Transfiguration where Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain when ‘his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them.’ (Mark 9:2-8). In the presence of the apostles, Jesus was transfigured and at this point human nature met heaven as depicted both by the brilliance of his shining body and the presence of Elijah and Moses. Then a cloud covered them with shadow and the voice of God came from on high saying, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ (Matthew 17:5).
As Jesus died on the cross, ‘many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him.’ (Matthew 27:55, also Mark 15:40).
Whilst at the crucifixion, the women looked on in sadness, we see after his resurrection that the body of Christ is transformed and ever since the third century when hermits are believed to have kept the Blessed Sacrament in their cells, and certainly since the Council of Nicea (325) we know that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in monasteries, convents and churches.
Today, the practice of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is in great need of revival if our efforts towards the New Evangelisation are to have any hope of succeeding. Jesus called his disciples to be with him before sending them out (Mark 3:14-15).
‘The first condition for the New Evangelisation is adoration’ (Bishop Dominique Rey in Adoratio 2011, p.1).
We need to spend time with Jesus and listen to him speaking in the stillness of our hearts before we act and we need Jesus to be with us when we act, we cannot do this on our own. The best way to achieve this is through Adoration, which Pope St John Paul II described as a ‘transforming force’ (Ecclesia de Eucharistica). Only when each one of us has been transformed can we go out and transform the world.
Further reading: Alcuin Reid (ed.) Adoratio 2011 From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelisation, Burns and Oats, London 2012.