ADORATION - What does Adoration mean for me?
Before I can share on "how I live and experience Adoration now", I feel that I need to look back briefly to that time when I had my first contact about Adoration as it related to the SSCC Congregation - a journey which began over 50 years ago. There has been so much along the way that has impacted, influenced and changed my understanding of Adoration and how I live and experience it now.
That journey began when in my last year of Primary school – a time when we were often visited by religious or material relating to religious life was made available to us. At some stage, a leaflet about Night Adoration in the Home bearing the Weymouth address came my way. As a result of which I made my first contact with the Congregation. I cannot say that it was Adoration that attracted me to the Congregation at that point but God has His own ways of touching the seed of vocation and directing the call. However for me it was the beginning of my journey with the Sacred Hearts and introduction to Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
As a boarder in Weymouth I saw the sisters going into chapel, making their Adoration. Indeed on certain feasts days some of us often joined them. However it was not until I entered and Adoration was presented as central to the life and mission of the Congregation that it really began to impact on my life. Through the Constitutions, other Congregational material and conferences I "learned" about Adoration; the contemplative, Eucharistic, Reparative dimensions, and what was specific to our SSCC Charism. I was most assiduous in fulfilling the daily and nightly practice of Adoration. But when I look back now on those early days of fervour it was more about being faithful to an obligation and seeing it as part of the duty of a Sacred Hearts sister. Indeed there were times, when if I'm honest it was a bit of a chore having to "make" my adoration at a certain time.
Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, I can see that my early experience and practice of Adoration was a vital part of that journey. Just as the person I have grown to be has been influenced, changed, transformed, challenged by so many different strands of life, living, people, choices, events and much more, Adoration was also part of that influence. My understanding and living our ministry of Adoration also changed. I cannot say when that began but I like to think now that it was during those early years of fidelity to Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament; a time of quiet contemplation, and intimacy with the Lord.
During those times of adoration I became much more aware of God's immense love for me and all people. As a consequence I approached reading, reflecting and praying the Scriptures with a new mind and heart. I was constantly challenged by the Word and Jesus' teaching and example which influenced both my prayer, my relationships and approach to ministry. The effectiveness of one was dependant on the other. My understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist deepened also the prolongation of that great Mystery through Adoration. It was a journey of gradual integration and a coming together of the great mosaic of life and of God's plan for me. The words of scripture "God has called you and he will not fail you (1 Thess 4; 24) were and are been constantly fulfilled in my life.
There were other influences too, notably Vatican 11; the subsequent Congregational reforms, changes, adaptations. The greatest of those being a move from a contemplative to a more apostolic way of life. This coupled with declining numbers impacted our practice of perpetual adoration. Those circumstances, together with a changing Church and a changing world called us to look at our theological understanding, ministry and practice of Eucharistic Reparative Adoration. This demanded a great deal of soul-searching, reflection and prayer; differences in opinion, and tensions, ensued. However the results of all of this came to fruition at our last General Chapter (2006); the general conviction being that "this ministry remains our "treasure" and our distinguishing sign. Adoration, the prolongation of our meeting with Christ, in the Eucharist remains the source of our contemplation, our community life and our mission." This is central to how I try to live Adoration today.
Adoration for me now is no longer a duty to fulfil or an Adoration to make. It is opportunity to sit in the presence of One who loves us "with an everlasting love and am constant in my affection for you" Jer 31:3 and to experience his love, compassion, and healing. Opportunity to bring before him a world torn apart by war and the sufferings and pain of so many people as a consequence. Because of our human frailty Adoration provides me with the opportunity to acknowledge my own failings and also our collective failures; the reparative dimension of our Adoration has become a much more meaningful and significant part of my prayer. .
The ministry of Adoration is opportunity to bring together all those aspirations of praise, thanksgiving, intercession - the many different needs of our world - to pray for the more active members of our Congregation as they work to spread the message of God's love throughout the continents; and also for our younger members who have embraced God's call.
As I draw this reflection to a conclusion I am grateful to God for the grace that this journey in my living and understanding of Adoration has been for me - from being a duty to becoming a way of life. A way that enables me, with all my human frailty to have acquired some little understanding of the immensity of God's great love for each of us, and through the gift of this ministry of Adoration a way of acknowledging this love and sharing it with others.
Sr Anna Beirne SS.CC.