After nearly nine years of developing the perfect Dad Bod through a basic plan of french fries, beer, and Netflix, I decided it was time to try and get an exercise routine going. It was a success – I got to the point where I was running 12 miles per week at the crack of dawn – but I woke up one morning wondering if three runs per week was moving me toward a goal that had any real lasting importance. Sure, I felt much better physically, and it was helping me to work on my gut a bit, but was that the area of my life I needed to work on the most?
It crossed my mind to take a trip to our local Perpetual Adoration Chapel instead. I swapped out my (admittedly too short) running shorts for a more appropriate choice and went that very morning.
I also went the four mornings after that. Then I had a weekend away with my family, but the two mornings we were gone, I felt a kind of calling.
It was weird, if I’m being honest: a seemingly inexplicable but seriously overwhelming feeling to get myself back into that chapel as soon as possible. This wasn’t the first time in my life I had enjoyed praying before the Blessed Sacrament. But now, the idea of a “personal relationship” with God suddenly made a lot more sense.
After returning from our weekend away, I set my alarm for 4:45 am, and got myself back into the chapel. And I haven’t stopped.
As I type, I have gone to daily Adoration for 51 straight days. I say this not to call attention to myself as some sort of saint-in-the-making (far from it), but rather as a way of showing others it can be done. And even if there are barriers that make it impossible (not having a chapel nearby, not having Adoration times that fit with one’s schedule, work, school, taking care of the family, and life in general), there are always opportunities to give a little time to the Lord. Even the briefest of prayers in the midst of an incredibly busy day can be a starting point and something God can work with.
The graces I have found in that chapel cannot be overstated. The beautiful silence, first and foremost, is an absolutely blessing. In Adoration, I have found the opportunity to hide away from a world of constant push notifications, the cacophony of my beloved children (who may be having fun or may be fighting, I can’t quite tell), and the ever-present anxiety seeping into my mind from the never-ending news cycle. Add to that the fact that Adoration gives me the opportunity to kneel before Almighty God, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, and I’m not sure where else on earth I’d rather be.
Whether praying the Little Office, working through the Seven Sorrows Rosary, delving into spiritual reading from giants like Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, or – to paraphrase St John Vianney’s parishioner – just looking at Him while He’s looking at me, the graces in the Adoration chapel abound and are waiting for each and every one of us.
That grace is what inspired the Catholic Twitter Perpetual Adoration Project. In our always-connected world of social media, I saw an opportunity to bring us all together in a way that really meant something. On day 40 of my journey, I asked myself: “Is it possible for us to have someone from Catholic Twitter in an Adoration chapel somewhere in the world 24/7?”
To answer that question, I posted an public spreadsheet and asked people on Twitter to fill in a slot where they promised to be in Adoration, and make themselves available to receive prayer requests through social media.
Much to my surprise, the idea was a hit, with most of the available time slots filling up within 24 hours of posting.
The project not only goes to show that social media can be a force for good, but also serves to point to how intimately we’re all connected as the Body of Christ on earth, and both of those reminders are desperately needed at this time when the world can often appear to be more divided than ever.
If you have ever considered signing up for an hour of Adoration, I encourage you to join in. (And yes, you can sign up even if you’re not on Twitter.)
If you’ve never been to Adoration and have no idea what it’s all about, I encourage you to join in!
If you’re homebound and can’t make it to Adoration but would love to sign up for an hour of prayer, I encourage you to join in.
Together, as the Body of Christ, we can change ourselves and the world by uniting ourselves in prayer without ceasing.