By MICHELE MCHALE-PICKARD, Special to the Bulletin | Published February 26, 2023
I wish I could tell you that I have been an advocate and devotee of eucharistic adoration my entire life as a cradle Catholic, but that is not the case. I grew up during the changing landscape after the Second Vatican Council, and adoration wasn’t a practice that I came to know and love until well into my adult life as a wife and mother.
The new pastor at our church included an adoration chapel in reconstruction plans. I signed up enthusiastically and was hooked. There was a peace and comfort of putting the world on hold to spend time with God, one on one. Our parish grew and prospered because of this, just as our pastor said it would.
Fast forward to my time as the same parish’s youth minister (how I finally answered God’s crazy call is another story). Suffice to say, if I hadn’t been consistently spending time in adoration, I might have never recognized his will at that time.
The joy of youth ministry was the yearly trips to summer camp and work/service camp. It was there that the middle school and high school youth I led had the opportunity to slow down enough to hear and come to know God as real in the Eucharist. Most years, I was right alongside them on my knees singing, worshiping, even weeping.
One summer, I asked God for the grace to see what he saw with these kids during adoration, and he did not disappoint. While it wasn’t like there were literal light bulbs going off, it certainly felt that way. I was made aware of teen after teen experiencing the God of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, as truly present—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of a tiny piece of bread. Yes, I’m crying as I recall this memory. Such an amazing grace for me.
One middle school boy’s experience stays with me. Jesus gave me a sense that this child had experienced him in a deep and substantial way. Everything he had been taught was now a reality to him. When we talked after adoration, he struggled to put into words what—whom he had encountered. What words can express this encounter? His eyes were huge as he kept nodding in agreement to what other teens were saying. I pray that, whatever trials he encounters in life, this rock-solid knowledge of Jesus’ love will sustain him.
The final example is very personal. One of my children had a profound experience on a summer mission trip. Later, he told me, “These people have something special, and I want that!” This now adult hasn’t wavered in that belief. I returned that night to the adoration chapel to fall on my knees and bless the Lord for allowing me to witness this grace.
I am reminded of something Father John Riccardo shared on his radio show “Christ is the Answer.” During adoration, he heard Jesus say to him: “Don’t you see? Just put ME out and I will do the work.”
Our job is to give people of all ages the opportunity to encounter Christ in the Eucharist. He’ll take it from there.
Michele McHale-Pickard is ministry lead for catechesis and certification in the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship of the archdiocese. She is also a member of the archdiocesan Eucharistic Revival Task Force.