Christopher Robinson has a weekly one-hour slot for Eucharistic adoration at Holy Cross Church. Photo by John Longhurst

Protestant discovers the peace of Eucharistic adoration

By  JOHN LONGHURST, Catholic Register Special
  • January 7, 2019

WINNIPEG – In 2008, members of Holy Cross Parish in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface had an idea for something new: 24/7 perpetual Eucharistic adoration.

They thought they’d try it just for a month, during Advent, to see if they could do it. Ten years — or 3,650 days and 87,360 hours — later, they are still going strong.

“When the idea came up, lots of people wanted to do it,” says Dawn Kautz, who together with her husband, James, helps co-ordinate the adoration. “We were amazed by how quickly the slots filled up.”

Perpetual Eucharistic adoration is a tradition that goes back to the 16th century. During adoration, worshipers sit or kneel before a monstrance which holds a consecrated host.

At midnight one November evening, I participated with a friend at the Holy Cross chapel. I went there at the urging of a Catholic friend. Since I’m Protestant, and had never heard of perpetual adoration before, he tried to explain it to me. I sort-of understood what he was saying, but we ended up agreeing it would be best if I experienced it first-hand.

I also did some research, discovering there are many adoration chapels across Canada that welcome worshipers at select times. But there are only about 30 in the country that do it 24/7 — someone is there every hour of every day, all year round. 

I also spoke to a few Catholics for whom it was meaningful — people like Dawn. For her, taking time for adoration is a way to take a break from her busy life and spend time with Christ.

“As a busy mom of seven kids, it was hard to find time for prayer and reflection with God if I didn’t set a time,” she says.

“There is value in making a commitment, an appointment to ensure it happens.”

John Scatliffe is a Ministry Co-ordinator at the Holy Cross parish. He takes a one-hour slot each Tuesday from 2 a.m. 

“Adoration is a powerful thing for Catholics,” he says, adding that he finds the early morning hour very peaceful.

“I think I get more out of it at that time,” the retired anesthesiologist said. “It’s so peaceful there with the Lord.”

For Christopher Robinson, retired from the air force, “it’s a marvellous privilege to be part of adoration.”

Robinson takes a one-hour slot one evening a week at midnight. During his time in the chapel, he prays, reads a devotional or meditates. “Sometimes I just sit quietly and be with Jesus,” he says.

Access to the Holy Cross chapel is guarded by security systems with access cards. This is to protect the adorers, who can be there late at night, but also to guard the Blessed Sacrament from being stolen — stories are told of how satanists have tried to get the eucharist for their rituals.

In addition to Holy Cross, since 2014 St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Winnipeg has also offered perpetual adoration.

Unlike at Holy Cross, however, it does not yet operate around the clock; the plan is to get enough volunteers to be able to do that.

For Fr. Darrin Gurr, the adoration chapel at St. Gianna Beretta Molla is “a prayer ministry for the parish,” along with a special experience for individuals.

“People can send prayer requests that people can pray for while they are doing the Eucharistic adoration.”

Adoration “is a great response to a contemporary need,” Gurr says. 

“People are longing for more mindfulness in life, a way to put them in the now, to know what God has in store for them, a break from the chaos and busyness of the world.”

After participating in the adoration, what did I think? 

As a part of a Protestant tradition where the bread and wine are seen as symbolic, not real, I have to admit I didn’t feel the special spiritual connection experienced by my Catholic friend, who believed he was in the actual presence of Christ. 

But I did feel a sense of peace and rest in that sacred space. And that can never be a bad thing.

(Longhurst is the Faith Page columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, where this article originally appeared.)

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