Perhaps the most unique feature of the youth rally I recently attended was the opportunity to participate in all-night Adoration.
At 10 p.m., we walked with the Blessed Sacrament from the church to the parish hall. An altar server rang a bell as we proceeded through the dark parking lot, each holding a candle and singing together Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.
Until 7 a.m. the following morning, we took turns keeping vigil in a tiny room, lit only by candlelight. Everyone spent at least half an hour in silent Adoration.
The youth leader said that Adoration was the highlight for most people and there were many who chose to spend longer than the designated half-hour in the chapel that night.
I was one of them, mainly because I couldn’t get to sleep. I got up from my somewhat-inflated air mattress and, as gently as possible, I opened the heavy wooden door. That was about an hour and a half before my scheduled time.
I knelt on the floor in the chapel. The gold monstrance sat between two red slanting candelabras on a long folding table with a white tablecloth. The room was so dim that when I tried to read the Bible, I had to (very carefully) use one of the votive candles to read the tiny print.
I must say that I was afraid I would be bored spending that length of time in Adoration. The longest I had ever spent was an hour and I didn’t know what I would do for all that time.
But as the time passed, I found myself less and less occupied by the length of time that was left before I planned to return to bed. All the thoughts and distractions that filled the silence started to leave my mind.
Instead, I prayed the psalms, wrote in my journal and, eventually, simply listened to God. It was an experience so personal that I would only talk about it to my closest friends, but in that time, my mind dwelt on everything from my everyday life to my future plans.
I believe that in Adoration we have an opportunity to experience the presence of God in a unique and incredible way. In a world where we are busier and more distracted than ever, it’s not hard to forget about God. Silence is something we all need, but opportunities of experiencing it are rare. While taking time for prayer every day is important.
God speaks to us all the time, but we have to listen. Listening to God doesn’t magically give us all the answers, but it can give the meaning and direction for which we’re all looking.
So if you’re a young person yourself who hasn’t had much experience with Adoration, give it a try. Find out if your parish has First Fridays or Holy Hours, or even Perpetual Adoration, and experience this unique grace.
(Fernandes, 17, is a Grade 12 homeschool student from Dundalk, Ont.)