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The transformative power of adoration

| Sunday, March 2, 2014

It’s not often that I am at a loss for words.  I love to write and talk about any and all subjects.  But in the months I have been privileged to serve at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, I have often times found myself searching for words.  People often ask me, “Tell me about Roncalli! How are things going there?”

And I often pause.  But lest my pauses give off the wrong impression, I have become accustomed to clarifying that I do, in fact, have things to say to them.  Many things, in fact.

My problem (if you can call it a problem) is I frequently don’t know where to begin.

There was the time I attended a pep rally that was unlike any other high school pep rally I have ever seen.  The gym was so loud and so consumed with Roncalli pride that I lost my voice (and my hearing) and I didn’t even open my mouth.  Or there was the time I watched the Roncalli football team pray together with their opponents at midfield after the varsity football game.

Then there are the students who regularly do the little things: who throw away an extra piece of trash in the cafeteria or wait to hold a door for a fellow classmate.  Or there are the teachers who consistently show up early to provide tutoring, or stay late after a full day of work to coach, announce, or watch a game.

It has taken me a while to put my finger on just how we do it.  Everybody is stretched so thin, yet things seem to always get done.  We give so much, yet there always seems to be room to give a little more.

And it hit me just recently that I may have found the answer.

At any given time on the first Friday of the month, you can see students, faculty and staff gathered in the Roncalli chapel to spend time in adoration.  Together in front of the consecrated host (which Catholics believe to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ) the Roncalli community gathers to adore and celebrate one of the most special and treasured realities of all: a God who loved us to such a degree that he could take on flesh and die for our salvation. And there, I think, is the key to Roncalli’s success.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe wrote, “Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”

I’ve often thought of the experience of adoration like a big, lighted arrow, blatantly and obviously reminding us of a truth that we should have etched in our hearts: “Jesus is here.”  In the presence of such an awesome reality and reminder of God’s love, it’s hard not to walk away transformed.

But the most beautiful thing about our time for adoration is that it gives us pause as a community to remember a deeper reality, that “Jesus is here” every single moment of our lives.

For me, the Roncalli community is a testament to the power of God’s transforming love in adoration.  We’ve all heard the old adage: “You can’t give what you don’t have.”  And one of the things I think makes Roncalli so special is that regular adoration helps nourish us on our journey to consistently remember and live into the words of 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”

And there, in front of Our Lord, we have a concrete reminder of that love.  And I think it is easier to give in little ways and little moments when we can remember and celebrate what we already have: the awesome and unconditional love of God.

We are called not to hold onto this love as a possession only for ourselves, but to work to give it away each and every day.  We must work, as the Roncalli mission statement proclaims: “to make God’s love complete among us.”  We must work to share that love with the ends of the earth.

Adoration can be our starting point in this mission.  There, we will encounter the Lord who gives us the strength to go that extra distance to proclaim his loving witness to the world.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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