Working towards perpetual adoration on campus
Eucharistic adoration has developed over time within the Church, stemming out of the Church’s recognition from the beginning that Christ has truly left us with His presence in the Eucharist. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “since [Jesus] was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us ‘to the end,’ even to the giving of his life” (Paragraph 1380). Jesus instituted the Eucharist because he knew that we needed him to be present to us in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Adoration is, therefore, the opportunity to sit with the One who loves us so tenderly in order that He might transform us.
Pope Saint John Paul II continuously spoke of our great need for the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration: “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration…Let our adoration never cease” (Dominicae Cenae, 3). Jesus is waiting! The world needs us to adore him and to pray ceaselessly! To be a Catholic means to believe that each and every human being desires a love that is only found in Jesus Christ, and understanding that the Eucharist is Christ Himself.
The transformative nature of spending time with the Christ in the Eucharist is so clearly demonstrated in the lives of the Missionaries of Charity, also known as Mother Teresa’s sisters, who follow in her footsteps in serving the poorest of the poor all around the globe. Each day, every Missionary of Charity spends an hour in adoration: this is what allows them to spend their entire lives serving. As Mother Teresa said, “For us, the Eucharist and the poor we must never separate—or the poor and the Eucharist. This Morning, He satisfied my hunger for Him and now I go to satisfy His hunger for souls, for love.” It is in spending time with Christ, with our Beloved King, that we are able to go out and love as He has loved us.
This summer, I was blessed to spend six weeks with the Missionaries of Charity in Newark, New Jersey, and was able to join them for adoration every day. It was because of that time in adoration that I was able to recognize that the same Jesus I received in Mass and knelt before in Eucharistic adoration was the Jesus who came to greet me in the faces of the little children at the summer camp that I helped to run. I could not have loved them even in the limited way that I did without adoration.
I am so appreciative that adoration is available on our campus already, 10 am – 5 pm every weekday in CoMo’s chapel, and that there is Exalt adoration once a month. Both of these are incredible opportunities for members of the Notre Dame community to spend time with our Lord—to let Him work on our hearts and heal us from our wounds. Christ is even present in the chapels of each and every dorm, as well as many other buildings on campus. We are massively blessed in terms of the availability of the Eucharist to us.
However, taking adoration from being 10 am to 5 pm to having Jesus exposed around the clock is of the utmost importance. If we believe that the desires of every human person’s hearts can be satiated by Christ himself, can we do better than to make him available to our campus community as much as possible? As Mackenzie Kraker said, “We’re willing to make sacrifices of our sleep, time, social lives, etc. for our academics. Why aren’t we willing to make sacrifices, be they logistical, be they time, for Our Lord?” When Jesus said, “I thirst,” from the cross, he was speaking of souls, of His desire to be united with each one of us. How will we respond to His immense love?
So if we want to eradicate sexual assault from our community, we should have perpetual adoration. If we want Notre Dame to be filled with people who are kind to every person they encounter, we should have perpetual adoration. If we want to find peace when it comes to making weighty life decisions, we should have perpetual adoration. Our campus is a much better place because the Eucharist is so present here. Imagine what would happen if we made Jesus as radically available as he could be?
This semester, I have been helping to support an effort to institute perpetual adoration on campus. Mary Ebberwein, Mackenzie Kraker, and Mary Benz have been leading the efforts, and all of us are inspired both by the impact adoration has had on our personal lives, but also by our recognition of the great need our campus has for more of the Eucharistic presence of the Lord.
We have already taken a small step: there is now adoration available Monday nights, from 6 – 10 pm in Cavanaugh’s Chapel. But it would not take that much to move all the way to perpetual adoration: 168 people signing up for an hour a week. Especially looking at its beginnings, the University of Notre Dame has never allowed the scarcity of its resources or any practical impediments to prevent it from accomplishing great goods. Why should perpetual adoration be any different?
At one of our meetings when we were working on making adoration happen, Mary Ebberwein was talking about how stressful it was, but followed it with, “There’s nothing more worth crying over than the Eucharist.” Jesus waits for us, each and every day—we need nothing more than to love Him and be loved by Him. Perpetual adoration is the best way for us to respond to the call of Christ, the call to love Him and to love our neighbor.
Therese Benz is a senior English and Pre-Health major living in McGlinn. If you are also passionate about perpetual adoration you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org!