“Recognize to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory … You have been made a son of God, coheir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?” (St. Gregory Nazianzen).
It started with this quote by St. Gregory Nazianzen: “Recognize to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory … You have been made a son of God, coheir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?”
The basics always grab me—arresting facts, like God is God and I’m not. Plain facts that are too big to grasp. The God zone can be scary like that, and it’s especially daunting in adoration.
When I enter an adoration chapel, its stillness challenges the pinball brain I bring in. My own arrogance seems to fill the room in the face of my humble God, who has made himself vulnerable to me as “such a small particle of bread that the priest can hold Him with two fingers,” as St. Teresa of Kolkata said.
The first thing that hits me is embarrassment, or a kind of holy shame, if there can be such a thing. Jesus, how can you stand the sight of one who has neglected and contradicted you so often? The attachment to my dreams for short-term success, as measured by the world, shrinks as I enter the room with God Almighty, who is the source of any good thing I will ever do.
Jesus is the Word of God, yet we often leave words behind when we’re face to face with him—when he’s looking us in the eye with love that can bring tears.
Striving Meets Stillness
As I sit in the face of his greatness, I begin to realize that I’ll never be good enough in my own eyes to approach him—and that I’ll never be too sinful for him to love me completely, eternally, constantly, and with his whole heart.
When I look at him, I see only pure love. I feel the dynamic activity of grace that is somehow very still. I see my Lord and my God calm, waiting, happy I’m here so he can shower his grace on me. And I see that’s all he really wanted anyway.
Unlike my serene Jesus, I’m always moving, striving, trying to be successful—at what?
There’s nothing like sitting in the same room as God and feeling him look back at me to show what’s really valuable in my life and what’s not. The value of my rushing and straining to be a success is of the world. Serving him successfully in the world is a good thing, but what does his loving gaze tell me about what real success would look like?
He lets me know that he’s happy I came to visit and that he’d love to see me more successful at listening to him with my heart—more deeply and more often—so that my worldly success would better reflect the one thing necessary. As Martha discovered, that one thing is following the loving will of God, which can only be discerned by mixing my common sense with God’s guidance in prayer.
More holy listening would also cut down on the bandwidth I waste on what other people think of me, which, Jesus reminds me, is just my own projection of what I think of myself. He also reminds me that I can’t really know what others think—so why be concerned with it?
He nudges me to seek the kingdom of God so that authentic success will follow. He reminds me that in him, I’m living my eternal life right now and that my hope is in Heaven, not in the second-quarter goals for my business. Important as those goals are, they mean nothing if I’m not including him in the executive planning committee.
Back to Basics
Which brings me back to the reason I’m sitting here hobnobbing with the king of the universe, who loves me and wants me to share that love with everyone.
Adoration connects me with the one thing necessary (Luke 10:42): receiving God’s love, thanking him for it, and sharing it. That’s what my business is about. That’s what my life is about. And it’s what my eternity is about—starting now.
From Chapel to Workplace
So, what can I carry with me from the “mountain top” of adoration into my day?
I can allow the view from the mountain top help me to:
Keep the small stuff small.
Realize that God is guiding and caring for everyone in the whole world—including me, my loved ones, and my difficult co-worker.
See how everything that would jangle and peeve me is passing away.
Realize more often that God’s love alone is eternal.
Lord, thank you for the gentle and powerful reality check that a one-on-one with you provides. Let me discern your will and trust your guidance at every moment, so that everything begins in love of you and ends in sharing your love with those you put in my path. May you be praised and adored by all hearts forever, starting with mine.
Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel of the Missionaries of Charity in Mother House in Kolkata, India
— Photo by zatletic, Depositphotos