Many of you will have heard of an event we hold regularly in Hammersmith Parish: Silence in the City. For one hour, we spend time with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, in quiet prayer interspersed with music and reflections. In our beautiful Church, nestled in the hustle and bustle of West London, we try to offer a moment of God’s peace amid our busy lives. To some of you, this will sound like an easy way to spend an hour. But for many others, the same question will come to mind – what exactly are you supposed to do during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament? We have some tips for you:
1. Allow His Presence to wash over you
In our busy society, we tend to become obsessed with ‘doing’. We are encouraged to be occupied at every moment of our day, filling our working days with emails and meetings, and similarly cramming our free time with family duties, socialising and productive hobbies. Time in front of the Blessed Sacrament is a chance to escape from that. The Lord’s love for us is not dependent on anything we do, rather it is a gift given to us because of who we are. In God’s presence we can simply be and allow the bustling thoughts and sounds of the outside world to slip away. In front of God we can be who we really are. In the wise words often attributed to St John Vianney, in Adoration “I look at Him and He looks at me”. Sometimes, that alone is enough.
2. Repeat a short phrase
If in the presence of God, you find your mind drifting, it may be helpful to give yourself a centring phrase. This is a few words or a line, often from scripture, that act as a kind of anchor to hold onto during a time of silent prayer. There are many beautiful examples from the Psalms, including Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God”, or from the words of the Saints, for example Saint Faustina Kowalska’s “Jesus I trust in You”, but the words may indeed be your own, and come from your own heartfelt prayer. In moments of distraction, or when the presence of God feels unreal or distant, repeat the centring phrase in your head and allow yourself to come back to the Lord.
3. Reflect on your day
If when you sit with the Lord you find yourself being ‘distracted’ by preoccupations or worries about your day, or your plans for the day to come, it may not be helpful or even possible to put those thoughts aside. Use your time in Adoration to bring your day before the Lord, asking Him to shed His light on everything that you have experienced that day. Ask Him to show you His presence in the small details of your day, from the moment you woke up in the morning, to your interactions with your family or colleagues. Try to see where He is calling you and consider the moments in which you answered that call and the moments in which you were not able to. Offer your whole day as a gift to the Lord and ask Him for the strength to follow Him more closely tomorrow. If there is something you are particularly worried about, or a difficult decision to make, lay that worry in front of Jesus and trust that His love for you is enough to solve this problem. God tries to speak to us in our ordinary lives, and Adoration is an opportunity to call Him in.
4. Read the scriptures
There is so much richness in the Word of God, and when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament we often experience a unique clarity of meaning or appreciation of beauty. A time of Adoration, therefore, could be a great opportunity for reflective reading of sacred scripture, also called lectio divina. Take a short passage, for example the Gospel of the day, or one of the short reflections read during Silence in the City, and slowly read the words. Linger over them, not trying to decipher a deep meaning or analyse, but simply allowing your mind to rest in the word of God. If a word or phrase causes you to pause, read it again, and don’t try to rush to the finish. God wants nothing more than to speak to us, and the words that captivate you during this reflective reading are an indication of how God wants to speak to you today.
Our next Silence in the City will be held from 7-8pm on Monday 5th November, at St Augustine’s Church, Hammersmith.
Natalie from the Bellesini Community