Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was something I’d experienced only a few times in my entire life when a nearby parish began perpetual Adoration (24 hours a day).
St. Catherine of Sienna parish of Franklin Square, Long Island, already had Adoration for a few hours a month, but a little over a year ago Msgr. Rick Figliozzi expanded it to Perpetual Adoration. He'd also brought it to his previous parish so he was familiar with the fruits it brings.
The chapel of a former convent was updated to become a dedicated Adoration chapel, and a committee was formed to spread the word and enlist a schedule of regular “adorers” to cover every hour of the week.
Since then, the Adoration chapel has had a constant stream of worshipers.
About 50 people are committed to an hourly schedule, to ensure the Blessed Sacrament is never alone. Adoration “captains” are notified if someone isn't able to make their scheduled hour, so someone can fill in for them. Other people come by for a few minutes to a few hours. Over the course of a week there are now about 350 people visiting the Blessed Sacrament.
I'd heard the saying, “once you start going, you just have to go back.” I thought, really? Yes, it's true! The Real Presence is like nothing else, and the peace is undeniable.
There's a wide range of people on their knees before the Blessed Sacrament. Older couples, businessmen in suits stopping by before or after work or at lunch time, entire families, a young guy in painters clothes, a woman in tears, a 20-something guy with tattoos and a sweatshirt, a priest from a neighboring parish. One couple come regularly with their adult disabled daughter. A dad brings his three sons straight from school. They follow him right up to the Blessed Sacrament and kneel beside him with their backpacks. A family of four generations came to pray together.
“It's just powerful. You know you're in the presence of Jesus, right there, and it's completely silent,” shared Evelyn. “I wasn't used to being in a church without a Mass going on. It’s hard to describe the feeling but you just know He’s there.”
Diane started going to Adoration when the chapel first opened. “At first I couldn't sit there for more than a few minutes. I wasn't used to that kind of quietness and I was in so much turmoil; I couldn't calm myself down. But I'd force myself to stay and I poured out my heart to Him. I wanted to be in control all the time but I started giving my troubles and sufferings to God and I said, I place this on your shoulder. I realized I was getting so much peace there. I was staying longer, and I kept wanting to go back. I'm now closer to Jesus. Even if the problems don't get resolved right away, I now have acceptance and calmness. I say, ‘Jesus I can't do this alone. I give it to You.’ When I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I learn to let God be in control.”
A few weeks ago, MaryAnn was sitting in the front pew with only one other person there, a woman sitting on the floor with a beautiful little boy in her lap. “He was holding on to the altar railing, looking up at the statue of the Blessed Mother. Then he'd glance back at me, then back to the Blessed Mother. He was so quiet, for an unusually long time for a little boy, and I was just watching him, and I said to his mother, ‘What a gift your baby is. He’s so beautiful!’ The little boy kept looking at the Blessed Mother, and then all of a sudden he put his little hand out in her direction, and then he turned and kind of waved his hand over to me, and then back to Our Lady. It was as if he was saying, ‘Here’s Mary... Mary says she hears your prayers.’ I got chills watching this. The boy was just smiling at me, like, ‘do you get what I'm saying to you?’”
For Cathy, having a Perpetual Adoration chapel nearby has made the difference between visiting the Blessed Sacrament only rarely, and now regularly. “The increase in my faith has been tremendous. I love the peace and quiet. With everyone connected on social media and on their phones, it’s just completely different to be apart from that and just alone with God.”
Dan started coming to the chapel on his way to work last year, and now finds he looks forward to it. “Before it seemed to be an ‘extra’ thing I thought I was doing for God; now it's an essential time I need for myself. If I haven't been in a week or so, I really feel it; I miss it.”
Three months ago Therese started experiencing extreme pain, which she assumed was from herniated discs. But an MRI found a completely different and unexpected cause — a large tumor. Her doctor said the first thing she had to do was get to an oncologist immediately. Therese knew going to God first was how she was going to handle this.
“So I went to Adoration. I put my report from the doctor on the floor in front of the Jesus and I said, ‘Jesus, You are my doctor. If You want to heal me, I know you will heal me. If you don't want to heal me, I accept that. I place all my hope in you.’” Alone in the chapel in the middle of the night, Theresa lay down before the Blessed Sacrament. Tears came but she knew her confidence was with Jesus. The next day she scheduled the oncologist, and continued to go to Adoration until her appointment the next week.
All sorts of tests were run by the oncologist, and then Therese had to wait another few days for the results. “I just kept going to Jesus, and I told Him I accept what He decides; if He chooses to heal me, or not heal me. My trust was in Him, not in the doctors.”
Theresa noticed her pain was subsiding. Back at the oncologist's office this past January, she caught a look on his face she couldn't read. Then he shared with her that in spite of her previous MRI conclusively showing a large tumor, there was now no tumor to be found anywhere in her body. The doctor was stunned and had no explanation. Theresa knew Who she had to thank, and went right back to the Adoration chapel to thank Him. She's had no pain or symptoms since.
Lisa and her husband Tom find themselves saying to each other, “Want to go up to the chapel?” at random times even for a quick visit. “We know that we will find moments of peace in our sometimes hectic days. It is a true reprieve from the stress of daily life or a place to bring a specific prayer intention right to Jesus. It strengthens us to continue on our journey toward heaven. We bring our teens to try to give them these gifts as well. They have many pressures on them and we believe just being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament brings seeds of faith and belief will be planted.”
Recently the pastor received this note: “The chapel is changing my life and my faith in God. Please use this check to pay for maintenance and upkeep of the chapel. I have ignored my faith for most of my life and now my God is giving me a chance to save my soul. I can't thank you enough for having an Adoration Chapel in my church!”