As I’m reading the Eucharistic Testimonies that are coming in from around the Diocese, I’m continually struck by and grateful for the impact that both the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration have had on the lives of many Catholics.

Today, I want to highlight the important relationship between the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration — whether that adoration happens in front of a closed tabernacle or during Eucharistic Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. To be clear, the Church speaks of the preeminence of the celebration of Mass over all other activities in which the Church engages, including Eucharistic Adoration: The celebration of the Eucharist is the center of the entire Christian life. … ‘The other sacraments, all the ministries of the Church, and the works of the apostolate are united with the eucharist and are directed toward it. For the holy eucharist contains the entire spiritual treasure of the Church, that is, Christ himself. …’

— Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass (HCOM), 1.

Speaking specifically of the worship outside of Mass that one offers to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the Church says that “the celebration of the eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass … is truly the origin and the goal of the worship which is shown to the eucharist outside of Mass” (HCOM, 2).

In other words, the worship that we offer in Adoration outside of Mass both flows from and returns to the celebration of Mass. How, then, does our time in Adoration flow from the Mass? Simply put, our personal prayer in Adoration is an extension of our personal prayer that we offer at Mass. Indeed, in the Mass, we offer our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” in union with the Sacrifice of Christ who offers Himself in a sacramental way back to God the Father. Our prayers and petitions are offered on the altar and are taken up into Christ’s very prayer to God the Father.

That our prayer — our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” — can be continually offered in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in Adoration outside of Mass is truly a gift. I use the image of the votive candle that is lit at Mass which symbolizes our prayers continuing even though the Mass may have ended and we leave the Church. In a sense, those attending Adoration become the candle; their prayer becomes an extension of the prayers offered at Mass. In this way, our prayers in Eucharistic Adoration can never be seen as separate from what we do at Mass; our prayer at Adoration flows from our prayer at Mass.

How does our time in Adoration return us to the Mass? Adoration always points us back to the Mass because it is in the Mass that our prayers become most effective and it is in the Mass that we find sacramental union with God.

It is true that Adoration allows us to pray in the presence of Christ in which we feel spiritually united to God, but Adoration should cause us to hunger for more — for sacramental communion with God. At Mass, not only do we pray in the presence of Christ, but our prayers are joined to the prayer and Sacrifice of Christ.

In that joining, we find that full spiritual and sacramental communion which is expressed by receiving communion. Let us always be mindful, then, that our prayer of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is an extension of what we are called to do at Mass and should always leave us yearning for that spiritual and sacramental union that only the miracle of the Mass can offer us.

— Josh Perry is the director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Burlington.

Originally published in the May 6-12, 2023, edition of The Inland See.