I’ve been teaching 10th grade Religious Education, our Confirmation class, for over 10 years now. Sometimes our Religious Ed Director throws a wrench in my lesson plans by adding an event, activity, or speaker. I have to roll with the punches and be sure to get the most important lessons in when I can. I don’t usually mind as it’s always something enriching for the students and their faith. This weekend, it happened again, but it was probably my favorite of them all. One of our parishioners spoke about Eucharistic Adoration and then we participated in Adoration and it was beautiful.
Often, a group of mostly unchurched 10th graders will be compelled to talk, snark, chuckle, or peruse their phones. For this reason, many would say it’s not worth trying a devotion so serious with teenagers. Some feel they can’t, or don’t want to, handle the reverence necessary for this beautiful act. Jean, our parishioner who started Adoration in our parish back in 2014, disagreed. She felt so strongly about bringing Jesus to the teens that she offered to speak about it.
In the back of the church, one of our volunteers sat with about 12 other youth, 11th and 12th graders, who make up our youth group. It’s not the youth group you read about from Life Teen stories, but they’re getting there. They do outreach, children’s ministries, charitable works, and she’s looking into more opportunities for them in the summer. These students were here voluntarily and this warmed my heart even more.
We happen to have a very respectful class this year, which is a blessing, and everyone listened quietly as Jean spoke for over 40 minutes about the Eucharist, God’s love for us all, and what Adoration means. They participated in the prayer before the monstrance was presented and the knelt reverently when asked to do so. Many didn’t know what to do or what to think, but all participated as asked respectfully.
Most had never experienced Eucharistic Adoration, even among the youth group, but all remained attentive. When we finished and I put the lights back up, I had been in charge of the lights, teens were dismissed to their classes. 70-80 teens got rowdy again like they’d never known silence. Classes were filled.
For my own class, I asked them how they felt during Adoration. Peaceful was the response. Some didn’t know what to think. I assured them they didn’t need to feel some magical moment in order for it to ‘work.’ They could pray, be silent and listen, or simply be present. Jean covered this in her talk but if they’re attention span is like mine they probably tuned out a few times unconsciously. I found later that other teachers asked the same and most teens in most classes enjoyed the devotion. They said they hadn’t experienced something like that before.
This is something we need to bring to our teens, even younger children more often. I directed them to a church one town over which had Adoration 24/7. I reminded them, and myself really, that this could be 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 5 hours. Any amount of time to be in the True Presence of our Lord is good! I found renewed hope in our program, our parish, and our youth that night.