Adoration (sometimes called Exposition) refers to spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, usually visible in a monstrance on the High Altar.

Our parishes have times of Adoration each week before Masses. We also have more prolonged periods of Adoration on special occasions, for example the Feast of Corpus Christi and the Feast of Epiphany.

What to do during Adoration

adorationThe most important thing is to be there and to be still. Make space in your mind and in your heart so that Jesus, who is present in the Blessed Sacrament, can speak to you.

People often commit themselves to spending half an hour or an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Below are some suggestions of what you can do in that time – but remember to give yourself plenty of moments of silent meditation as well.


Ten Things to do during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

1. Read a bible passage (or one of the Psalms) slowly, over and over again. If a word or a phrase strikes you in any way, pause and pray about it. Then move on.

2. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, for example Morning or Evening Prayer. Look at the Blessed Sacrament as you pray the ‘Glory Be‘ at the end of each psalm.

3. Talk to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament as you would talk to a close friend. Tell him about your day. Ask his advice about what is worrying you. Speak to him about your family and friends. Use your own words and remember to leave space to listen to his replies.

4. Try using a mantra to concentrate your mind. Say over and over again some short phrase such as ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner‘ or ‘I will praise you Lord, you have rescued me‘ or ‘I love you Jesus, my love above all things‘.

5. Choose a hymn and read through it slowly, thinking about what it is saying to you. For example, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind‘ or ‘Come Down O Love Divine‘ or ‘Here I Am Lord‘ or ‘Be Still my Soul‘.

6. Be silent and know that you are in the presence of Jesus the Lord. Try and listen to him.

7. Pray the rosary, making an effort to think about each mystery as you say the ‘Our Father‘ and ‘Hail Mary‘ prayers. Look at the Blessed Sacrament as you pray the ‘Glory Be‘.

8. Read about the life of a saint and ask for his or her prayers. Pray with the saint and imagine you are both together in the presence of God. You actually are both in the presence of God!

9. Read a spiritual book, especially something on prayer or about the life of Jesus. Make sure you take ‘time out’ and direct your thoughts and prayers to Jesus who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

10.  If you fall asleep, don’t worry. Psalm 127 reminds us that the Lord showers his blessings upon his beloved while they slumber! Remind yourself that the Lord loves you so much and that it is He who has brought you to this moment, inviting you to waste time in his presence.

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father,

and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit

as it was in the beginning,

is now and ever shall be,

world without end.




The ‘Glory Be‘ is what is called a doxology: in other words, a hymn of praise to God. Other doxologies include the Gloria sung during Mass and the Per Ipsum (‘Through Him and with Him and in Him’) sung by the priest at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.

UnknownIt is an ancient prayer which reminds us that everything we do and all that we are about is for the glory of God. It reminds us that we worship one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The ‘Glory Be‘ is an excellent way to round off a period of quiet prayer or contemplation. It can be said after having spent some time reflecting on a bible passage or at the end of a period of praying for other people. It is a good way to end parish meetings.

‘Glory’ translates the Greek word, doxa (hence doxology) which in turn is used to translate the Hebrew word kabod.

The Hebrew word kabod originally meant heaviness or weightiness. It came to refer to something hidden away but whose presence could be felt by the weight or bulk (a bit like a bag full of gold bars – the presence and value of the bars could be sensed by the weight and bulk of the bag).

Gradually it was used to refer to God’s presence: something of ultimate value. Finally it came to suggest honour, importance and majesty.

In praying the ‘Glory Be‘ we are honouring the majesty of God but also recognising his presence in our lives and in our world.


Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God,

pray for us sinners now

and at the hour of our death.



The ‘Hail Mary‘ is made up of two parts. The first four lines are taken from the Bible:

annunciation-1434‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee’ is a translation of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation, found in Luke 1: 28. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates this as: ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb‘ also comes from Luke’s gospel. In Luke 1: 42, Elizabeth greets her cousin Mary with these words as her unborn child, John the Baptist, leaps in her womb.

The first line of the second part of the prayer makes reference to an idea which was accepted at the Council of Ephesus in 431AD.  This Council rejected arguments from followers of a theologian called Nestorius that Mary could be called ‘Mother of Christ’ but not ‘Mother of God’. The Council felt that this implied Jesus Christ was not truly God.

Instead, it adopted as a title for Mary the Greek term, Theotokos, meaning ‘Birth-giver of God’.

imagesA curious term, when we reflect that God is eternal and outside of time and space. Nevertheless, an important title which asserts that from the first moment of his conception Jesus was truly human (in that he possessed body & soul) and truly divine (in that he was God).

This idea that a mere human could somehow ‘mother‘ the divine is mind-blowing. In order to save the human race from its own sinfulness, God is born of a woman; he is brought kicking and screaming into a world he created.

The last section of the ‘Hail Mary‘ reminds the one who prays it of their own mortality. It asks for Mary’s intercession at the moment of death.

UnknownThe prayer of the saints – in other words, those we believe to be in heaven – is part of the fabric of Catholic Christianity. As a family which extends through time and space, across heaven and earth, we pray all the time for one another as a sign of our love and communion. It seems natural to ask those in heaven to do the same.

All of us, God’s created children, have been invited to pester the Lord with prayer for the things we need. (Read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18: 1-8).

Why not ask the ‘Birth-giver of God’ then, the one whom the Bible says is ‘blessed among woman‘, to pray for us when we are about to die?

Our Father

Our Father,

who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil



Often a priest suggests we pray the ‘Our Father’ slowly as a form of penance, following confession. Here are some thoughts to help slow us down while praying this most important of prayers.

Father in heaven

This prayer is directed towards God the Father, just as Jesus’ prayer was directed there. We are daring to call God ‘Abba’ meaning ‘dad’ or ‘daddy’.

We do so because Jesus invited us to do so and because, through our baptism, we have been reborn as God’s adopted sons and daughters.

The God we pray to is indeed beyond our imagining and yet Jesus has shown him to us. He is outside of time and space and yet not remote from us.

Jesus invites us to pray to a personal God, a fatherly God, a God who calls us into ever more initimate friendship

We pray ‘Our‘ Father. This reminds us that we are not alone in our prayers. We are praying what millions of Christians from all around the world are praying. We are saying what billions of Christians down the ages have said.

When we were baptised, we were called by name into this wonderful family.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

Jesus spoke a lot about God’s kingdom. Sometimes he referred to the kingdom of God, sometimes the kingdom of heaven.

When we speak of God’s kingdom we mean God reigning as sovereign and Lord whether on earth or in heaven. The kingdom of God is not so much a place  as an attitude: the attitude of our hearts. To pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ means to wish that God will take control over every aspect of our being. To say ‘Thy will be done‘ is to commit ourselves to a lifetime of striving to know God’s will and putting it into action.

On earth as it is in heaven

Christians are often dismissed by those who reject belief in God as being overly concerned with the life to come. Our gaze is too heavenward, they say, which is a futile focus on pie-in-the-sky. Since we only think about heaven and our hereafter, we are quite prepared to forget the injustice of our world now.

This is untrue, of course, and unfair. Throughout the centuries, Christians have been inspired to make the world a better place. The ‘Our Father‘  reminds us of this every time we pray it.

When we say ‘on earth as it is in heaven‘, we are promising to try and make God’s love, justice, mercy and goodness a reality here and now. We are asking God to make us his agents in history: to empower us to transform the earth and make it more heaven-like.

Give us this day our daily bread

This could be interpreted simply as a prayer asking God to provide us with what we need each day. A signal that we are willing to trust him and take each day as it comes, living in the present moment and not overly concerned about our future.

Some people see in this line a reference to the Eucharist: the bread of life. It expresses a desire to be nourished by Christ himself, the true bread of heaven. A commitment, perhaps, to making the effort to attend Mass each day whenever family life and work and time allows.

Biblical scholars sometimes translate this line as ‘Give us today the bread of tomorrow’. An unusual expression. The ‘bread of tomorrow’ in Jesus’ time might well have meant the ‘End Time’.

The ‘End Time’ is Jewish and Christian shorthand. It means the belief that at some point all time and space will end and give way to a new type of existence when ‘God will be all in all‘. A time where suffering and sin, where injustice and conflict and poverty, where even death will be abolished.

‘Give us today the bread of tomorrow’ might be a way of asking God to let us experience now something of that End Time: to let our suffering or sorrows, the seemingly endless round of war, the straightjacket of unfairness, our personal battles with sin and the feeling that we are simply trapped in a sinful world, and even our fear of death be overcome by a foretaste of God’s immense love for us.

Forgive us our trespasses

This line seems straightforward. We are asking God to forgive us the times we have hurt others and ourselves through our selfishness and sinfulness.

This line needs to run into the next, however: ‘As we forgive those who trespass against us’. The two are conditional. In this prayer we admit to ourselves that God need only forgive us if we are willing to forgive others.

Perhaps this line can provoke us to think about who annoys and upsets us. Who do we find difficult? Are we still holding on to past hurts? Do we hold grudges?

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

The last two lines of the ‘Our Father‘ should not be overlooked. They are so important. We are asking the help of God’s grace to lead better lives.

We need his help to avoid those moments of temptation to sin. We need God’s love to protect us from harming ourselves and others.

Many of us struggle with what are sometimes called ‘habitual sins’. In other words, we do the same old things over and over again. Probably small stuff, although perhaps for some it’s more serious.

Small stuff can all add up, however. Little moments of selfishness can coalesce into a more permanent self-centred attitude. Indulgence can become greed. Fantasy can become infidelity. Anger can flare into violence. Barbed comments and the odd racist joke can end up masking a deep seated prejudice. In the end the small stuff can become pretty big.

In the ‘Our Father’ we ask God to save us from this:

Delver us from making the snide remark.

Deliver us from flying into road rage.

Deliver us from gossiping about those we don’t like (and even those we do).

Deliver us from treating our sexuality and sexual desires as simply an appetite we satisfy.

Deliver us from viewing others as objects rather than people and treating them without respect and dignity.

Deliver us from evil.


Mary Untier of Knots

Mary-Untier-of-Knots-1When Pope Francis was a student in Germany, it is said that he came across this picture by Johann Schmidtner entitled: Mary Untier of Knots.

Schmidtner was a seventeenth century artist and his work depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on the moon and surrounded by angels as she patiently unties a series of knots in a long strip of material.

Above her head is a dove, the sign of the Holy Spirit, and Schmidtner uses typical Marian symbols such as twelve stars forming a crown and Mary’s foot upon the head of a snake. These are biblical references to be found in the Book of Revelation and the Book of Genesis.

The inspiration behind this picture, however, is thought to be a piece of writing by the second century theologian, St Irenaeus, rather than the bible.

In his work, Against the Heresies, St Irenaeus wrote that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith”.

This emphasis on the role of Mary in the history of salvation is meant to highlight the importance of the way God works with and through human beings. He only ever invites our co-operation; he never forces our hand.

By co-operating with God in saying “Yes” to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, Mary assists humanity by letting God work in her and allowing the Son of God to be made flesh of her.

The story goes that the painting was commissioned and donated to a monastery in Augsburg by Hieronymus Langenmantel. His grandfather had been on the verge of separating from his wife and sought advice from a Jesuit priest. The priest prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to look upon the couple’s marriage and untie all knots and smother them. From that moment on, peace was restored to the couple and their marriage survived.

Pope Francis obviously liked this painting because he introduced devotion to Mary the Untier of Knots into Argentina and from there it has since spread to other Latin American countries.

As Cardinal Bergoglio, he even had the image engraved onto a chalice which he presented to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the people of Argentina.

Perhaps we can pray, in the spirit of the story behind the painting, that the Blessed Virgin Mary will intercede for all those who face difficulties in their relationships and married life: that she will untie any knots that might disrupt their lives together and bring Christ’s blessing upon their families.


Excerpt from the Prayer to Mary, untier of knots

Mary, our mother,
God has charged you with untangling the knots
in the lives of his children;
into your hands we place the ribbon of our life.
There is no knot that cannot be untangled by your fingers.
Compassionate mother,
by the power of your intercession with Jesus,
your dear Son and our Redeemer,
take into your hands today this knot.

[name the knot that is troubling you]

I beg you to untangle it forever,
for the glory of God.

Another Story of Creation

Here is an alternative version of the creation story . . .

1362048364_bible-adamAdam said: “Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me everyday. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me. “

And God said: “No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will know I love you, even when you cannot see me.

“Regardless of how selfish and childish and unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself.”

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, “But Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and all the good names are taken and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

imagesAnd God said, “No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.”

And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that Adam’s guardian angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility.”

And the Lord said, “No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not worthy of adoration.”

images-1And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat’s eyes, he was reminded that he was not the supreme being.

And Adam learned humility. And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Cat did not care one way or the other.


Source of story unknown