Is the use of technology appropriate during Adoration?

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I confess that I find going to Adoration difficult. I enter the church, sit down, gaze upon the True Presence in the monstrance and feel flat, restless and uncertain. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to do anything?

What I need to do … and what I end up doing!

Adoration demands things from you like a focused mind and a quiet heart. Hard to do when that mind is racing at 100 mph.

Too often, Adoration makes me want to fall asleep in the pew; how embarrassing!

Coming back to Adoration

So I avoided Adoration, convinced I couldn’t do it. And then, I heard an interview with Vinny Flynn on discerninghearts.com. Flynn is the author of one of my favorite books, Seven Secrets of the Eucharist. I marvel at his brilliance in writing these short, easy-to-read books that make the profound and mysterious so accessible. He has written a book about adoration called 21 Ways to Worship: A Guide to Eucharistic Adoration. During the interview he said it was okay to fall asleep during adoration (what better place to sleep than in the care of the True Presence?). It was okay to work. In other words, he was advising us to be ourselves. After all, Jesus loves us just as we are and just where we are. The point is to show up and then let Him take over.

Receiving permission to be myself

I thought about my husband Rich who used his time at weekly adoration to study. He’d come home afterwards and tell me what he learned. It was a time of formation, one that led to his becoming a deacon in the Church.

Rich approached Jesus through the medium that made him most comfortable—study. That realization gave to me the permission I needed to use what made me most comfortable—technology–as a means of coming into the presence of God during adoration.

Holed up in the choir loft

Now granted, I hide up in the choir loft while using my tablet and iPod as I am not sure how other adorers would feel about my using technology. Upstairs overlooking the church, I am free to be myself as I worship without disturbing others.

church interior V sm

View from the choir loft; photo by Susan Bailey

Videos on the Sorrowful Mysteries

I did this for the first time a few weeks ago by first watching a series of videos on Youtube on the Sorrowful Mysteries that I had created for a sung rosary project I had recorded years before. The video contained images and scripture for each Hail Mary that was sung. I sang along (silently, of course!) and meditated on the mysteries. It took no time to quiet my mind and focus my thoughts on my Savior’s profound love for me and the world.

Examining my heart

During that time of prayer God made known to me a sin that needed addressing. I was struck with compunction, and begged His forgiveness, vowing to change. Only later was I to discover just how much grace I had received to help me deal with that sin.

Ending with praise

Praying the rosary in that fashion made me want to praise God in song. I pulled out my iPod and listened to “Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever” by Suzanne Toolan. As the choir sang “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever” over and over, the piece grew into a glorious, heavenly sung prayer that had me praising God with my hands as well as with my lips. Hidden away in the choir loft, I felt free to weep openly as I worshipped.

I then ended my time of adoration by selecting a very different praise song on my iPod—a piece of European techo pop by Sal Solo simply called “Alleluia.” The beat is so infectious that I wanted to get up and dance. So I sat there in the choir loft, hands raised and waving, toes tapping, tears on my cheeks, a big smile on my face and a heart full to overflowing, worshipping freely in my hiddenness.

God’s favor … whether I “deserve it” or not

It was glorious. It was pure gift. I had gone to adoration because I had felt that interior invitation, knowing that I needed to spend more time alone with God. Because I had been neglectful of my prayer life, I felt adoration would be dry—after all, it was what I deserved. Instead I was gifted with spiritual consolation in the forms of reconciliation, tears and joy. As I left the church I thanked God over and over for granting me this favor.

Okay?

So, is it okay to use technology while spending time in adoration? If it helps you to be your true self before the Lord and doesn’t hinder someone else’s time of worship, then I say “yes!”

Resources

sung-rosary-smClick here to find the set of videos on the Sorrowful Mysteries along with two 5 minute Stations of the Cross videos. (The music comes from my Mary, Queen of Peace Meditation Guide & Sung Rosary available at www.sungrosary.com)

Click here to listen to “Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever”

Click here to listen to Sal Solo’s “Alleluia”

 

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Copyright 2015 by Susan W. Bailey
Art: all by Susan Bailey unless otherwise noted.

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About Author

Susan Bailey is an writer, speaker and musician. She is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times, published by Ave Maria Press, and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message, part of the Literary Portals to Prayer series published by ACTA Publications. Along with her own blogs Be As One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion), Susan frequently contributes to CatholicMom.com and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. She has also contributed to Catholic.net and Catholic Online. Susan writes articles and a monthly column known as Be as One for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press. Bailey, who works as a marketing/advertising assistant for a local real estate firm, is an associate member of the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, where previously she served as chair and secretary, helping to organize the biennial “Gather Us In” women’s conference, one of the first major Catholic women’s conferences in the country. As part of her duties she wrote the monthly column for The Catholic Free Press known as “Concerning Women” and appeared on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” to promote the conference. A professional musician and graphic artist, Bailey released four CDs, performed on EWTN, CatholicTV and World Youth Day 2002, and worked as a cantor in her parish of St. Luke the Evangelist for fifteen years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (with concentrations in US History and Music) from Bridgewater State University. She and her husband, Rich, have two grown children and live in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Susan invites you to join her email list where you will receive updates on exciting professional developments and speaking engagements. Email subscribers also receive special giveaways and previews of new projects. Susan loves a good conversation and looks forward to corresponding with you! Join here.

14 Comments

  1. My answer is YES–technology is appropriate–with the caveat that you do find a way to use it without distracting other adorers. You had the ideal situation of a choir loft. We have a tiny Perpetual Adoration chapel so I don’t use any tech that involves sound, but I do have apps I use for prayer such as Liturgy of the Hours, daily readings, and such that are appropriate to bring to Adoration. In the close quarters of our chapel, I’d be afraid to even use headphones for fear that music might “leak” out, but no one has seemed bothered that I’m using my tablet in the chapel. Great topic!

    • Oh yes, I always worried about music leaking from my headphones too. Discretion is necessary, that’s for sure. There are so many wonderful apps and videos out there that we can use to focus our minds on our Lord.

      I admit that lately I’ve been visiting a little Eucharistic chapel around the corner from my office. It’s not in perpetual adoration but that’s fine. I can only stay about 15 minutes so I don’t do anything but sit in silence. Maybe if I do it enough and last 15 minutes I can eventually do it for a full hour. That would be a real victory!

  2. Loved this column and reading about your experience of prayer. I’m with you – I enjoy using a tablet sometimes in adoration. I often turn off the wifi to help me protect my focus (and to turn off pesky notifications!)

  3. Reading this article and being part of an Adoration Team Captain group for many years, I need to reflect on the following: it is not “ok” to fall asleep in a holy adoration chapel and sometimes those found sleeping are reported, the “technology” like any talking is a distraction to other adorers praying, this is a time of intense prayer and reflection and NOT entertainment from some app, video, etc. Praying on your knees like many do, will assist in keeping one awake. Jesus Himself was upset to find his followers sleeping at a time when He needed them most to pray. Praying in an Adoration Chapel is our time for adoration and thanksgiving to Jesus. It is also the time to reflect on his passion and death and then in a period of grace to bring forward the prayers we have for friends, relatives, our situation, etc. The Rosary in hand (no technology) is a wonderful prayer in the chapel. No technology is needed praying before the Monstrance with Rosary in hand. Since, I am older than you ladies, I just thought I would bring my reflections. In Faith, Leslie

  4. Hi Leslie. If I may, I would like to respectfully disagree. I do not see using technology as a form of entertainment, but rather as a means to quiet my mind so that I can focus on worshiping God to adoration. I freely admit to not being spiritually mature enough to go in without some kind of a crutch, whether it be my tablet, iPod or something to read. As a musician, songs really speak to me when it comes to prayer, it helps me to focus on prayer. So that is why I do use my iPod during adoration. I am very conscious of how others might be disturbed by it which was why I went up into our choir loft so that I would not disturb others. And people who worship in small enclosed spaces such as Barb did think twice about using technology. We of course must be respectful of all those around us. I am taking time during the week to visit a small Eucharistic chapel near my office with no crutch. I sit there in silence for about 10 to 15 minutes in the hopes that someday I will be able to do that for a full hour. I know my limitations and I want to work towards that goal but I don’t want to stay away from adoration because I can’t reach that goal right now. I think all we can do is just bring ourselves exactly as we are and give ourselves over to God and if we need a crutch or two to help us get closer to God, I’m hoping he doesn’t mind.

    I would like to add that the book that I referred to by Vinny Flynn reiterates what I said. Mr. Flynn is very orthodox in his Catholicism and takes great pains to make sure that everything that he writes is correct with the teachings of the church. I very much trust him.

    I agree that worshiping God in the presence of the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament inside is an awesome and wonderful thing, something that we must take very seriously. I respect what you say and I very much appreciate all the work that you’ve done over the years to make sure that this opportunity is available for people.

  5. I confess that I do take technology into Adoration… just my iPod though… I resisted for quite awhile, but now have it with me quite regularly. I use it mainly for the Rosary. I have a Scriptural Rosary which I find to be just what I need at times, to keep my focus on the mysteries. My ‘ears’ are never on for the entire hour… Adoration is meant to be ‘quiet time with God’ and I definitely want to have my quiet time too. I am in favor of using our modern technology, but not for the whole time we are in Adoration.

  6. Question for all or any of you: Do you distinguish between reading a devotional or spiritual book (and even taking notes) and using technology? For the sake of conversation let’s also throw in praying the rosary as you are using an object (albeit a sacred one, but still, something concrete) to facilitate prayer. Are all the above equal ways of spending time in adoration with the idea being that simply sitting and being quiet is the superior way? I’m curious as to what you think.

    • I’m a musician at my church. During the (very rare) times when I’m alone at Adoration, I often sing. Song is a huge part of the way I pray. The chapel is usually pretty well-occupied during my hour, though, so this doesn’t happen much.

      I often bring a devotional book to Adoration, and I don’t stop to debate whether that is a print book or on my Kindle. I don’t read novels in the chapel, but I see nothing wrong with doing spiritual reading there.

      Most of the adorers who are there during my hour (we have about 10 chairs in a row, and that’s it–it’s a tiny chapel) bring books and some bring notebooks or journals.

      • Barb, I’ve been a musician in church too for years. How I would love to sing in front of the monstrance! Unfortunately you can’t do that without disturbing others. Once in a blue moon though when I know no one is there, I’ve tried it. Long ago when I went to Mass on a Saturday morning I would contribute a song acapella from my pew just after communion because I felt the Lord nudging me. Scary! You have no idea whether or not people will want it because it’s not the norm. But people seemed to be fine with it. Singing and listening to music (and singing in my head) truly is prayer x2. 🙂

  7. I read Vinny Flynn’s 21 Ways to Worship during Adoration! He has some great journaling prompts that spoke to me and I use during Adoration now. During adoration, I usually sit still in silence for a part of the time but then always bring something to read or journal for the rest of the time. I do resist the urge to bring technology with me because I know it would be a bigger distraction than benefit for me personally. I very much agree that Jesus wants to spend time with us just as we want to spend time with Him. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we are not, but we meet him as we truly are – whether it is through singing, journaling, drawing, silently praying, reading or whatever devotion allows us to focus on Him.

    • Lisa, you totally read my mind! That’s exactly what I wanted to say but you said it much better than I. I only want to add that while proper deportment and reverence, and mindfulness of others at adoration are very, very important, they must not act as barriers to coming to adoration. Jesus accepts us just as we are, broken and distracted. We are required to try. And try again. And again. We may “fail” in our efforts but to the Lord, we are doing all we can to come close to Him whether we feel it or not. Emotions are often not proper indicators of what is really going on. They too can be distractions.

  8. What a wonderful article, and what wonderful comments.

    A holy priest once told me “Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.” I think this applies here – there are so many ways to adore God, and more particularly so many ways to spend time in Adoration. Leslie has highlighted perhaps the best way–Mary of Bethany’s way when she simply sat at the feet of Jesus (and Martha complained, but Jesus defended Mary). And yet how lovely that we have the feast of St. Martha each year too!

    Leslie, I really appreciate the points you made, and as an Adoration Team Captain you certainly have much wisdom and experience. I, too, am an Adoration Captain, and it is the funniest story how this happened – I like to think Jesus chose me, rather than me choosing Him! I signed up to be an alternate in our parish’s Adoration schedule, and one thing led to another…

    But you know, I can’t help thinking now, as an Adoration Captain, and as a Secular Discalced Carmelite of more than 20 years, of this saying of our holy mother St. Teresa of Avila (which is read annually by Carmelites on her feastday) — “A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If His Majesty should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares His secrets, we ought to accept gladly.”

    As I reflected here — http://catholicmom.com/2015/08/29/of-john-the-baptist-family-size-and-romantic-comedy/ — “No one can receive anything unless it is given to him from heaven.”

    Surprisingly and adorably, it was never given to little St. Therese of Lisieux to adore Jesus without falling asleep. She complains that she always feel asleep in prayer (in the chapel at her Carmel). But then she realized that if parents delight in their children while their children are sleeping, so too God – the best Father – must delight in her asleep as He delighted in her awake – even during prayers.

    My mother-in-law loves to recount saying the rosary with her daughter’s family. The children in this large family (ten kids, ultimately) would say the Hail Marys between huge yawns; they’d be scattered over the furniture, legs and arms hanging over the side of a couch, and some of them falling asleep, needing to be carried to bed at the end. But what delight that all were together at the school of Mary, attempting to ponder the Face of Jesus, each in his own humble way.

    I once got a letter from a friend who said she was writing during her Holy Hour. She said she felt dumb, but she wasn’t good at Holy Hours, and yet she wanted to keep her Hour so she could help assure the continuation of Adoration in the parish, especially for those who were “good” at praying…I thought this was one of the most beautiful uses of a Holy Hour ever…I bet she would have loved heaven to give her deep devotion and a more profound contemplation at Jesus’ feet, but she accepted with simplicity her limitations – knowing these too are from God, allowed by Him, respected by Him.

    He is so good! Makes me want to go to Adoration! Thank you Susan for the thoughtful and inspiring post, and thanks Barb, Lisa, and Leslie for the helpful and heartfelt comments. May God bless us all and all readers here with Hours (in and out of Adoration) that delight Him and us together!

    • Suzie – thank you!! And I didn’t know that about St. Therese but in thinking about her, I can imagine that easily. No wonder we all love her so much, she was so real and so easy to relate to. SHE could inspire me to do many things.

      I again want to express my appreciate to you adoration team leaders – you are truly doing the Lord’s work.

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