Several years ago at Mass on Holy Thursday evening, I had one of the most profound life-affecting moments of my life. I am not one for public speaking and am not the best at storytelling, but here it goes.
The pastor at my previous parish proposed a challenge to his parishioners at our yearly mission. He opened one of our chapels for 24-hour perpetual adoration where at least 2 people, whether day or night, from midnight on Sunday through 3:00 p.m. on Friday would be in prayer. His challenge was for each of us to make a weekly commitment and sign up to spend one hour a week in silence in front of the Eucharist with our Lord. This began at the beginning of Lent with the idea of keeping this commitment indefinitely, though we could reach out to fellow parishioners to go in our place if we could not make it any particular week.
Because I knew there was something missing in my life, I signed up for one of the last spots available at 2:00 a.m. every Tuesday morning. The first few weeks were very powerful, but toward the end of Lent, it became harder and harder to go.
That year, I decided for the first time to go to Holy Thursday Mass and for those who have never been, this is a powerful reenactment of what happened the night before Jesus died and what continues to happen every Sunday at Mass.
One of the big differences at Holy Thursday Mass is toward the end all the priests, altar servers, and congregation process in silence to another small chapel to signify the period of time between the Last Supper and the death of our Lord.
As the procession occurred, I somehow felt the air being sucked out of the room. I felt a sense of anxiety and panic. I had this feeling like I was more alone than I have ever been in my entire life. It was difficult to breathe, and I had a lump in my throat. I had no idea what was going on, until suddenly, I looked up at the tabernacle behind the altar. The doors were open, the tabernacle was empty, and the Eucharist was gone. Our Lord left to prepare for his death and resurrection, and his presence in the Eucharist became shockingly real for me.
For me, that moment brought the most immense feeling of sadness, yet profound gratitude I have ever felt in my entire life. Each Holy Thursday, I am reminded of this experience and, as often as I am able, with three small kids at home, I try to spend time with the Lord in the Eucharist.
With how hectic our lives can be, I truly believe that one of God's love languages is silence, and the more time we spend time with him in Eucharistic adoration, the more we will be comforted by his presence.