“Could you not stay awake for even an hour to pray with me?”

Deacon Raúl D. Daniel January 25, 2023
Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rapid City, SD

When I was in deacon formation many years ago, my bishop said something that pierced my heart, challenged me, and stuck with me for a very long time. He reminded us of Christ's words to His apostles at Gethsemane on the night of His arrest and before His crucifixion, "Could you not stay awake for even an hour to pray with me?" What a "wake up call" that was for me! How could I say, "No"? At that time his words challenged me to increase the 10-15 minutes I would spend before the true Body of Christ after the Holy Thursday procession to spending a whole hour with him that night, and I continued to occasionally spend time in adoration on a monthly or perhaps semi-monthly basis. If it hadn't been for those trips, I honestly couldn't say I'd be a deacon today. I felt so inadequate compared to everyone else in the program. I felt sure I would wash out, but Mother Mary and the Blessed Sacrament gave me the strength to keep with the program. 

But it wasn’t until 2014, when our parish began our campaign for perpetual adoration, that I committed to spending an hour every week before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Before then I longed for things so much that I couldn't even keep an up-to-date list or sometimes even isolate and identify what those things were — money, success, food, entertainment, exercise — the list went on. It wasn't until I began spending time before the Blessed Sacrament that I discovered what that "something" was that I really needed – a true peace that I could only find in His holy presence. 

All of the worries that I carried on my shoulders seemed to just "disappear" whenever I spent real time before Him. And by real time, I mean spending at least an hour in adoration on a regular, committed basis. This peace didn't happen with my first visit, but slowly and surely I came to understand in adoration the things that were truly important, the love of God and those around me. 

The peace and consolation that I began to experience was so great that I sought to spend even more time in His presence, more than just my token 15 minutes, more than just the one hour Christ asked of His disciples. I tried to spend as much time as I could with Him, sometimes 2 or 3 hours when it was possible. Sure, I had to sacrifice a few things like TV or being out with friends, but I've found that the more time I spent in adoration, the greater the sense of peace, so it was more than worth the small sacrifices I made. 

My diaconate ministry has now led me to our local military base where I serve the men and women who serve us. I'm blessed to now work within 75 ft of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where I can now go in throughout the day to spend time with Him. During the COVID shutdowns I was the only one going to work at the base chapel; everyone else worked from home. I would go into adoration first thing every day and ask for strength, and to-date I've never tested positive or contracted COVID. 

Five years ago, I had a knee replacement resulting from a skydiving accident that took place more than 45 years ago. On Wednesday nights when I teach CCD and on Sundays when I teach on base, my knee is throbbing by the end of the day, but I don't feel that I can stop because of the need that I know is there. On Wednesday nights, the pain was so bad that I started leaving a walker at Cathedral so I could use it in the evenings. Spending time in adoration keeps reaffirming my call to serve and gives me strength. Even on some of my darkest days those trips to adoration make a big difference. Even the short pit-stops feel like they make a big difference — praying a rosary or even a decade of the rosary or the Angelus in my busy times. 

I'm hoping that if you're not accustomed to spending time in His true presence in adoration that you'll give it a try, even if for only 15 minutes at first — and that you'll do it soon — so that you'll find that same peace I have found and that only He can offer.

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Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.

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