‘These are unusual days of virtual liturgy; of live-streamed Masses and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament online,’ says lecturer at Catholic Theological College and member of the Department of Systematic Theology, Fr Denis Stanley. ‘Yet in the stillness and silence of Adoration of the Lord at home on our computer screens, the action continues – awe, transformed hearts and love of neighbour.’
With the closing of church doors, parishes have sought new ways for their communities to connect in spiritual communion. For many, Adoration is a beautiful way to connect with God in silence. Churches offering online Adoration have endeavoured to provide another opportunity to experience the body and blood of Christ at home.
‘When we take the time and step aside to be before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – a time of Adoration – it is generally agreed that this is a time of stillness and silence,’ says Fr Denis. ‘However, I think a lot is happening during Adoration. Before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – one of the Lord’s appointed means of our encounter with him – there is the active and lively flow of our relationship with him and he with us,’ he says.
‘In the silence and stillness, there is interior action and movement. The first and primary experience of God is one of awe,’ he says. ‘God calls us ‘to love and serve and live justly and awe at creation and the wonder of the very gift of life to ourselves and others. This happens in silence, indeed we can become lost for words, and reduced to silence. Filled with awe for who God is, we are led into Adoration; we are moved to adore and we discover that we are part of something deeper and richer and full of purpose for us,’ Fr Stanley says.
Several parishes have been creative with the way they offer Adoration to their communities with positive results.
Fr Dan Serratore at St Benedict’s in Burwood sought to make Adoration more accessible to the elderly of the Parish with a drive-through Adoration. This was also live-streamed.
‘We have a strong culture of Adoration at our parish,’ explained Fr Dan who arranged to move the Blessed Sacrament outside temporarily to face the parish car park. ‘So it was important for us to create that sense of connection during these times.’
Since then, there has been a gradual yet steady uptake of offerings for those who seek refuge in the presence of Christ during Adoration, including the DeMazenod Family Oblates of Mary Immaculate Provincial House and seminary in Camberwell.
‘To be present to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is a strong part of our faith and charism,’ explains seminarian Josh Nash. ‘We just wanted to take the opportunity to help those who are isolated, and to enhance their spirituality.’
This lends itself to encouraging people to remove themselves from what they are physically accustomed to and move into the silence of God’s presence.
‘Some of the faithful are feeling spiritually isolated as they cannot go to Mass,’ he says.
‘When they are sitting at home they feel that they are not doing what they are used to and it makes it very hard for them to connect with God.’
‘The online Adoration is intentionally simply set-up, with no music,’ says Josh. ‘We are inviting them into the silence and to make them at home with God with them in that silence.’
This approach has been received positively by people at different phases of their faith journey.
‘We’ve had people commenting on our videos who have not been to church for a long time who have stopped practicing or feel disconnected’, he says. ‘But now they have the ability to see it from their living rooms and returning to the sacraments.’
The Church of the Good Shepherd in Gladstone Park has seen a massive growth in Adoration attendance online. ‘It’s been tremendous in terms of the numbers,’ says parish priest Fr Dishan Candappa.
‘This is a chance for us to intentionally pray for all the parishioners and for others at home to tap into Adoration and spend some time in prayer at home.’
According to Fr Dishan, a small and faithful group of 20 parishioners who regularly attended Adoration each week at Good Shepherd has multiplied to over 600 views online. ‘We start at 5.30pm each Wednesday and go all the way to 7pm. We don’t how long they stay, but a lot of people come online to have a look,’ he says. ‘Somehow people are tapping into that experience and sharing it with each other each week.’