Living the “A” in ACTS
Written by Ricky Jones
As we enter into Advent, a season of preparation, let us reflect on the meaning of ACTS. Do you remember your first ACTS retreat? Do you remember the way you saw the Gospel being lived out right in front of your eyes? That is what we are called to do. This message is just the beginning of a series of Advent reflections to help rekindle that fire that we all feel on retreat.
The “A” in ACTS is for Adoration and Prayer. This is an essential part of our lives as Christians and we are called to communion with our God. It is in prayer that we speak to God and that he speaks to us, but it can be difficult to hear Him if we are not listening. We live in a noisy world and we are constantly bombarded with noise. Whether it be on television, on the radio, or online, the noise is keeping us from God. We must come to God in silence, leaving behind all these distractions, so that we may hear his voice.
“In the silence of the heart, God speaks” ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Our prayers need not be long and drawn out, for it is the quality not the quantity. It is our truly heartfelt prayers that God desires and when our hearts and minds are free from worldy distractions, only then will God speak to us in the depths of our hearts. He will tell us the truth. He will tell us what we might not want to hear. Perhaps it is for that reason that we are afraid of the silence. How often do you pray to God in silence?
An Encounter with Christ
I still remember my first experience in Eucharistic Adoration. I had been to adoration once or twice before, but I didn’t truly understand what I was doing. I soon learned about reverence and relfected on the example of Moses and the burning bush when the Lord tells Moses:
“Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” ~ Exodus 3:5
I also learned about the Real Presence and how Jesus Christ is truly present in body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. So when I got the opportunity to spend some time in the Adoration Chapel I slowly opened the door and removed my shoes. I dipped my fingers in the holy water and made the Sign of the Cross, then I proceeded towards the front of the small room. There were a few other people in the room, some where sitting in chairs, some were reading from prayer books, and others were lying prostrate on the ground in reverence to the Lord.
As I walked down the narrow aisle I gazed upon the Lord. The room was dark, but a light shone upon the golden monstrance which held the Eucharist. I was now face to face with my Lord Jesus Christ. At that point I fell to my knees unsure of what to say. I begin with my normal prayers, but it wasn’t enough, so I told Jesus that I belonged to Him and that my heart was open to Him. As soon as these words left my lips I found myself sobbing. Tears were pouring down my face and I could feel the weight being lifted off of my shoulders, the burden being taken away. I felt all of the grudges I held washed away at that moment and I experienced for the first time in my life true peace. I walked out of that room a new man.
Taking Advantage of the Opportunity to Be with Jesus
All of us have the opportunity to come face to face with the Lord. Most parishes offer Eucharistic Adoration at least once a week, and even if your parish doesn’t, all parishes have a Tabernacle. I would like to sincerely invite you to come before Christ in adoration. Bring only your open heart, contrite and humble, and He will do the rest. Free yourself from the noise and distractions of the world and focus 100% of yourself on Jesus. It is only He who can give you true peace.
“If you face God in prayer and silence, He will speak to you. Then you will know you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.” ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
He can heal us of our vices. He can wash away our sins. He can grant us His peace. He can fill us with His grace, His mercy, and His love. May we join together as a community before our Lord Jesus Christ in Eucharistic Adoration and offer not just our prayers, but ourselves to He who gave His life for us.
“When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'” ~ Matthew 26:40-41
An Invitation to Prayer
As our ACTS brothers prepare for the upcoming retreat the 13th of December, let us offer our prayers for them. Every single retreatant needs our prayers. We don’t know how God is going to work in them during the retreat, but we have faith that His love will transform these men, their families, and our community.
There will be the opportunity for you to join your community in prayer and reflection in a Silent Fellowship this coming Monday, December 6th at St. Ferdinand from 7:00-9:00pm in the church.
In addition to interceding for our retreatants, what can you do to prepare during this Advent season? Perhaps you could commit to spending an hour in adoration once a week during to prepare yourself for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas. Maybe you could prayer the rosary with your friends or family reflecting on the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Or you might even commit to attending Mass once or twice during the week to deepen your relationship with our Lord.