Thursday, March 7: St. Paul Shrine

Today I am at the Conversion of St. Paul Shrine in Cleveland. It’s the home of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, an order of nuns that dates back to the 13th century. The nuns living at the St. Paul Shrine are devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; that is why you can attend Eucharistic Adoration there weekdays from 9:30 to 2:30 (except during the noon Mass).

So what is Eucharistic Adoration? It is a time when the Blessed Sacrament–the consecrated host, the body of Christ– is placed in the monstrance (an ornate vessel) and displayed in a church or chapel. The Blessed Sacrament is not supposed to be alone, so there is always someone in the space praying.

To anyone outside the Catholic Church, this can seem like a rather lame ritual, maybe even a little creepy. The church is completely quiet; people gaze at the host or bow their heads in prayer. No music. No talking. No nothing.

What could anyone possibly get out of this exercise? A lot.

I’m not sure what it is about Eucharistic Adoration. No, actually, I do know. It’s that there is a real presence in that space. Catholics believe that a consecrated host becomes the body of Jesus Christ. Even after all these years, that still sounds a little crazy to say. But any time I doubt it, I go to Eucharistic Adoration, and it’s apparent to me that it’s true. You can actually talk to this presence — Jesus — and feel like you’re communicating with someone.

Call me crazy. I don’t care. It is a powerful feeling that I wish would last longer.

After Mass at St. Paul, I stayed around a bit for adoration. The Poor Sisters of St. Clare were there as well, along with a few Franciscan monks and about 12 lay people. I wonder if we were all experiencing the same thing. I wonder if someone who wasn’t Catholic and who walked into the church during Eucharistic Adoration would have a similar feeling.

If you are interested, the Conversion of St. Paul Shrine is at 4108 Euclid Ave.

An example of a monstrance.
St. Clare of Assisi followed St. Francis’ example of monastic prayer.

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