The Eucharist: Catholic Guide to Adoration and Holy Communion Prayers

Eucharistic Adoration

In partnership with the Archdiocese of Detroit and supported by the National Eucharistic Revival, we’re excited to bring you Eucharist Prayers and the I AM Here campaign through this blog and exclusive free meditations on the Hallow app. Be filled, be inspired, and come to Jesus through these prayers and adoration today.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is the Eucharist?
  3. The Real Presence
  4. The Eucharist in the Bible
  5. Understanding the Eucharist
  6. The Last Supper
  7. Adoration – Spending Time With Jesus
  8. Prayers to Say During Adoration
  9. Prayers to Say Before Communion
  10. Prayers to Say After Communion
  11. Spiritual Communion
  12. Transformational Power of the Eucharist 

At your first Holy Communion, you receive the Eucharist for the first time. The priest hands you the host and says the words, “The Body of Christ.”

Holy Communion.

Eucharist.

Body and Blood.

The meaning of these words can be hard to wrap your mind around. Yet the Eucharist not only sits at the center of our faith but represents an integral component of our prayer lives.

What Is the Eucharist?

The word eucharist (pronounced YOO-kuh-rist) comes from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving. The Catholic Church describes the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

Pope Paul VI, in his 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei, wrote: 

The Mystery of Faith, that is, the ineffable gift of the Eucharist that the Catholic Church received from Christ, her Spouse, as a pledge of His immense love, is something that she has always devoutly guarded as her most precious treasure

In more practical terms, the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. In addition to being the source and summit of Christian life, it’s also the center of the Catholic Mass in the Liturgy of the Eucharist (which follows the Liturgy of the Word–readings, Gospel, homily and intercessions).

“Communion” or “Holy Communion” are often used synonymously with “Eucharist.” Holy Communion sometimes refers to the entire action of receiving the sacrament, while “Eucharist” is normally reserved for the sacrament itself. The USCCB itself makes reference both to receiving Communion and distributing Communion.

In either case, it’s critical to grasp the concept of Real Presence.

Real Presence – The Actual Body and Blood of Jesus

Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus.

Not a symbol or a ritual to remind us of Jesus’s sacrifice. His genuine, true Body and Blood.

How could that possibly be?

During Mass, the priest consecrates bread and wine. The bread is usually round “hosts,” or wafers consisting of just flour and water. Liturgies must use wine from grapes.

The prayers that a priest offers during consecration transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit through a process called transubstantiation. 

In transubstantiation, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The accidents, or appearance, of the bread and wine retain their familiar hallmarks–the host still looks like host and not flesh; the wine still smells and tastes like wine. 

But it is no longer bread and wine, despite its appearance. 

The Eucharist in the Bible

Where do we gain our understanding of the Eucharist?

First and foremost, we learn about Jesus’s Body and Blood…from Jesus. 

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Matthew 26:17-30

In John 6:53-57, Jesus further tells us that “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

In the Luke account of the road to Emmaus, the two men traveling recognize Jesus only when he breaks bread at the table.

“Their eyes were opened,” Luke tells us. When we spend time with Jesus’s Body, the Blessed Sacrament, our eyes can be opened, too. That’s why the Eucharist is so important to our prayer life.

And it comes directly from Jesus.

Understanding the Eucharist

Jesus knew the mystery of His real presence in the Eucharist would be a hard teaching to accept; John’s Gospel reveals that this very teaching was the reason many stopped following him: 

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69

The Church invites us to respond with the same faith of Peter. Though it may be difficult to understand and believe, when we do, we realize what an incredible gift the Eucharist is.

The Eucharist and The Last Supper

After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet (which we recognize during Holy Thursday), commissioning them to lives of servant leadership, He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist:

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

Luke 22:19-20

The Mass itself traces its origins to the Last Supper. Priests speak these words from Jesus every Sunday as they consecrate the bread and wine, shortly before we are invited to receive Jesus. 

After Mass, Jesus’s Body, as consecrated hosts of bread, may remain. Jesus’s Body stays in the tabernacle where it can be used for Adoration.

Adoration–Spending Time in Prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells us “I will be with you always.” This is certainly true in the Eucharist and one of the reasons why many Catholics pray in Adoration.

The practice of Adoration dates back to the early Church but surged in popularity during the Middle Ages. It remains an important part of the prayer life of millions of Catholics.

The USCCB considers adoration “the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration.”

For Eucharistic Adoration, the Eucharist is sometimes displayed in a monstrance, a metal stand that resembles a sunburst that holds a consecrated host. Other times, it is kept in a ciborium (the dish from which hosts are distributed during Holy Communion) inside of a tabernacle. A candle signals the presence of Jesus.

Either way, that concept is the same: Being physically present with Jesus, who is physically present with us in the Eucharist.

Churches that offer perpetual Adoration often have volunteers sign up for one-hour time slots so that someone is always present to adore  Jesus.

Prayers to Say During Adoration

There is no exact “right” prayer (or way to pray) during Adoration.

Fr. Josh of Ascension Press explains that Adoration is about imitating God:

“We want to imitate our Savior, Jesus Christ. Any time we spend time with people, we become more like the people we hang out with,” he said. “The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we’re going to be like Jesus.

Consider that as a starting point: Merely being with Christ in the Eucharist helps us draw closer to Him, regardless of the prayers we offer.

Still, Adoration can be a powerful opportunity for transformative prayer. Adoration can involve any of the following prayers or meditations:

You can also say this prayer, courtesy of the Archdiocese of St. Louis:

My Lord Jesus Christ, it is Your great love for us that keeps You day and night present in the Blessed Sacrament, full of compassion and love, waiting for us to visit You. I believe that You are really present in the Sacrament of the Altar. From the depth of my heart, I adore You and I thank You for the many graces You have given me. especially for the gift of Yourself in this Sacrament, for the gift of Your most holy Mother as my Mother and for the privilege of visiting Vou in this church at this time. My Jesus, (love You with all my heart. I am sorry for my ingratitude and I now resolve, with the help of Your grace, never to offend You again. I consecrate my entire self to You, my thoughts, my feelings, and all that I have. From now on, do whatever You want with me. All I ask for is Your love and strength to do Your Holy Will. 

Prayers to Say Before Receiving Holy Communion

We most commonly encounter the Eucharist during Mass. There are some prayers built into the structure of the liturgy to help us prepare to receive Holy Communion.

Shortly before we are called to receive the Eucharist, we recite the following prayer, inspired by the words of the centurion in Matthew’s Gospel: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

The previous English translation, which was revised in 2010, began with the phrase “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You…”

Both convey the same meaning: a small act of confession and humility to cleanse our souls and prepare us to intimately experience Christ.

When you approach the priest or lay person distributing Holy Communion (known as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion), showing a sign of reverence is appropriate such as a bow or kneeling. 

You may also say any number of simple prayers. These should be short and easy to remember since you’ll be standing or walking to receive the Eucharist (and probably not able to read prayers): 

Consider trying any of the following:

  • “I love You, Lord. May the Eucharist transform me.”
  • “Thank You for the sacrifice You made. I love You with all my heart.”
  • “I’m truly sorry for all my sins. Please fill me with Your grace.”

Prayers to Say After Receiving Holy Communion

The Roman Missal gives broad guidelines for post-Communion prayer, saying that those who have received the Eucharist can “praise and pray to God in their hearts.”

All prayers in the moments following Communion are said silently. Similar to prayers offered before receiving Communion, prayers afterward can be short and free-flowing. Some examples of simple Communion prayers to say after receiving are:

  • “Thank you, Lord, for this most precious gift.”
  • “I’m eternally grateful for your sacrifice. Strengthen me to do Your will.”
  • “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me;O good Jesus hear me;Within your wounds hide me; separated from you, let me never be; From the evil one protect me; At the hour of my death, call me; And close to you bid me; That with your saints, I may be praising you forever and ever. Amen.” (Anima Christi – St. Ignatius of Loyola)

The time after Communion can be a dialogue with God, and you may find yourself doing less talking and more listening. 

These incredibly intimate moments with our Lord don’t require strict prayers and structures. Be with God. Feel His presence. Listen to God’s call. 

The power of the Eucharist can overcome any inability we have to offer the exact right prayer!

MORE: Why I Pray in Adoration

Spiritual Communion

If you’re unable to receive the Eucharist, you can consider praying the Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Transformational Power of the Eucharist 

Encountering Christ in the Eucharist truly can be a transformational experience.

Hallow is teaming up with the Archdiocese of Detroit to launch the I AM HERE campaign, which aims to inspire people to spend time with Christ in Adoration.

The I AM HERE website will feature inspirational stories from those whose lives have been transformed by spending time with Christ in the Eucharist. The campaign is in support of the National Eucharistic Revival happening throughout the Church.

Within Hallow, Julianne Stanz and Bishop Andrew Cozzens will lead meditations and prayers to guide you through Eucharistic Adoration, helping you encounter Jesus in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Want to bring the I AM Here campaign to your dioceses or Parish? Fill out the form here!

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