How Weekly Eucharistic Adoration became a Source of Strength Before and After Losing My Child to Suicide
By Theresa Anthony, author of My 13th Station
"That next day I sat in Adoration for an hour. Instead of reading or writing, I just sat there staring at the Blessed Sacrament, fixated on it as a life source. I was all out of ideas. I was out of energy. I was losing hope. Something far stronger than me had its grip on my son.
~My 13th Station, memoir
When I was young, I naively believed that all I needed in preparation for the big bad world was a college degree, a solid resume, and a little luck. As a poorly catechized Catholic, I was never taught the immense richness and beauty of the faith, nor did I learn about the essential need for forming an intimate bond with Jesus. These concepts were simply foreign to me growing up. I eventually left the Church at age 18 to spend the next twenty-two years flailing about—getting that college education and building my resume while living the "cycle of sin."
At age forty I came limping back to the Church, tail between my legs. Life had humbled me. A powerful hunger for knowledge about the Church of my heritage launched a years-long process of self-teaching. I devoured books as if they might evaporate before I could finish them, such was the sense of urgency. I gobbled up books on the Saints, writings of the Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, Scripture, and became pretty well-versed at apologetics. I was on fire.
It was during these early years after returning to the Church, about twenty years ago, that I discovered Eucharistic Adoration. I will never forget entering that dim little chapel and immediately, instinctively, falling to my knees in front of Jesus, present there in the Blessed Sacrament. Thus began a deep love for spending some quiet, special time with Our Lord in Adoration.
Who knew that these weekly visits would become my number one most important survival tool? It was as if Jesus timed my discovery of Adoration just in time for the exceedingly difficult years that would follow, unknown to me of course. I looked forward to my Wednesday evening “dates” with Jesus with much devotion and love in my heart. I began journaling while I sat there immersed in the warmth of His graces. Over the years, I filled multiple journals with the details of my faith journey. I jotted down gushing passages about my children, as well as sorrowful entries about my crumbling marriage while in His loving embrace.
For a few years there I gave up my weekly commitment and just popped in to the chapel at will. That was poor timing, because looking back it is clear that those were the years that I should have committed to spending more hours per week with Him. My life was in turmoil. The wheels had come off. Spiritual warfare raged in my home, my marriage ended, and my dear son, a happy, positive kid, was suddenly overcome with terrible depression at age nineteen.
Throughout the six years that my boy battled depression and then alcoholism, I relied on just about every tool the Church provided. I found sources of strength in a daily rosary, Adoration, intercessory prayers, novenas. Still, my son’s illness worsened and his life began to unravel. I would go to that little Adoration chapel seeking solace from the Source of all graces, relishing those times when I was alone in the room with him so I would just wail and cry with abandon. Jesus was there for me.
Tragically, my beloved son didn’t make it. He lost all hope and took his own life at age twenty-five on October 23, 2013. I can say with all sincerity that without my deep faith and ironclad bond with Christ and His Mother I would not have survived the grief. Over these last six years since losing my son I have leaned on Jesus even more for the strength to go on. Now each week in Adoration, I plead for His Loving Mercy on my son’s soul, to eventually release him from purgatory and invite him into the Kingdom. I know my prayers are not wasted. Jesus hears a mother's prayers.
I am a different person now when I visit Him. I still write in my journal and pray my rosary in the little Adoration chapel, but I am a depleted version of my former self. Even so, I know on some level that getting that dose of time each week with Jesus is helping to sustain me, even propel me. He still has plans for my life, and this time I realize how much I am going to need Him.