I'm hoping to draw more people to the beautiful practice of Eucharistic Adoration and was blessed to write this article for my parish newsletter...
Are you burdened by the daily stresses and trials of life? Do you long for peace, quiet and happiness? Our Catholic faith is filled with many prayer forms that can bring those blessed qualities into our lives. One prayer form in particular that exudes these gifts is Eucharistic Adoration, also known as a Holy Hour.
My Aunt Monica, a widowed mother of 13 children had a habit of keeping a weekly Holy Hour. Her daughter would tease her and say, “Mom, I think you’re just keeping a happy hour!” Monica would reply, “Daughter, when I’m keeping my Holy Hour, I am happy!” In her struggles to raise her children and run a successful farm by herself, she found renewal, peace and the strength to meet the challenges of her life by regularly spending time in the presence of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II referred to the practice of Eucharistic Adoration in his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharista” (Church of the Eucharist): “In our time, Christians must be distinguished above all by ‘the art of prayer’. How can we not feel a renewed need to spend time before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Alphonsus of Liguori called it ‘the devotion…dearest to God and most helpful to us.’”
In this lovely, ancient prayer form, a Consecrated Host is placed in a vessel called a Monstrance, and is exposed (meaning outside of the tabernacle) in a church or special chapel designed for adoration. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is really, truly and substantially present, -Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity- and living in the Consecrated Host, so we do not want to leave Him alone, we want to keep Him company. Whenever Jesus is displayed in a Monstrance, it is necessary that someone remain with Him at all times. We are reminded of His heartbreaking words to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane…”Could you not stay awake one hour with me?’(Matt 26:40) So, we commit to one-hour intervals to remain and pray in the presence of our precious Lord. In churches where Eucharistic Adoration is routinely offered, there are usually sign-up lists where parishioners commit to spending regular time in Holy Hours with the Lord, so that He will never be alone.
There are several ways to make a Eucharistic Holy Hour of Adoration. We can spend the time in silence, trying to remain open to the Word of God speaking within us, we can read from Scripture or some other spiritual books, or we can silently pray the rosary or other traditional prayers of the Church. In his book, To Whom Shall We Go, Archbishop Dolan states that “Silence is attractive to God.” A silent Holy Hour is a great way to attract God into our hearts.
Fr. John Grigus, OFM, suggests dividing a Holy Hour into fifteen-minute intervals to spiritually enhance this time.
-Dedicate the first 15 minutes to the realization of the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
-Devote the second 15 minutes to Thanksgiving to God for being present in this very real way.
-Use the next 15 minutes to petition God for your requests and the needs of the Church.
-Finally, end your Holy Hour with atonement, examining your conscience and expressing sorrow for your sins.
In the words of Pope John Paul II “The visit to the Blessed Sacrament is a great treasure of the Catholic faith. It nourishes social love and gives us opportunities for adoration and thanksgiving, for reparation and supplication. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours and Eucharistic processions are likewise precious elements of your heritage--in full accord with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council”. Why not reclaim your Catholic heritage and make a commitment to spending time alone with Jesus?
May you all enjoy many “happy hours” in the holy presence of our beloved Lord Jesus with a heart filled with adoration and love, renewing yourselves to face the challenges of life!
For additional information about Eucharistic Adoration, visit: http://www.therealpresence.org/index.html