O God, I beseech you, let us follow your example. The more we suffer and the more we are tempted, the more we should pray. In prayer is our only help, our only strength, our only consolation. […] The deeper into agony we fall, the more necessary it is for us to throw ourselves into the embrace of our beloved, pressing ourselves against him in uninterrupted prayer. -Bl. Charles de Foucauld
In the parable of the prodigal son, Christ shows us mercy as a love that is “able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and ‘restored to value’.” Thus, “mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.” -St. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do: living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry. They are surprised that you do not plunge into the same swamp of profligacy, and they vilify you; but they will give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. – St. Peter (1 Peter 4:1-5)
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. – St. John of the Cross
To make Lent complete, one must focus on three pillars: fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. Much of this blog has been dedicated to the practice and culture that surrounds the first pillar, (I’ll touch on the second pillar, almsgiving, in a future post), but for most, the pillar of prayer is often the most neglected during Lent.
So far in this blog, I have provided information on the 54 day rosary novena and the Stations of the Cross, both excellent spiritual tools. This week, I’d like to introduce one more: Eucharistic Adoration.
Picture at the Divine Mercy Chapel at St. Martin of Tours, Louisville (Photo courtesy of http://www.stmartinoftourschurch.org)
In Catholicism, we believe that the bread and wine that are presented at Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ through transubstantiation; the bread and wine still have the appearance and taste of bread and wine, but the substance itself, what these items are, have become the Body and Blood of Christ during the consecration, the most solemn moment of Mass.
The tradition of Eucharistic Adoration stems from the faithful traveling from church to church just to witness the consecration at different parishes. As such, many Catholic parishes set up special chapels where the faithful can pray to the exposed Blessed Sacrament, placed in receptacle called a monstrance, any time of the day. The practice of exposing the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day is called “perpetual adoration.” Most parishes will often set up specific times for the Eucharist to be exposed, perhaps for a few hours on a specific day of the week.
Regular devotees of the practice will often spend at least one hour per week, maybe even daily, praying quietly to the Blessed Sacrament. The idea of one hour comes from the Biblical passage when Jesus asked His disciples while praying at Gethsemane after the Last Supper before His passion:
“And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
As a part of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is encouraging parishes around the world to celebrate “24 Hours For The Lord,” where the Eucharist will be exposed for 24 hours from March 4-5 and the sacrament of Confession would be available. The Archdiocese of Louisville has 33 parishes hosting 24 Hours for the Lord. Check the list here and contact a parish if you’re interested in taking an hour or more.
Even though Lent is well upon us, I encourage you to look into incorporating a Holy Hour into your weekly schedule. It has many surprising benefits! In Louisville, St. Martin of Tours in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood and St. Paul in southwest Louisville (Pleasure Ridge Park) are the only perpetual adoration chapels, but there are many other parishes that offer Eucharistic Adoration at other times of the week. You can check out the schedule at either the Archdiocesan website or at the website of local Catholic radio station WLCR. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis lists their perpetual adoration chapels here. The closest of these chapels to Louisville is in either Bedford, 40 minutes south of Bloomington, or in North Vernon, 25 minutes east of Seymour.
The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offering of devotion on the altar of the heart? -St. Leo the Great
Be humble towards God and gentle with your neighbor. Judge and accuse no one but yourself, and ever excuse others. Speak of God always to praise and glorify Him, speak of your neighbor only with respect — do not speak of yourself at all, either well or ill. — St. Margaret Mary Alacoque