Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
How can I take part in Holy Hour?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
I go for adoration with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. I would like to spend some silent
time rather than praying aloud throughout the hour. What is the best way to participate in Holy Hour?
A Catholics have a long tradition of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. From early Church times, consecrated bread was kept for the sick. However, for many centuries, there was little or no adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as we know it today.
This devotion developed in the Middle Ages when people began to feel distant from the Mass for various reasons. They no longer understood Latin and the structure of the church building physically separated them by the placement of the altar.
Also because of a renewed emphasis on the divinity of Jesus, a reverence toward the sacrament prevented them as sinful humans from receiving Communion. So they began to believe that it was better to gaze upon the Sacred Host than to receive Christ in Holy Communion.
To satisfy their need for Jesus, opportunities were created to allow them an extended view of Jesus in the host.
Unfortunately, adoration became disconnected from the Eucharistic celebration and became more important than it.
Now that adoration has been revived as a devotion, it is important that we do not fall into some of the same aberrations as in the Middle Ages.
We must always remember adoration of the Blessed Sacrament flows from the Mass and must always remain faithful to it. By being there watching with Christ for one hour, we respond to Christ's question to Peter and the disciples in the Garden: "Could you not watch one hour with me?" (Matthew 26:40).
There are a variety of ways one can spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for it to become truly adoration. This time can be fruitful, especially in the busy world of today.
Some spend quiet time in nature, but there can be no better place than before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Therefore, it is obvious that silent adoration time is important during exposition. We need to learn "to be" before Jesus and let him fill us with his grace and his love.
The response of a poor unlearned man sitting for hours before the tabernacle when questioned what he said to Jesus should be ours too: "He gazes at me and I gaze at him." In other words, no words are needed for it's a heart-to-heart conversation.
We need also to look at our lives in light of Jesus and the Gospels and to commit ourselves more fully to living in Christ, for Christ and with Christ, as Paul says so aptly in his many epistles. He is so imbued with Christ and that is the way we should be too.
In order to help us, we can read select passages such as Jesus discourse at the Last Supper in John's Gospel silently or aloud during Holy Hour.
Sometimes when we find it hard just "to be" before God, we can use prepared prayers to express our sentiments.
We can sing hymns that express our gratitude and praise to Christ who has given himself to us to be our daily companion and our very food.
Another prayer that we can repeat silently or aloud is an ancient prayer called The Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
This prayer truly expresses our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God to whom we submit our being and our lives by calling him "Lord." We acknowledge our sinfulness and ask for God's mercy and grace.
This prayer can become like a mantra that we repeat slowly and quietly.
This time of adoration should not be a time to promote one's particular devotions nor private revelations. And vocal prayers should not take over the silent time completely. I would say that every adoration period should begin and end with a prolonged period of silence.
It would be fruitful to read the pastoral letter by Archbishop Thomas Collins entitled The Eucharist: "It is the Lord." In it, he helps us understand the true meaning of the Eucharist and the importance of the connection between the Eucharist and prayer before the reserved Blessed Sacrament.