One hour with Jesus

by Mary Lou Seewoester

North Texas Catholic

An adorer kneels before the Blessed Sacrament inside St. Peter's perpetual Adoration chapel.An adorer kneels before the Blessed Sacrament inside St. Peter's perpetual Adoration chapel.
An adorer kneels before the Blessed Sacrament inside St. Peter's perpetual Adoration chapel. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


Could you not keep watch for one hour? Jesus asked Peter in the Garden at Gesthemane (Mark 14:37).

One hour. The amount of time Christ asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake and pray as He labored to accept the Father’s will.

One hour. The amount of time that regular adorers commit to keep watch before the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic Adoration. 

One hour. At 7 a.m., Father Manuel Holguin, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, begins each day with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration.

“I’m very convinced about Who is there,” he said. “I truly believe He is there.” 

Eucharistic Adoration is our time to keep watch with Christ, who is truly there, physically present in the Eucharist — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — exposed in a monstrance on a church or chapel altar.

During Adoration we can intercede for ourselves and others, talk with God, listen to Him, or just rest quietly in God’s presence. We can “waste time,” as Pope Francis says, “before the Lord, before the mystery of Jesus Christ.” 

In July 2017, St. Peter’s faithful began daily, uninterrupted Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, also known as perpetual Adoration. Two years later, the spiritual benefits that Fr. Holguin had prayed for have come to fruition.

“I have seen adorers appreciate more the gift of the Eucharist. They really understand the mystery that we celebrate,” he said. “The community has become strong and united and people feel proud to share this blessing with others.”

With the increased hours of Adoration, community action at St. Peter also increased.  

“A visible fruit of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel is the commitment to join different ministries here, especially in serving the poor,” Fr. Holguin said. “Especially the food bank, St. Vincent de Paul, and Room in the Inn.” 

“We belong in community,” Fr. Holguin said, referring to the theme of the diocese’s 50th anniversary: The Eucharist Makes Us the Church. “It makes the identity of who we are very strong. What makes us different [as Catholics]? It is the value of the Eucharist.”  

Father Maurice Moon with the St. John Paul II Monstrance during Adoration at St. Matthew Parish in Arlington in May 2019.
Father Maurice Moon with the St. John Paul II Monstrance during Adoration at St. Matthew Parish in Arlington in May 2019. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

The 50th anniversary year began with Mass and 40 Hours of Adoration on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 23 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller. Three other parishes will host 40 Hours during the anniversary year.

In Scripture, the number 40 is sacred, recalling the years that the Jews wandered in the desert, the number of days Jesus fasted and prayed before beginning public ministry, and the hours that Jesus was in the tomb before His resurrection.  

According to In the Presence of the Lord, by Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and James Monti, the practice of the 40 Hours of prayer likely began as a 12th century Triduum devotion lasting from Holy Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon. Then in 16th century Milan, invading troops and a plague epidemic led the local Church to start 40 Hours of Adoration during the Octave of Corpus Christi.  It eventually became a continuous year-round practice with one parish ending 40 Hours of Adoration by processing with the Eucharist to another parish for 40 more hours of Adoration.

However, long before the 12th century, Christians reserved and revered the Eucharist, affirming the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread.      

“Eucharistic Adoration has been with us from the very beginning,” said Marlon De La Torre, diocesan director of evangelization and catechesis. “For the first three centuries historically, the early Church, Apostles, presbyters, and disciples had a zeal and fervor that was unmatched and that we may never see again. They knew that it was through the Holy Eucharist that the Church is sustained.”

According to a 2011 U.S. Catholic article, Eucharistic Adoration developed gradually, beginning with early Christians who reserved it apart from the Eucharistic meal for those unable to attend. By the fourth century, monasteries were routinely reserving the Eucharist, though not yet exposing it for public Adoration. 

The fourth century also produced two Church Fathers, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, who “were instrumental in laying a foundation on how to appropriately worship our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration,” De La Torre said.   

But it was an 11th century heretic who galvanized the Church toward widespread public Adoration of the Eucharist. When the French monk, Berengar of Tours, denied the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Pope Gregory VII demanded a retraction and refined Church teaching on the Real Presence.  

The U.S. Catholic article states, “In response, Eucharistic devotion burst forth throughout Europe: processions, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and other prayers focused on the reserved sacrament became part of Catholic life.”

In the 20th century, around the time of the Second Vatican Council, Adoration had declined, De La Torre said. But by the 1980s, renewed interest in Adoration began to develop. He estimates that today, at least two thirds of parishes in the diocese offer daily, weekly, or monthly Adoration, particularly on First Fridays.

“It’s more popular now because there is something we cannot deny: the human heart needs to be satisfied with God alone,” Fr. Holguin said. “People need space to pray and silence in our noisy and very busy world.”

Youth pray before the Eucharist during the Source and Summit Retreat at Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville.Youth pray before the Eucharist during the Source and Summit Retreat at Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville.
Youth pray before the Eucharist during the Source and Summit Retreat at Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


Three years ago, Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls increased its Adoration time from six hours a week to “almost” perpetual adoration — 19 hours daily, from 5 a.m. to midnight. 

Parishioner Brenda Grayson, who facilitates Sacred Heart’s Adoration schedule, said 205 parishioners are committed to a regular weekly Holy Hour so at least two adorers are present each hour. 

“The dedication of the adorers who commit to a regular hour each week is truly an act of charity.  Having extended hours of Adoration makes it possible for many other people to just drop by whenever they can.”

She said though perpetual Adoration was initiated by the parish stewardship committee, “it was a total surprise to everybody,” she recalled. “No one [on the committee] had been thinking about that, but the Holy Spirit was moving. The Holy Spirit set the committee on fire.” 

Four months later, in time for the parish’s 100th anniversary, every hour had two adorers in place. Though Adoration at Sacred Heart is not “perpetual,” Grayson is profoundly grateful for the many hours the Blessed Sacrament is available to parishioners. 

“What a beautiful gift He has given us on our anniversary,” she said. “What a beautiful gift for the Bridegroom to give His Bride on her anniversary. The gift of Himself.”

Grayson said parishes need Eucharistic Adoration because “it helps us all grow in holiness.”

“When you go once a week to sit in front of Jesus, read scripture or a holy book, write in your journal, pray a Rosary, or just sit with Jesus, you grow in holiness,” she said. “It’s an appointment with Jesus.

“You’re telling the Lord ‘I care enough about you that I’m going to go once a week’ and that act alone helps you grow in holiness.”

Fr. Holguin agrees, inviting “anyone who would like to grow in holiness and in knowledge of the Lord to spend time in Adoration.” 

Check your parish bulletin for Adoration schedules, or go to fwdioc.org/parish-finder for parish hours of Adoration.

 

An adorer kneels before the Blessed Sacrament inside St. Peter's perpetual Adoration chapel

Could you not keep watch for one hour? Jesus asked Peter in the Garden at Gesthemane (Mark 14:37).

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