Deacon Blog June 05, 2022
There is an old (and very wise) saying that goes “When we assume it makes an a$$ out of U and ME”. In my personal instance nothing could be more true. For several years now we have been promoting and advocating the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, both weekly, every Thursday, and on 1st Fridays of each month. At times, the lack of participation in these efforts was a bit curious, but then…it came to my attention that a lot of folks had no idea what we were talking about. These weren’t the only activities that some folks have brought up to me. Liturgy of the Hours, Exposition, Benediction, Oram hand position, and several other practices of our faith were a mystery too. I tend to lean towards philosophical thinking, which means… I tend to ignore the more practical thoughts. I think this is why they say “Philosophers need a wife”. Honestly, I assumed most Catholics of the 2022 vintage were familiar with the older practices and understandings. This is not meant to be critical, it was just my “jumping on point” for certain discussions. To the contrary, I prefer a certain “innocence” when it comes to religious discussions. Some of us are just too rooted in a certain timeline of thought, some of which is not accurate Catholic teaching but various forms of cultural practice.
Let me start with the Liturgy of the Hours. This ancient form of prayer has existed, in a primitive form, since before Christianity. It mirrors the Jewish practice of Mosaic prayer reciting the 150 Psalms 3 times a day (7 for the more devout). It is important to keep in mind that this was the form of prayer that Our LORD was formed with as a youth. For much of the 1st century, the Christians (mostly former Jews) continued this practice of formulaic prayer long after the Resurrection. The form we more or less use today is a revision of St. Benedict (500 ad) and the monastic movement, with multiple adjustments along the way. St. Benedict’s form included 8 prayer times daily (every three hours) which were later reduced to 7 times: Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline, Matins. Before daily Mass was offered to the public, Liturgy of the Hours was the prayer, or liturgy, of the Church most participated in. When the bells of monasteries and churches would ring, the people would stop their work and pray along with the prayers and hymns offered by the clergy. Gradually devotions, such as the rosary (700 ad), replacing the psalms with 150 Hail Marys, came to replace the recitation of the “Hours” by the laity and it became the “Divine Office” prayer of clergy. Today, priests and deacons make a solemn vow at ordination to pray the LOH three times a day. While it is the vowed responsibility of clergy and religious groups, it has remained one of the two official prayers of the Church, Holy Mass being the other. The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to lead into, and out from, the Mass and into the world we live in. It has always been, and remains, a liturgy or “work” of the people. Please give some thought to making this a routine in your prayer life. It is a transformative mystery with the ability to change hearts and minds.
The other “assumption” I want to clarify is Eucharistic Adoration. In our parish we encourage adoration before the blessed sacrament every Thursday and the first Friday of each month. Most are familiar with the term Eucharist, or Blessed Sacrament, as the true presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread we receive at Mass. I don’t want to go into this mystery, here, but I’m sure most of us understand that the host represents the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus as the “Bread of Life”. In adoration, this substance is displayed in a receptacle (monstrance) for all to see, through an environment of solitude and quiet. It is a perfect time, usually one hour (for each person) to gain understanding, a sense of resolve, and to strengthen our devotion to the purpose which created us. A clarity. It can be an effort of tremendous comfort and peace, keeping the noise of our daily lives at a distance. Of all the beautiful practices of our faith, this one is my personal favorite. Every Thursday, we have adoration from 8:00 am after Mass, to 5:15 pm. The specific terms are Exposition in the morning and Benediction in the evening. Every hour, a different person comes to “sit” and be alone with our LORD. Alone to discuss, express grief or anger, alone to listen deeply. Some have told me they do not need a Church ritual to talk with GOD. I completely agree. Nor should Adoration be the only conversation we have with HIM. The question is, “Do our everyday lives contain the opportunity to experience this level of quiet, serene awareness of HIS presence in a solitude where HIS voice can be heard above the “chaos” surrounding us”. Simply put, it is one hour that goes by way too quickly. Adoration can be of great assistance in our preparation for Reconciliation with a sincere and authentic examination of conscience. Adoration can simply be an “eddy-out” from modern life that seems to pick up speed each year. Adoration can also be used as a time to connect with, and understand, the Holy Spirit and the relationship available as the very breath and desire of our Creator. Many monasteries, convents, and sacred chapels around the world perform perpetual adoration, praying for the world’s needs all day long. “It’s a thing”, as they say.
Our world has a tendency to dismiss ancient practices as obsolete. The relevancy of Church practice can be viewed as outdated or no longer effective in an “enlightened” society that has long ago moved on from in-effective efforts to stay connected to GOD and HIS WILL. When I reflect on our modern world, I see a struggle to achieve real peace and the human connection that escapes far too many people. I understand these feelings, but I challenge you to not abandon such practices but “remodel” them into a structure that fits your perceptions. In adoration, listen to sacred or meditative music, read contemplative works of literature or scripture, walk the stations of the cross, sing. Just be present to HIM. Imagine an intimate “cup of tea” with a dear Friend to simply catch up. Make it an informal confession to clear the air. Make it unique to your personality. The word “Adore” is its root. Come and adore HIM who has given us salvation and desires a specific relationship with each of us, as if… we are HIS only creation.
Bless You All for all you do. Deacon Mike A
See You Soon!!!