Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Perpetual AdorationBishop Anthony Taylor presided at the inauguration of Sacred Heart’s Adoration Chapel on November 16, 2013.  Over 300 parishioners have signed up for a particular hour to be with Jesus in The Blessed Sacrament every hour of every day in quiet prayer, meditation or spiritual reading.  Pope John Paul II encouraged this ministry after establishing an Adoration Chapel at St. Peter’s in Rome in 1981.  Since then, many hundreds of Adoration Chapels have been opened in the U.S. with continuous prayer being offered for 15 to 20 years and more.

In Eucharistic Adoration we are giving Jesus respect and worship—as we believe he is truly present in the appearance of the Eucharistic host displayed in the monstrance.  Acknowledging this, we are brought to a deeper spiritual union as we are exposed to His grace, mercy and love.  There are three purposes to the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: 1) to acknowledge Christ’s marvelous presence in the sacrament, 2) to lead us to a fuller participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, culminating in Holy Communion and 3) to foster the worship which is due to Christ in spirit and in truth.

There are many fruits derived from Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration: often people experience a deeper devotion to Jesus which may lead to repentance, conversion, and increased charity.  Some have felt greater reverence at Mass, an increased desire for personal holiness and a stronger sense of union with the parish and whole Church.

Jesus challenged his disciples to “watch one hour with me” in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We are answering that challenge.  There are many ways to pray and whether we simply meditate, speak to Jesus from our hearts, read scripture, or rely on the rosary or litanies, we are expressing our desire to develop a deep and personal relationship with him.  Not only that, we are praying for the whole world!  When Mother Theresa was asked, “What would save the world?” she replied, “My answer is prayer.  What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in an Adoration Chapel in holy hours of prayer.”

I was recently out to dinner with some friends, members of our parish, when one friend asked me directly “why do we need to do perpetual adoration?”  The waiter came just as I was about to answer.  The question was not brought up again that night, but I have been pondering it because I think others in our parish may be wondering the same thing.

Not sure whether my friend was asking why we as individuals do it, or if he meant why as a parish we do it, I reflected upon both questions.  I, myself, do it because it is another way, besides going to Mass, praying at home, reading spiritual books, and trying to live a Christian lifestyle—it’s another way I can try to deepen my personal relationship with God.  Of course Jesus is present to us 24/7 everywhere we go…and we can call on him in prayer at any time.  Yet, just as when we enter a church we are often touched by a spirit of sanctity and holiness, the Adoration Chapel exudes that same special atmosphere.  Plus, I must admit that all the activities I mentioned above are done at my convenience and are often rushed or even postponed.  Giving an hour of my time at 1 AM in the morning is definitely inconvenient, often even difficult.  When Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake and pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t say it would be easy…in fact it wasn’t at all easy for them and they were his most intimate friends!  I don’t know what God thinks or feels, but I hope that when I make the effort to spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, it somehow pleases God.  Sometimes I pray, sometimes I read a spiritual book or the Bible, sometimes I just sit and try to listen to my heart.  I know I feel better spiritually for being with Jesus in this special way.

So why do we, a parish filled with “older” people, need to do it?  And why perpetually?  Well, again, sharing my reflection, I realize that there is little I can do to influence the sad shape of our world (beyond voting and praying), but if I think that my individual prayers are a small (maybe infinitesimal) contribution to the positive spiritual reality of life, then imagine how much more impact is possible with over 350 people praying every hour of every day!  We pray, not only for our friends and families, people in need in our parish, but I’m sure our prayers extend to all our neighbors, fellow Arkansans, all America including our leaders and military, to the people fighting and dying in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa and Asia.  It’s a communal effort—one our parish can take pride in saying that a whole bunch of us believe God hears and answers our prayers, that our efforts can and do add positive energy to a world beset with evil, misunderstanding and deceit.

Our rich Catholic tradition is so wonderfully diverse.  We all have many ways of expressing and growing in our faith: attending Mass, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, serving on the parish council, the men’s and women’s groups, prayer groups, Helping Hands, the Knights, volunteering at Jackson House and on and on.  I am so thankful that enough of us chose to participate in Perpetual Adoration to make it yet another path to grow in our love, hope and trust in God.  Even if you can’t commit to an hour a week, we truly need substitutes and hope that you’ll consider trying the experience!  It’s a chance to stretch your spiritual wings and you will be supporting your fellow parishioners who find it a worthwhile ministry.