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From the Heart of the Shepherd

By Fr. David Hottinger, PES - Pastor

From the bulletin for the Epiphany (January 07, 2024)

Parish School of Prayer, Part 3: Adoration

Ask yourself: what are the best things you could wish for those you love the most? How would you feel if you were able to give them those things, but they rejected the gift?

For Jesus, those “good things” are: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “There is one alone who is good: God” (Mt 19:17). To those whom He “loved to the end,” He promised, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (Jn 14:23). And in Luke’s Gospel: “I have come to set the world on fire,” He said, referring to the fire of His Heart, “and how I wish it were already burning!” (Lk 12:49) Or again, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13).

Unfortunately, many are not interested in asking for or receiving the Gift. At several places in the Gospels, Jesus witnesses to the great bitterness this rejection causes Him: “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly,” He declared, “But you do not want to come to me to have life.” (Jn 10:10, 5:40). And when many of His disciples decided to abandon Him, Je complained to the Twelve, ‘Don’t you also want to leave?’” (Jn 6:67) The gall Jesus tasted on the Cross was only a symbol of the bitter cup He drank all His life, on account of the fact that “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11).

Now, the vehicle by which Jesus prefers to deliver to us the abundant life of the Trinity is the Eucharist. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:54). How it must delight His Heart when a person frequents that mystery! Yet how it must pain Him when we neglect it. “Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray!” “Take and eat!” (Mt 26:40-41, 26).

Now, a parish can’t always be receiving this gift by participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass or receiving Holy Communion. But it is certainly possible that as a parish family we always or nearly always be “receiving” the gift of Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist through adoration. How eager are we to receive that gift? To be set on fire? To console His heart? To abide with Him? Look no further than our adoration commitment page. That is the gauge.

Unfortunately, at present our eagerness is waxing weak. Most hours only have one committed adorer. Some have none.

Why do I need to commit to an hour? What’s wrong with dropping in when it works for my schedule? Nothing wrong with that. But it’s because of committed adorers that the chapel is open in the first place. Drop-in adoration for the many is made possible by the sacrifice of relatively few.

Why keep the chapel open at night, when the rest of the world is sleeping? Why require that sacrifice? For one, on account of spiritual combat. Lest we forget it, the Church is always engaged in a battle to the death “against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness” (Eph 6:12). I assure you, the devil does not sleep! Just like Moses, who kept his hands raised in prayer as Joshua battled the Amalekites (Ex 17), one who generously enlists for nocturnal adoration will obtain for our parish family graces to overcome those temptations and evil spirits who prowl about especially in the nighttime hours. Second, just as Jesus called His closest friends to console Him in His agony by their presence and prayer, so He longs to have His faithful friends with Him still when everyone else has abandoned Him. And He rewards them with special graces, even if their prayer is a constant struggle to simply keep awake!

(Regarding nighttime hours, I have to say: men at the parish, the women are putting us to shame! For hours between 10pm and 5am, female adorers outnumber male 3:1. Should not the men be taking these “watches” rather than leaving them to our sisters, who run greater risks at those hours?)

Finally, what to do if a weekly hour is too much for my family? The wise men did not commit to the journey alone. I encourage all of you who do not have a regular hour to find your team of “magi”. Team up with 1-3 others. Rotate if needed. Split an hour into halves. Swap when necessary. Do whatever it takes to enable yourself to make that commitment to “receive” Jesus and the eternal life He so longs to share regularly, and to provide others with the opportunity to stumble into that stable that is our adoration chapel and discover the Treasure you are helping to keep open and available at every hour

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