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From the Heart of the Shepherd

By Fr. David Hottinger, PES - Pastor


From the bulletin for the Fifth Sunday in Lent (Mar 17, 2024)


Parish School of Prayer, Pt 5: Noctural Adoration


In January’s installment, we tip-toed into the ocean of Eucharistic Adoration. In this time of prayer, fasting, and works of mercy, we go deeper with a way of adoration that involves all three: nighttime adoration. Fasting from sleep. Praying in that intimate heart-to-heart encounter with the lonely Christ. And obtaining from His bursting Heart abundant mercies for whomever we choose to mention in His presence. 


Nocturnal adoration was a catalyst for my own walk with the Lord. But now that I can visit him every night in my PJs, without leaving the rectory (and try to each night, however briefly), I don’t think that my testimony will be very compelling. Not compared to that of heroic parishioners who rise in the night, return to their street clothes, and brave the elements to be with the Lord when the world sleeps, purchasing that privilege at a high cost. Here, therefore, are a few anonymous testimonials from some nightime adorers at the St. Mary “Chapel of Love.”


Nighttime adoration is sacred,” says one. “Getting up in the middle of the night to see Jesus really makes it about a Person.” Drop-in adoration at our convenience is a real treat. But having a fixed hour–an inconvenient hour–when He is waiting for us, when we might let Him down… that’s an encounter. Perhaps a tryst.


In the words of another parish Watchmen, “Christ asks us if we couldn’t stay awake with Him one hour. By taking away a mere sixty minutes from distractions, I can sit face to face with the Creator of the Universe in the perfect silence of the wee hours. This adds structure to my prayer life and frees me to pray without the ever-present hustle and bustle of the daylight hours.”


But when I’m sleepy I don’t pray well! some might object. All the better, says an adorer. “I used to think that prayer is what I did in God’s presence.There is nothing like nighttime adoration to cure us of that illusion. Nighttime adoration is humbling. We confront our nothingness and His transcendence. To persevere, one must learn to renounce trust in ourselves and let Him do the praying in us. To cast our weakness into the forge of His transforming love. 


But self-improvement is not exactly the goal, argues another. “Nighttime adoration is not all joy and ease. It's not about 'doing what's good,' or even about doing it ‘well,’ or coming out ‘better.’ It's a relationship. Where we abandon ourselves, without seeing, knowing it will cost, but because it is the Holy One who calls. Who draws us into that awful darkness, and yet it is because we are drawn. It's about Jacob wrestling all night for a blessing, coming out with a limp along with it. It's about the Bride searching for her Beloved, about the disciples falling asleep. It's the Lord searching for His people, Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus in Gethsemane. A union where suffering meets. And suffering is most felt in darkness. When one is vulnerable, stripped of the strength once had.” 


This concords with the sentiments of the last local lover of the Lord whom we will quote, who, in her desire to attract more to the hidden Treasure, expresses herself poetically: 


I awake.  In the depths of the vast silence of night, you call. In hallowed moments, caught between death & life, twilight and dawn, I am held.


“Come!”


“My LORD, why call this little child? My limbs are heavy; My heart slumbers. My soul is borne down with sorrows. What can this little child do?”


COME!”  I go.


A hand at the lattice of Your garden. “Here I am. You called, Love. What will you have of me? … My Lord? … I will stand watch here until you bless me. If I leave only with the assurance of honoring you, I know I have not waited in vain.”


He speaks. “My child, look not away, let not your head droop. Ask of Me, and I will keep it raised. Ask of Me, and I will give you all the riches of my Heart! 


“Come; Come close… Let me gaze upon you. Let me delight in your presence; How I long for you to be before me! Lift your eyes to mine and let our hearts become one. 


My littlest one, be still, and know that I AM your God. I have drawn you here so that I may whisper unto your heart the secrets of Mine. Words you may not yet have ears to hear, yet which nevertheless do not fail to have their effect. For it is now, when you are before me in this utter weakness of your humanity, that your heart quivers under my Breath. Abandon yourself to the One who Loves you!


“O my King, my Lord, my God, Your Word is far above me, and night presses upon me. But let our hearts be one…”


I return. “I must go now, Jesus –it will be day soon.”


“Yes my child, go and sleep in peace. I know your need, and I will fill your weakness with my strength forevermore. Go, my child, my blessing rests upon you. Carry it to others.”




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