“And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” (Mt.28:20)
The nearby parish of St Joseph’s Church, Blantyre, began their 40 Hours Adoration today. A post on their website notes that –
“From Thursday 26th of October through to Sunday 29th of October, St. Joseph’s Parish will celebrate Forty Hours Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Forty Hours Devotion can be seem as almost like a parish mini-retreat or mission. Fr. Andrew Robinson, a lecturer at Oscott College in Birmingham, will lead the prayer and reflection. Confessions are also offered and encouraged on each of the evenings. Each day, the Blessed Sacrament will be Exposed after Holy Mass and concluding with Holy Hour.”
The 40 Hours Adoration is a beautiful tradition within the Catholic Church and reminds us of the very heart of our Faith – that Jesus is risen and with us even now, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
For anyone who may be unfamiliar with this beautiful devotion, Fr William Saunders gives a lovely catechesis on what it means and the reasons for having this special period of prayer, recollection and devotion. He details the spiritual dimensions of the devotion and outlines it’s historical development, noting the Saints who propagated it in a special way.
Speaking of our great need of this particular devotion, Fr Saunders writes –
“The Forty Hours Devotion provides a wonderful opportunity for the spiritual growth of each person and the parish as a whole. In a world where temptation and evil abound, where devotion to the Mass and Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist have declined, where the practice of penance and Confession have been forgotten, we need the Forty Hours Devotion more than ever.”
I visited earlier today and was able to spend some time there with the Lord exposed in the Monstrance. As I entered, I was struck by the beauty of the daylight streaming in through the very large rear stained-glass windows, so that the Sanctuary was illuminated in wonderful shades of red, yellow, blue, pink and green – an indoor rainbow, as though nature itself was honouring her Lord.
Indeed, the entire Church looks very beautiful, a fitting place for the Lord to be honoured in a special way; the Monstrance was gleaming even amidst the many tall and elegant candles, all of them seeming to emphasise the Presence of the Lord upon the Altar.
And in that vast and airy space, beautifully lit with sunlight and with colour, there was silence.
It was long before the Confessions and evening service, so the Church was quiet – a perfect place for prayer and contemplation.
After the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I prayed the Rosary. I had taken along a little devotional book I bought recently, called ‘God Who Is Rich In Mercy’ – this provided some really lovely thoughts on the Luminous Mysteries, seeing them in terms of the Divine Mercy devotion and applying the lessons of each Mystery in a practical way. Later, it was the turn of the Sorrowful Mysteries, which served as good preparation for Confession.
In the Diary of St Faustina, there are numerous mentions of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but this one seems worth mentioning here –
“My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners.. For them, I dwell in the Tabernacle as King of Mercy..“
– ‘Divine Mercy In My Soul’(Diary of St Faustina) para.367
There is something quite heavenly about being (almost) alone in a large Church, keeping company with the Lord in the Monstrance. There, the soul can have a very intimate and direct conversation with the Lord, alternately listening and then speaking, placing everything before Him and asking Him for mercy and for graces, all the time knowing full well that He is listening intently.
All of this is itself a very great grace which He offers us time and time again, and one we would do well to treasure for the gift that it truly is.
As the shadows lengthened, the numerous points of candlelight took on greater prominence and more people began to come into the Church, ready for the meditation on the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
Tomorrow, the prayerfulness of the day will be followed in the evening by a meditation on the parable of the Prodigal Son (or, The Welcoming Father, depending on how you look at it).
I hope that over the next few days, a great many souls take up the invitation to come and spend a little time in the Presence of the Lord, to ask His mercy and His grace, and to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps.33:9).