Put Nothing Before My Love for You
After being away on my silent retreat with the Institute for Priestly Formation at Mundelein Seminary (and a little pre-retreat run around), I am so happy to come back to find that our parish has our annual Eucharistic Devotions/40 Hours beginning this Friday, November 1st at the 10:00 a.m. Mass with our day school children leading the procession and closes Sunday, November 3rd at the 6:30 p.m. Vespers with Fr. James Kulway. In all my years of Priesthood, I have never seen a parish celebrate 40 Hours like we do. Some might wonder what I mean by such a bold statement. Well, it’s not that I’m saying we have more of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it’s just that Eucharistic Devotions is a hallmark for our parish. We show up for it! If you belong to Saint Francis de Sales Parish then you know we make it a priority to set aside all other things to make certain we can participate in some part of these holy hours.
The origins of Eucharistic Adoration are not well known. One of the first references to reserving the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration is from the life of St. Basil the Great in the late fourth century. It is said that St. Basil divided the consecrated Eucharistic Bread into three parts during the Liturgy at his monastery. One part he consumed himself; the second was given to the monks; and the third portion was placed in a Golden Dove suspended above the Altar. It seems likely that this reserved portion was kept for those who were unable to attend the Liturgy because of illness or travel. When people found out about this, they felt inclined to come and pray more often there.
The practice of Eucharistic Adoration among laypeople is thought to have grown in popularity in Avignon, France, on September 11, 1226. King Louis VII, having just won a victory over the Albigensians, asked that the Blessed Sacrament be placed on display at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This exposition was so popular that the local bishop asked to have it continue indefinitely. Pope Honorius III gave his consent and the practice continued, nearly uninterrupted, until the French Revolution in 1792. The longest-running Eucharistic Adoration in the United States is with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin, who have been praying nonstop for more than 130 years. Our parish has gathered together in the hundreds for our Eucharistic Devotions since we first started it. When I first came here, I was in awe over the reverence and seriousness by which parishioners came, especially for the closing Vespers. I remember telling my Mom when I became pastor, “oh please God don’t let me blow it by messing around with 40 Hours…that is the real testament of the life of our parish.” Since then we have even grown, for now we have Eucharistic Adoration available every weekday.
I was given a book by a couple who knew of my love for Adoration that is called In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks To Heart (written anonymously by a monk). It is an amazing book that offers reflections that the author says come from the Heart of Jesus for my heart and yours. Pray with these words when you come for Adoration next weekend:
“You have only to prefer My company to every other companionship, the love of My Heart to the love of every other heart, and the sound of My voice in the silence of your soul to every other voice…You have only to abide close to Me, to seek Me before all else, and to put nothing whatsoever before My love for you and the love I have placed in your heart to love Me in return...It is enough to remain with Me, content to be in My presence as I am content to be in yours. Adore Me and trust Me to restore your energy, your health, and your joy in My service…To adore Me is to demonstrate that all your hope is in Me. To adore Me is to show Me that you count not on yourself nor on others, but on Me alone. To adore Me is to give Me the freedom to act within you and upon you in such a way as to unite you wholly to myself as you have asked Me to do: My Heart to your heart, My Soul to your soul, My Body to your body, My Blood to your blood…there is no work more precious than this work…I have not called you to build nor to organize, nor have I called you to speak much, nor have I called you to appear much in the sight of men. I have called you to a life as hidden as is My life in the Sacrament of My Love. Consent to be hidden. Let Me hide you as you hide Me in the tabernacle. My Heart is your tabernacle, and you are My host.” Pax, Fr. Bline