Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Holy Hour

I'm supposed to be sleeping now after a relaxing warm bath and I need to recharge my body for another challenging day that awaits tomorrow but my spirit tells me otherwise. My physical body may seem tired but my spirit seems to be rejuvenated like no other. 

After work, I usually run errands for my family like going to the grocery store whenever my mom forgets to buy something, she calls me up to say "anak bili ka naman ng patis, saging, petchay sa H-mart or Kroger aka tindahan ni Aling Nena or anak pakikuha mo naman gamot ko sa Publix pharmacy. Another errand I do for them is picking up my sisters after school from the bus stop. Also, usually after work, since Christmas is already in the air, I frequently swing by department stores to fulfill my checklist of Christmas gifts to friends and family. Actually, I'm almost done with my shopping as I started hustling shops since Black Friday. hehehe. So today, I left work without getting a call from my mom, without picking up my sisters as they both didn't have classes today, and without a bit of interest to shop and spend money. I left work and told myself "I am going to have my 'ME' time tonight!"  

Off I went to a place I thought I can slow down from all the hustle and bustle of my simple yet swamped life. I went to Eucharistic Adoration at my own parish to do "Holy Hour".  

For those who are not familiar with Adoration chapel juxtaposed with Holy Hour, let me enlist the help of the ever reliable Mr. Wikipedia. 

Eucharistic adoration is a practice in the Roman Catholic, Anglo Catholic and Lutheran traditions, in which the Blessed Sacraments exposed and adored by the faithful. Adoration is a sign of devotion to and worship of Jesus Christ, who is believed by Catholics to be present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearance of the consecrated host, in the form of hosts or bread. As a devotion, Eucharistic adoration and meditation are more than merely looking at the Blessed Host, but are believed to be a continuation of what was celebrated in the Eucharist.

Holy Hour is the Roman Catholic devotional tradition of spending an hour in Eucharistic adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The inspiration for the Holy Hour is Matthew 26:40. In the Gospel of Matthew, during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:38) Returning to the disciples after prayer, he found them asleep and in Matthew 26:40 he asked Peter "So, could you men not keep watch with me for an hour?".

Before, when my grandparents were still alive, I would go with them to the adoration chapel so early on Saturdays. However, I have not felt back then what I felt today. Maybe because it is only now that I fully grasp how to do the holy hour fruitfully. In our small group, we draw challenges every time we meet. Challenges like to do random acts of kindness, go to daily mass, listen to only christian music, be a vegetarian, write a Christian song, etc. and one of them is to go to adoration. To prepare for when I get that challenge to go to adoration, I did a bit of research and thus my knowledge of the holy hour arose. So I googled it and this popped out first amidst the list. 


By Fr. John P. Grigus, OFM Conv

The essence of our call to conversion continues to be reflected in the words which God spoke to his people of old through Moses: "Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy" (Lev 19:2). And in his encyclical letter on the Eucharist issued in 1965 and entitled, Mystery of Faith, Paul VI said that "The most efficacious way of growing in holiness is time spent with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament." The fruit of this belief has been attested to by many in recent times through the practice of opening chapels of adoration in parishes so that ordinary, common folks can spend at least an hour a week (a "holy hour") before the Eucharist presence of Our Lord reposed in a tabernacle or exposed on an altar.

One resistance to making a commitment to such a "holy hour" is a fear, present especially within those who are not used to spending regular quiet time in prayer, of not knowing what to do during that hour.

The following are suggestions adapted from a Marytown publication on how one may go about arranging one’s "holy hour" in such a way as to make it more spiritually meaningful and fruitful.

The first suggestion is: DIVIDE THE HOLY HOUR into four 15minute periods.

It is essential to take sufficient time to really visualize the purpose in each period. Do not proceed till you have made that particular purpose clear and definite.

The second suggestion is: for that first 15 minute period dedicate it to a REALIZATION OF WHO IS PRESENT in the Holy Eucharist.

Think of the marvel of this great reality: Christ, the God-Man, is truly present in his divinity as well as his humanity, body and soul. Even substantially present: not just the presence of God but the presence of God as the God-Man via the substance of bread and wine changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Think of it until there is in your soul a response of wonder ("is it possible?" "How can that be?" and yet "it is true") and admiration (how wonderful: Jesus is really, truly present here!).

Make use of some familiar prayers and songs of adoration usually found in any church missalette to reflect more deeply on that presence, such as "Down in Adoration Falling ..." " Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," the "Holy, Holy, Holy" of the Mass, "Now Praise We All Our God," or any Benediction hymn. Read the words slowly, with great, deep understanding, making them express the sentiments of your own heart.

A suggestion for the second 15 minutes: devote the time to thoughts and prayers of THANKSGIVING to God as you grasp the wonder of who is present Really: God is with us! The Emmanuel of Christmas.

Momentarily give some fresh thought to the fact: God is with us in this special, most remarkable way. Now let words of thanksgiving rise up in your soul, or just simply give thanks to God for his presence here in such a remarkable way. Thank God for the great Sacrament of the Priesthood and for vocations by which he perpetuates his presence in the Holy Eucharist.

In a parallel situation think of our Blessed Mother's joy when she realized that Christ, the great Messiah, was present within her, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Realize how the same Jesus who was present there in Mary’s body is now here hidden under the form of bread.

You might also take some time to recall and thank God for other special blessings and wonders of God: your family, vocation, gift life, opportunity to be in his Presence, special friends, etc. Thank him for his love for you, for his unfailing help in trials and difficulties.

A suggestion for the next 15 minutes: Dedicate this to PETITION.

First of all, ask Jesus here present in the Holy Eucharist for the grace that is dearest to him, the grace he wants most for you and others: the great blessing of redemption and eternal salvation.

- Just think, for some time what that means ... for you, for each member of your family, your friends, people of you neighborhood and parish, for all mankind.

- Think of how marvelous that would be if all would be so blessed: to be in heaven for all eternity!

- Pray for that! Beg for it: the fulfillment of Christ's greatest desire and the main reason for his coming, for which he is present here – "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:28).

Pray for conversions. Pray for particular people, those who are away from the Church and the Sacraments. Pray for the sick and lonely, the discouraged, our youth, the unborn, our country, its leaders. Pray for our Holy Father, and for all priests and religious... Pray for vocations to complete the work of Christ. Pray for the grace to know the will of God always in your own life. Pray for peace, God's peace in the hearts of all.

Dedicate the last 15 minutes of the Holy Hour to ATONEMENT.

Why atonement? A look into one's own conscience and the conscience of the world gives the answer. A mere glance at headlines and you see insults, blasphemies, defiance thrown by man into the face of God, the injuries of man to man. Think of the sins of injustice that cry to heaven for vengeance, the sins against life, the slurs and insults against the virginity and Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother, the sins of disregard, of refusal to recognize and obey the Holy Father, Christ's own spokesman and Vicar on earth.

You might wish to express your thoughts of sorrow for all these sins. You may do so in your own words or make us of the liturgical words of the "Lord, have mercy," the "Lamb of God" or the hymn "O Lord, I am not worthy." You might pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Litanies of the Sacred Heart or of the Holy Name of Jesus. Also most appropriate is the Litany of our Blessed Mother, asking her under all her titles of honor and power to "pray for all of us." The Litany of the Saints and the Prayer to Saint Michael could be expressive of the hopes in your heart.

A slow, thoughtful saying of the Rosary would be very helpful during any phase of a Holy Hour. With our Blessed Mother and with Christ present there before you in the Holy Eucharist, recall and consider those events in his life. Ponder all those things in your heart as you ask our Blessed Mother to pray for us.

I followed the guide (you can opt not to follow this guide cos there are really no rules in praying, however it would truly help especially for people who are new to Eucharistic Adoration, like me), did what it suggested, and after I finished, looked at my watch and indeed, it took me exactly an hour without even realizing it. The hour went by so fast. It's my first time experiencing adoration by myself in Jesus' sanctuary so extraordinarily. It was awesome! If only I can put all the details of what I felt and saw in the stillness in God's holy presence into words I would but it's unexplainable. It's in the safekeeping of my heart though. But I will tell you, tears ran down my cheeks! Maybe because I couldn't believe how loved I felt by Him despite of my unworthiness. Maybe because I was just happy and grateful for all the blessings he'd showered upon me. Maybe because I felt the pain of those people who are lost in spirit, those who are ill, those who have conflicts in their relationships, people desperately looking for their heart's contentment and not God's, people who lost all they had even their loved ones from calamities, and here I was, truly just blessed, perfectly complete and well because of the Immanuel, God is with me, the everlasting and all powerful God. In return, I pray that I can do this quite more often and visit that blessed place to show the awesome guy up there how I truly appreciate His love for me.
I pray you find this blog helpful, as always. May you have a fulfilling and rewarding ME time like I did. Especially that the season calls us to be quite busy with all the preparations for Christmas, may we never forget that Christmas is Christ's birth and He is basically the reason of the season. May we find time to slow down and think of how we can incorporate Christ in our celebration. 


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