June 23, 2019 - Pastor Message07/17/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 17: THE HOLY HOUR “Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, ‘Were you not able to keep watch with me for one hour?’” (Matthew 26:40).
As mentioned in last week’s column, as part of our Year of Prayer, we will institute the practice of a monthly holy hour here at St. Boniface, beginning this month on June 27th at 6:00 PM. Holy hours, with the rite of Eucharistic exposition and benediction, will be held the last Thursday of every month, excluding November, due to Thanksgiving, for the rest of the year. As we begin this devotion, it would be helpful to reflect on just what a holy hour is and where the devotion originated.
The practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament after Masses began very early in the life of the Church, primarily for the purpose of bringing Holy Communion to the sick and imprisoned. However, as early as the 2nd century, monks began reserving the Blessed Sacrament in their cells and monasteries for devotional purposes as well, even carrying it on their persons as they went about their daily work. In the middle ages, in response to heresies that denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Eucharistic devotion became widespread, and the Council of Trent in the 16th century helped establish formal rituals for Eucharistic adoration.
In the 17th century, Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Carmelite nun from France, was deep in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament when she received a series of visions. Jesus appeared to her, telling her of his great love for human beings and revealing to her the image of his Sacred Heart. He also instructed her to spread the devotions of Holy Communion for the reparation of sins the first Friday of every month and a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration every Thursday for the same purpose. These days correspond to his own hour of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died, Thursday, and his crucifixion on Friday. Originally, therefore, the practice of making a holy hour was tied to devotion to the Sacred Heart. In time, however, the practice became more widespread, and people are now encouraged to make a holy hour anytime for any intentions.
On this feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, it is good for us to renew our own faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by committing as a parish and as individuals to spending more time in prayer with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, particularly at our monthly holy hours. You need not stay a whole hour. Come when you can and leave when you must, but take advantage of this opportunity to grow in your communion with the Lord. He has come to be with us in the Eucharist; come and be with him in Eucharistic adoration.
Fr. Marc Stockton