by Fr Billy Swan
I recently gave a talk to a group of promoters of Eucharistic Adoration here in my diocese. I shared with them a few thoughts on how we might spend a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
The first twenty minutes before the Lord really present in the Eucharist is a sacred time between me and Him. It is a time to just be present to our God who welcomes us and accepts us. In the words of the holy Cure of Ars, it is a time when ‘I look at Him and he looks at me’. Before the Eucharist is a time to lean on Jesus’ breast, like John did at the last supper and to allow his heart to speak to ours. This was the episcopal motto of Blessed John Henry Newman – ‘cor ad cor loquitur…heart speaks to heart’. Here is the zone into which we are drawn in the first third of our holy hour where our heart speaks to his. It is also a time when we listen to him and allow him to speak to us. This is a time when we can tell him everything about how we are and how we feel. It is a time to tell him about our day and to ask his help in ways in which we need it. Above all it is a time to thank the Lord for his presence and action in our lives and to adore him for his goodness, kindness and mercy. It is also an opportunity to present to him the things we don’t understand, our failings and the worries that burden us. In this first third of our holy hour, we bask in the light of his love that never fails us.
The second twenty minutes can be a time when we intercede for all the people we know and are part of our lives. At this stage of our prayer, we bring to the Lord all who have asked us to pray for them, our families and friends both living and dead. In this time we pray for all we have met in the past day or week, the conversations we had, the things we have said and done. Often during this time in the holy hour, some person will arise in our minds who we feel the Lord is calling us to reach out to, to contact or to visit. It is also a time to focus on what lies ahead – our next appointment, our next challenge or perhaps a courageous conversation we need to have with someone. In this time of prayer, our hearts are reminded of our call to love others in Christ’s name and that the same Lord before us in the Eucharist is the same Lord present in everyone.
The final twenty minutes can be a time when we pray for the entire human family and the whole universe. So we might pray for persecuted Christians around the world, for the victims of famine in Yemen and an end to the conflict there. We might pray for the Church around the world, for the Holy Father on a foreign visit or for all missionaries away from home. We might pray for the environment, for the care of the earth and think of ways to conserve more and consume less. Finally we pray in this time for the peace among all nations for which Jesus lived and died – and that it might become a reality in our troubled world today.
There are many ways of praying but sometimes we need a little guidance. Above is a guide for a holy hour of adoration before the Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. It starts off with us but ends with prayer that enfolds the whole of creation. In this way we partake in Christ’s priesthood that lovingly embraces every individual but extends to the entire cosmos we inhabit.