168 hours – Can you not spend one with Me?
I am writing this week’s ”Corner” reflection on St. Valentine’s Day, which one year ago was also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This year Lent begins a full three weeks later, on March 6th. The plus is we have more time to prepare for our 40-day season of Spiritual self-improvement. The ideal pattern Our Lord has presented, to help us accomplish this self-improvement, is that of committing to … Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. This recommended “Trio” might sound uninspiring, ‘old-fashioned’ and out of date…or even boring. But those are the negative thoughts, implanted by the ‘father of lies’, Satan. They are thoughts that he wants all of us to embrace. If personal, spiritual good, growth and strength, are what results from these disciplines, you can bet that Satan wants you to reject that plan given to us by our Savior.
I would contend that the three Lenten commitments mentioned above, can be very effectively directed, this year, to be in concert with our existing Parish-Wide Challenges. Beginning with “Prayer”, there’s nothing really innovative here, as we have been kindly instructed by Jesus Himself, “To pray always!” And hopefully we are all obedient on that score. I intend to expand upon all three of these disciplines in succeeding “Corners”. Traditionally, Catholic prayers fall into four types:
- Adoration: in which we praise and give glory to God…because…He is God!
- Contrition: Asking for God’s forgiveness.
- Petition: Asking God for a favor.
- Thanksgiving: Showing God our gratitude.
Our Adoration Guild ministry leaders are currently working “overtime” to convince more parishioners of the tremendous benefits to their Faith, their Peace, and the sense of Spiritual well-being that will ensue, once they dedicate an hour a week to adoring the Real Presence of our Savior. Our Adoration Guild Team has really been working hard to assure that we obtain the two-parishioner minimum number of adorers required for every hour of our 31 ½ consecutive hours of Friday and Saturday Eucharistic exposition.
It has often been cited that Adoration of the Real Presence of our Savior should not be a focus on what we can get out of it; but what we can receive. Graces certainly do abound from our Adoration, however our minds should be focused on the fact that our Lord has provided us with the gift of His Real Presence to be our Intercessor with the Father here on earth, until He comes again. He is present…so that we may adore Him. My brothers and sisters that is also what the Mass is for. So many comment on what they do or don’t… “get out of the Mass”. Christ is made present for us to praise, thank, worship, and adore. The Mass was given to us, by Jesus, so that God may get something out of it…from us. I realize this is a difficult mindset to embrace, but embrace it we must. Adoration is an extension of the praise and intimacy we present to God in every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
It has been on my mind to remind us all, of the many Marian apparitions that have taken place in our modern times. We had Fatima in 1917, Garabandal in 1961, Akita in 1973, and Medjugorje in 1981. Many of us recently watched the inspirational new movie “Garabandal”, which gave an account of Our Lady’s signs and messages that were given to the four young girls, to be relayed to all of us Catholics. A common subject in all of her apparition messages has been… for all of us to pray the Rosary every day for poor sinners, and to take care to spend time adoring her Son in the Tabernacles throughout the world. I find it noteworthy that prayer given to us by the Angel, at Fatima (through the 3 children) specifically highlighted how greatly Our Lord is offended by “the Indifference” shown towards His Real Presence in the Tabernacle. I read that as being apathetic, not caring, and actually… not really believing that He is there, just as He promised. And, Mama Mary has told us, at all of her recent apparitions, that her Son is truly present there, and He is lonely, longing for you and me to spend some precious time with Him. It’s our call. Do we truly believe? The additional 7 ½ hours of Adoration on Saturdays, that were added after the first of the year, have been made possible by a great number of parishioners who are actually dedicating two or more hours each weekend to fill in for those who could (but have decided not to) commit. There is an insert in today’s bulletin providing information about the structure of the Adoration Guild, along with an explanation of the new security code parameters. With our continuing goal being…to provide for Perpetual Adoration, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we obviously need more parishioners to commit to at least one hour a week to adore and give praise to our Lord. There have been a great many parishioners who have been attending Adoration quite regularly, taking advantage of that blessing, but have failed to give our Lord a commitment to cover one hour. Like in the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord poses the question to each of us… “Could you not spend one hour with me?” Please prayerfully consider doing that for your Lenten resolution. Our Lord has given us 168 hours in a week. Surely, we can give one of them back to Jesus.
In forthcoming “Corners, I will address the merits of the other two: the oft-maligned and disregarded encouragements to “Fast”, citing the merits and the pros and cons of undertaking this discipline, and last, but not least, is the meritorious discipline of “Almsgiving. This discipline is really a year-round element of being a good steward, that was taught and modeled by Christ himself. The common denominator, for all three of these Lenten undertakings, is one of making a Sacrifice to offer to God. These involve a sacrifice of our time for our prayer; a sacrifice of our appetite and physical comfort in fasting, and a sacrifice of our treasure in our alms giving.
Mary, Mother of the Eucharistic Lord, pray for us,