Sunday, November 08, 2015

Fr. Perrone: "We are just about the last holdout for [the Forty Hours Devotion], mandatory in all parishes at one time."

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, November 8, 2015):
Our parish Forty Hours Devotion opens this coming Friday and will conclude next Sunday at the conclusion of the noon Mass. The schedule will be as follows: · FRIDAY November 13th, 7:30 a.m. Mass with procession of the Blessed Sacrament following; evening Benediction at 8:30 p.m. · SATURDAY November 14th, opening Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 a.m. at the high altar with a Mass for Peace at the side altar; evening Benediction at 8:30 p.m. · SUNDAY November 15th, exposition at 6:00 a.m. and then between the Masses; closing noon Mass with Procession and Litany following the Mass.

Times have changed. Our Catholic world, once so predictable and so stable, is moving through a dark period. While I do not intend to persist in that theme, it should be admitted openly, if only to try to redress the situation by encouraging a more firm faith and a greater personal fidelity. Our parish, along with the rest of the Church, is feeling the stress.

I bring this up in the context of our Forty Hours Devotion. We are just about the last holdout for this Eucharistic practice, mandatory in all parishes at one time. I wonder whether we should perhaps abandon the annual practice ourselves. True, we have an adoration chapel where our Lord is daily honored in the Holy Sacrament, though the number of adorers is not overly impressive. In fact, we have some hours when people are not fulfilling their pledged adoration time. Reasons for this can be substantial and, knowing that it is a sacrifice of your good time, I cannot blame anyone for an occasional slip up there. Assumption Grotto Church has held to Eucharistic adoration in the church, and then later also in the chapel, for many, many years. Our church remains open every day (again, one of the few to do this) for this very purpose and our convent chapel is open for any who desire to pray before the exposed Sacrament. The consequence of our readiness to adore the Lord has been in good part the reason for our parish’s ‘success’ in otherwise dying city environs (our Blessed Mother’s honoring is the other). I should not continue to offer adoration times, however, if our people do not participate. I know there may be very good reasons for the sliding. Many of our people once of vibrant age and health are no longer able to be as active as formerly. Young families have great tasks of family business of all kinds to do every day: I admire their commitments and want to encourage them to keep their families intact and healthy as best they can. There are indeed some good reasons why our people may not be coming to adoration or attending the annual Forty Hours Devotion (last year’s attendance was disappointing). You need not tell me in words whether you want these Eucharistic practices to continue. You will vote with your feet, as they say–or rather, ‘with your knees.’ This is not meant to be a collective scolding (a lickin’), nor a pressure tactic to induce participation. I only need to know your wish. I will make the Lord available to you, if you want that, or if you can come visit Him. If not, I will have to accommodate to the changing times mentioned above and find a more suitable way for us to proceed.

One thing’s for sure, for all of us: we are getting busier all the time, and seemingly getting less satisfaction from it. Our lives ought to be substantially peaceful, allowing us to be reflective of our spiritual lives before the face of God. We seem however to be moving headlong towards a destructive end, as if life had no direction or little value. For my part, I want to slow things down all the more in the face of this furious whirlwind of pointless activity so that I can better prepare myself for eternity. There is a speed and complexity about modern life we cannot escape, true enough, but there are some things we can do to refuse participation in the proverbial “rat race.” While I can’t offer practical specifics for your weekly schedules, I suggest that you force yourselves to make quiet prayer time each day–even very early in the morning, or very late at night. More than a luxury, this is becoming more and more a necessity for survival in this godless world. If I myself need this–I who have fewer worldly matters to preoccupy myself than you–then you most have need of this. I’ve written on this last subject before. I return to it from time to time because the need for communing with God is growing ever more in proportion to the ever increasing pace of this mad world. Perhaps the Eucharistic adoration is something you can afford to do as a reprieve?

Fr. Perrone


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