Forty Hours Devotion at Holy Cross Parish

I’m pleased to continue to share with you highlights of the Forty Hours Devotion that Holy Cross Parish celebrated last fall as part of our parish observance of the national Eucharistic Revival. In my previous two articles, I gave an overview of our Forty Hours and a more detailed explanation of the Eucharistic Procession that began our Forty Hours Devotion.

Another exciting part of our Forty Hours was the holy hour of Adoration in which the various grades of our school students participated during those two days. Each holy hour was tailored for the grade level that visited the church. For example, the Teen Guide to Eucharistic Adoration, published by St. Louis Catholic Youth Ministry, was adapted for use with our junior high grades. The guide begins with a quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth.” The guide explains that “Adoration helps to strengthen the spiritual gifts of Reverence (Piety) and Wonder and Awe (Fear of the Lord): the understanding that God is God, and I am not.” During the holy hour, the students were led through a guided meditation on God’s presence in their lives, and a Bible reading and sharing. They visited the Stations of the Cross and participated in a walking tour of the church, during which the statues, votive candles, stained glass windows, and other parts of the church were explained.

The lower grades were led through a quiet meditation, followed by time to write or draw a response to the meditation, which they placed in a basket at the altar. They prayed the Rosary and had a walking tour of the church. The youngest grades also formed a circle around the altar and worked on a coloring sheet related to Adoration. They participated in Stations of the Cross in the courtyard between the church and school, which has outdoor wooden representations of the fourteen stations.

Some parents attended the holy hour in which their children participated, and the lunch periods were covered by school staff members, giving them an opportunity to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Parishioners covered the hours before and after school, while some parishioners visited the Blessed Sacrament during the hours covered by the students. 

The students responded very positively to these holy hours of Adoration. Our students have been participating in a brief, twenty-minute Adoration once a month for the past couple of years and so have become accustomed to extended time for quiet, personal prayer in the church. The older students, in particular, seem to appreciate that time when they have the quiet to look at their lives in a serious manner.

We also offered a holy hour of Adoration for parish families with young children, led by our director of children’s catechesis. Children gathered in the sanctuary around the Blessed Sacrament where they participated in song and praise, scripture readings and reflections, and coloring Adoration-themed coloring sheets aided by their parents, a nice family-oriented Adoration.

My hope is that our parish and school children grew closer to Jesus in the Eucharist, and most especially in their lives, through these holy hours of Adoration, as well as through our weekly school Mass and monthly Adoration. Approximately 40% of our children are not Catholic, so these Eucharistic moments are also opportunities for evangelization among our non-Catholics. In the past few years, we have had a couple of students each year receive their initiation sacraments at the Easter Vigil. The motivation for most of them was their desire to receive First Communion with their Catholic classmates. Technically, they received it at the Easter Vigil, but they also participated in the First Communion Mass. This year, we have six children preparing to receive their initiation sacraments at the Vigil.

God’s grace is at work in our parish and school community this year through the Eucharistic Revival. My prayer as pastor is that the fruits of the Revival will continue to grow within our parishioners and school children, assisting us to become more fully the body of Christ which we, as Church, are called to be.

Published on February 21, 2024

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