“What makes this place tick?” I quizzed the exuberant pastor as he showed me around the parish, renowned for its high rate of Sunday Mass attendance; first-rate school; excellent religious education for kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults; remarkably effective stewardship; and successful initiatives of social justice, pro-life efforts, evangelization, and neighborhood presence.
I wanted the “recipe” so I could bottle it and send it around!
“Follow me, I’ll show you,” Father replied.
Through the school, filled with kids; on to the religious ed office, where catechists were planning the evening session; into the kitchen where people were cooking casseroles for the inner city soup kitchen; then to the senior citizen center where the lunch crowd was breaking-up; through the offices where volunteers were counting the Sunday collection . . . we didn’t stop . . . the pastor kept going . . . until we reached the chapel of the former convent, where, oh, perhaps six to eight people, of diverse ages, were in quiet adoration before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist, there in the monstrance on the altar.
“We’ve had perpetual Eucharistic adoration now for four years,” the pastor whispered. “We started slowly, about seven years ago, first with a day-a-week, then seven days, twelve-hour-a-day, until we had a well-oiled system in place. For the last four years, it’s been 24/7, with at least two people assigned every hour, all volunteers, and with many, many more during the waking hours. Our prayer hotline is legendary. I’m convinced this Eucharistic adoration is the key to the vitality, growth, and effectiveness of our parish.”
That recollection came to me as I read the story recently in a national newspaper of the “International House of Prayer’s 24 Hour Worship” in Kansas City. The article explained how a neighborhood had been revived, a congregation renewed, and lives changed by non-stop prayer sponsored by a small Christian evangelical church.
“Pray always!” the Good Book tells us, and Jesus exhorted us to make sure that our prayer was patient, persistent, and persevering.
Eucharistic adoration accomplishes this. It tells the world that “we can’t give what we don’t have,” and that, if we do not constantly turn to God in prayer for His grace and mercy, we’re finished. The best thing people of faith can do is pray . . . I can’t think of a better place to do that than before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
George Weigel recently wrote of “Miracles in Soho.” This dirty, crime-ridden, pagan, Sodom and Gamorrah-like west end of London now boasts a thriving parish, St. Patrick’s, a center of help, peace, outreach, welcome, service . . . and constant prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s a paradigm for the New Evangelization, George wrote after a recent visit, filled with young people excited about their faith, all centered around our Eucharistic Lord.
I am very grateful to the dozens and dozens of parishes throughout the archdiocese that encourage and offer Eucharistic adoration, some occasional, some on given days of the week, some perpetual. May the numbers increase!
The Church is renowned for all that we do — Catholic charities, health care, schools, youth work, love, service, and evangelization — and rightly so.
But what we do must flow from who we are — people of faith, prayer, adoration, our hearts on fire with our Lord, our best friend, the way, the truth, and the life.
If what we do does not spring from who we are, we are listless and ineffective.
When the first disciples asked Jesus about following Him, He did not say, “Come do a bunch of stuff with me.” Nope – He invited them to “Come, stay with me!” Eucharistic adoration is a great way to answer that invitation.