A Decade of Devotion
Perpetual Adoration Marks Tenth Anniversary at St. Peter Parish
By Ric Telthorst
In the beginning, the math just didn't seem very promising. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week ---- at a minimum, Deacon Tom Whalen would need nearly 170 volunteers to get a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration program organized at St. Peter's. Starting with a list of perhaps 30 parishioners who might be interested, the numbers looked daunting indeed.
But a decade later, several hundred parish members and many others in the Jefferson City community have devoted more than 140,000 hours of prayer and reflection to the effort begun December 8, 1996 -- the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Deacon Tom made a personal commitment to visit the Blessed Sacrament following a Cursillo weekend experience in 1975. In 1986, when the Cathedral parish began Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, he signed up for one, and then two, late-night hours.
"I loved it", Tom said. "It was the very best time of my week, spending that time alone with Jesus. This resulted in a true life-changing experience for me. It was a big step up the ladder to know and do God's will."
His early attempts to begin a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration program at St. Peter's were not successful, due to limited interest from parish leadership and some logistical problems. Then in July of 1994, Deacon Tom read a book entitled The Remnant Church, about a large parish in Slidell, Louisiana. The book was written by the pastor, Monsignor Richard Carroll, who told the story of how both Cursillo and Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration had helped to revitalize their congregation.
Deacon Tom felt called to visit the church, and convinced his wife Ceil to take a detour to Louisiana en route to a Thanksgiving dinner with their son in Florida. Arriving at St. Margaret Mary Parish, the Whalens found Monsignor Carroll strolling across the parking lot. They accompanied the priest to the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament resided on the altar, with several people offering adoration.
"It was like a light bulb going on," Deacon Tom said. "We have a wonderful chapel…why can't we use ours for adoration? Using our chapel had never entered my mind. It was obvious the Holy Sprit was leading me the whole way, to show me what we could do at St. Peter."
Back home, a new pastor, Father Don Lammers, endorsed the idea. After further discussion and planning with parish leaders, Father Lammers asked the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament to send a priest to explain the program to parishioners. Father Victor Warkulwitz, a member of the Missionaries group that promotes perpetual adoration around the world, spoke at several weekend Masses. That weekend, more than 500 parishioners signed up to spend one hour each week in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The program was off the ground.
In advising parish leaders on how to best organize the program, Father Warkulwitz said the program should begin about six weeks after the sign-up weekend. The calendar indicated that date to be December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. "I believe this date was extremely providential, because Mary's intercession played a tremendous role in helping us to reach that point," Deacon Tom said.
Now ten years later, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the small basement chapel at St. Peter around the clock as hundreds of volunteers maintain a commitment to spend one hour each week with the Lord. A team of four division leaders, backed up by 24 "hour" coordinators, makes sure that someone is before the Eucharist in prayer, adoration and reflection every hour of every day.
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION: RECOVERING A CAPACITY FOR SILENCE
VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.
In his remarks, the Holy Father spoke of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which many nations including the Vatican celebrated last Thursday, and which others have liturgically moved to today. This Feast invites us, he said, "to contemplate the supreme Master of our faith: the Blessed Eucharist, the real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the altar.
"Each time a priest repeats the Eucharistic sacrifice," he added, "he lends his voice, hands and heart to Christ, Who wished to remain with us and to be the pulsating heart of the Church. But even after the celebration of the divine mysteries, the Lord Jesus remains alive in the tabernacle and, for this reason, a special form of praise of Him is Eucharistic adoration." Outside Mass, this practice "prolongs and intensifies the events of the liturgical celebration, and makes it possible to welcome Christ truly and profoundly."
Benedict XVI went on to mention the fact that "in all Christian communities a
Eucharistic procession takes place today, a unique form of public adoration of the Eucharist, enriched by the beautiful and traditional expressions of popular devotion.
"I wish to take the opportunity of today's Solemnity to recommend the practice of Eucharistic adoration to pastors and faithful. ... I am happy to note that many young people are discovering the beauty of adoration, both alone and in company. I invite priests to encourage youth groups to this end, but also to accompany them to ensure that community devotion is always appropriate and dignified, with suitable moments for silence and listening to the Word of God.
"In modern life, so often noisy and dispersive, it is more than ever important to recover the capacity for inner silence and prayer. Eucharistic adoration enables this to happen, not only around 'me,' but also in the company of the 'you' full of love that is Jesus Christ, 'God close to us'."
ANG/EUCHARISTIC ADORATION/... VIS 070611 (360)
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Has Ancient History
Perpetual adoration of the Eucharist has a long and varied history in the Church. The earliest roots of the devotion can be traced to about the fourth century when early hermits and Desert Fathers, beginning perhaps with St. Anthony, began taking the consecrated Host to the caves where they lived. From the eleventh century on, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle became more and more prevalent in the Church, with members of religious orders of men and women keeping the practice alive throughout Europe.
In the thirteenth century, Pope Urban IV began the feast of Corpus Christi, and asked Thomas Aquinas to compose the Liturgy of the Hours for use during the devotion. Following the Council of Trent, which reaffirmed the Church's doctrine of the Real Presence, the practice of perpetual adoration began to spread throughout the Church.
Pope Clement VIII furthered adoration of the Eucharist in 1592 with the establishment of the Forty Hours devotion of continual prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. Begun first in Milan, Italy, the devotion gradually spread worldwide.