Saturday, August 05, 2006
Down in adoration falling
Earlier today, I posted about a surprise I found on the internet. Fr. Benedict Groeschel is participating in this year's 40 hour devotion for the Diocese of Scranton at St. Peter's Cathedral. Some might not be familiar with this ancient devotion, but essentially it goes like this.
The Blessed Sacrament (Eucharist) is exposed for adoration in the church for 40 hours, which symbolizes the time between the last supper and the Resurrection. The faithful come to pray in front of our Lord a certain set of prayers at least once during the 40 hours and receive an indulgence for doing so.
Tonight was my first adoration experience. And what a way to start. I purposely arrived a half hour early for some quiet time before the actual devotional service started. Throughout the day people had been coming and going, individually spending time with our Lord in the Cathedral. But by now a sizeable crowd was arriving. Later, Fr. Charles Connor would mention that he said to his fellow priests "Friday is Friday, so we'll see how many people show up when the time comes." He was very happy to note to us that appparently we ignored that it was Friday and came to church instead. Truly, there must have been several hundred people there. It was wonderful. Almost everyone on their knees in silence before the Blessed Sacrament. Occasionally, you could hear the clacking of rosary beads around you. A welcome sound for sure.
As the time came closer for the service to start, I turned behind me and saw lots of nuns in full habit behind me, and some of the Fransican Friars of the Renewal. But then out of that crowd I saw sitting in a wheel chair Fr. Benedict EYES WIDE staring at the monstrance. Amazing. It was like he couldn't tear his eyes away, like a deer in headlights. This was a man truly in the prescence of his Lord.
I turned back around to focus my thoughts and say my prayers. I prayed for the intentions of many of my friends, the Holy Father, and yes, even SQPN! Of course, I followed the proper 40 hour devotion prayers - the correct number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, with the extras too . Trying to put this in words, my first adoration experience, with so many people, so many priests, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel behind me wide eyed, all so intently focused and in prayer, is a feat that I could never achieve if I had all the space in the world. It is one of those experiences I will take with me forever.
When the procession began I was pleased to have the pleasant and comfortingly familiar smell of incense walk by me. The line of priests was impressive. Along with the Auxiliary Bishop, Fr. Benedict, and Fr. Charles Connor (of EWTN fame as well), there must have been a dozen other priests from different orders as well as diocesan. Fr. Connor led us in the Rosary after the opening hymn and then Fr. Benedict gave his sermon.
It was tremendous. He is so soft spoken and yet able to captivate a room like no other. He exorted us to reform the Church by focusing our hearts on the Eucharist and devotion to it. Anything I write could never do his talk justice. So I will have to stop here.
I came away from this experience with a natural smile on my face. Real joy. In fact, I could not help but looking like a grinning idiot walking out of that Cathedral. I had an incredible feeling of peace and (I'll say it again) pure joy.
Not being confirmed yet, I am not able to receive communion or take part in the sacrament of penance. However, if I can receive such grace by just being in the presence of our Lord I cannot wait until I can actually partake of this most Blessed Sacrament.