What Is Perpetual Adoration?
WHAT IS PERPETUAL ADORATION?
Perpetual Adoration is a Eucharistic devotion whereby members of a given parish (or other entity) unite in taking hours of adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament (in most cases, exposed), both during the day and throughout the night, seven days a week.
Is Perpetual Adoration the only type of Eucharist adoration apart from the Mass?
No, it is not. There are many types of adoration programs, such as day adoration, First Friday to the First Saturday, weekend retreats, etc. However, the ideal and grace-laden program both for the parish and individual members is the full-time, permanent adoration of our Lord exposed in a monstrance in which adorers commit themselves to at least one assigned hour each week.
Besides the fact that more adoration hours will be made in Perpetual Adoration, are there any other reasons why this form of adoration is more successful than the traditional First Friday adoration?
Some pastors think that there will not be enough people interested because only a handful respond to First Friday Eucharistic Adoration. For some reason, parishioners are far more responsive to perpetual Adoration than to First Friday devotion. One practical reason for this responsiveness is that a person has any hour of the week to choose from. Another reason is that Perpetual Adoration appeals to our faith. Perpetual Adoration is an authentic witness to our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Perpetual Adoration is putting our faith into action. This ideal form of witness to our faith is very attractive to people who live in such a false, shallow, hypocritical world. When a pastor offers the opportunity of Perpetual Adoration to the people they perceive the importance of the Real Presence and the seriousness involved in responding to our Lord's love in the Blessed Sacrament. People have a "take it or leave it" attitude toward First Friday devotion because if we truly believe that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament, then we would do far more than make our Lord available to the people once a month.
Why is exposition in the monstrance preferred?
To see Jesus visibly present under the appearance of the small white host is much more conducive to intimacy than hidden away in the tabernacle. Moreover, it adds an extra responsibility on the adorers to be sure to be faithful to the hours they are scheduled, since the suggested norm for having Jesus exposed in the monstrance is that there should be at least two adorers present, and He must never be left alone. Could not these words of our Lord be applied today: "Indeed, this is the will of My heavenly Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son, and believes in Him, shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day."
What are some good reasons for establishing Perpetual Adoration?
To provide an easy, attractive, and practical way of rendering God adoration which is His due as our Creator of giving Him thanks for our redemption of making reparation for our sins and the sins of mankind; of petitioning the good God for the constant help we need.
To show our gratitude to our Lord for remaining among us in our tabernacles, and to make at least some atonement for the many sacrileges, indifferences, and ingratitude which He receives in His Sacrament of Love.
What spiritual benefits and graces can be attributed to the establishment of a parish Perpetual Adoration program?
* an increase in Mass attendance and reception of the sacraments; * return of fallen-away Catholics and increase in the number of conversions; * increase in religions and priestly vocations; * renewal of Catholic family life; * spiritual level of the people is raised with a resulting desire and courage to spread the "good news" to others; * a greater community spirit, centered as it is on the heart of the parish, Jesus' presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
How should one go about establishing a Perpetual Adoration program in one's parish?
* Pray to Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament to obtain this great grace for your parish. * Do everything with the knowledge and permission of the pastor, assuring that it will not involve more work for him. Remember it may be necessary to work alongside the parish council and other parish committees as the pastor advises. * Study the organizational procedures of other parishes with Perpetual Adoration programs. The Franciscan Friars of Marytown will continue in the future to have reports on such programs in their publication. * Interest existing organizations such as the parish council, parish prayer groups, the Holy Name Society, Saint Vincent de Paul Society-- to support the program by supplying leaders who will help organize and run the program.
What if one encounters a certain reluctance or even opposition when proposing a parish adoration program?
First and foremost in dealing with such a problem is not to impute bad will to those who question or even oppose such a great spiritual benefit as Eucharist adoration. Since Vatican II, much confusion exists within the Church in regard to Catholic teaching and liturgical reform. Name calling and categorizing will only increase opposition. Though there may be some confusion as to who has the last word in a particular parish, there is little doubt that a pastor with a strong and effective parish council would not want to go against this very valuable means of authentic spiritual renewal which involves great participation of the laity. Thus, it is vital that each member of the council or a particular parish committee be acquainted with the many advantages of an adoration program and that it is in full accord with Catholic teachings and liturgical directives. If the organization in which the pastor exercises his God-given authority is anything but enthusiastic, one should have recourse to prayer and some form of personal penance. If after a period of time there seems to be little hope, one may propose establishing another form of Eucharistic adoration, such as a weekly holy hour, monthly day of adoration, etc. In time and with a positive response from others, those opposed to Perpetual Adoration may recognize its vital importance in the Church today.
Besides prayer for the success of the program, what is the most important single factor in a successful adoration program?
The wholehearted support and encouragement of the pastor or assistant pastor. Announcements from the pulpit and bulletin notices from the pastor are a must in the successful inauguration of any adoration program. An occasional announcement or sermon and periodically having a guest speaker preach on the need and value of Eucharistic Adoration will serve to keep up the interest and enthusiasm. Short articles and personal testimonies in the weekly bulletins may serve as an ideal way to instruct and inspire people, too. Excerpts may be taken from this magazine and other Eucharistic publications. Above all else, there is nothing as inspiring to parishioners as the pastor, priests, and deacons of the parish setting an example by making holy hours themselves. As the late Pope Pius XII pointed out to the Roman clergy, "If you want the faithful to pray willingly and piously, precede them in the church with your example, praying for them. A priest kneeling before the tabernacle in a dignified attitude, in profound contemplation, is a model of edification for the people, an admonishment and an invitation of emulation in prayer."
Who is responsible for organizing a Perpetual Adoration program?
Vatican Council II had emphasized the importance of lay involvement in the Church's mission. It is the team principle of laity doing the foot work, but always keeping the pastor informed that makes an adoration program work. It is important that from its very inception that pastors and parish clergy be assured that it does not mean their taking on extra work in an already busy schedule.
How is Perpetual Adoration organized in a parish?
The parish is divided into twenty-four groups or teams corresponding to the twenty-four hours of the day. Each member in a particular group is scheduled for a different day of the week. A captain or coordinator or contact person is chosen from each of the groups to make sure that each hour is covered throughout the week. If someone needs a substitute, they call their coordinator who calls someone else in the group who would be able to switch days with the person who needs the substitute. Some parishes have divided the responsibility of filling hours to seven day and seven night captains, the men taking the night hours and the women the day. Regardless of how this responsibility is filled, responsible group leaders are vital for a successful program.
What should be the immediate preparation in starting an adoration program?
First, sermons on the value of Eucharistic adoration at all the Sunday Masses. After the homily, a written invitation is passed out. Those wanting to participate fill out a form and place it in the collection basket at the offertory. People check which day and night period of time they would like to make their holy hour: morning, noon, evening, or night. There is also a space at the bottom of the invitation to be checked off for those who would be willing to help organize the Perpetual Adoration. A meeting is held during the week for these volunteers. During this meeting, the twenty-four or fourteen coordinators are chosen along with four people who would be responsible to make out the initial schedule. It generally takes from two to three weeks to organize Perpetual Adoration in a parish.
What is the best location for Perpetual Adoration?
The best location for Perpetual Adoration is a small chapel. A chapel can be kept warm economically in the winter. It creates a greater atmosphere for quiet intimacy with the Lord, and people generally feel more secure in a smaller place. If the church does not have a chapel, any small room can be converted into one such as an altar boys' sacristy, a crying room, a room in the rectory, convent, or parish center, are all suitable locations for a Perpetual Adoration chapel with proper security measures taken into consideration.
With all the crime, isn't it dangerous to have night adoration?
If there were more Perpetual Adoration programs, there would be less crime. Pope John Paul II pointed out that the evils of the world could be overcome through the great power of adoration of our Lord in the Eucharist.
_Wherever Jesus is adored in the Blessed Sacrament, the devil flees. Many pastors around the country have reported that since the beginning of Perpetual Adoration in their parish, the crime rate in their community has declined. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the same Lord who calmed the sea, cast out the demons, and is infinitely more powerful than all of hell combined._
Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris has had Perpetual Adoration for over a hundred years without a single incident. God's angels are more powerful than any police force on earth.
How many people are needed to have parish Perpetual Adoration?
There are one hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week. Technically, all that is needed is one hundred and sixty-eight people willing to make one holy hour on a weekly basis so that these hours can be coordinated in such a way that all hours are covered. Moreover, there is nothing to stop an adorer from making a daily holy hour. This is to be encouraged and is more common than one imagines. Realistically, however, it is better to have as many as two hundred in case of illnesses, vacations, and various situations where a person needs a substitute. There are several small parishes in the country with only one hundred and fifty to two hundred families that were able to have Perpetual Adoration. These small parishes are a wonderful example to larger ones. If they could do it, certainly others could. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, said that "our essential commitment in life is to persevere and advance constantly in Eucharistic life and piety and to grow spiritually in the climate of the Holy Eucharist."
How does one spend an hour before Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament?
This hour Jesus wants you to spend with Him is spent any way you want. You may bring your own prayer books, use the books in the chapel, read the Bible, pray the rosary, or just sit and relax and enjoy the sweet peace that comes from simply being in the Presence of God. You may feel that you can't pray well. Don't let this discourage you. The mere fact that you take time out at a specific time each week to spend an hour with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament pleases Him very much and is in itself a prayer of great faith. Please remember that Perpetual Adoration is a parish is not just for a day, a week, a month, or a year. Rather, it is for always. It is not temporary, but ongoing, lasting, permanent.
How long does a parish have Perpetual Adoration?
Perpetual Adoration lasts as long as our Lord's love for us in the Blessed Sacrament lasts, which is forever. As long as Jesus loves us enough to want to be with us day and night, then we want to love Him enough to be with Him day and night. +
(The Franciscan Friars of Marytown have devoted a special fifty-six page issue of Immaculata Magazine to the Eucharist. It is available from the Conventual Friars of Marytown, 1600 West Park Avenue, Libertyville IL 60048. This article originally appeared in this issue.)