There are 168 hours in a week. Each week, adults on average watch about 27 to 36 hours of television, spend at least 40 hours working and about 56 hours sleeping.
Faithful Catholics devote at least an hour a week to Mass, but devoting just one more hour to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus can open up another world of spirituality during Lent.
Eleven Arkansas parishes out of 128 have perpetual Eucharistic adoration, adoring Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dozens of other parishes offer it from one hour to six days a week.
“We come to know ourselves best when we know God. And there is no greater way to know the Father than through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit within the holy Mass and then going on into Eucharistic adoration,” said Taffy Council, a well-known promoter of perpetual adoration in Arkansas.
Council, a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Benton, began her parish’s perpetual adoration program 18 years ago. Since then, she has helped several parishes throughout Arkansas, neighboring states and even as far away as California and Nova Scotia to start perpetual adoration or keep theirs afloat. She travels to speak with about three parishes a year and corresponds with more via email and phone calls.
“We come to Mass as community. We participate in the liturgy together with all of our senses — we’ve got the bells, the smells, we extend our hands, we pray together,” Council said. “… It makes even more sense to then take the grace of that sacrament before the Blessed Sacrament: ‘OK Lord, here I am; I’m bringing what you just gave me and I’m here to spend this time with you and lets unpack it.’”
Council said a common misconception about perpetual adoration is what’s expected of each person. (See sidebar, page 12.)
“He just asks us to be there,” she said. “Where else today can we find a place that we can just be. There are no expectations but simply to come and look at Jesus and let Jesus,” speak his will in our life.
Jo Ann Gourley has been praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament even before perpetual adoration started at Our Lady of Fatima. Getting in the chapel is a process, walking to the back of her van with a cane to unload her wheelchair. Stormy weather presents challenges, but she’s been blessed by help when needed. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994.
“Going there helps me to deal with what I’m going through. I have come to the adoration chapel at the time when it first came about at Our Lady of Fatima; I was going through a divorce and the MS had just taken a turn for the worse,” leaving her to raise two children on a fixed income. “I was hurt that he would allow this” but “sitting at the chapel has been a time of getting to know God better and knowing he is with me through it all. It just gives me a lot of strength.”
She adores from 9 to 10 a.m. on Fridays, taking a break in the summers when the heat is overwhelming.
“It has been my place, the calm within my storm to sit in the chapel and just let him speak to me, to heal me wherever I need to be healed,” she said.
Judy Wurtz, perpetual adoration coordinator for St. Paul Church in Pocahontas admits she was “one of the doubting Thomas’” when fellow parishioner Pennie Earsa and others suggested perpetual adoration.
“I said, ‘I just don’t think we can get it 24 hours seven days a week,’ but I’ll take an hour if you want me to do it,” Wurtz said.
But when a priest with the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist came to speak, “I guess the Holy Spirit moved me. I heard an inner voice of Jesus saying to me, ‘Judy, get the ball rolling.’”
With about 200 adorers in a parish of just 400 families, that ball has been rolling for the past 22 years.
While there are challenges at times, dedicated adorers pick up the slack. Earsa and her husband Daniel have two adoration hours. Up until this year, she also went by herself from 2 to 3 a.m.
“It’s like being with a true friend. I can just speak to him and he listens and sometimes if I listen well enough, he speaks to me,” she said. “I think when one part of the family hurts, the whole family hurts. We can present our petitions to Jesus right there for the desires of the whole parish so they can be united and heal.”
Todd Krauser, parishioner at Christ the King Church in Little Rock for the past six months, jumped back into adoration after a hiatus while attending a church without a perpetual adoration program.
“You feel like you’re missing something,” he admits.
Though his schedule is busy as co-president of Metro Appliances & More in Maumelle, he makes the time from 4 to 5 a.m. every Tuesday. He has read the Bible cover to cover and prays the rosary. “It just makes me take a step back … to put my family in perspective and where everything is at. Say a prayer over the company every single day and giving thanks.”
From about March until November, sunrise to sunset, Rob Roberts is busy on RDR Farms, where his family raises rice, soybeans and corn. The Pocahontas parishioner felt called about four years ago to start adoration, taking 2 to 3 a.m. Mondays.
In adoration, he’ll pray and read the Bible. After, he’ll head home and pay the bills for the week before work begins.
“If it wasn’t for this hour in adoration there would be times of the year where I would just drift away more than I would now. I still go to church on Sundays as usual, but it brings me back and a little bit closer to where I need to be,” he said.
Transformed lives are a hallmark of adoration, but getting Catholics to surrender in the busy world can be a little like herding cats. But there’s always a light bulb moment, Council said, likening it to hearing a favorite song.
“Every time you hear it, something just kind of pings inside of you … That’s your ‘ah-ha’ moment about that song. There’s something about that that touches your heart. The word of God is like that. The same thing happens for us when we are before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
In an effort to help perpetual adoration programs run more smoothly, Council said a secure website is in the final stages that will be open to all parishes that adorers can use to as an up-to-date database for communication, information and catechesis. It will be free and include a Spanish version.
Amid the countless distractions that can pull faithful away from God, Eucharistic adoration is a chance to make a difference in our lives and the world.
“We’re living in a culture of fear and a lot of sin. Eucharistic adoration can save the world, saints have talked about that. It can save the Church,” Council said. “We cannot afford not to take the time to come to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Please read our Comments Policy before posting.Article comments powered by Disqus