February 29, 2016
If you knew that your best friend in the whole world was waiting to meet with you so he could give you life-changing advice, console your heart, uplift your soul, and enlighten your mind with eternal wisdom, would you go meet him?
Of course you would! So, why not take the time to meet Jesus in eucharistic adoration whenever we can?
The good news is that a lot of people in our diocese are doing just that. In 2005, Agnes Larkin (now deceased) donated a large sum of money in order to found a gorgeous adoration chapel, Madonna of the Prairies Blessed Sacrament Chapel, located at Christ the King in Mandan. Great things are born from generous hearts, and such was the heart of Agnes.
“Agnes was a very, very devout woman, and she always wanted a little place to be able to go to and pray quietly,” said Marge Froelich, who helps coordinate adoration at Christ the King. “Fr. Albert Leary and Al Kuntz said they would help it get started, and it still is open today, day and night. Agnes kept a designated Holy Hour of adoration until she was 100 years old! One time, we asked our adorers to write down what their Holy Hour means to them. Agnes wrote, 'I always wanted to go on a pilgrimage to a chapel to pray and spend time with Jesus in the chapel. It is so very easy to talk with God when there are no distractions.' ”
Marge added that it's not just elderly ladies like Agnes who take advantage of the tremendous blessing of eucharistic adoration. Children find a special place in our Lord's heart when they spend time with Him as well.
“When my grandson, Sky Froelich, was 11 years old, he would keep a Holy Hour,” Marge said. “Once he wrote, 'When you really think about it, what could be better than spending time with God? When you realize what God has done for us, you want to do something in return. That something can be going to adoration.'”
Personal relationship with our Lord
Fr. Jeffrey Zwack, Pastor of St. Ann's in Hebron and Sacred Heart in Glen Ullin, is one of the many faithful priests in our diocese who are heeding the call to give people a chance to spend time with the Lord.
“I think my main vocation as a priest is to bring Jesus to people and to bring people to Jesus. What better way is there to bring people to Jesus than to lead them to spend time in His real presence and to bask in the Sonshine? You hear our Protestant brothers and sisters always asking people whether they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Eucharistic adoration is the best way possible to foster that personal relationship with our Lord.”
In fact, Fr. Zwack, with the help of many dedicated parishioners, has been able to bring adoration to his two parishes once again, after not having it for many years.
“The Holy Eucharist is the greatest treasure the Church has and it needs to be in the center of every parish,” Fr. Zwack remarked. “I imagine the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle to be like the heart of every parish community, while daily Mass and eucharistic adoration are like the heartbeat.”
Just in the last couple of years that adoration has been a part of St. Ann's and Sacred Heart parishes, it has touched parishioners in beautiful ways.
Growth in holiness
“At every parish I have worked with that has adoration, I have noticed that those who regularly participate in it are the most active parishioners and really practice stewardship,” Fr. Zwack said. “I don't believe a parish can truly be a stewardship parish without eucharistic adoration. Only those who give of their time to adore and pray to the Lord are willing to give of their talent and treasure to the parish. I have noted a growth in holiness among those who participate in adoration.”
Robin Johnson, who coordinates adoration at St. Ann's, made an interesting observation about what it has meant to the parish community.
“I think adoration took off so well at St. Ann’s because the Lord is with us,” she said. “He is impressing His thirst for us on our hearts and giving us a desire to know truth. We have a lot of faith-filled parishioners who trust God with their families. They understand the value of intercessory prayer. They see the tests of faith happening all over the world—the work of the evil one—and know that our hope is in the Lord.”
She also explained that adoration is meant to be a perpetuation of Mass, a way to savor His eucharistic sacrifice beyond the limits of time.
“We believe the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. Everything, including prayer, comes forth from God through all of creation and returns to Him. The sacrifice of the Mass is our greatest prayer and we should pray always. But, we can’t sit at Mass 24/7; that is not our mission. However, we can take turns, each of us, one hour a week, keeping the prayer going—like a perpetual rosary—until we gather in communion again. In adoration, we are in the garden at Gethsemane with the Lord, we are the watchman waiting for the rising sun.”
Fr. Zwack shared that not only does he feel privileged to bring the awesome grace of adoration to his parishioners, but he is also grateful to partake in it as well.
“I enjoy the intimacy with Jesus and silence I find in eucharistic adoration,” Fr. Zwack noted. “It is just so refreshing to spend time in silence, just focusing on the Lord, Who is present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. There was once a Vietnamese bishop whose first name was Francis who was arrested by the Communists and forced to do hard labor every day and was placed in a dark cell every night. At times, he said he only had enough energy when he prayed in his dark cell to say, 'Jesus, this is Francis.' He said he often heard the Lord's voice say back to him, 'Francis, this is Jesus.' That is the kind of intimacy I experience in eucharistic adoration with our Lord.”
So, in light of this, just how do we spend our time in adoration? What will make our prayer profound, heartfelt, and even life changing? Fr. Zwack suggested reading Scripture, praying the rosary and other prayers, and simply cherishing the gift of God's divine, living presence, hidden with humility in the sacred Host.
“The best recommendation of what to do during adoration is to just sit silently in our Lord's presence and say, 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.' St. John Vianney used to see an elderly man spend ours before the Tabernacle in the parish church every day. He asked the man what he said to the Lord all those hours he was praying. The elderly man said, 'I don't say anything. I just look at Him and He looks at me.”
So, next time your friend Jesus asks you to meet with Him, just what do you think you'll say?