Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Why 'Forty' Hours . . . ?

Someone kindly left a comment on my last post about our recent 40 Hours Devotion asking about the origins of the devotion.  Here is a brief explanation of the reasons and history behind the 40 Hours Devotion.

For us Catholics, the Mass is our central act of worship.  It is an act that participates in the eternal reality of Our Lord's passion, death and resurrection.  Many Catholics also wish to be able to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  

The Second Vatican Council upheld and strongly encouraged adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  Such devotion arises from the Sacrifice of the Mass and serves to move us to both sacramental and spiritual communion with Our Lord.  Blessed John Paul II repeatedly highly recommended public and private devotion of the Blessed Sacrament including procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours Devotion.

The number 40 has historically, since very ancient times, signified a 'sacred' period of time. 

The rain during the time of Moses lasted 40 days and nights; the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years before arriving at the Promised Land; Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before beginning his public ministry; we observe Lent for 40 days and we also remember the tradition 40 hour period from Our Lord's burial until his resurrection.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

40 Hours Devotion . . .

On Thursday Our 40 Hours Devotion came to end with a beautiful Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. This was followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving for all the graces poured out on our parish during the 40 Hours. I have no doubt that these are many and we shall see their impact in the days, weeks, months and even, years to come.

After the parish Mass, many of those present came together in our parish meeting room to celebrate and reflect on their experiences whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake.

It was wonderful to see the excitement and joy on people's faces as they talked about the recent 40 Hours Devotion. All the comments I heard were very positive. People were very moved by the beautiful Solemn Mass of Exposition on Tuesday evening.

I was delighted that Fr James Bradley of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was able to accept my invitation to preside at the Mass and also to preach. I know many people were impressed with the beautiful liturgy and gained a lot from Fr James' homily.

Another very encouraging 'fruit' of the devotion was the number of people who came for Confession over the three days. A great blessing.

Several people commented that they felt sad that it was all over and many asked, 'when can we do it again?'

Of course we will do it again - next year, God-willing.

The 40 Hours Devotion provides a wonderful opportunity for us all to grow in holiness individually and for the spiritual growth of our parish as a whole.

In our world today, where we are see evil all around us, where there is a decline in devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, and where many no longer see the need for Confession, this is even more important than ever.