The Abundant Graces of Forty Hours

Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them
— Mark 9:8, from today's Gospel

Each year the Second Sunday of Lent draws our attention to the mystery of Our Lord’s dazzling transfiguration on a high mountain. Popular piety points to Mount Tabor as the place where this event took place. Certainly the basilica that has crowned that peak in the Holy Land since about 400 AD attests to the ancient tradition that Christ’s transfiguration took place there.

There is an interesting connection in Catholic liturgical practice to our liturgical reflection on Christ’s transfiguration. The monstrance, the ornate vessel for the ‘showing’ and public adoration of the Eucharistic Host, is carefully placed upon the altar on top of a throne or shelf, called a ‘Tabor’. This is true for example in our parish Adoration Chapel in the Holy Cross convent. Many traditional altars were designed with a shelf that could pull out to allow solemn exposition to take place above the tabernacle of repose. In our Holy Cross sanctuary, we have a special ‘Mount Tabor stand’ that fits over the tabernacle at the High Altar and allows the monstrance to be placed directly on top, just beneath the sculpted crucifix. This is only used on the most solemn moments of the liturgical year, but it dramatically invites us to focus all our attention upon the Host.

Perhaps what this indicates most beautifully is the connection between the grace of Eucharistic Adoration and the experience of the disciples Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor who fell at the feet of Jesus in adoration. Their experience of Christ on the mountain was accompanied by the thundering voice of the Father attesting, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” while ours takes place in silence that invites us to ponder the truth of these words.

As we approach our annual Forty Hours celebration we approach the throne of grace—Mount Tabor as it were. Although veiled under the appearances of bread and wine, Our Lord illumines our hearts by the reality of his Divinity. Through the rising incense and the glow of candles we are invited to contemplate Jesus’ Real and Saving Presence.

I would like to invite each of you to sign up for an hour or two throughout the daytime or nighttime hours. Our younger adults are especially invited to take the late night/ early morning sacrificial hours. Binders with the hours still needing to be covered are at each of our campuses. Come to experience the gift of silent stillness as we look high above the tabernacle to the Tabor where the monstrance rests. We can bring to him the many intentions for which we fervently pray; we can simply sit at His feet in humble acknowledgement of His Sacred Presence.

Peter, James and John could not have anticipated what would take place on the mountain top. Even if you have never experienced adoration, I invite you to come and experience it. You will not regret doing so and might even find yourself desiring to sign up for a weekly hour in our Adoration Chapel which I hope in coming months will continue to expand in the hours which it is open. The Lord is always drawing souls, He is seeking adorers in spirit and in truth! This year we are especially encouraging participation at our Opening Mass at 6:30 pm on Thursday evening, March 1st which will be celebrated in English and Polish. I would especially note the abundant graces that will be flowing throughout the day on Friday, March 2nd as multiple priests will be available hearing confessions from 10 am-8 pm for a Lenten Day of Penance at Holy Cross. Throughout the weekend, a friend from my seminary studies in Rome and priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Fr. Michael Niemczak will be present to preach at several of the liturgies. This will include a special spiritual reflection in Holy Cross at 9 am on Friday morning for our monthly First Friday gathering of seniors and again at 6 pm on Friday evening in place of Stations of the Cross. All are heartily invited to participate in the Solemn Closing of our Forty Hours Devotion on Sunday afternoon, March 4th at 4 pm followed by a wine and cheese reception in the Holy Cross Gymnasium.

Additionally, to emphasize the Eucharist as the source of our unity even for those with limited mobility, on Friday morning at St. Hedwig we will host a ‘mini-40 Hours Devotion’ for River Village residents with Exposition taking place after the regular 10 am Mass and continuing until 3 pm when the Divine Mercy Chaplet will be prayed, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

In the Eucharist we discover the truth that St. Paul proclaimed to the Romans in today’s second reading, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). How beautiful to be called to contemplate Christ’s presence and together as a parish to express our Eucharistic faith and devotion in a public and concerted way. Perhaps it would not be too much to call Fr. Don a sort of ‘living monstrance’ who for so many years held the Eucharistic Host aloft in his priestly hands for us to see and contemplate. See p. 6 for the times of his Visitation, Vigil Prayer Service and Funeral Mass.

Lastly, I draw your attention to the invitation made this weekend to respond to the annual Catholic Services Appeal. It is worthy of your prayerful support. It reminds us that we cannot be self-referential as a parish but always seek to maintain a view of the whole. I am continually edified by the generosity of the people of this parish and ask for your help once again.

United in Our Eucharistic Lord,

Fr. Howe



Fr. Spencer HoweComment