Food for the Soul
A bi-weekly blog on the virtuous life. Written not by a master, but by a student, but one at least who knows whence sound teaching is found.
Holy Hour for Families
What is it? The Holy Hour for Families is a recurring time of prayer in the Bishop Ryan Chapel beginning with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration) and ending with Benediction (a rite in which a blessing is given by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament).
What is its purpose? The purpose for the Holy Hour for Families is two-fold: First, Fr. Nelson wanted to set aside special time at which he would be praying for all the families at Bishop Ryan. We all know how much our families need God’s grace. The only real and lasting success of the school is dependent upon God's grace helping, healing, and making holy our families. Intercessory prayer is an important way for that grace to be given and effective in people’s lives.[i] Secondly, it provides a peaceful time for parents to slip away for ten minutes, an hour, or any time in between to be alone with God in prayer. Prayer is the mysterious place of encounter between God's thirst for us and our thirst for God (cf. CCC 2560).
Who is invited? Anyone who wants to pray.
What does one do at Eucharistic Adoration? Many people feel a bit unsure or lack confidence to pray in silence for an extended period of time. Very often we feel like we need to be doing something practical or outwardly active in order for our actions to be valuable. This is, at some level, normal in today’s culture, but it is not an accurate description of prayer. In short, I think three basic ideas can help a person unsure of what to do at Eucharistic Adoration get comfortable: First, focus on being present to God and allowing God to be present to you through acts of faith, hope, and love. Second, Cardinal Newman’s definition of prayer is helpful; prayer is nothing other than “heart speaking to heart”. Finally, lectio divina, or a prayerful reading of the Bible, especially the gospels, is a great way to become comfortable praying in quiet for extended periods of time.
What is Eucharistic Adoration? Let’s start with the question of what is meant by the word Eucharist. In Greek the word Eucharist means “thanksgiving”, which came to refer to the celebration of the memorial sacrifice of Christ instituted by Him on the first Holy Thursday. Today, the words Eucharist and Blessed Sacrament refer also to the sacramental presence of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity present under the forms of bread and wine which have been consecrated at the Eucharistic Liturgy (Holy Mass). In short, the Catholic faith believes and teaches that Jesus is present personally and substantially in the Holy Eucharist.[ii] So, when you come to Eucharistic Adoration you come to be in the greatest presence of Christ on earth.
Adoration refers to the kind of prayer in which we acknowledge that we are a creature before our Creator. It is the “homage of the spirit to the ‘King of Glory,’ respectful silence in the presence of the ‘ever greater’ God…blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications (cf. CCC 2628).
Where should I enter the school? Enter through Door A. Normally, the rest of the doors to the school are locked.
Are there any resources that can help me learn how to pray in a deeper way? Yes. There are many. I recommend the following:
[i]Catechism of the Catholic Church 2634-2636: “Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners (cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8). He is ‘able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them’ (Heb. 7:25). The Holy Spirit ‘himself intercedes for us…and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God’ (Rom 8:26-27)…Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another – has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints.
[ii]Catechism of the Catholic Church 1345-1405: “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique…In [it] the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained… It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in the sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus, St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 AD) declares: ‘It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. this word transforms the things offered.’”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at work in his office.
I am a huge proponent of "smart" Christianity. My own personal journey to the priesthood, and now educational arena have been marked by my personal experience and conviction that not only does God exist, but he can be known. Faith is reasonable. It is not an exercise in emotivism. Nor is it some kind of blind hoping that there is some final happiness for good people. No. Christian faith is an intellectually and morally defensible way of living. The intellectual tradition present in Catholicism and other Christian traditions does, indeed, contain good thought and solid answers about some important human questions, such as the existence and nature of God, the purpose of human life, the question of evil and human suffering, the notions of justice and moral conduct, et cetera.
The problem, and all of us feel it at some level, is that their is a growing divide between faith and reason, and some may assert faith and science as well. In fact, many Christians wonder whether perhaps there are any good explanations for Christian beliefs at all. Is our faith capable of holding up to the objections of atheists and secularists? Are the Christian claims true? Is it possible to be a person who both believes in the inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, as well as in the findings of empirical science and valid conclusions of philosophy?
No matter where you are on your journey of faith, it is important for us to look and investigate the reasonability of faith. Perhaps you yourself have doubts about the reality of the Christian claims and maintain a Christian connection merely because of the moral compass that it provides for your children. In any case, the video below between Dr. William Lane Craig and Bishop Robert Barron is well worth your time. It is chalk full of smart Christianity that if not complete in its dialogue provides a very smart introduction to a lot of important ideas and figures that can serve as a good guide to your own continuing education. It has been my experience that seeking to find greater understanding of one's faith is difficult and hard work at times. But it is worth it! If you are willing to enter into the great conversation about the meaning of Jesus Christ, which has been on-going since the 1st century AD, then I assure you, you may not find easy answers, but you will find compelling discourse and thought which can help you to set your faith on solid ground. The conversation between these two contemporary Christian thinkers is, I believe, worthwhile for their insights. I hope you'll set aside an evening to watch! The link is below.