Twelve parishioners from St. Victoria, Hurt, were gathered in the small parish on Saturday, Sept. 23. The service for which they had come was the first of its kind to take place in the building for many years, though it has been a common Catholic practice since the days of the Roman Empire, and in many ways, traces back to Holy Thursday in 33 A.D.
Under the guidance of Father Jim Gallagher, pastor of St. Victoria, Deacon John Carey has revived the practice of Eucharistic adoration in the small country church.
“It was absolutely powerful,” Deacon Carey said of the inaugural service, an hourlong meditation featuring a thirty-minute exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. “Because it was the first time we’ve had this in quite a while, it was a guided service – I helped walk people through it, explaining that part of the process is allowing our senses to elevate our awareness of God.”
Using an MP3 player and a speaker, Deacon Carey opened the service with a rendition of “Anima Christi” set by Marco Frisina, an Italian priest, composer and director of the Pastoral Worship Center at the Vatican. During adoration, the Eucharist was blessed with incense, and traditional Eucharistic hymns included “Pange Lingua,” “Tantum Ergo,” and “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.” But according to Deacon Carey, the most important “sound” was an extended silence.
“We need to take the time to listen to God,” he said. “For the first 10 minutes, your brain will tell you, ‘I should be doing something.’ After the first 10 minutes, you begin to relax. After 30 minutes, you will understand how incredibly powerful it is.”
“I was reminded of the words of St. John of the Cross: ‘The first language of God is silence.’”
Adoration at St. Victoria is scheduled to take place quarterly, though the events may be held monthly if the parish demonstrates a desire to participate.
“I don’t want to overwhelm people with too much, too fast,” Deacon Carey said. “But if there is enough participation, we will do it monthly. We want to bring back First Fridays.”
First Fridays, a devotion begun in 17th century France, dedicates the first Friday of each month to reparations for sin. Often, devotees spend a holy hour of meditation before the Blessed Sacrament.
“One of the biggest takeaways for me is the practicality of the verse ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10),” said Deacon Carey. “It’s incredibly contrary to what the world says to do – to have a break from the hustle and bustle, to sit in a sacred space, to spend some time in quiet adoration. To ask a question, and to have a chance to be still and listen.”