John Allen Jr. in today’s daily column.
As part of a broad initiative to promote Eucharistic adoration, the Vaticans Congregation for Clergy is proposing that religious women spiritually adopt priests through prayer before the Eucharist, and, more generally, that Catholics from every corner of the world spend time before the Eucharist to pray for vocations to the priesthood in an era of priest shortages.
Concretely, the Congregation for Clergy is proposing that each diocese appoint a priest whose full-time job would be to promote Eucharistic adoration, and that special Eucharistic shrines be created that would resemble the well-known Marian shrines that dot the Catholic world.
Eucharistic adoration is a practice in which the Blessed Sacrament, meaning a consecrated host believed to be the Body of Christ, is exposed publicly for prayer and adoration. When this adoration is carried out continuously 24 hours a day, the practice is known as perpetual adoration.
The congregation also suggests that parishes, dioceses and religious orders seek donors to fund the construction of these shrines, as well as to pay for monstrances (a decorated vessel containing the consecrated host), liturgical vestments, and educational materials explaining the purpose of the devotion.
The congregation asks that Eucharistic adoration be introduced in parishes, seminaries, religious houses and other Catholic facilities. Bishops are requested to fill out a form indicating their intention to cooperate.
Consecrated women in particular are urged to “spiritually adopt priests in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer and penance” by engaging in Eucharistic adoration, following the example, Vatican officials say, of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The proposals come in a letter to all the bishops of the world, along with an accompanying leaflet outlining the project, to be released tomorrow, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The letter is signed by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, and Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the congregations secretary.
Hummes says the idea is to stress the ontological link between the Eucharist and the priesthood, as well as the special maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for each priest. The initiative is styled as a response to a call from Pope Benedict XVI in his apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, released last February as the concluding document from the October 2005 Synod on the Eucharist. In that text, Benedict urged wider practice of Eucharistic adoration.
This is a great initiative and the obvious one, but it seems so often in diocesan vocations programs one that is missing. I love the idea of having someone dedicated to the promotion of Eucharistic Adoration in a diocese. Eucharistic Adoration is back on the rise, though it would be great for more parishes to offer it more frequently or even to have perpetual adoration especially under the guiding connection of the Eucharist in the priesthood. The spiritual adoption of priests by women’s religious is also nothing new as is evident by the practice of the Missionaries of Charity, Saint Therese, and many others throughout history, but it is something that needs once again to be emphasized and to be put back into wider practice. I think we should also spiritually adopt seminarians within our diocese.
One thing I find odd about John Allen’s Jr. column this time is his thinking that he has to explain Eucharist Adoration and what a monstrance is. This isn’t exactly an obscure part of Catholic teaching or practice. Though I guess maybe he knows better the audience of the National Catholic Reporter.
I wish he would come to my parish and explain it. People truly don’t know what these things are — and my parish HAS Eucharistic Adoration every Saturday! Getting people to sign up for an hour is like pulling teeth.
As someone who has promoted adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for over 12 years, I am pleased with this new directive. BUT none of our priests deacons and sisters will take part in our totally lay run adoration hours. As one sister said, “We do not do that sort of thing any more”. And this is true. Even the pastor will not offer daily Mass for his people, so the core teaching and belief in the Real Presence is not there among many of our liberated religious.
There is no perpetual adoration in my diocese, nor an extraordinary form of the Mass. We are hearing about global warming and disarmament at Sunday Mass homilies though.
You can see that this directive will fall on deaf ears in this spiritual desert diocese.
I belong to a parish that has 30,000 families registered and we cannot get enough people to sign up for perpetual adoration! Also I think that it is wonderful that the author of this article explained Adoration because most Catholics know next to nothing about their faith. This is a sad, but true statement. One of the priests at our parish is a very deep person and he has classes in theology once a week. He explains the deep mysteries of our faith, but after class he opens the conversation to hear questions. Some of the questions are like
“Father, can I bring my pets to heaven?”
“Will I be married in heaven?”
“What caused original sin?”
“Why do we have to attend mass on Sunday?”
“When should a child be baptized? Age 7 right?”
I mean people know less than a second grader!
I really think that this plan will work. You see there used to be many more priests, but there also used to be many more nuns to watch over, help, and inspire the priests. Now however there are very few real nuns so the priests are being helped by other women who are not consecrated to celibacy. Here is one problem. Also in Catholic schools there are no nuns or priests to draw children to think about becoming a religious. Finally, there are no people, monks or nuns, to pray for the priests and to pray for future priests. I believe that now that the pope and bishops are calling for religious to pray for priests the good orders like EWTN, the Nashville Dominicans, the Ann Arbor Dominicans, the Benedictines at Clear Creek, etc. will devote themselves even more to the task of praying for the future and also praying for the present.
…people know less than a second grader!
This bothers me too. I try to remember that the majority of the faithful have, in every age, been peasants like my grandmother, who had a grade-school education but a burning, apostolic, strong-as-steel faith.
What we know is of less importance than what we believe. Or, as St. Josemaria Escriva would say, “Less knowledge, more virtue!”
None of this is to assert that knowledge is unimportant. A certain minimum level of knowledge is, I think, necessary. When I meet people who don’t know, I try to teach them where appropriate, if they’re willing to learn.
Where faith and knowledge are both lacking, well, that’s a bad situation. Only Our Divine Lord can correct that.
What a great idea! It’s really true that we should be praying more for vocations and also spend more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We have perpetual adoration at one parish here in Vienna, Austria, and it’s booming with vocations.
BTW, there is a similar campaign here by the vocations ministry of Vienna Archdiocese as the one described in the article: people sign up and pray for each other the Angelus every day. Each person who has signed up is “adopted” by a male or female religious and is also assigned to a saint in Heaven. So both the monk or nun and the saint pray for the vocation of this person, as well as all the others participating in the program.
YES!!!! Great idea.
Mary, one effective method I’ve heard of getting people signed up for Perpetual Adoration is to actually go door-to-door within the parish. For such a cause, I would actually do it.
The most effective request is apparently very simple:
“Our parish is beginning Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. On which of these available hours can you commit to adoring Jesus each week?”
If I’m going to have a door slammed in my face, I’d like to be able to count it as a blessing! Most people would probably be nice and “think about their available time” but I haven’t heard that this method has ever failed to produce a full schedule of adorers and substitutes.
Jeff, I’m not surprised Allen had to explain to his readers what he was talking about…I’m very surprised that paper carried the article at all.
please tell me when and where St. JoseMaria
ever said “less knowledge, more virtue”.
There’s a religious community whose charism is praying for priests: The Handmaids of the Precious Blood http://www.ichrusa.com/saintsalive/precious/
A very good idea! Now to put it into practice.
My diocese has a regular Holy Hour for vocations. We currently have 30 men in seminary formation with at least seven pending applications to enter next year. In the next five years, we will ordain 21 priests (not a huge number, but growing) and, as the numbers suggest, we have 30 in a seven year “pipeline” with as many as 10 expected to join next year. (We ordain 3 in June and we want to have 40 in formation next year, which means we need 13 new vocations).
In addition to this, we have a St. Therese Society dedicated to praying for all men and women in religious formation. I think the numbers suggest that these plans DO work!
Not to the initiative Jeff described, more intense prayer for men to hear and respond to the call to priesthood. That’s good stuff; no problem w/ that.
I object to the narrow definition of the word “vocation” that seems to be in play here.
What I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to is a better definition for the word “vocation.” It’s not just priests and religious who have vocations — anyone who was baptized has a vocation! I don’t just mean your state in life, either. God’s creation of you means He has a plan for your life.
Your baptism was your entry into a life wherein God shares His life with you…*so you can share His life with others.* Yes, He’s interested in your salvation/in getting you (ready) to spend eternity with Him. But you have put on Christ (have you not?), and what did Christ come to do? To reveal the Father to us and show us the way back home. We are the Body of Christ, and we are therefore called to the same thing. Or, as Pope Paul VI put it, “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize…” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).
The vocation of the laity is the same thing as the mission of the Church: evangelization. “Be not afraid!” — the Holy Spirit is the power behind this mission (not us). God has given each of us His Spirit, Who desires not only to help us open our hearts to His love more fully, but Who also wants to work through us so that others might be more open to His transforming love and power.
That’s what you’re called to: Receive the Holy Spirit *so that* you can more fully know God’s love for you, and have the power to take up your cross, speak the truth in love, give witness to the work of God, etc.
*YOU* have a vocation, too, my friend! Ask the Lord to show you more specifics about it. He can’t reach the whole world through a relatively few priests and religious — that’s why He’s got the rest of us in His army! We’re the ones on the front lines. We’re the ones He wants to use to reveal Himself and His love and power to others.
So, then, let’s do a short review. The answer to “Got Vocation?” is… YES!
There was a tiny order of nuns dedicated to Jesus, the Eternal Priest in Spencer, Ma, as well. They existed to pray for priests. I heard that they had decreased in size from the original 8 to 2, (because their rule was too strict?) but now I can’t find mention of them… I KNOW they existed; they used to come to St Joseph’s Abbey to pray…the y were the most beautifully attired nuns I had ever seen. I can’t remember their name though…something like “The Little Hermits of the Eternal Priesthood”. They never had a website, just an address…Beautiful nuns, anyhow.
I like the idea of the St Therese Society. 🙂
I believe that’s a Maronite-rite community, Joanne, so Holy Trinity Monastery in Petersham would know about them.
We Dominican friars are blessed to have our cloistered nuns praying for us. St. Dominic, being the brainy Dominican prototype ;), actually founded the nuns before the friars. Can’t have friars running around preaching without some good prayers now, can we? I can count on at least three nuns putting me (and their other prayer partners) before our Eucharistic Lord daily. So if I muck it up, it’s not for lack of prayers!
Mary said “most Catholics know next to nothing about their faith”, and unfortunately that’s about right today. At one point in time, there was a group of us who helped others with the real teaching of the church, doing so on the net for a few years. I won’t mention any places as most everyone stayed totally anonymous. The lack of instruction the general Catholic in the pew had was appalling.
A friend of mine decided to home school her children for religious classes and brought in the books for the three of them so I could see them. She was also told her daughter would not be confirmed UNLESS she completed certain required activities of service and UNLESS she attended the overnight co-ed retreat (cost was $85 for the retreat, apparently poor people were not able to be confirmed). It’s enough to make you grind your teeth at the misrepresentation of authentic teaching.
I would like to make some suggestions. Start with the catholic schools. It seems religious lessons at schools today are pretty warm and fuzzy things, and more entertaining than learning the beauty and importance of the practice of real faith.
IMHO one of the important places to start is to get to these kids early and often. Chances are most of them won’t have any kind of religious medals or books at home, and all they get is at the schools, many of which are, to put it delicately, quite inadequate in how and what they are teaching and in the case of confirmation “requirements” above, wrong.
Get the number of kids in the school and get together with other concerned people and see how much cash you can get together. Decide on what items you could provide for each of them, items like holy cards, 3rd class relic cards, little prayer books, little books on Eucharistic Adoration, medals that come with a chain, rosaries, (have the children in attendance with the priest blessing the religious items and explaining the significance — chances are, they haven’t seen that before), provide a lending library (make sure the books are okay first) that you handle with sign-up slips passed out to the children with books for the lives of the saints, the kids promise to read, answer a few questions so you know they read it, and get a little prize, like a holy card with a prayer on the back. You could also get little bottles and attach holy water labels to them, get them filled, and make certain that each child gets one and knows why.
If you can get to the kids and keep in touch in this and other creative ways during the elementary years (or even further if there are funds) we all stand a much better chance that these children will learn and pass on an authentic faith. It also wouldn’t hurt to see if you could get copies of just what the schools are using to teach religious classes and perhaps that could guide your choices in what you might want to try to provide.
If funds are short and you can’t provide a lot, provide one small batch of items at a time. If you can find some additional sponsorship for the project (with real practicing Catholics) through one of the existing parish organizations, it might go a little more smoothly. You might also be able to start your own little group in the parish — maybe. There always seems to be toes you have to watch out not to step on too forcefully. Persistence will pay off.
Sad thing about this is though, when I served on the PTO for the school, we never even thought about providing extras for the children, we only did just the fun activities. Not one of us thought of it or mentioned it.
As a seminarian, some of the warmest comments I’ve received come in the form of, “Oh, yeah! I’ve seen you on our vocations/seminarian poster, and I pray for you before the Blessed Sacrament!”
We should never doubt that the prayers and love of the people are what see us through.
Feel free to say a prayer for me if you get the time! :-).
Josh, you don’t know how COOL that is to meet the seminarians you’ve been praying for!!! And then, to end up at a Mass celebrated by a new priest, whose ordination you attended!! It’s almost like having a baby–in some ways MORE, and is some ways less, real, but amazing, in any case.
This year, two of our newly ordained priests impacted the 40 Days For Life campaign I was leading, in different ways. And that was the first ordination I ever had the joy of attending..It was beautiful.
When you meet a priest whom you prayed for as a seminarian, it is more than a dream come true–it feels like a miracle!
St. Augustine Church of Barberton, the parish my family belongs to, has had perpetual adoration for over 50 years with over a million holy hours spent in the presence of Our Lord. My wife and I look forward to spending our hour together in prayer and reflection before Christ. I am glad that parishes are beginning to recognize the value of eucharistic adoration in the prayer life of a parish community.
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