When you write a column such as this, your life tends to be an open book.
(By the way, that is literally true. You can buy my “open book” by clicking here!)
In the course of my writing, I occasionally admit to certain things that I probably shouldn’t divulge in print, and here is one: until recently, I had never committed to a Holy Hour.
Of course, I have spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, but I had never signed up to do so, nor did I usually devote sixty minutes at a time. However, a few months ago, I finally committed to doing so. I am very happy that I did, and I have found that this is the perfect devotion for the Catholic father.
When you are the father of many children, it is hard to find one-on-one time with Jesus. Divine Liturgy seems like the perfect opportunity, but I usually feel like I fall short of perfect attention.
In the Byzantine Liturgy, we sing a prayer asking God for the grace to “mystically represent the Cherubim” and “set aside all earthly cares.” For a father of nine, setting aside all earthly cares is not terribly easy. I try to concentrate on the prayers of the liturgy, but I seem to spend time putting socks back on Mary Katherine’s little feet, helping Immaculata follow along in her liturgy book, or reminding Bonaventure when to stand.
I know that God is pleased by fathers who help their little children pray, yet I still need time with Him.
A holy hour has been the answer to my prayers. I realize now what I have been missing, and I realize it more every week. There are no set prayers for a Holy Hour, which makes it possible to have a private and personal conversation with God. It also provides some quiet time to listen to Him.
One thing that I have found particularly helpful is to read an entire Gospel at a time. I probably read too fast, but I think that meditating on the totality of a Gospel grants me a greater insight. When one reads the entire Gospel of Matthew in one sitting, it can take on a slightly different perspective than reading small passages at a time. For me, that has been very beneficial. For others, I am sure that meditating on just a single passage could fill the hour. It is exciting to know that I have only scratched the surface of spiritual benefits that a Holy Hour can provide.
Bishop Fulton Sheen had a great devotion in this regard and wrote extensively on the benefits of a Holy Hour:
“It is impossible for me to explain how helpful the Holy Hour has been in preserving my vocation. Scripture gives considerable evidence to prove that a priest begins to fail his priesthood when he fails in his love of the Eucharist. Too often it is assumed that Judas fell because he loved money. Avarice is very rarely the beginning of the lapse and the fall of the ambassador. The history of the Church proves there are many with money who stayed in it. The beginning of the fall of Judas and the end of Judas both revolved around the Eucharist. The first mention that Our Lord knew who it was who would betray him is at the end of the sixth chapter of John, which is the announcement of the Eucharist. The fall of Judas came the night Our Lord gave the Eucharist, the night of the Last Supper.”
As our faith teaches us, love desires union, and there is no greater union for us here on earth than the Eucharist.
For those of you who have been praying a Holy Hour for years, thank you for inspiring me to follow your lead. For those of you who have yet to make the commitment, I urge you to do so. As husbands and fathers, we desperately need that time with Our Lord.
Header Image CC Lawrence OP