Sunday, November 20, 2011

Notes from a Holy Hour Rookie

This afternoon I drove over to my parish, St. Peter the Apostle Church, for the monthly Holy Hour. Even though I'm a lifelong Catholic, I only first heard of this devotion a couple of years ago. I never had participated before today. I'll be back.

Holy Hour is a Catholic tradition of spending one hour in Eucharistic Adoration. The New Brunswick Oratory, which runs the parish, is one of just eight in the United States and the priests have been marking Holy Hour the first Sunday of every month since June 1993. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I brought my Book of Hours with me, in case I ran out of ways to pray. 

About 20 worshipers gathered, including several Franciscan nuns and many Secular Oratorians. The hour began with a beautiful procession, and included the Confiteor, today's readings, along with readings about the life of St. Philip Neri, the Oratorians' patron, and a witness by one of the secular Oratorians, an older woman in the pew in front of me.

The Secular Oratorians' website includes this reflection: The Oratory believes that heaven is other people. In the spirit of prayer alone, and prayer in community, we come to share and encourage each other in our sacramental lives. As Oratory, we meet all peoples, all experiences and in return our understanding of God is widened and deepened.

I experienced a taste of that today during Holy Hour. Our words were woven together with long silences, where the only sound I could hear was the train to New York whooshing past us outside and the clicking of rosary beads in the pew behind me.


  1. Our parish has Perpetual Adoration (where the Eucharist is exposed 24 hrs a day, and people sign up for one hour shifts). My wife goes every Monday morning 8-9 (heroic, I think). It is a great thing for a parish. There are religious communities dedicated to perpetual adoration. Glad you've discovered the "Holy Hour"!

  2. Thanks for this post Allison!

    As someone who has spent literally, weeks at a Dominican monastery where the nuns have perpetual adoration, and as someone who has been in that exquisite silence, I remain someone with issues about adoration.

  3. I was so tired when I wrote the comment that I did not make any sense!

    Here is what I was trying (and failed) to say... I think that adoration can be such a beautiful and blessedly silent time. That is a great thing and one sadly lacking for so many.

    However, I also see how this practice also becomes an act of idolatry and an act of personal and ill-formed faith. Idolatry in that the actual adoration of Jesus as presence in the Monstrance (and VERY present at that) becomes the object rather than Christ himself. The ill-formed -when one begins to believe that they make themselves more holy by being there. No one ever makes one's self more holy, or even a little holy. Only God's grace bestows holiness upon us; we can but respond.

    Does that make more sense? This makes me sound more critical than I actually am - I just offer the cautions as another point of view. I think everyone could benefit from silent time spent adoring the Lord Christ.

  4. Funny Fran: "Great" minds think alike. I was just thinking this as I headed into work this morning.

    The silence was very powerful to me; the knowledge we all were praying in our own ways, however fitfully.

    I like the idea (for me) of a monthly holy hour but I agree - being present there does not make ME more holy. It is an opportunity to reflect on my journey.

  5. Adoration is a wonderful thing! The quiet. But it is not just the quiet... I can have quiet in my car in the parking lot...But more the presence of Jesus and the ability to hear him. Something that must be experienced to be understood.