The question some may be asking is why should one partake in the 40 Hours Devotion? The most obvious answer is to spend time with the Lord in adoration. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and by setting aside time for adoration, we take time to be with the one who loves us, who has called us friends. But there are other reasons for us to participate in this beautiful devotion. In doing some research on the history of this devotion, I came across the following:
In other words, spending time in adoration can serve to strengthen our awareness of being a part of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. As members of that body, we have the privilege of supporting other members of the body through our prayers. Think of the more than 1 billion Catholics scattered throughout the world, and how when we spend time in prayer, we bring them with us, in a sense, praying for their needs. It can be a helpful practice to spend part of our time in adoration calling to mind the various intentions of the members of the Body of Christ, those who are known to us and those who are unknown. Having that awareness of being able to pray for the Church gives us a little more motivation for coming before the Lord in adoration. I sometimes think to myself in prayer – “Perhaps my being here in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is making possible somebody somewhere in the Church to realize, maybe for the first time, that God loves them.” As I mentioned in my previous article about praying in the middle of the night, I find it helpful to pray for those who are out and about during those hours, such as first responders or people working in hospitals. I also think about how at 2 am, there may be some less then virtuous actions taking place, and I offer prayers of reparation for those sins, begging God to grant conversion of heart to those who are stuck in a pattern of sin.
Another thought that I find helpful to think of when in adoration is to unite myself spiritually with those members of the Body of Christ who, while I am in prayer, are also praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. There is probably somebody in the adoration chapel at Blessed Sacrament here in town at that time. There are perpetual adoration chapels all over the world, and it’s comforting to know that we are all praying together. Perhaps there is somebody who has a dying family member in the hospital, and that person has gone down to the hospital chapel to pray for their loved one. There are certainly contemplative religious scattered throughout the world, dedicating so many of their waking hours to prayer. We can unite ourselves to all of these people, and know that those who are praying are doing likewise for us.
I hope that some of these reflections on the communal nature of adoration are helpful to you in motivating you to consider signing up for an hour or two during our 40 Hours Devotion. First and foremost, you will deepen your relationship with Jesus, but you may also be providing the prayers that somebody in the Body of Christ needs for their relationship with the Lord. Perhaps only in Heaven will we understand the impact one hour has had on the Church, but one hour given to the Lord could be just what somebody needs in order to accept the gift of Eternal Life.