Inspired by the Holy Spirit

After setting up for Mass this morning, I glanced at a Catholic news headline that said, “Dublin archbishop responds to stabbing of 3 children that sparked violent riots”. Ugh! Stabbing children? Why? Why?

I clicked on the headline. Reading the article, I thought what possible reason could there be to stab little children, including a 5 year-old. I kept reading. People rioting in response to the stabbings. Why? Yes, the stabbings are an awful thing but rioting is no solution.

Unfortunately, hate begets hate. I sat in the pew praying. I asked God how are we ever going to change this.

Here I should mention I have been slowly reading a book given to me called In Sinu Jesu When Heart Speaks to Heart – The Journal of a Priest at Prayer written by an unidentified Benedictine Monk (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press. 2016.) It is the journal of a Benedictine monk beginning in 2007 who received locutions of our Lord Jesus speaking to him (at times it is the Blessed Virgin Mary who speaks to him). The journal is the recording of the words said to the monk while he is in Adoration. (I am a little over halfway through the book). Jesus speaks often about the importance of Adoration. He speaks of a renewal of the priesthood that will come from time spent in Adoration and how He will change the world.

So, when I prayed in the pew before Mass, asking how can we change this, the answer I received was to offer a Holy Hour with Adoration after Mass. I thought no one knows about it. Who would stay for it? They probably have other places to go. The idea stuck with me. So, while some of the parishioners were praying the Rosary before Mass, I got the monstrance out and put out the extra candles for Adoration. As I did so, I thought they probably were wondering if I had flipped my lid. First Friday Adoration isn’t till next week. (Little do they know that I flipped my lid a long time ago).

As one person went into the church and saw the monstrance and candles out, she came back into the sacristy and said, it’s not First Friday, right? I replied that she was right and that this was something completely unplanned and that I would explain during the homily. When the lector went to light the candles for Mass, I told her I was going to offer an unplanned time for Adoration after Mass so she should light the other candles too. Neither of them questioned me.

It actually fit with what I had already planned for my homily. Today’s first reading continues the story of Maccabees. I reminded them how we had recently read how the Greeks had overrun Israel. The Greek king ordered all the Israelites to abandon their own God to worship as he directed as their king. Many Jews did as the Greek king directed but not all. This is the story of the two books of Maccabees. Those who worshipped the false gods desecrated the altar of the Jews by offering the false sacrifices of the Greeks on it. In today’s first reading, the Jews who kept their Jewish faith have retaken the area where the altar was. They rededicated it to the one true God. This festival was celebrated for 8 days and was the first Hanukkah.

Turning to today’s gospel reading, Jesus finds people selling things in the Temple. It was supposed to be a “house of prayer” but they made it a marketplace, a “den of thieves.” Jesus restored it as a “house of prayer.” Thanks be to God.

Today many do not see our altars in Catholic Churches as sacred. Just a few weeks ago, a secular music video was recorded in a Catholic Church in Brooklyn with the musician dancing seductively around the altar. Thankfully, the Bishop responded promptly to address this (click here to see articles about it).

Then, I continued my homily by adding what I had read about the stabbing and riots in Ireland. I told them about the book I mentioned above and its call for more Adoration. I told them I would offer one hour of Adoration after Mass. They could stay if they were able but since it was unannounced, they should not feel obligated to stay if they had to go someplace else.

After Mass, there was no mass exodus as soon as Mass was over. About half of them stayed for a while with most of that half staying the whole hour.

What did we do for the hour since nothing was planned? We prayed in silence. Did it make a difference? Prayer always makes a difference. For me, just the thought of spending the hour in Adoration inspired me during Mass to preside with a strong faith. For me, the hour I spent before the Lord helped me find peace in my heart in the midst of a troubled world.

Several hours later, I began texting with a friend who had recently been hacked. Another troubled act. Why do people do this? Why don’t they put their computer skills to good use?

At some point in our conversation I told her about the stabbing and riots in Ireland and the Holy Hour. She expressed her own distress at this news. I said, “Stabbing little children is terrible but rioting in response to it serves no good. Hate begets hate. What is needed to stop the hate is love.”

She in turn responded, “Our compass is broken.”

I responded, “I don’t think that the true Christian compass is broken. They threw it out because they thought it was broken because it didn’t point the way they wanted.”

How is your moral compass? If you have drifted away from Christ, Jesus offers you two remedies. The first is the Sacrament of Reconciliation where you can confess your sins. The second is to spend some time in Adoration. (If your parish does not offer time for Adoration, then spent some time in prayer before a Crucifix at home.) Give your heart to Jesus. Let Jesus change the world by starting with you.


Fr. Jeff

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