Every Sunday afternoon at 5pm, my parish has a Holy Hour, a service of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, concluding with the blessing of Benediction. It’s a very special hour, ending with a very special moment.
For the majority of Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is most familiar to us in terms of receiving It in Holy Communion near the conclusion of Mass. But very shortly afterward, we are back out into the world and perhaps we don’t always consider fully what it is that we have just done.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament goes some way toward addressing this – for that hour, we have the opportunity simply to be present before the Lord in the Eucharist. He is on the Altar in the Monstrance, which is almost like a little golden throne, and this emphasises the great importance we place on the Eucharist, which we adorn with lit candles.
During this hour, there is no set liturgy – we can adore the Lord as we choose. Finally, at the end of the Holy Hour, we pray the Divine Praises and then end with Benediction, which is the moment of solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. This is the moment that is captured in the photograph above.
It seems to me that such a Holy Hour of Adoration is the closest we can get to Heaven in this life. We remain still there before the Lord, just adoring Him silently, before receiving His blessing. That sounds pretty much like Heaven to me.
Holy Hours of this sort seem not to be too well-attended in my experience – which is a pity, given how simple and beautiful they are. They allow us to just be there, bringing whatever we need to before the Lord – intentions for ourselves, our loved ones, peace in the world, those who have asked our prayers and so forth. We have the chance simply to contemplate Him silently, something we do not always get the chance to do these days. And at a very simple and practical level, such a Holy Hour offers us a moment of ‘time out’ from the world, from our daily lives and from all the interior cares we may have. Again, that sounds like Heaven to me.
Our Holy Hour is my favourite hour of the entire week and I look forward to it with great anticipation. And I am deeply grateful for it – I know that not every Catholic parish has a Holy Hour – and for the great graces it offers.