“The Eucharist is the greatest gift of the love of Jesus Christ.” St. Peter Julian Eymard
This year, the Catholic Diocese I reside in will celebrate its 50th anniversary, having been established in 1968 by Pope Paul VI. Our bishop, recognizing that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324, Lumen Gentium 11) declared a Jubilee Year of the Eucharist from the First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017, through the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, November 25, 2018. The old adage, “You are what you eat,” could not be more evident. As we partake of the Body of Christ, we are transformed into a Eucharistic people. “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist, in turn, confirms our way of thinking.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1327, St. Irenaeus)
As Catholics, we believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374). Once a flourishing practice began many centuries ago, Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament have steadily declined in our churches within the last 50 years, when the emphasis on the Eucharist was placed more within the context of the Mass. But, the importance of placing ourselves in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist has always been extolled by the Church. Consider the words of Pope John Paul II, in his message for World Mission Sunday 2004, who said, “there is need of apostles who are “experts” in the celebration, adoration, and contemplation of the Eucharist.” Pope Benedict, in Sacramentum Caritas, stated, “When we contemplate the sacred host, his glorious transfigured and risen Body, we contemplate what we shall contemplate in eternity…” And St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta encouraged the faithful to “Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power.”
I remember the first time I went to Adoration. Feeling somewhat self-conscious and not really knowing what “to do”, I entered the silent chapel as quietly as I could and knelt down. I do not remember that day what I thought or prayed about during my short time there, but I do remember how calming and peaceful it was. A mother surrounded by constant noise, the silence was almost deafening. Over the next few weeks, I was drawn more and more to that little haven, and little by little, I began to grasp how being in His Presence could be an integral part of my spiritual journey. I realized, too, that how one spends one’s time in Adoration is as different and individualistic as we each are.
I was once asked by someone who was thinking of “trying” Adoration, “What do you do in there?” – a hint of mystique and intrigue in her voice. I thought of St. John Vianney and how he had once posed the same question to a man who often spent hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. His response, “I look at Him and He looks at me,” shows us just how simple adoration of our God can be. My time in Adoration over the years has varied, frequently reflecting the circumstances of my life at the time. Lately, I have been inspired to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and to spend some time reading the writings of the early Church Fathers for a class I am currently taking.
Just recently, Catholic Sistas expanded its team of reviewers, including reviewing a few new titles for TAN Books. As I scanned the titles, one instantly jumped out at me, 100 Holy Hours for Women. Written by Mother Mary Raphael Lubowidzka as a spiritual guide for her fellow Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the book synopsis stated it contained a “plethora of profound spiritual insight into the mystery of the Eucharist.” Perfect. Just what I needed to delve more deeply into my prayer time at Adoration during our Diocesan Year of the Eucharist.
A package arrived one day and being somewhat distracted at the time, I did not notice the sender as I opened it. As soon as I saw its contents, however, I was more than delighted. In my hands, I held a perfectly sized prayer book in the loveliest shade of blue, with gold gilt-edged rounded pages, and a gold ribbon bookmark. Its cover had the look and feel of real leather and its spine was decorated in a beautiful, feminine pattern with a vintage look. I resisted the impulse to open its pages, knowing I would want to savor its contents in an environment where I would not be interrupted.
I walked into the chapel a day or two later, the book conveniently tucked into my purse. (I wanted to protect its cover from the disarray in my purse, so I had slipped it into a quart-sized bag, which fit it perfectly.) The book contains 100 meditations and normally I would have skipped ahead to the first meditation, but I felt compelled this time to read its introductory sections. The Foreword by John Moorehouse, Acquisitions Editor at TAN Books, related how the book happened to come into the possession of their publishing company. A series of events that can only be described as providential, it made me appreciate even more the opportunity I was being given to explore its contents. Next, was a Publisher’s Note, which stated, “We at TAN Books consider it an honor and a privilege to publish this new edition of what may very well be a minor spiritual classic.” Wow. And if that didn’t already grab my full attention, the Note also explained their reasoning for including the original preface, as it was “so rich in theological insight and wise counsel as to merit inclusion… We trust readers will agree.” Now counted among its readers, I can agree wholeheartedly.
The meditations themselves are written as such that they can be used in a myriad of ways. Each meditation opens with a Scripture verse, which can be used alone as a springboard for reflection. The meditation is then divided into two parts. The first part is a further exploration of the Scripture verse, along with other related verses and their connection to the Eucharist. The second part is on a more personal level, calling the reader to deepen her own spiritual journey, again with more Scripture verses and a prayer that truly unites the heart and soul to Him who is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist we adore.
I consider myself very blessed to have had the opportunity to review 100 Holy Hours for Women. Although I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, had I come across this book, I would have purchased a copy. Whether you are a “newbie” to spending time in Adoration or a regular visitor, every woman would benefit from the easy-to-read, but deeply spiritual, meditations contained with its pages. Mother Mary Raphael’s extensive knowledge of Scripture, her insightfulness into the joys and challenges of the spiritual life, and her obvious love and devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, all combine in one volume to provide women with a real gem that is sure to be treasured for years to come.
DISCLOSURE AND ACCURACY OF REVIEW
Catholic Sistas was not paid to do this review – the publisher offered free materials in exchange for an honest review of this product. All reviews are current as of the publish date. If you notice that a review contains information that is no longer accurate, please email [email protected] and we will be happy to amend this review.