By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Co-Founder and Co-President
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Oh dear. The nuns at the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wis., claim to have been praying night and day without interruption since 11 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1878.
The convent is very proud that for 137 years they have maintained what is called the tradition of perpetual Eucharistic adoration — uninterrupted prayer before “the body of Christ.” (This means they think Jesus can be seen under the “small white host” and that since he is “exposed in the monstrance,” he must never be left alone and at least two adorers must present.)
According to Associated Press this tradition dates to 1226 in France, revived in popularity in the 19th century and was promoted by Pope John Paul II.
Apparently they’ve all read the bible verse that admonishes — “Pray without ceasing.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
While supposedly the benefits of uninterrupted prayer include “an increase in Mass attendance and religious vocations,” and “return of fallen-away Catholics,” apparently it hasn’t worked that way at the La Crosse order.
Since 1997, the number of adoring nuns began dwindling. As my mother always said: Nothing fails like prayer. So they’ve had to recruit 180 “prayer partners.” (Imagine all those arthritic knees for naught!)AP reports that the nuns typically take the night shifts and laypersons cover the day.
This convent brags it’s prayed for 150,000 people in the last decade alone. The order acts like prayer is actually accomplishing something. The order prayed during a fire in a near-by building in 1923 (good thing the firefighters didn’t join them), a flood in 1965, and through various epidemics. Wouldn’t it have been more efficacious to have helped put out that fire, placed sandbags, nursed those sick? Where’s the virtue in kneeling in prayer asking a deity to do your work for you?
Oh, that’s right. They’re busy “adoring” Jesus. How strange to cumulatively spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accomplishing nothing — except their own debasement.
I know what another freethinking Anne would have thought of this nonsense. The nation’s first secular lobbyist, Annie Newport Royall who roamed the halls of Congress in the 1820s trying to keep Congress on the up and up, also had another very applicable motto:
“Good works instead of long prayers.”
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