Sunday afternoon was one of the most moving and encouraging moments of my priesthood yet. As you all know, Pope Francis called for prayer and fasting to occur on Saturday (1-5pm Eastern) to pray for peace in Syria.
Unfortunately, with the way that most parishes are arranged it was impossible to arrange anything to occur during those hours here at my parish. After talking with my pastor we decided that we would instead offer some time of quiet prayer in our parish church on Sunday afternoon. From 3-6pm we exposed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar and prayed silently. By scheduling something for Sunday afternoon we were able to utilize the parish bulletin and were able to announce the time of prayer at all the weekend Masses, ensuring that most of our parishioners would hear of our plan.
To be honest on such short notice I did not expect a great turn out. What happened shocked me, impressed me and it encouraged me. We started out small with just a few people at 3pm. Quickly the gathering grew to over 50. We hit a peak of about 60 people in the church at a given time. people came and went. Some stayed for 10 minutes, some stayed for three hours. There were families, children, teens, parishioners of every walk of life present. Over the course of the three hours over 150 people came and went.Every thirty minutes we prayed either the Litany of the Sacred Heart or the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The majority of the time was spent simply in silence before our Eucharistic Lord. At 6pm we sang the Tantum Ergo and I gave benediction.
I was honestly surprised to see so many people heed the call of Pope Francis to prayer. Pleasantly surprised. Our people have a great love for the Eucharist. They have a love for the Holy Father and his leadership. Together we prayed for peace. This won’t be the last time we offer Eucharistic adoration. In fact, we were so encouraged that we will be offering adoration of the Blessed Sacrament much more frequently, on a regular basis in the future.
Thank you Lord for gathering your people together in your Presence. Bless the people of Syria with peace. Move the hearts of those in positions of authority to choose peace. Amen.