From Sunday, January 23 through Tuesday, January 25, we will celebrate the Forty Hours Devotion here at St. John Neumann.
Below, Fr. Michael Vannicola, OSFS, explains the importance of this Devotion and why you should take part in it if you are able.
|Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have heard so many say that the time following Christmas can be a little depressing, quieter and colder, and feeling like we are in a “short holding pattern” in the brief period of Ordinary Time before Lent begins. However, in 2022, we are being provided with an incredible opportunity during this otherwise somewhat quiet time.
In 2024, the Diocese of Arlington is going to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Of course, we know that the anniversary year will be a celebratory one for the local Church, but our Bishop didn’t want to limit the renewal that such a celebration can bring. Therefore, he has included the two preceding years in a three-year celebration of God’s blessings on the faithful of Northern Virginia.
This first year, which begins this weekend with the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, focuses on the Eucharist and calls us to rejoice in our lives as a Eucharistic people. Part of this observance includes in each parish of the diocese, at the Bishop’s request, a celebration of the 40 Hours Devotion. These will be held in the various parishes at various times during this special year focused on the Body and Blood of Christ.
Before I explain what the devotion is, I want to tell you that its origins have a place near and dear to our hearts. This special period of prayer was brought to the United States by none other than Saint John Neumann! Our parish patron had an incredible devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and he desired so very much for his people in his care to share in that devotion. He saw an incredible value in it, and you will too. This devotion still features prominently in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where our parish patron was once Bishop, and how fortunate we are that our Bishop wishes to foster that same love and devotion for the Eucharist in us!
So what is the 40 Hours Devotion exactly? It is a forty-hour period of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in solemn exposition. The Second Vatican Council taught us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of our Christian life,” and there is no more sacred time than when we celebrate the Holy Mass. Vatican II also encouraged the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. This time allows us to reflect on our life as a Eucharistic people, acknowledge the power of the Real Presence, and grow in holiness.
During the 40 Hours, which we will observe here from January 23-25, there will be plenty of time for private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in as many of the 40 Hours as possible. In addition, please sign up to be here at a specific time to serve as an Adoration Guardian, helping to ensure that during this devotional period, there is always someone present with the Blessed Sacrament. (Sign up here). This time will also include Masses, special liturgies, and services that offer special readings and musical selections. Our priests, deacons, and some of our lay leaders will reflect on our Eucharistic life, and our young Catholics will lead a special time of praise and worship. In addition, there will be opportunities to share in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What is also so wonderful is our celebration of 40 Hours will include the Feast of our other Patron, Saint Francis de Sales. Hearing both words by him and about him, we are sure to be inspired.
Here you will find our schedule. This time is like a retreat for the parish. So please take time out of your day to come and be with us for our liturgies and prayers, and please sign up for the quiet times of worship and adoration.
After the Closing Mass for 40 Hours on January 25, we will gather as a parish for a festive reception to celebrate how good God has been in giving his very self to us and in allowing us to experience the graces of the Heavenly Banquet while here on Earth.
This is going to be a wonderful time in the life of our parish. I so very much look forward to praying with you.