Father Kirby Rust called on parishioners to spend the 40 hours following Mass focused on one word — devotion.
Father Rust spoke during the opening liturgy of the 40 Hours Eucharistic Devotion hosted by St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., March 30.
“We are here to devote ourselves to Christ,” he said during the homily. “The Eucharist is not a thing we worship, it’s a person we come to adore.”
Eucharistic Procession, adoration and fellowship followed the Mass.
Several hundred people spilled into the streets surrounding St. James for the procession that came alive with music and prayers.
Father Michael Wimsatt, St. James pastor, said the day was very lively and he was pleased with the turnout. Eucharistic processions and adoration are more popular in other parts of the world than they are in North America, he said, but the parishioners were very receptive to it.
“In a way, all of life is a procession, so that part of the 40 Hours Devotion speaks to human life,” he said. “It’s an ancient rite of the church, but it still breathes a lot of new life into the church today.”
Father Loi Pham, St. James’ associate pastor, was born and raised in Vietnam, where he said processions and adoration were the norm.
“People in Vietnam, especially in my home diocese, have a greater devotion to Mary,” he said. “Devotions nurture and keep faith strong. … And the amazing thing about the people of St. James is that they have strong faith and devotion to the Eucharist.”
Folks old and young attended Mass and walked in the procession, stayed in the church for adoration and shared a meal in the parish hall. Father Wimsatt noted that many generations came together.
“The church is at its best when it’s multigenerational,” he said.
For parishioners Peggy and Mel Miller, it was the first time experiencing such an event.
“We need this sort of thing now,” Peggy Miller said. “It makes me feel like we’re going to make a difference. That it works.”
Mel Miller agreed.
“This was a special occasion. The music, the whole service just brings you closer to what your religious beliefs are. It was good to see all the priests who have served at St. James, they’re all such good people.”
James Hobbs, a high school sophomore and St. James parishioner, called the devotion a blessing.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to deepen our faith,” he said. “It’s devotion. We’re devoting ourselves more deeply to the sacrament.”
Although Hobbs has been part of Corpus Christi processions in the past, he said this was the first time he’s experienced a 40 Hours Devotion.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “So many places don’t have the opportunity to do things like this. It’s a very big blessing.”
Elisa Garcia said Eucharistic adoration takes her back to her childhood in the Philippines.
“It goes back to when I was a child,” she said. “We would go visit the blessed sacrament for five or 15 minutes. It’s Jesus Christ in the form of the host, so that’s big.”
Garcia, the Millers, Hobbs and many others signed up for hour-long shifts to ensure adoration continued for the 40 hours. Father Wimsatt said the Hispanic community, the local Knights of Columbus chapter and the church’s ladies club were also instrumental in the devotion.
The rest of the 40 Hours Devotion included confession, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Benediction, and Mass. It concluded with Mass and a second Eucharistic procession April 1, the day before Palm Sunday.
“I would love to have many other parishes set up this” 40 Hours Devotion, Father Pham said. “I can’t remember who said it, but someone told me ‘the Eucharist is the highway to heaven.’ If we want to get there, the fastest way is through the Eucharist.”
“In a way, all of life is a procession, so that part of the 40 Hours Devotion speaks to human life.”Father Michael Wimsatt, St. James Church pastor
Absolutely a true blessing!!
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