Philippa Martyr: Secret wildfire of Adoration

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Teens pray during adoration. Young people can not only discover the timeless faith of the Church, but can also re-energise and renew it. Photo: CNS, Zoey Maraist, Arlington Catholic Herald

Parish churches are recapturing a sense of the sacred

We’re currently looking at things that might help the moribund and rapidly shrinking Catholic Church in Australia to turn its fortunes around, starting with recapturing a sense of the sacred.

This is especially relevant when we look at the liturgy. This is a huge topic, so I’m going to unpack it a little more.

Dioceses and churches in Australia and around the world are already finding that small changes bring great rewards. Have you noticed that more and more people are now kneeling to receive Holy Communion? (I notice they’re also young enough to have good knees.)

More parishes are also rediscovering Holy Communion under both species with the priest using intinction, which is less likely to cause spillage.

It doesn’t really take any longer to distribute Holy Communion in this way – we’re talking five minutes versus three minutes. And really, when we are physically eating God Himself, I’m not sure why we have to rush things.

Another beautiful trend on the rise is seasonal devotions – really living the liturgical year and celebrating each seasonal change.

Another beautiful trend on the rise is seasonal devotions – really living the liturgical year and celebrating each seasonal change.

None of this is nostalgia: the Catholics driving these trends are too young to remember the pre-conciliar Church. Instead, for the first time they’re plugging into an amazing spiritual heritage, and they’re loving it.

The place of sacred music and silence

Any mention of Church music is guaranteed to cause an acrimonious debate, so I won’t wade in too deeply here. We have all encountered enough sentimental, secular-style music in our churches to know its effects.

But have you ever noticed how much more strongly the congregation sings when they’re asked to chant the Our Father unaccompanied? There’s a beautiful swell of human voices that ebbs and flows naturally, because everyone knows the words and the melody, and can sing it with confidence.

The flipside of music is silence. Many parishes are discovering the benefits of silence in the church at least before Mass, allowing those present to pray without distraction. This takes a parish priest who is willing to speak from the pulpit (probably more than once) about the need to allow other people that peaceful time with God before Mass in the church. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.

Man praying the rosary
People of all ages visited churches across Sydney for the annual 24 hours of Adoration and Reconciliation in April 2019. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

I’ve already suggested that Communion services cease in metropolitan areas where there are multiple churches with daily Mass available. Someone has since shared with me the US Catholic Bishops Conference advice that people should be encouraged to attend Mass in another parish during the week rather than expect a Communion service in their own parish.

Does your parish have any times set aside for Adoration? This is growing like a secret wildfire in parishes all over Australia, and it’s a powerhouse of prayer and graces for what’s promising to be an interesting future.

Some parishes are adding Adoration chapels with 24-hour secure access and have healthy rosters for day and night Adoration.

This is just scratching the surface, but it’s amazing how many signs of hope and liturgical renewal there are in our increasingly tiny Church in Australia

Related article:

Simcha Fisher: Confirmation candidates need Eucharistic Adoration
Matthew Tan: When silence is God’s language