ON DECEMBER 8, 9 & 10 our parish will celebrate the 40 Hours Devotion. We thought you would like to know more about the practice and how it started and why. This article and two more to follow will answer those questions.
For us Catholics, the Mass is the central act of worship. It is an act that participates in the eternal reality of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. Many Catholics also wish to be able to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. The Second Vatican Council upheld and encouraged the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. Such devotion derives from the sacrifice of the Mass and serves to move us to both sacramental and spiritual communion with our Lord. Pope Saint John Paul II repeatedly ‘highly recommended’ public and private devotion of the Blessed Sacrament including processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) and the 40 Hours Devotion.
Why do we use a period of 40 semi-continuous hours? Why not 20 or 30 or 50 hours? The number 40 has historically, since very ancient times, signified a ‘sacred’ period of time. The rain during the time of Noah lasted 40 days and nights; the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land; Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before beginning his public ministry; we observe Lent for 40 days; we also remember that traditional ’40 hour period’ from our Lord’s burial until his resurrection.
In the next two bulletins, we will detail the beginnings of 40 Hours Devotion in the Church as a whole. To sign up for Adoration during the 40 Hours, click here.