Naples | On the first Friday of each month, the faithful of Naples converge on St. Peter the Apostle Parish to spend an hour with the Lord. The first Friday Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour has a dedicated following of people who find beauty and peace during their time in the presence of the Lord.
Pope Francis explained Eucharistic Adoration in a talk to religious women by saying: “In the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mary says to us: ‘Look at my Son Jesus, keep your gaze fixed on Him, listen to Him, speak with Him. He is gazing at you with love. Do not be afraid! He will teach you to follow Him and to bear witness to Him in all that you do, whether great and small, in your family life, at work, at times of celebration. He will teach you to go out of yourself and to look upon others with love, as He did. He loved you and loves you, not with words but with deeds.’”
For the faithful who attend the first Friday Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour at St. Peter the Apostle, these words are taken to heart. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” said one devotee. “The power is sometimes overwhelming.”
The response to adoration was not always so strong. Before the more enhanced adoration, which includes music, intercessions and a procession, some months there were very few people attending. Now, each month there are several hundred people who attend, with the numbers swelling to well over 600 during the winter months, explained Ginny Nolan of St. Peter the Apostle Parish.
The Holy Hour begins as people gather in silent prayer. Near the altar, there are dozens of red candles on stands, which flicker and add a peaceful serenity to the occasion.
On Aug. 5, Father Guillermo Ochoa, the newly appointed Parochial Vicar at St. Peter the Apostle, led the Holy Hour service and remarked on how good it was to see so many people taking a break from their busy lives to spend time with the Lord. The Holy Hour service included music and prayers in Spanish, Portuguese and English to accommodate the multicultural nature of the Parish community. Immediately following the earlier first Friday service, the Haitian community holds their own.
Father Ochoa entered the church as the hymn “O Christe Domine Jesu” (O Christ, Lord Jesus) was repeated over and over again. He then prepared the Holy Eucharist for exposition and adoration in the monstrance and the Holy Hour began.
After singing “Ubi Caritas” and “Bless the Lord, My Soul,” excerpts from Holy Scriptures were read in the three languages.
Then silence. After the period of silence there were intercessions, which were prepared in advance and the congregation was encouraged to add to them by calling out.
This was followed by a procession. Father Ochoa carried the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament among the people, as incense rose from the censer. The procession slowly worked its way down each aisle to allow everyone present to be closer to the Lord. As this took place, the Litany of Saints was sung.
The Benediction was given as the Blessed Sacrament was raised, followed by a blessing and the Divine Praises. Then everyone was asked to say in unison: “May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored and loved with most grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time.”
At the conclusion, Father Ochoa placed the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and then the closing hymn of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” was sung and the service concluded.
St. John Paul II said in “Redeemer of Man” that Jesus wants the faithful to do more than go to Mass on Sunday: “Our communal worship at Mass must go together with our personal worship of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration in order that our love may be complete.”
While not every Parish in the Diocese has a complete Holy Hour service such as St. Peter the Apostles Parish, adoration is available on different days and at different times. In addition, parishes such as St. Raphael in Lehigh Acres, St. John the Evangelist in Naples, St. Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte, and St. Michael in Wauchula have perpetual adoration. Check your parish bulletin, or contact your parish or nearby parishes for hours. For parish contact information, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org and follow the link at the top of the page to “Find a Parish.”