Quiet time, well spent

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Healing host — Deacon Arnaldo Santos presents the Blessed Sacrament to youth during a night of Praise, Worship, and Healing for the young church community at Bridgeton’s Holy Cross Parish. Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

Flora Fingerhut remembers the time in 1996 when Msgr. Charles Barth, then-pastor of Saint Peter Parish, Merchantville, approved of her and her husband’s idea.

“My husband and I would travel everywhere to different churches, looking for adoration chapels to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament,” she says. So when the opportunity arose to spend more of that time at her own parish, she was enthused.

A room once reserved for the church’s baptismal font became the location of a perpetual adoration chapel. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, faithful can spend time in front of the Real Presence, and bring their joys, struggles, questions and praise. “If only people would understand how much Jesus loves us, and wants us to be with him,” Fingerhut said.

“Adoration is the spiritual powerhouse of this community,” says Father Timothy Byerley, current pastor of Saint Peter’s.

He remembers first learning to love the time in prayer before Jesus as a seminarian at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. “It was a very sacred time, bathed in the divine presence,” he recalls.

Over the past few months, the parish has published in its bulletin the testimonies of those receiving adoration’s graces.

“Thank You, Lord, for the good experience and most of all, the turbulence, pain and suffering … I am here today because I have won this war with YOUR guidance, because of the endless love that You have in me,” one person wrote. Another shared, “God has continued to heal me from anxiety, depression, worries, and fears … He has touched me, my heart and family … He has called me to surrender my will so that He does His in me. Amen!”

The perpetual adoration chapel at Saint Peter Parish, Merchantville. Photo by Peter G. Sánchez

Saint Peter’s is one of two parishes in the Diocese of Camden with perpetual adoration. The other is Linwood’s Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. But many other churches throughout the diocese provide time in front of the Blessed Sacrament for those of all ages who seek comfort and hope.

Time spent in silence before the Blessed Sacrament

“We’re in a world of constant noise, and in adoration, one gets a break from the clutter, and a sense of peace and rest,” said Jessica Gettings, coordinator of religious education at Saint Joseph Parish in Somers Point, and young adult ministry leader at Saint Katharine Drexel in Egg Harbor Township.

She and her peers will frequently begin their Thursday night gatherings with rosary and quiet time in front of the Blessed Sacrament at Saint Katharine Drexel, she says.

“It’s gotten me through a lot,” she testifies.

Saint John Vianney wrote of time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament: “I look at him, and he looks at me.”

Lest one feel pressure to pray or think a certain way while in adoration, Rev. Mr. John March, a seminarian for the diocese, says that there are no required books, prayers or thoughts while in the chapel.

One only need to rest in Jesus, attentive to his voice for guidance and aid.

“Through my seasons of life, even if it’s hearing his voice, or just being comforted in his presence, it calms me down,” he says.

Adoration is an important part of many local youth group events, such as Summer in the City, and also larger gatherings, such as the recent National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Perhaps as busy as we are, or as inundated as we are with media and/or social media, we’re finding that we really do need some ‘peace and quiet’ to balance out our lives,” wrote Mike Bedics, director of Worship and Christian Initiation for the Diocese of Camden, in a recent letter to parish priests and music ministers entitled “Some thoughts about Holy Hour.”