I met a new friend at adoration: St. Thérèse

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During a fundraiser that seems like it took place 18 years ago instead of 18 months — when it was safe to congregate by the hundreds (maskless!), shake hands with new friends and hug old ones whom we hadn’t seen in awhile — my wife and I were seated next to a priest from our diocese who is pastor of a large suburban parish. At the time, we had recently attended Mass there, and afterward I picked up a church bulletin on the way out. I remember flipping through it during brunch and noticed how thick it was; it had to be 16 or 20 pages long — much of it filled with updates from a seemingly endless list of parish-based apostolates and ministries.

Making small talk, as one does (or did) at such events, I asked the priest about a couple of specific groups, how they got started and whether or not they were succeeding in their missions. Mostly, I complimented him on the variety of outreaches at his parish. From the outside looking in, it was clear that this was a parish whose members had a passion for the Church and zeal for spreading the Gospel. He listened and smiled, and when I was finished, he said that he was blessed to serve at such a large, active parish. Then, in the most humble of ways — almost embarrassed by riches — he said something I haven’t forgotten: “Our parish is a bit like Catholic Disneyland; we have something for everyone.”

A year and half later, after my wife was hired to teach second grade there, we’re now members at the Happiest Parish on Earth. Because we joined during the year of the plague, we haven’t really had the opportunity to embrace all that the church has to offer, but we are taking full advantage of its newest — and, frankly, its best — attraction. Earlier this fall, the parish opened a beautiful perpetual adoration chapel — the Oratory of St. Mary Magdalene — that is unlike any I’ve seen; no expense was spared, and no detail overlooked.

Before the pandemic came and ruined so many things, when my co-workers and I commuted to OSV headquarters every day, we had Eucharistic adoration in our chapel once a month. While it was only half an hour on the first Fridays, it was a spiritual break amid a busy workday that I cherished. After being away from the office for more than nine months, I’ve missed that quiet time with the Lord. So when our new parish extended us an invitation to commit to a weekly hourlong spot, my wife and I both jumped at the chance.

A few months ago, I wrote that my prayer life has been lacking lately. I’ve been in a spiritual rut. Our new weekly appointment before the Blessed Sacrament couldn’t have come at a better time. There is much to pray for in a year that has delivered so much unexpected sorrow. But there is also much to be thankful for, including making a new friend. After it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for years, I’ve decided to use a portion of my time in adoration to read — finally — St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s autobiography “Story of a Soul.” I’m only a few dozen pages into it, but it hasn’t taken long to see why so many have been inspired by her “little way” of holiness.

Reading it, I can only think about our three daughters — my own “little queens,” as St. Thérèse’s father, St. Louis Martin, affectionately called her — and their ever-growing relationship with Christ. And as I read, I’m inspired to deepen my own relationships — with them, with my wife, with our three sons and, especially, with Our Lord. The witness of St. Thérèse and her family have proven that sainthood is possible when the home is centered on a love for Christ, which then naturally, and selflessly, flows outward.

The first step, I truly believe, is spending time with the Real Presence of Christ. And so, what better way is there to spend Saturday nights?

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

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