Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament

 Newsletter No. 33


August 2000

A Holy Hour for Every Day Msgr. Robert J. McCarthy

For more than 55 years, I have ministered to migrant carnivalworkers and made a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in churches,chapels and monasteries throughout the continent.I want to share my experiences, not to “blow my own horn,” but in thehope that others will be encouraged to make a daily Holy Hour a part oftheir spiritual life. The daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament started for me ayear before I was ordained, when Bishop Fulton Sheen visited my seminary andchallenged each seminarian to make a daily Holy Hour, as he himself haddone for years. I started my daily Holy Hour that day and, except in timeof sickness or impossibility, I have made my hour with Jesus every daysince. In my early assignments as an associate pastor, the Holy Hour wasthe most important part of my day. Sometimes I made my hour of adorationat 6 o’clock in the morning before my Mass at 7. Other times it was laterin the day but usually some time before noon. I gave my Holy Hour toppriority and completed it before going about my daily duties that included visitinghomes, instructing schoolchildren and making calls on the sick. As I “graduated” from associate pastor, my daily Holy Hour waseasier because I could set times that were more convenient, before carryingout parochial duties. As a pastor, I was assigned to parishes with largedebts. Realizing that I could not solve these problems with my abilities, Iturned them over to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with a daily Holy Hour, andconsecrated myself and the parish to Him. Before too long, in ways that I couldn’t explain, the debts werepaid, and the church and school seemed to thrive! I was convinced more thanever of the necessity of a daily Holy Hour, as Jesus had promised that Hewould bless the projects of priests who were dedicated to Him. In 1970, Pope Paul VI established the Pontifical Commission for thePastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, and I was appointed to ministerto the men and women engaged in working with traveling carnivals. Thisseemed like an insurmountable task for a rural priest who has never workedwith migrants. Again I turned to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in my dailyHoly Hours, and things began to flourish. Some 400 carnivals, employingabout 60,000 people, perform at nearly 4,000 state and county fairs in theUnited States and Canada, and these workers desire the services of the Church.Given all this, and realizing my inadequacy, I turned the entireapostolate over to Jesus, with the promise to pray a Holy Hour before the BlessedSacrament no matter where I might be. St. Dunstans Basilica [on Prince Edward Island in Canada] was aplace where I made three or four Holy Hours, one each day I was there, forabout 18 consecutive years while visiting the carnival in that city. And thiswas only one city. For another two days, there were Holy Hours in thecathedral in Anchorage, Alaska, while visiting the state. There were Holy Hoursin St. Peter’s in Rome, while visiting the Vatican to make my annual report onthe work with migrants. And there were Holy Hours in Assisi, Fatima andother spots in Europe. It seems miraculous, but true, that there were chapels and churchesnearby the many places my work carried me, where I could easily make myHoly Hour before going to the carnival lot. One early morning in Boston,around dawn, I was going out hoping to find a church that was open.Approaching a well-dressed man near the bus stop, I asked where there was a church.The man told me of a chapel that was within a few feet of where we stood,housed in a large building. This was a typical downtown chapel, which wascared for by a religious community of brothers, and after this visit I became aregular for some time to come. Then there was the time in Salt Lake City, the home of theMormons, where I arrived at night and went to a hotel. The next morning, Iarose early and walked on a little street only a block from my hotel. Whileon my stroll, I found a little chapel in a business building. Walking intothat chapel, I found that there was even exposition of the BlessedSacrament, with Jesus just waiting for me. These little chapels, hidden in large buildings, are not toouncommon in our large cities. Toronto has one located right in the center of itsfinancial district, with the chapel on the second floor of a largebusiness complex. Another time, I arrived at about midnight in a tiny village inKinsley, Kansas and I was told by a resident that their Catholic church wasnever locked. So early in the morning, while it was still dark, I found myway to the church, and there, all alone, I had a Holy Hour with my Master. Something similar happened in Chatham, New Brunswick. The tinyplane I was on was about three hours late in arriving in Chatham, so I went tomy little motel room for much needed sleep. Early in the morning, I awoke, looked out my window and saw not faraway the spires of the basilica. Before long I was with Jesus in a verycomfortable side chapel. This brings out the words of St. Clauderegarding Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: “I can find You wherever I go.” During each January and February, I had to visit the workers intheir winter quarters. My first stop was Tampa, Florida, where a Jesuitchurch was less than a block from my room and where I went each day for my hour ofadoration. I then went on to Minneapolis, and not far from the placewhere I stayed was a church I could walk to. From there, it was back to Miami,where there was a fine hospital chapel open all hours for Holy Hours. And asimilar chapel was available when I was in New York City. Today many airports have chapels, and since most of my travels wereby plane, I used these chapels for my Holy Hours. Really, if one takes alittle time to look, he can find chapels and churches nearly everywhere tospend time with Jesus. After more than 50 years of priesthood and daily Holy Hours, Iattribute my perseverance and success to my time with Jesus in the BlessedSacrament. The priesthood is truly a sacred vocation, with preaching, teaching,administering the sacraments, caring for the poor and the sick, and somany other spiritual ministries. But the priesthood is also a lonely life,and many times it is difficult and burdensome as priests assume parishproblems (such as debts), experience lack of cooperation and even facecriticism. Naturally, by his own strength, a priest may not be able to handleall this. But supernaturally, with the grace of God, he can do all things.Sharing his problems and difficult times with Jesus in the BlessedSacrament is bound to lighten the burdens. The priest can turn to Jesus atanytime, day or night, in the Blessed Sacrament and share with Him his problems. As I come to the end of my life, my priesthood and my duties, Igive all credit for any of my successes to my daily Holy Hour. At the time ofmy retirement from parish ministry, my primary request made to my bishopwas that I might have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a chapel in myresidence.It is here that I spend my Holy Hour and other times each dayinterceding for the Church and its active priests who continue to serve. As I come to the chapel to start my daily Holy Hour, I speak withthe same words I’ve used over the years to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament:“When the angels in the sanctuary are blessing You and I am in my last agony,then remember this day, this chapel and this hour with You.”

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Phone: (518) 561-8193 Fax: (518) 566-7103

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P.O. Box 1701
Plattsburgh, NY 12901, USA


Phone: (518) 561-8193
E-mail: ACFP2000@aol.com

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