27 February 2021

Talks on the Sacramentals, by Msgr Arthur Tonne - Forty Hours

"I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth." Psalm 25:8.

Pope Pius XI called St. John Vianney "the little and humble, the poor and simple, but wholly glorious parish priest of Ars."

His outstanding devotion was to our Lord in the Eucharist. St. John Vianney loved our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament so intensely and so generously that he made amends for the many insults offered to Jesus on the altar. One day he met some server boys who were practicing for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. They were throwing flowers along the aisle where our Lord was to be carried. You have noticed that done in some churches. With a saintly smile the Cure of Ars said to the youngsters:

"When you throw flowers before the Blessed Sacrament, my boys, hide your hearts in your baskets, and send them to Jesus Christ among the roses."

In that same spirit of love for our Lord in the Eucharist we are going to put our hearts into every act, every prayer, every ceremony of the Forty Hours Devotion which begins in our church next Friday.

Are you a good Catholic? The way you make the Forty Hours is a true measure of your Catholic faith. The spiritual condition of our parish, and of you individually will be gauged by our devotion during those Eucharistic days. Put your heart into the Forty Hours.

The ceremonies are impressive and rich in meaning. Why just forty hours? The devotion recalls the forty hours that our Lord rested in the tomb. It grew out of the Eucharist procession of the middle ages. The custom of continuous adoration began in Milan, Italy, in May, 1537. This round of prayers by all the faithful by day and by night was established to appease the anger of God provoked by the sins of Christians, and especially to drive back the Turks who were bent on the destruction of Christianity. Today you can put the Communists in place of the Turks.

1. In preparation for Forty Hours every opportunity is given for Confession, so that everyone can receive Holy Communion. The servers and school children are trained for their part in the Mass and procession. The choir practices the songs required. The altar is decorated as beautifully as possible.

2. On the morning of the first day we celebrate the Mass of Exposition, the formal opening of these days of grace. Read in your missals the votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament. Those prayers will thrill you and enlighten you. They will tell you much of what the Bible says about the Blessed Sacrament. They will give you the grounds for our faith in the Eucharist.

3. At Communion time the celebrant places the sacred Host in the monstrance that It may be exposed to the gaze of all.

4. After Mass the celebrant takes off the chasuble, puts on the cope, and incenses the Blessed Sacrament. The clouds of incense show our prayers rising to our Redeemer.

5. Over his shoulders the priest receives the veil and with it takes the monstrance, covering his hands to show that it is our Lord Himself he is carrying. He bids the procession begin by singing the 'Pange Lingua':

"Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory, "Of His flesh the mystery sing."

6. As the procession files through the church everyone should kneel. When our Lord walks past you, look at Him a moment and then bow your head in adoration. In many places the children or servers strew little flowers as a fragrant path for our Lord to trod. It was this little ceremony to which St. John Vianney referred when he told those boys to put their hearts in their flowers as they threw them before our Savior. We will do the same thing, especially during the procession.

7. Back at the altar the priest places the monstrance on the throne. While the choir sings Tantum Ergo, he incenses the Blessed Sacrament.

8. He then chants the Litany of All Saints, calling upon the angels and saints, the blessed of all time, to join with us in adoring the Creator of heaven and earth. We beg for protection from all evils...through the merits of Jesus Christ. We beseech blessing upon every group in the Church and outside the Church. Pray this Litany with us.

9. On the second day of Forty Hours we celebrate the solemn Mass for peace, peace of heart and peace in the world. Attend that Mass with meaning and affection.

10. On the third day the Mass of Reparation to the Blessed Sacrament is again offered. In the afternoon or evening the Forty Hours close with the singing of the Litany, procession, Tantum Ergo, chanting of the orations, and Benediction, the blessing of our Lord Himself, and Holy God.

11. On entering and leaving church during Forty Hours genuflect on both knees as special adoration to our Lord visible on the altar. Try to spend as much time as possible with Him. Come alone and come with your friends, and your family, especially bringing the children. Be sure to join your particular parish group. See that your children and your boys who serve are here for their appointed hours. They are the official guards of honor to our Lord. Use your prayerbook and your Rosary, but be sure also to speak to our Lord in your own words, and then listen as He speaks to you.

Enter into the spirit of these days of blessing, peace and love. Put your heart into every moment, as St. John Vianney told those boys to put their hearts into every flower they threw before our Lord's path. Make these days with faith and affection and you will receive graces and joys no man can tell you. Amen.

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