Mary’s first holy hour – A homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

fe3a761d475b5f9200b8f489df56bfc1Yesterday evening I had the joy of spending some time at St. John’s in downtown Indianapolis.  Some friends and I had gone to dinner downtown at RAMs and we wanted to usher in the new year with the Holy Mass. That was the biggest reason we wanted to go to St. John’s. But I also wanted to briefly catch up with Fr. Rick and to spend a few moments enjoying the beauty of that church. Another reason I wanted to go was to steal Fr. Rick’s homily.  I am not going to share all of it, but I do want to share something he said that I find very moving

He said that Mary was the first one to go to adoration. He said it in passing but I find it very profound. Mary was the first to adore. That got me thinking about what Mary’s first holy hour must have been like.  As she held the baby Jesus in her arms, she worshiped him. She praised him. She cried in love.

All her troubles evaporated, her anxieties faded away, her difficulties and trials melted into nothing. She was lost in wonder, love and awe.  She learned from him, as our Gospel notes. She received blessings from him, blessings mentioned in all our readings today. She received strength and meaning. She received things she probably never could put words to.

All this should sound familiar, because that should be what we experience in our own holy hours in the adoration chapel. We have a lot of excuses why we can’t do adoration. I’m too busy, too tired, too young, too much not a theologian. That was Mary. But she gazed upon that child Jesus, and as she adored him, she must have wondered how she ever lived without him.

I’m told by parents of brand new babies that there is something of a haze of amazement that comes upon them when they hold in the arms their child for the first time. Tears flow, the heart grows wider and wider as they behold their beloved child.  Even those of us who are not parents know what it is to be lost in amazement at the miracle that is, well, someone else.

But whatever those feelings, we know that what Mary, the Mother of God experienced was something so much more, for she gazed not only upon her own son, but upon the Savior, the Messiah, God himself as she held him in her arms during that first holy hour. Just as we ought to when we adore.

We stand today just over the threshold of a new calendar year. This year, what if we made a resolve?  A resolve to adore the Lord.  A resolve to do a holy hour in our adoration chapel once a week, or every day if you’re gutsy.  A resolve to put ourselves in front of Jesus, to bear him in our arms like Mary did as Theotokus (God bearer), to get a SON tan.  A friend of mine in the seminary said that we don’t have to be experts at prayer. He said, “The way I look at it, it’s like going to the beach. You can sleep, read, contemplate, run, do a rosary–whatever–but no matter what, you’re going to get a tan.” Adoration is the same way.

Let us make a resolve this new years bear Christ as Mary did, to adore him, to learn from him, to let him take all our anxieties and fears and troubles away. Even as we hold him in our arms. Even as we gaze upon him. I promise you will not regret doing a holy hour. You will say along with Mary, “How did I ever live without this?”

Fr. Rick invited all the folks at St John’s to pray through the intercession of Mary and JP2 for God’s blessings upon them as they begin to offer more adoration times downtown and work towards eventually opening their own adoration chapel. I invite you to pray for that as well–to have a chapel downtown would be such a grace!  I also invite you to pray for the continued flourishing of our adoration chapel here.  Countless lives have been changed in it, just as Mary’s was changed in her first holy hour. Pray God our lives will be among those changed there.

By the way, these are the hours that have nobody. We need someone to take them so that poor Anne doesn’t have to do them all. Tuesdays 6-7pm, Fridays 1-2pm, Fridays 5-6pm, and Saturdays 3-4am.

Happy 2016.