24 Hours for the Lord! A Date with God!

On March 13-14, the Vatican is encouraging churches throughout the world to participate in “24 Hours for the Lord”. Participating churches will stay open for 24 hours to invite people to encounter anew the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.

If you have never participated in Eucharistic Adoration or if it’s been a while since you have been to the sacrament of reconciliation, THIS IS GOD'S INVITATION TO YOU! I would encourage you to make a “Date with God”! Here is a personal story of my first date with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and as an added bonus…my return to the sacrament of reconciliation.

In 2012 my parish opened a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel. I had never entered an adoration chapel before this. I was asked if I was going to sign up for a scheduled holy hour… I said no. Excuses perpetuated; I didn't know when my schedule would permit me to go, I felt I was too busy to commit to a scheduled time, I didn't know what to do there and I was afraid and ashamed to just ask someone. My pride was in the way. 

But deep down, I realized all of these excuses were just interfering with what would have only deepened my relationship with Our Lord. I felt I needed time to learn first, read books (true student at heart) and then I would sign up or visit. So I bought books, read online, and all the while I did not go. 

God was persistent though. After Mass one day, I was praying about some things weighing on my heart (like my vocation)! A parishioner approached me and asked if I was busy the next evening, and if I wasn't, could I cover her holy hour? I was excited she asked, or rather God asked, and felt like it was a personal response to my prayers. See, just the day before, I had this longing inside to be near Jesus and sit with Him, but the fear (and lies) kept me away from actually going inside of the chapel, and at that moment I felt like God was asking me to come to him, like I had a date with God the next evening!

I was excited and thought about the time we would spend together the next day. I smiled as I went places, feeling like I was carrying a secret around with me between me and my beloved. That holy hour changed my life. After that day, I signed up to be a weekly adorer. 

After months of meeting weekly with our Lord, I began to go daily. I couldn't stay away from Jesus. It was where I would go to share good news, to give thanks, to pray for strength, to cry, to listen, intercede … and just be.

And now, praise be to God, I have entered the monastery to discern a vocation to religious life! (3 years after the chapel was opened at my parish).

Now just because you go and pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, does it mean you will discover you have a vocation to religious life? Maybe, but not necessarily. You will fall in love with Jesus, though, and your heart will soften and you will be able to live the vocation God is calling you to live more fully and completely. So if that is the vocation to married life, religious life, or single life, go and pray before our Eucharistic Lord and love Him and let Him love you! Fall in love!

"The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host."
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Now the 2nd part of this love story…reconciliation. Part of what hindered me from going in the first place was lies...lies of the world and the enemy. There was some healing that needed to take place deep within. How did I heal? Where did I go for this healing? “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” (Matthew 9:12) I went to Mass receive Jesus in the Eucharist and also returned to the sacrament of reconciliation.

After years of not having gone to this sacrament there was a lot of sickness within. Some of those sins I was not even aware of. This is a really scary thought to me now; how deceptive the world can be, and how freely we can live in lies, live in ignorance. 

When the truth became known to me though and I became unsettled, uncomfortable, and uneasy, I knew I needed confession. But this was very uncomfortable for me.

 My pride was getting in the way. Just like I shared with you about my initial experience of adoration, I didn't know what to do, what to confess, etc. I read books, read online, and finally just went to confession after having been away from the sacrament for years. 

It was a relief to go and talk to a priest, to talk to Christ. To hear words of mercy, love, encouragement, forgiveness, and truth. I felt joy as I walked out of the church as a new person in Christ and knew that I was no longer bound to the lies, the sins. 

This is where both stories come together: the Eucharist, Adoration, and reconciliation…God’s Mercy, God’s love!!! Through prayer, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, praying in Eucharistic Adoration,and the sacrament of reconciliation God was pouring out all of his graces down upon me, showering me with his love and affection. It was up to me to receive and accept his mercy.

“The sacraments, as we know, put humans in a place of closeness and tenderness to God. Reconciliation certainly renders present with special efficacy the merciful face of God." (Pope Francis 3/12/15)

The more time I would spend in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament gazing at the face of Christ, allowing him to pour out his love on me, the more receptive I became to His mercy. And not just to His mercy for me, but allowing me to be more merciful to others as well. To let go of past hurts and resentments I was holding on to. 

One of the images I pray with now is “the glance of Christ”. I was beginning to realize just how intimately Christ has looked personally at me and He looks at me with love. (And He looks at you too)! I have come to learn just how much He loves me and that He looks at me with His redeeming heart pouring out mercy and grace and it is nonstop as long as I will be receptive and docile. 

I am now able to embrace the sacrament of reconciliation with an open heart. Our community participates in this sacrament of healing at least every two weeks. I am not anxious anymore! I look forward to meeting with the priest, meeting Christ in his person and being forgiven, being made new, and washed clean of my sins.

So I encourage anyone who will read this post, anyone who will listen…spend time with Jesus, fall in love and let Him pour out His mercy upon you. Spread the word to all your family and friends and encourage them to participate in this event and in the sacraments not just this one day, but throughout the year. Help others fall in love with Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament and to return/receive the many graces poured out from our Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation. 

If there is not a church near you that is participating in this 24 Hours for the Lord, you can check this website to find times of Adoration and confession at a church near you. Most Catholic Churches offer confession on Saturdays

Learn more about the  sacrament of reconcilation includeing an examination of conscience here

Share about your dates with the Lord! How has he healed you?
-Mary Belz, postulant

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