BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
BETHANY A TABERNACLE.
Night Adoration in the Home.
FOR a long time past I have had a great desire to suggest to you a very simple and beautiful way of giving glory to the Sacred Heart. However, what I am going to ask will not be possible in all families where this book is read. But, when a little group of true Bethanies have given the example, others will follow their lead. What I propose is to organize Night Adoration at home in the same spirit of love and reparation which inspires you when watching before the Blessed Sacrament.
Two classes of families might undertake this work. In the first class I include those who, unable to attend the “Holy Hour” in Church, make it in their home before the picture or shrine of the Sacred Heart. This should be done once a month, on the Eve of the First Friday, if possible. The children and all the household should be present. As a rule the Holy Hour may be kept at any time of the evening up to midnight, according to circumstances. We have already enrolled many such families. May the Divine Heart shower blessings on these faithful Bethanies. We congratulate them with all our heart and pray that the number of these homes in which the agonizing Heart of Jesus is loved and consoled may be increased. Our Promoters must endeavor to secure for Our Lord many living tabernacles, so that He may not justly repeat His sad complaint: “I looked for one that would grieve together with Me, but there was none and for one that would comfort :Me and I found none.” (Ps. lxviii, 21.) “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” (Matt. xxvi, 40.)
In the second class — where are to be found large and very fervent families — I propose to organize Adoration throughout the night, in the sanctuary of the home, from 10 in the evening till 5 in the morning. Would it be too much to ask each member of the family for one hour of Night Adoration every month, and this without having to leave the house when, unfortunately, it is very common, even among good people, to give up almost a whole night’s rest to frivolous, not to say dangerous, amusements? While Judas watches to betray the Son of Man and finds plenty of accomplices to watch with him, shall the apostles, the intimate friends of the King, always be overcome by sleep?
Night Adoration in Church has made marvelous progress within the last few years, and is producing abundant graces such as no other work has ever evoked. We look with admiration upon those thousands of sentinels who keep their watch at dead of night before the Blessed Sacrament. But there are many others who, for reasons of health or other causes, cannot leave the house at night to join in adoration in the Church, and these, I know, will be glad to adopt my suggestion.
Wherever Night Adoration has been established, it is noteworthy that the most fervent in this vigil of love and sacrifice are nearly always those who at the end of the day are utterly tired out by work and who, in many cases, have to walk miles to the Church. If this can be done, surely my plan also must be acceptable. And do you not think that within ten years or so the number of Night Adorers before the Blessed Sacrament will be gradually doubled and trebled by the recruits trained in the bosom of the family?
There will, of course, be difficulties, but they are certainly not insuperable. It is very usual, for instance, to sit up late during the night, not only for worldly reasons, but when there are family gatherings and rejoicings, and often through a motive of charity, or in order to care for the sick. Consequently, if a little rest can willingly be foregone for the sake of a friend, if fatigue can be endured to watch and tend an invalid, would it not be possible to do as much for Jesus Who is so forsaken and so insulted?
I know very well that I can only expect a few to take up a work which entails such self-denial, and it is to these chosen few I appeal, ardently calling them in the name of the Divine Mendicant of our hearts. Fervent families, souls that are afire with passionate love for Jesus, generous souls, meditate this appeal before the Tabernacle, and may Jesus in the Holy Eucharist pour out His heart into yours, telling you Himself of His immense sadness, when, especially during the dark hours of the night, Satan goes about the world inciting men to evil. Jesus wishes to forestall the enemy and to kindle in your hearts the fire of His love. But He waits until He is invited and welcomed to the sanctuary of your home; then He will come and allow Himself to be made prisoner, entrusting His Heart to you and flooding with graces your dwelling thus transformed into a house of prayer.
How beautiful it will be to see a family, at the appointed time for Night Adoration, light the candles before the picture of the Divine King and begin the vigil. As each hour passes, the adorers, like well-drilled sentinels, replace one another, one watching whilst the others take their rest. Close to the Master’s Heart, they pray for the whole family, for the absent, the sick and for the prodigal sons. What a sweet, peaceful and delightful night, not in spite of, but precisely because of the hour of sleep sacrificed to the Beloved in remembrance of His Agony in the garden and His loneliness in the Tabernacle.
Do not join the number of those who in every pious enterprise look not at the immense benefits, but at inevitable difficulties and petty obstacles. The example given by Night Adorers will be contagious; from one lamp many others will be lit, and the fire will quickly spread.
As for me, I am launching this idea with great hopes of success, for, whenever I have stretched out my hand begging for love, I have always had the undeserved good fortune of receiving a generous and loving response. Why should I be disappointed on this occasion? I will go from door to door and knock in the name of the King and for His Glory. Dear Bethanies, come out with lighted torches to meet Jesus Crucified and prove to Him that your house is really His abiding place.
How many prodigal sons would thus be brought home again! How many who are spiritually blind would recover their sight! How many that are paralysed would be cured! What graces would be poured out on holy souls in reward for this monthly adoration in the home! This covenant of love between Jesus and His friends would one day be repaid by miracles of mercy, for Our Lord never lets Himself be outdone in generosity.
The idea is launched; it has started, as a dart of fire from the Heart of Jesus. The Prisoner of the Tabernacle awaits your answer. Give it to Him in a fervent thanksgiving after Holy Communion. Then write to me, that I may know I have not begged in vain for Him Who is athirst for love. Tell me you are enrolling yourselves in one of the two classes, that of the Holy Hour, or that of Night Adoration. I look forward to your letters with deep emotion.
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With your names, I will make a list to be offered every morning during my Mass and, as an acknowledgment, I will send each one of you, through the Secretariat, a picture as a souvenir to remind you of your promise.
“I have sown in Thy name, Jesus!
May Thy Heart now reap great glory!”
The preceding pages were written in my annual Circular letter in 1927. By the grace of the Heart of Jesus they met with the most flattering success. That is my reason for publishing them in this book, which is to be read and meditated in Bethanies of the Sacred Heart. It will also be of the highest interest, for the glory of the King of Love and the spiritual benefit of His intimate friends, to insert herewith two articles which give accounts of the new triumph won by the King and Friend of Bethany. They can but increase the splendor of such a victory and bring in new recruits.
Knock in the Name of Jesus
and It shall be opened unto you!
I knocked at the doors of those homes where Jesus is enthroned as King and I asked for one more homage of adoration and reparation to His Divine Heart. I suggested that they should make their monthly Holy Hour at home when they found it impossible to go to Church. I even asked for a whole night of adoration before the altar of the Sacred Heart. A wonderful surprise awaited me. Truly, I only expected that a few doors would be opened, but, for once, the touching complaint of Our Lord: “I have sought for one who would sorrow with Me and I found none,” ha been proved untrue, and He can exclaim: “Rejoice with Me, ye Angels, for I was sorrowfully seeking for one out who would sympathize with Me, and to, I have found many. I called timidly at some doors, and whole families are willing to spend the lonely hours of the night watching with Me. Congratulate Me, ye angelic choirs!”
When Mary knocked at the doors of Bethlehem there was “no room” for her and her Divine Son, but, as Little Teresa would have said, she had no Blessed Virgin to go before her, as I had, to prepare the way. Love of Mary has opened many a home to Christ the King, and letters in response to my appeal have reached me from all quarters of the globe.
Here are some of the answers:
(1) “I have just read the Review (Le Règne Social du Sacré Coeur, published by the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts, 16, rue Braine le Comte, Belgium.), in which, under the inspiration of the Sacred Heart, you suggested the idea of Night Adoration and the Holy Hour made at home. As you so kindly ask for a reply, so that you may know whether or no your words fell on deaf ears, I hasten to assure you that, in my home, where the King of Love is already enthroned, we received your proposal with great joy. We are not a large family — just myself, two children and one servant. We, therefore, arranged that the servant shall take from 10 to 11 p.m., then each of the children will take an hour, and I will take the rest of the night till 4 a.m. But the children protested against not sharing my watch till early morning, and I would be grateful for your advice about allowing it. When winter comes, will it not be injurious to them to keep their promise? Please decide for me. I only presume to trouble you because the children keep saying: ‘Mummy, ask the Father, and whatever he says will be sure to be what Jesus wishes.’ “
I wrote back that, of course, great prudence would be necessary during winter, and that she must wrap up her little ones very warmly during their Night Watch, so heroically undertaken — but he must remember that Jesus also suffered. In summer and winter alike, He feels the bitter coldness of those for whom He died. That is why I decided in favor of these fervent children. May the Sacred Heart bless their home very abundantly.
(2) “I was much moved on reading your suggestion that Night Adoration should be made in the sanctuary of the home, with the same spirit of reparation with which it is carried out in Church. My answer mu t be posted this very day — I pledge myself to make the Holy Hour on the eve of every First Friday, before the picture of the Sacred Heart. For the past two years, I have spent almost every night at the bedside of my dear ones — my husband was slowly dying, and my children have also been ill. If I could thus watch beside them, without any ill consequences regarding my health, I can surely give up one hour a month to honoring the Sacred Heart. This is my intention and, moreover, I will do all I can to propagate this devotion, so that many families may console Jesus in a spirit of reparation.”
(3) “Father, after reading your touching appeal, I write to ask you to inscribe my name in the list of Night Watchers at least up to midnight, for, as a rule, I am entirely alone. Send me your blessing, Reverend Father, and believe that I am more than happy to be able to respond to the desires of the Sacred Heart.”
(4) “Please put my name upon the altar while you offer the Holy Sacrifice, and promise Our Divine King for me that I will make the Holy Hour and prolong it until I am overcome with sleep. Tell Him that, henceforth, I am more than ever His and every beating of my heart is offered to Him.”
(5) “I already make the Holy Hour every month, but, henceforth, I want to be more generous and so I pledge myself to watch the whole night in adoration on the eve of every First Friday. What is one night a month? I will ask Jesus to give me the strength to do it and I will sympathize with Him and console Him all through the night, for I want my home to be a real Bethany, where the Divine Pilgrim always finds a couch strewn with the flowers of love and trust ready for Him.”
Are not these extracts sufficient to show what a strong, though unseen, spirit of reparation is to be found in the world today? But there is something still better. In my circular, I purposely abstained from addressing Religious Communities — they already have their own devotional practices mapped out. Nevertheless, I have received letters from many fervent communities. Here is one from a Convent where my unspoken wish was at once understood and acted upon:
“Reverend Father, your recent Circular, addressed to the true Bethanies, moved my soul to its depths. I thought of the consolation given to the Heart of Jesus by the generous and loving Night Adorers, and I said to myself ‘I, too, am the mother of a family, since, in spite of my unworthiness, Jesus has confided to me the care of a whole community.’
“Four of our Sisters watch each night by the sick and dying members of Christ Our King. Why should we not offer this work in union with the families making their night adoration, with the intentions of furthering the Social Reign of the Sacred Heart? What would you think of this, Reverend Father? These night watches are rich in merits, each Sister being responsible for about thirty invalids — what invalids! Most are near death’s door, many in great danger of losing their souls. Every moment, someone is calling for help. May Jesus, Our King and Divine Healer, deign to accept our efforts, and every step we take in attending to the sick. May they learn to glorify Him in their sufferings. Henceforth, our turn for the Night Watch will be eagerly awaited. We leave to Christian families an hour on Mount Thabor, spent in the peaceful intimacy of their homes, our vigil shall be kept on Mount Calvary. Tell me, Reverend Father, whether you approve of my idea — the extension of Christ’s Kingdom besets me.”
Enclosed in this letter was a list of the special intentions assigned to each hour:
|9 to 10 p.m.||Children and young people.|
|10 to 11 p.m.||Families where Christ is enthroned as King.|
|11 p.m. to 12 a.m.||The Pope, priests and religious.|
|12 to 1 a.m.||Missionaries and Heathen peoples.|
|1 to 2 a.m.||Heads of Governments — reparation for sins of revolt against lawful authority.|
|2 to 3 a.m.||Worldly families.|
|3 to 4 a.m.||The poor, the sick and the tempted.|
|4 to 5 a.m.||Those preparing for the priesthood and novices.|
|5 to 6 a.m.||Catholic Schools and their staffs.|
|6 to 7 a.m.||The enemies of Holy Church.|
|7 to 8 a.m.||Bad Catholics, heretics and schismatics.|
As each hour chimes, the Sisters say five times: “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, may Thy Kingdom come,” and once: “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, mayst Thou be known, loved and imitated.”
This letter is in itself a splendid offering to the Heart of Jesus and many other fervent Communities will be thus encouraged. Listen to one more-this time from a Convent of Contemplative Nuns:
“Yes, Reverend Father, your dart was well aimed and has pierced the hearts of all of us. This very night, Jesus gathered His first fruits in our Night Adoration from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thank you, Father, for having explained to us so well the desires of Jesus. What greater happiness can there be here below than to find out what Our Divine King wishes and then give it to Him. Jesus has certainly smiled upon us and His smile is the omen of victories to come — the triumph of His Sacred Heart over many homes that will be transformed into tabernacles of adoration, reparation and love.”
You will be as deeply touched as I was on reading these lines and in the name of the Divine Beggar of hearts I thank all those who have given Him so much consolation. Encouraged by their generosity, I hold out my hand a second time, knocking at the doors of those whom Jesus loves and who have not yet given Him this great consolation. The world continually asks of its votaries nights spent in pleasure and frivolity, if not, alas, in sin. Shall it triumph over souls for whom Jesus has died? Whom will you choose, Jesus or Barabbas? Answer me, you who call yourselves friends of Christ the King.
Dear apostles, now that you realize what Night Adoration is, I would ask you to meditate on two most touching scenes.
The first is one which I have endeavored to retrace in several of my Holy Hours: Our Lord is being outraged by a violent and drunken soldiery. The King of Glory, seated on a bench of mockery, is being treated with brutal fury, according to instructions given by the priests and Pharisees, and probably under the very eyes of His most bitter enemies. With satanic joy they are revenging the anathemas He has launched against those who are hypocritical and proud. After having covered Him with a purple robe, they bend the knee mockingly before Him and spit upon Him. Rebellious flesh and pride are here taking a cruel and sacrilegious revenge on the Master Who has imposed on men the new precepts of purity and humility. Bathed in His Blood and quivering with pain, Jesus holds His peace.
The second scene is that of Paray-le-Monial. Contemplate, in the little Chapel of the Visitation, the King of Love complaining gently but bitterly of the ingratitude and perfidy of His children, showing St. Margaret Mary His Wounded Heart, and begging for love and reparation. Behold Him, fleeing as it were from the storm of hate and sin and begging a shelter in her heart. His faithful servant witnesses anew His sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane; she listens to the gentle complaints of His adorable Heart. But in the vision at Paray, feeling Himself to be understood and loved, Jesus asks for consolation and reparation and begs His Confidant to extort from Him pardon for those sinners who, by their sins of flesh are scourging Him.
Alas! these two scenes of divine suffering, that of Jerusalem and that of Paray, are ever being reenacted. Bethanies of the Great King, listen, but from afar, to the sounds issuing from those dens of vice where, by night, the triumph of Venus is acclaimed. See those crowds assembled in theaters where, day after day, the sins of society are deified; stand outside some of the public places of amusement, dancing halls, cinemas, etc., and count, if you can, the human stream of so-called Christians, many of them, alas! Catholics, who, with hardly a twinge of remorse, look upon immodest sights and accept them as a necessity of the social life of today.
Poor Jesus! They hiss and mock Him, crying with the Jews, “Away with this Man!” (v. Luke xxiii, 18.) Poor Jesus! He is one living wound; from the crown of His Head to the soles of His Feet there is nothing whole. He scourged Egypt to liberate Israel, and now Israel, or, rather, treacherous and ungrateful friends are scourging Him their King. In His bitter passion, He looks for friends and entreats even His torturers to have compassion on Him, but above all upon themselves and their own souls.
He also turns to you, Bethanies of His Divine Heart: Open to Me, He says, open quickly to your King, to the One Friend Who is always sincere and faithful. Have pity on Me, those of you at least who are My friends, for I am wounded with love and mortal agony. Do not keep Me waiting. I am Jesus!
In my Circular letter of June, 1927, I ventured to interpret that cry of divine anguish and the appeal resulted in a magnificent triumph for the Heart of Jesus. Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
And what is the secret of this triumph? Among other reasons, I find one which is at the same time a consoling lesson for all the apostles of the Enthronement. For the past few years, our Work acted as a preparation for this new demand of love and sacrifice. By His Presence in the home, the King Himself has inspired many hearts with great desires for loving reparation. He first whispered in secret the appeal which the Circular put into words. In fact, many of those who asked to be enrolled wrote to me: “This idea exactly corresponds to an earnest, though undefined, desire of my own, to a longing I could not express, and which has been haunting me for some time.”
The appeal was marvelously well understood because it was opportune. A few years ago, perhaps, we should not have met with the generous response which has been coming in from all sides. What immense glory this homage of love and adoration bring to the Heart of Jesus! Truly it is a proof of real love; often of heroic love, wherein routine has not the leas part. It is impossible not to be deeply moved on reading letters which contain such phrases as this: “Please give me a difficult hour for my adoration, one that nobody wants. If possible, that from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.” Other souls, filled with the same thirst as Jesus Himself, are not satisfied with the minimum I asked for: “One hour a month,” but beg for an hour a week. And these are more numerous than one would think; there are even some who make their hour of adoration every night.
You have no doubt read and deeply appreciated the Encyclical of His Holiness Pius XI on reparation, and you must have realized the necessity of consoling the Heart of Jesus. You cannot better put into practice our Holy Father’s desire than by carrying out Night Adoration in the Home, and we could not have better interpreted the Holy Father’s wish had we organized this work after his Encyclical. Read again and ponder over that magnificent letter and you will find, even in tiny details, that we are in perfect harmony with the Sovereign Pontiff’s views and advice. I would emphasize here, after his example, two grave sins, for which the Night Adorers should make reparation in a special way: “the revolt of pride,” which is a lofty attitude of want of submission; that “non serviam,” “I will not serve,” which is so opposed to “the obedience unto death, even unto the death of the Cross” of the Son of God. Secondly, the “sin of sensuality,” which is met with in the drawing rooms of “distinguished” people, at the seaside — and even in our Churches — under the form of immodest” fashions very often patronised by careless Catholic women who, by their shameless garments, are real “sowers of mortal sin,” “ticket-sellers for Hell!” Most of the gravest sins are caused by this revolting indelicacy and these fashionable Catholics heap up for themselves a crushing weight of responsibility against the hour of Justice. They sow death along their path, they will reap Divine vengeance.
It is needless to say that, in our Crusade of Night Adoration, we do not want even one of those who think themselves pious, while they scandalously disobey the Pope and their Bishops, stifling their conscience and preferring pagan elegance to the love of Jesus and to the dignity of Christian womanhood. We want to make reparation for those, who, more like Eve than like Mary, have set aside, along with their modesty and sense of delicacy, one of God’s most binding commandments. No, we want none of these, Jesus turns away His Face from them. We will not have one such in our ranks. The Immaculate Virgin could not bless us if we did, for the tears she is today shedding on those who think themselves to be — but are not — her Children are still bitterer than the tears she shed at La Salette. This Crusade aims precisely at making reparation for the sins of “friends”; at saving those who, loaded with graces by the Heart of Jesus, nevertheless pierce that Divine Heart with the sharp lance of their pride and worldliness.
You will have already gauged, no doubt, what this adoration will bring to your families in grace and mercy. It could not be otherwise! Do you think you can make sacrifices in reparation, and console so lovingly the agonising Heart. of Jesus without drawing down upon yourselves His richest blessings? Many families devoted to His Sacred Heart know this today by experience, and in reading these lines tears of gratitude well up in their eyes.
Apostles of the Enthronement, take to heart this Campaign, which is the splendid crowning of our work. Seek out, zealously, but with discretion, yet another “living lamp” willing to watch lovingly, while the Master falls beneath the blows of cruel, ungrateful men. Sin gives Him no respite, let there be no respite in our reparation. Let us vanquish hate by love.
The following simple remarks will help our dear Crusade to keep up faithfully the enthusiasm which marked its origin and even intensify the flame of love that gave it birth.
(1) I have never written on the subject of Night Adoration in the Home without recommending the apostles to recruit only among the best of souls. I repeat this because it is most important. Enthusiasm must never cause us to forget that we are not looking for numbers, but for hearts “of gold.” I say of gold, not of silver, gilt, still less of gilted straw. Choose carefully, this is an altar-offering, it must be as worthy as possible of the Sacred Heart. We need a select group of sincerely pious souls, joyful in sacrifice because they love Jesus Crucified, souls that understand immolation, penance and the redeeming value of a love that is as strong as death: a chosen few with a high standard of morality and shrinking with horror from all guilty compromise with worldliness, dangerous amusements and occasions of sin. Frivolity and reparation cannot go hand in hand, so be scrupulously careful in choosing these “living” Night Lamps.
(2) It would be a source of great spiritual profit and edification if, at least twice a year, a meeting of Adorers could be held in Church. On this occasion, a zealous Priest should preach about the great and beautiful duty of reparation and recite a public act of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament before giving Benediction. In Canada, Italy and elsewhere, this initiative has given most consoling results. I have myself presided over three splendid meetings of Adorers and was deeply moved thereby.
While kneeling silently before Jesus in the Host and steeping our souls in the true spirit of this beautiful devotion, it will stimulate us to think that, if careless Catholics are innumerable, yet Jesus has many faithful friends ready to make reparation.
(3) The last hour will come one day — that hour of peace and merciful justice, when the King of Love will call His fervent Night Adorers to the Eternal Marriage Feast. Therefore, I ask:
(a) That the death of each Night Adorer should be notified to us, for we intend to celebrate once or twice a month a Mass for deceased members. Thus we shall repay their fidelity in the name of the Heart of Jesus and with nothing less than His Own Precious Blood offered on the Altar.
(b) The promoter, or family of the deceased, should endeavor to find, as soon as possible, another Adorer to take the vacant post at the same hour and on the same night. We are happy to note that this has often been done without our having proposed it. This proves to what an extent we can trust souls formed at the school of the Heart of Jesus.
I recommend our fervent Adorers always to pray for the following intentions during their hour’s watch:—
For our Holy Father the Pope, who greatly needs his children’s prayers.
For the clergy, the special friends of Jesus — His Priests.
For the prodigal sons, the poor sinners of the family, whom we shall save by this penance and prayer.
For those who are in their last agony and perhaps will appear before the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge ere the end of the hour’s watch. By imploring mercy for them we, too, shall obtain mercy.
Let us make reparation for the insults offered to the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, insults far more frequent than we can imagine. Remember how Our Lord Himself asked Saint Margaret Mary for this Eucharistic reparation.
Lastly, pray fervently that the Heart of Jesus may reign over society, not only by a silent, rather timid triumph, but as King and Master, as Divine Lawgiver, in social and national life. Let us do all in our power to build up His Reign. Dear Night Adorers, make straight His path! Cut out for Him a road to victory! Forward! May His Kingdom come.
One final thought. If Jesus has promised to repay by a Heaven of delights one cup of cold water given in His Name, what does He reserve for faithful Adorers who offer Him the chalice of love and reparation? If the sentence of life and Eternal blessing is promised to those who have visited the poor, consoled them in their sadness and given them food and drink, what reward will not Jesus give to the faithful friends who watch with Him at night to make amends for sin.
Relying on His Divine promise, I venture to assert that the names of Night Adorers have already been faithfully inscribed in the Book of Life, the Heart of Jesus, whence they will never be effaced.
Night Adoration is now fully organized in the United States.
The general statistics published in 1931 amounted to over 242,000 members from every part of the world.
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N.B. — For the Explanatory Pamphlet containing the practical regulations and indulgences of the Night Adoration in the Home; — also for Booklets with suitable prayers, apply to: Work of the Enthronement, Sacred Hearts Academy, Fairhaven, Mass.