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Holy Hour for Life: Based Upon Reflections of Saint John Paul II

 

Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life

Procession

After all have assembled, a priest or deacon, wearing cope and humeral veil, brings the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar, during which time a song may be sung. He may be accompanied by altar servers with candles. The Blessed Sacrament is placed on the altar. The presiding minister then kneels before the altar and incenses the Blessed Sacrament. The opening song is concluded and a period of silent prayer follows.

Opening Prayer1

The presiding minister then goes to the chair, where he prays the following opening prayer:

Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord, the spirit of charity,
so that, sustained by the Body and Blood of your Only Begotten Son,
we may be effective in nurturing among all
the peace that he has left us.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

Throughout the hour the following five sets of readings and responses are prayed, interspersed by extended periods of silent prayer. One or more lectors may read the reflections to the assembly. The presider will lead the assembly in each prayer.

Life Seen in the Perspective of Eternity

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's "Letter to the Elderly"

There is an urgent need to recover a correct perspective on life as a whole. The correct perspective is that of eternity, for which life at every phase is a meaningful preparation. Old age too has a proper role to play in this process of gradual maturing along the path to eternity. And this process of maturing cannot but benefit the larger society of which the elderly person is a part.

Elderly people help us to see human affairs with greater wisdom, because life's vicissitudes have brought them knowledge and maturity. They are the guardians of our collective memory, and thus the privileged interpreters of that body of ideals and common values which support and guide life in society. To exclude the elderly is in a sense to deny the past, in which the present is firmly rooted, in the name of a modernity without memory. Precisely because of their mature experience, the elderly are able to offer young people precious advice and guidance.

In view of all this, the signs of human frailty which are clearly connected with advanced age become a summons to the mutual dependence and indispensable solidarity which link the different generations, inasmuch as every person needs others and draws enrichment from the gifts and charisms of all.

Prayer

God of all creation,
through Jesus, your Son,
You created man
in your own image and likeness,
to live and love as the crown of your creation.
Move our hearts to cherish the precious gift of life
at every stage and in every condition,
and especially when it is most vulnerable in the autumn of life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Extended silent prayer)

Defending the Lives of the Elderly

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America (The Church in America)

Concern must be shown for the elderly, who are often neglected and left to fend for themselves. They must be respected as persons; it is important to care for them and to help them in ways which will promote their rights and ensure their greatest possible physical and spiritual well-being. [They] must be protected from situations or pressures which could drive them to suicide; ... they must be helped nowadays to resist the temptation of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
You willed that families would be created as the schools of love
where generations would learn to cherish and protect each other.
Give us the words to speak and the actions to take
that we might witness to your tender love for the elderly of our families
and strive always to serve their needs and defend their lives.
We ask this though Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Extended silent prayer)

Euthanasia is Always an Intrinsically Evil Act

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's Letter "To the Elderly"

Unfortunately, in recent years the idea of euthanasia has lost for many people the sense of horror which it naturally awakens in those who have a sense of respect for life. Certainly it can happen that, when grave illness involves unbearable suffering, the sick are tempted to despair and their loved ones or those responsible for their care feel compelled by a misguided compassion to consider the solution of "an easy death" as something reasonable. ... But euthanasia, understood as directly causing death, is another thing entirely. Regardless of intentions and circumstances, euthanasia is always an intrinsically evil act, a violation of God's law and an offense against the dignity of the human person.

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)

Even when not motivated by a selfish refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false mercy, and indeed a disturbing "perversion" of mercy. True "compassion" leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear. Moreover, the act of euthanasia appears all the more perverse if it is carried out by those, like relatives, who are supposed to treat a family member with patience and love.

Prayer

Author of all beauty,
and source of all human dignity,
we give you thanks for the wonders of your creation:
for the beauty of the love of parents for their children,
which forges a bond that is stronger than death.
May this love be reciprocated in the hearts of all children.
May it strengthen their will to make the sacrifices necessary
to care for and comfort their parents in old age,
until that last day, when we shall see you face to face,
and know the splendor of your light for all eternity.
For you are Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Extended silent prayer)

The Father's Love for His Most Vulnerable Sons and Daughters

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's "Address before the International Congress on Life-sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State"

I feel the duty to reaffirm strongly that the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a "vegetable" or an "animal."... The loving gaze of God the Father continues to fall upon them, acknowledging them as his sons and daughters, especially in need of help.

Prayer

Father of mercies,
look upon us in our weakness and make us strong.
For in the face of death and destruction,
selfishness, sin, and the darkness of the culture of death,
our fear threatens to keep us from doing your will.
Give us the grace to trust in your power.
Make us rely on you alone, the God through whom all things were made,
and give us a passion for the gift of life with which you have endowed us,
and the Gospel of Life which is the foundation of our being.
Through the dying and rising of your Son,
give us strength and courage and joy in your name.
We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Extended silent prayer)

A Civilization Worthy of Man's Dignity

A Reflection from Saint John Paul II's Letter "To the Elderly"

Honoring older people involves a threefold duty: welcoming them, helping them and making good use of their qualities. ... There must be a growing conviction that a fully human civilization shows respect and love for the elderly, so that despite their diminishing strength they feel a vital part of society. ... "The burden of age is lighter for those who feel respected and loved by the young."

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
May our love for one another be like your love upon the Cross:
sacrificial and total, and faithful until the end.
May our love for one another be like your rising from the dead:
life giving and glorious and reflective of your love for us.
Bless all families, Lord,
and bless the parents and grandparents who sacrificed so much
to provide a better life for their children and grandchildren.
May they live to see their children's children
and glory with them in the wonders of your love.
For you are Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Extended silent prayer)

The Lord's Prayer

At the conclusion of the final period of extended silence, the presiding minister then sings or says:

Now let us offer together the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:

All: Our Father…

Benediction2

At the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer, the presiding minister goes to the altar, genuflects, and then kneels. As he kneels, "Tantum ergo" or another suitable Eucharistic song is sung, and he incenses the Blessed Sacrament. After the hymn is finished, he rises and sings or says:

Let us pray.

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament
have left us a memorial of your Passion,
grant us, we pray,
so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood
that we may always experience in ourselves
the fruits of your redemption.
Who live and reign for ever and ever.
All: Amen.

After the prayer, the presiding minister puts on the humeral veil, genuflects, and takes the monstrance. He makes the sign of the cross with the monstrance over those gathered, in silence.

Reposition

After the blessing, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the monstrance and brought to the place of reservation. Meanwhile, the presiding minister may lead those assembled in the Divine Praises. Each acclamation is repeated by all together.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be his Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints.

After the Divine Praises are finished, an appropriate hymn is sung, and the presiding minister and the servers bow to the altar and leave.

 

1 Roman Missal, Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice, A., Prayer after Communion.
2 Roman Missal, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Collect (cf. Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, no. 98).

 



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