Published October 13, 2005
To commemorate the close of the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by the late Pope John Paul II, St. Peter Chanel Church will begin a Forty Hours devotion on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m., continuing until 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 21. A special Mass will follow at 8:30 a.m.
Forty Hours devotion is a form of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as it is solemnly exposed during an uninterrupted period of 40 hours. The practice is in continuity with late medieval eucharistic devotions connected with the Sacred Triduum. After the Holy Thursday evening procession with the Blessed Sacrament, the faithful took turns praying at the altar of reservation until midday of Holy Saturday, a period of 40 hours. According to St. Augustine (“On the Trinity,” book IV, chapter 6), Jesus would have lain in his tomb precisely 40 hours, and it is this symbolism that lies behind the origin of the devotion.
At Milan, in 1527, the priest Antonio Bellotti imposed on members of his confraternity, founded in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the obligation of celebrating Forty Hours not only during the Sacred Triduum but also in connection with the feasts of Pentecost, Assumption and Christmas. The practice soon spread to other churches, often with a eucharistic procession from one church to another. Frequently celebrated during times of calamity and public need, the devotion took on an increasingly penitential character and, in the context of the revelry of carnival time, a spirit of reparation. Since the Second Vatican Council, the aspect of penance and reparation is less in evidence, and the much-simplified ceremonial is governed by the general norms for the prolonged exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Within this Forty Hours devotion at St. Peter Chanel will be two evenings of special Holy Hours led by priests. On Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Holy Hours will be led by Father Frank McNamee, pastor of St. Peter Chanel, Father Theodore Book, parochial vicar at St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta, and Father John Shramko, parochial vicar at St. Peter Chanel.
During the same hours on Thursday, Oct. 20, the Holy Hours will be led by Father Paul Burke, chaplain at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn, Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue, and Father Brian Higgins, vocations director of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
All are welcome to join in this event. For more information, call the parish office at (678) 277-9424, or visit the parish Web site at www.stpeterchanel.org. St. Peter Chanel is located at 11330 Woodstock Road in Roswell.