By ALEXANDER BROWN, Special to the Bulletin | Published August 2, 2023
NORCROSS—Throughout Scripture, Jesus pulled his disciples aside to teach them directly. From the explanation of the parables to Peter’s confession of faith, our Lord taught the teachers so that they would be able to go and do “far greater works than these.”
Jesus went away to the Father in prayer, pulling away from the crowds who longed for physical healing. He knew the importance of spiritual healing and communion with God.
The Youth Leadership team at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs (HVM) in Norcross imitates this experience. Every month for at least the last 10 years, the group gathers in adoration with the Blessed Sacrament to strengthen their spiritual relationship.
“Encountering Jesus in the Eucharist is nothing short of essential to my faith today and how strongly cemented I am in it. The Eucharist helps to remind me that He is truly present with me as I come to him any time with my heart open,” said Kevin Nguyen, a parishioner and longtime leader at HVM. “Growing up, the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) was instrumental in forming my love for eucharistic adoration.”
The practice of the holy hour takes inspiration from Jesus’ question in the Garden of Gethsemane at the end of Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels where he asks if they can “keep watch with me for one hour?” The faith community, united under the VEYM, models for one another a reverence for the Eucharist that is passed down from leader to student, allowing each to be “an instrument of God’s love” as they “bear fruit serving the Church and bring Christ to our students,” Nguyen said.
The group gathers on the third Friday of the month during the school year privately as a team to share an intimate experience of God’s loving presence.
Our Lord also frequently sat at table sharing a meal with the people to whom he was ministering. At one of the sessions, Nguyen had a number of community members make big batches of chicken pot pie for the team to share as they enjoyed each other’s company before adoration began.
He recalls Father Tri Nguyen, then the archdiocese’s vocations director and current regional chaplain for the VEYM, bringing the Eucharist from the tabernacle. The entire group was kneeling in a small room at the Borromeo House where adoration was held. They sang together, led by the music team. He relates feeling a dreamlike peace when usually, like many of us, he can often be unfocused. These encounters of community in Christ form disciples and prepare them to be sent to share the love of God.
The community also has strong devotions to Mary and in different ways brings reverence to her during adoration. For a while, the community would end each session with reciting the Angelus and would start with Marian prayers before Mass.
Nguyen related how it is easier to relate to the Incarnation through Mary’s yes to God inviting his presence.
“This beauty of Mary’s role allows us to connect to her and through extension Jesus on a human level,” he said.
That is one of the great mysteries of our Faith–that God became man in the humility of a small child, teaching us to love and serve as he did. This spills into other traditions that also bring the experience of adoration to children.
Occasionally after the youth Masses at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs, the priest will expose the Blessed Sacrament for 5 to 10 minutes. This gives formation to the children, preparing them for the various retreats and lock-ins the parish provides from third grade and up. Experiences like these helped Nguyen choose on his own at 18 to continue to serve and be a part of the faith community through his adult life.
While HVM has a longstanding tradition of adoration, perhaps your parish and/or ministry team could start with sessions to open the year, or a quarterly gathering with food and adoration.
St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. It will make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven. A Holy Hour of adoration helps bring everlasting peace to your soul and your family. It brings us personal peace and strength. It brings us a greater love for Jesus, for each other, and for the poor. Every holy hour deepens our union with Him and bears much fruit.”
We need to be fed in order to feed. Christ teaches this in so many ways through his ministry. Consider the role of adoration in your parish’s service. As HVM witnesses, the profound effects can give light to your parish life.