Shelly Henley Kelly describes her parish's first in-person event since the pandemic: a Holy Hour with worship music and prayer.
A few years ago our parish instituted a beautiful ministry they call Bringing Us Into Loving Discipleship, or BUILD, that consists of gathering one night a month for a simple shared meal (pizza or potluck) before moving into the sanctuary for praise and worship, a brief talk, and an hour of Eucharistic Adoration with worship songs comingling in the silence.
With the music, Adoration during BUILD is nearly identical to the Adoration experience that I’ve come to love and crave from years of serving on our teen Confirmation retreats. After months of pandemic lockdown, away from the Eucharist, and then cautiously reopened with so many restrictions, no touching, limited Mass times, directed seating, and fewer people, I’ve continued to feel hugely disconnected and separated from my parish community
Until unexpectedly a BUILD night was announced, our first in-person parish event since the pandemic.
While this gathering doesn’t include food and still requires masks and physical separation, there is a palpable community difference as we come together for Adoration that isn’t present during Mass, with all its rules and restrictions. We say hello to one another without fear. We are allowed to choose our seats, independently respectful of physical distance. We visit quietly with friends we haven’t seen in months.
As we sing the opening song, we hear squeals and babbles from a young toddler known in our parish for her major health struggles – such a beautiful sound, her presence a powerful testimony to God’s love and promise, an answer to our prayers for her life.
Finally the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. We settle into Adoration and a sense of relief and peace washes over me. Surrender. Trust. Tears.
My 8-year old sits next to me, enticed by the promise that he can read a book while sitting with Jesus. “What is Adoration?” he asked when I invited him.
“Spending time in the same room as God,” I replied. “The same as when you and I sit together in the same room at home and watch tv or read.” This explanation satisfies him, and he patiently watches, listens, and when I nod at him, picks up his book and begins to read, occasionally glancing up at the monstrance as if to make sure He’s still there.
In this moment, I feel alive again, grounded and connected after feeling untethered these past months. Sitting in Adoration with my church family and the prayerful music is a shot of adrenaline, a renewal of spirit. Memories happily blur into a watercolor of people, retreats, prayer. The memories of many God-filled moments when He was so powerfully present fills me up, consumes me. I’m overwhelmed in a profound rush of love, as though I’ve had a peek behind the veil of heaven that leaves you unable to breathe and suspended in place for an eternal moment wanting to burst with love for those around you.
God created us for community.
This is where I am supposed to be, not looking ahead and worrying about the future. My heart is full being here, in community with my church family again.
Lord, thank you for so many blessings. Thank you for this gift. I trust you Lord that what comes will come, let me not wallow in what might have been, but only Bless your Holy Name and sing your praise and glory all the days of my life. The world could end around us, but we are here in your presence praying together for the world.
Copyright 2020 Shelly Henley Kelly
Image: Pixabay (2019)
About the Author
Shelly Henley Kelly is a daughter of God, a Martha who strives to be Mary, living in the world, but not of the world, perpetually busy as breadwinner, wife, mother, catechist, and ACTS sister. A published author, Shelly writes about being a working mom and catechist at SoundMindAndSpirit.com and can be heard on various podcasts at SQPN.com.