Drawing close to the Lord and His mother

Devotion 3 Fr. Stephen Pullis, director of the archdiocesan Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools, holds the monstrance during adoration as part of an event for teenagers at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in 2016. Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, calls on parishes and schools to promote opportunities for Eucharistic adoration and Marian devotion as a way to help the faithful experieince Jesus and draw strength for evangelization. 
Jonathan Francis | Archdiocese of Detroit

Pastoral letter asks parishes to promote Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotions

Sterling Heights — Jesus is alive and present in the Eucharist.

This core belief nourishes Catholics to carry out the task of evangelization.

And through the intercession of Christ’s mother, Mary, Catholics receive the spiritual assistance to go about the work of telling the world about her son.

“At the root of Unleash of the Gospel, there is one foundational truth that God, Jesus, is risen from the dead, and He loves us and He is very much involved in our lives,” Fr. Robert Spezia, vicar for clergy and director of the Office of Clergy and Consecrated Life for the Archdiocese of Detroit, told The Michigan Catholic. “Some Christians believe as if God is a watchmaker who made a clock, wound it up and walked away. We believe as Christians that Jesus is risen from the dead, and He is alive and involved in our lives.”

Fr. Spezia is the “lead driver,” a newly minted term in the Archdiocese of Detroit to describe church personnel who head various tasks related to the pastoral letter, in encouraging parishes to create more times for Eucharistic and Marian devotions.

Fr. Spezia said Unleash the Gospel calls for more time spent with Eucharistic adoration and Marian devotions because the two help Catholics experience God’s presence on earth.

“If we look back at what God has done for the world, looking at what he did 2,000 years ago, He sent His Holy Spirit to the Blessed Mother,” Fr. Spezia said. “He gave us the Eucharist where He is as present now as He was when He was with the Apostles. Because there is a need for Christ to be more deeply involved in us as followers, we have Mary and the Eucharist as a way for us to experience Jesus.”

Spending time with Jesus, and taking the time to venerate Mary, the most perfect follower of Jesus, gives Catholics strength and sets an example, Fr. Spezia said.

The Church has many devotions to Mary, from novenas to rosaries to various feasts and solemnities celebrating her titles or Church dogmas such as the Assumption or Immaculate Conception.

Across the archdiocese, such devotions range from parish to parish, from a yearly Marian procession at St. Priscilla in Livonia in honor of her birthday Sept. 8, to more subdued devotions at Our Lady of the Lakes in Waterford.

“Since the mid-1990s, we’ve had a small group of parishioners who have met at people’s houses to pray the rosary for the intentions of the parish,” said Theresa Kulicka, parishioner at Our Lady of the Lakes.

Praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet supplement and support the parish’s efforts to evangelize, Kulicka said.

“I feel I’ve received tons of benefits from our Marian devotion; I just feel I’m very blessed with my families,” Kulicka said. “Jesus gives us support through the tough times, and devotions to Mary and Divine Mercy allow us to drop our worries into His merciful lap.”

For people who don’t have a history with a particular devotion, or don’t know where to start, Fr. Spezia suggests spending 20 minutes with the Blessed Sacrament.

“With the Blessed Sacrament, it is a little bit like people who lay out on a beach in the summertime; they are just there, and they get tan,” Fr. Spezia said. “When you spend time with the Blessed Sacrament, God is working on them in a distinct way.”

Sitting before the Real Presence might seem like a passive prayer to the outside observer, but Fr. Spezia said Eucharistic adoration is anything but passive.

“There is, you can say, an active passivity, but it is very active,” Fr. Spezia said. “You have to pray for the Lord to grace us to teach us how to pray. I tell people, if the Apostles were to close their eyes on Easter Sunday morning to the Risen Christ, and you and I were to close our eyes before the Eucharist, the presence of the Risen Christ is identical.”

On May 15, St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish in Sterling Heights will host its monthly Eucharistic adoration from noon to 6 p.m.

“It was always important for me to have Eucharistic adoration at the parishes I was at,” said parish pastoral associate and worship coordinator Laurie Hall, who helped organize the devotion when she joined the parish in December 2017.

Devotion Parishioners carry a statue of Mary at St. Priscilla Parish in Livonia during a celebration honoring the feast of the Nativity of Mary on Sept. 8, 2015. St. Priscilla is one of many archdiocesan parishes that host regular devotions to the Blessed Mother. Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

“Here, it’s pretty simple. We have the monstrance out and leave the chapel open, and Fr. Tony (Sulkowski) starts with Benediction, and we offer parishioners a chance to sit and pray.”

Hall said the first time the parish had adoration, 30 people showed up, and 60 attended the next month.

“Adoration is a beautiful form of prayer, but many have never heard of adoration before, and that’s sad,” Hall said. “Once I heard of and experienced adoration, I was immediately hooked.”

One of the biggest reasons Unleash the Gospel encourages parishes to promote more Marian devotions and Eucharistic adoration is because like any relationship, the more time you spend together, the stronger it becomes, Fr. Spezia said.

“Sometimes, you meet couples who are married for 60 years, and they just sit together, not saying much, but they are keeping each other company,” Fr. Spezia said. “Part of being with the Blessed Sacrament is keeping company with Jesus. Just sit there in His presence, and you’ll be amazed with the fulfillment He brings.”

Find an adoration site near you

For a guide to Eucharistic adoration times and opportunities in Michigan, visit www.therealpresence.org/states/michigan.htm.