This is the last part of the meditation of Bishop Fulton Sheen on the HOLY HOUR. Here he talks about the fruits, the benefits that we reap from this beautiful practice of keeping close to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for an hour everyday.
Sometimes I wished that I had kept a record of the thousands of letters that I have received from priests and laity telling me how they have taken up the practice of the Holy Hour. Every retreat for priests that I ever gave had this as a practical resolution. Too often retreats are like health conferences. There is a general agreement on the need for health, but there is lacking a specific recommendation on how to be healthy. The Holy Hour became a challenge to the priests on retreat, and then when the tapes of my retreats became available to the laity, it was edifying to read of those who responded to grace by watching an hour daily before the Lord. A monsignor who, because of a weakness for alcohol and consequent scandal, was told to leave his parish went into another diocese on a trial basis, where he made my retreat. Responding to the grace of the Lord, he gave up alcohol, was restored to effectiveness in his priesthood, made the Holy Hour everyday and died in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
As an indication of the very wide effect of the Holy Hour, I once received a letter from a priest in England who told me in his own language: “I left the priesthood and fell into a state of degradation.” A priest friend invited him to hear a tape on the Holy Hour from a retreat I had given. Responding to grace, he was restored again to the priesthood and entrusted with the care of a parish. Divine Mercy wrought a change in him…
Many of the laity who have read my books and heard my tapes are also making the Holy Hour.
A state trooper wrote that he had my tapes attached to his motorcycle and would listen to them as he was cruising the highways: “Imagine,” he wrote, “the bewilderment of a speeder being stopped by me while from the tape recorder was coming one of your sermons about the Eucharist.” He found it difficult at first to find a church that was open during the day at a time he could make his Hour. Later on, he found a pastor who was not only willing to open the church, but even willing to make the Hour with him.
Most remarkable of all was the effect the preaching of the Holy Hour had on non-Catholic ministers. I preached three retreats to Protestant ministers-on two occasions to over three hundred in South Carolina and in Florida, and on another occasion to a smaller group at Princeton University. I asked them to make a continuous Holy Hour of prayer in order to combat the forces of evil in the world, because that is what Our Lord asked from the night of His agony. I addressed them: “You are not blessed with the same Divine Presence in your churches that I believe we possess. But you do have another presence that we do also, and that is the Scripture. At the Vatican Council, we had a solemn procession of the Scriptures into the Council every morning as a form of the Presence of God. You could make the Hour before the Scriptures.” Many came to me later to inquire about the Eucharist, some even asked to join with me in a Holy Hour before the Eucharist.
Most remarkable of all was a telephone call I received early one morning in Los Angeles. The caller announced himself as Reverend Jack McAllister. He was most insistent that he see me. I told him that I was catching a plane for New York at midday and would be glad to see him at the airport before leaving.
A very distinguished Christian gentleman appeared, Mr. Jack McAllister, who told me that he was engaged in a work of world evangelization, sending tapes on the Gospel to all parts of the world, and also mailing million of copies of sermons and scriptures to every quarter of the globe: “There is one thing that seems to be missing in my world evangelism, and that is a spiritual practice which will make it successful. What would you recommend?” I recounted how much I depended on a daily Holy Hour before the Eucharist, and then suggested that since he was not blessed with the Eucharist, he could ask all of his people to spend one continuous hour with the Scriptures in prayer and reparation for the sins of the world.
One year later I received a pamphlet from him entitles: “Jack McAllister writes to ONE HOUR WATCHERS.” A paragraph from that pamphlet reads: “Please…if you are honestly concerned about making Christ known to literally every creature- give God one hour every day. You are needed in God’s prayer-force to prepare for work in the totally unevangelized areas of the world. Do you love them enough to pray? Will you ‘pay the price’ of spiritual battle for one hour daily?’ Christ asked: ‘What, could you not watch with me one hour?’
At the end of the first year, he wrote and told me that seven hundred ministers had pledged one hour a day…
One of the by-products of the Holy Hour was the sensitiveness to the Eucharistic Presence of Our Divine Lord. I remember once reading in Lacordaire, the famour orator of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris: “Give me the young man who can treasure for days, weeks and years, the gift of a rose or the touch of a hand of a friend.”
Seeing early in my priesthood that marriages break and friends depart when sensitiveness and delicacy are lost, I took various means to preserve that responsiveness. When first ordained and a student at the Catholic University in Washington, I would never go to class without climbing the few stairs to the Chapel in Caldwell Hall to make a tiny act of love to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Later, at the University of Louvain in Belgium, I would make a visit to our Blessed Lord in every single church I passed on the way to class. When I continued graduate work in Rome and attended the Angelicum and Gregorian, I would visit every Church en route from the Trastevere section where I lived. This is not so easy in Rome, for there are churches on almost every corner. Fred Allen once said that Rome has a church on one corner so that you may pray to get across the street; the church on the other corner is to thank God that you made it.
Later as a teacher as the Catholic University in Washington, I arranged to put a chapel immediately at the entrance of the front door of my home. This was in order that I might never come in or go out without seeing the sanctuary lamp as a summons to adore the Heart of Christ at least for a few seconds. I tried to be faithful to this practice all during my life, and even now in the apartment in New York where I live, the chapel is between my study and my bedroom. This means, that I can never move from one area of my small apartment to another without at least a genuflection and a small ejaculation to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Even at night, when I am awakened and arise, I always make it a point to drop into the chapel for a few seconds, recalling the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, offering a prayer for the priests and religious of the world, and for all who are in spiritual need. Even this autobiography is written in His presence, that He might inspire others when I am gone to make the Hour that makes Life.