The Star Tribune, not generally known for its spirituality, published this in the regional news section of today’s paper, not in the “Faith & Values” section that normally appears on Saturdays.
**Ancient Catholic adoration ritual draws many modern adherents **
Star Tribune **
Published January 30, 2005
MAPLE LAKE, MINN. – Inside a tiny brick chapel at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, Howard Selander, 77, kneels while his wife, Lucille, 72, fingers her rosary beads. Both stare straight ahead at the eucharist – the blessed bread Catholics believe is the body of Jesus – that’s enshrined in a glass case flanked by flickering candles.
It’s 12:38 a.m., and they begin to pray.
The Selanders, here every Wednesday from midnight to 2 a.m., are on the leading edge of a dramatic comeback of a centuries-old ritual. It’s a year-round, 24-hour eucharistic watch.
From International Falls to Sleepy Eye, candles and lights blaze through the night at 38 Roman Catholic churches as someone continuously adores the thin circular wafer at the heart of the Catholic mass. The practice, once done mainly by nuns and monks, is known as “perpetual adoration.”
“It’s a bottom-up phenomenon,” said John Boyle, a professor of theology and Catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. “It’s been remarkable over the past 20 years to watch it grow, especially the past 10 years.”
About 30 other state parishes have chapels where adoration takes place most hours of the week.
“The Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul … probably has the most chapels of perpetual adoration of any archdiocese in the country. It’s one of the most fruitful areas for this anywhere,” said the Rev. Victor Warkulwiz, a Pennsylvania priest who travels the country to help start adoration programs and has been in Minnesota every weekend this month.
People from around the world call Minnesotans for help in starting their own programs. Peggy Powell, coordinator of one of the state’s longest-running adorations at Epiphany Catholic Church in Coon Rapids, fields many of these inquiries. A few have even come from Protestants.
“I think we’re going to have an explosion this year,” Powell said. “People are just calling out of the woodwork. It’s amazing.”
Ways to adore**
At St. Timothy’s in Maple Lake, there’s a neighborliness and informality to the ritual. The Selanders chat with Dale Bothun, a teacher who had the previous shift, about an upcoming trip to Las Vegas as they settle in to do a rosary, pray for the sick and tend the candles.
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell,” Lucille Selander says, rocking as she intones a prayer she’ll repeat several times. “Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.”
Things are more formal at Epiphany in Coon Rapids, where Paulette Nelson, 62, has a weekly morning adoration on Tuesdays.
There’s no chitchat with the six others praying in the chapel. Nelson’s voice drops to a hush as she enters and signs the log book. She genuflects at the back of the chapel, bows her head and kisses the chapel floor.
“It’s just as if Jesus were standing there,” Nelson said, reflecting the Catholic view that Jesus is actually present. “You wouldn’t go in and walk by him.”
Nelson does a series of prayers, then heads to the front of the chapel for her main adoration routine: making multiple signs of the cross and repeating five times: “My God, I believe in you. I adore you. I hope in you. I trust in you. I love you.”
Before she leaves, she will kiss the floor again. She’s been an adorer for years at Epiphany and has often filled late-night shifts.
“It’s almost like an angel wakes you. You want to go,” Nelson said. “It’s the best part of your life.”
Cecile Muehlbauer, 59, an adorer at St. Alice’s Catholic Church in Pequot Lakes, feels the same way.
“At night, it’s really a spiritual experience,” said Muehlbauer, adding that the setting is far more intimate than regular Sunday mass. “You’re not just praying. You feel like you’re really speaking with Jesus.”
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