Traditionally, this devotion is carried out on the vigil of the Sacred Heart — today!
The saint known as “The Apostle of the Sacred Heart,” St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, is the French nun whose Church-accepted visions of Christ and His Sacred Heart inspired a movement of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus throughout the Church. In these visions, Jesus directed the ongoing consolation of His Heart through the First Friday devotions, and that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi would be honored as the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Among the beautiful ways to honor the Sacred Heart is making a Eucharistic Holy Hour, attending a formal Adoration, or just stopping by a quiet church to make a prayerful visit before the Tabernacle.
But there’s another kind of Holy Hour inspired by the Sacred Heart revelations that these days is largely forgotten … and it can bear beautiful fruit.
Imagine if you could take some of that peace you experience in the Adoration Chapel home with you. Well, you can!
The second type of Holy Hour can be prayed anywhere, usually at home, and was inspired by Jesus’ request to St. Margaret Mary to meditate on His Agony in the Garden from 11 pm- 12 am on Thursday nights, which was the third hour of His great suffering in Gethsemane.
Jesus told her,
“Here, I suffered inwardly more than in the rest of my Passion because I was totally alone, abandoned by heaven and earth, burdened with the sins of mankind … In order for you to be united with me, in the humble prayer that I presented to my Father in the midst of all that anguish, you will arise between eleven o’clock and midnight, and prostrate yourself in adoration for one hour with me.”
Most lay people do not have access to a church at that hour of the night … and so the at-home Holy Hour came to be. It’s an inherently Eucharistic devotion for our home. After all, we laity cannot have a monstrance exposed in our living room. But just as we watch and pray with the Divine Prisoner of the Tabernacle in Adoration at churches, we can watch and pray with our willing prisoner of Gethsemane in our homes.
The Holy Hour at home can be done of course at ANY time of day and any day of the week, because God cherishes all devout prayer. So feel free to make it any other time that is convenient. The important thing is that this Holy Hour is made in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus agonizing in Gethsemane.
Proponents of this devotion include Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, Fulton Sheen, and Padre Pio. The sacred day and time for this Holy Hour: Thursday night … the hour of 11 pm -12 am is special. There’s a holy opportunity awaiting you, and it’s filled with graces.
Because so much compassion and tenderness springs from keeping God prayerful company in the Garden of Gethsemane, this devotion can change your life. It’s a perfect devotion for our times in which reparation is so needed. The at-home Holy Hour does not require access to a church, and in fact, will make your domestic church more and more holy as you return to pray it week after week. Best of all, the devotion can bring a deep sense of purpose to any challenge or sorrow you are going through as you offer consolation to the sorrowing Heart of Christ. He is never outdone in generosity, and those who love this devotion notice how one’s soul feels refreshed upon offering Him refreshment.
To make it easy to pray the at-home Holy Hour you can join for free the First Thursday of the Month Club at Catholic Holy Hour and each First Thursday (as well as some bonus Thursdays throughout the month) you will receive special guided holy hours customized to the devotion of the day or month.
Pick a place in the home to dedicate to the purpose of praying this Holy Hour: a prayer space or a little altar set up, with an image of the Sacred Heart, or Jesus of Gethsemane, as a reminder that you are keeping Him company in the Garden where others fell asleep … “watching and praying” with Him. This same spot should be a place you pray at other times of day as well.
Soon, the effect of your prayers made faithfully and with regularity in this spot will make your home feel more “church” than just “domestic,” and your domestic church, so inherently susceptible to disagreements, disorder, and discord will experience a much-needed infusion of that same peace, as one or more of its members chooses, as St. Mary did, the “better part,” leaving all the distractions of home to the side in order to pray at His feet.
Scripture tells us when Mary broke open the jar of perfume to anoint Christ, the “house was filled with its fragrance.” As we know from Sr. Lucia of Fatima the “decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family,”
And we know that we are living in times in which so very much that is true, good, and beautiful is under attack … let us adopt this at-home devotion, and Thursday after Thursday night … break open our prayers and let each one of our houses be filled with that fragrance.