By Gary Ridgeway
St. Joseph's Church, Bakersfield, CA

Around October of 1992,1 purchased a book in which someone had inserted a flyer from Fr. Martin Lucia's Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. This small pamphlet described Eucharistic Adoration and listed the 12 biblical and 12 church reasons for PEA. After reading that material and thinking that it sounded like a great idea, to be able to go to pray with Jesus any time of the day or night, I approached our monsignor, thinking that he would agree and immediately commence PEA. That wasn't his reaction. He properly suggested that we pray on the matter and for me to call him if l was still interested. I did call him and set up an appointment.

During our meeting and in subsequent meetings, he proceeded to tell me all of the reasons why PEA wouldn't work. He reviewed what we now know is the same list of objections given by other pastors, namely: 1) that we don't have room - every square inch of the parish property is utilized every day of the week; 2) we can't possibly get people to come in the middle of the night week after week, as we were only getting around 20 people to attend a brief First Friday Adoration; 3) it was too dangerous with all of the crime in our area; etc.

Fortunately the people in Michigan with Fr Martin's Apostolate had prepared me in advance what to expect and had armed me with the appropriate responses. After each of our meetings, I left feeling like I'd been negotiating the Panama Canal, not
simply trying to get our priest to make our Eucharistic Lord more available to us. When I asked if we could bring one of the priests from the Apostolate to give a homily and conduct a sign-up, he said, "No" .When asked if he would give a homily that the Apostolate had prepared, he said, "No". He said that if I (a person whose only involvement in the Church was going to Mass, semi-regularly) was willing to get up and talk at all of the Masses on a given weekend, and if we got sufficient response, he would allow us to try 24-hour adoration every Friday.

Well, our parishioners were definitely listening to the message and not the messenger, as we had over 300 people sign up (and commenced 24-hour adoration on May 7, 1994) and even after a few months, we were averaging around 270 holy hours every Friday. The blessings started; however, we had only scratched the surface. In July of '94, our monsignor and our associate pastor were both transferred and replaced by a single priest. We were despondent. Having one priest for a parish with over 2,400 registered families, we just knew that our dream of a 7-day-a-week adoration was dead.

How wrong we were, as after one month our new pastor told us, I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse. when you can guarantee that all of the hours are covered, you can go to a 7-day-a-week adoration. "Well, after picking ourselves up off the floor, we went to work and arranged for Fr. Martin Lucia to come to St. Joseph's in October, and after getting 583 people to sign up, commenced our new schedule of adoration on November 6, 1994. Due to the use of our chapel for baptisms and a multitude of other activities on Saturday and Sunday, we start each week at 7 p.m., after the last Sunday Mass and run continuously until the following Saturday at 9 a.m. To date we're averaging in excess of 630 holy hours weekly.

We had heard that you cannot outdo Jesus in generosity, but we didn't know the half of it, as He has indeed released a torrent of blessings from His Eucharistic Heart. In addition to the things we'd learned to expect, like confessions quadrupling and participation in all of the sacraments increasing; like attendance increasing to the point that our one priest not only added back our 5th Mass on Sunday, but added an additional Saturday evening Mass like financial contributions increasing without the previously utilized and seemingly never ending, weekly fund raising activity, we indeed are becoming a Spirit-led Catholic Church. Numerous physical healings, reconciliation of families, people coming back to the Church, are now weekly occurrences.

The bottom line is that we have learned that only one thing is necessary - Jesus. We don't have to worry about our particular interest group within the parish getting enough attention or funding. We don't have to worry about the next big fund raiser. We don't go away thinking that our efforts are what's holding things together. All that is needed is for us to go to Him, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. He will take care of everything. By focusing on our Eucharistic Lord, instead of ourselves, we've come to understand the section of the gospel where Jesus essentially tells Mary to calm down when she's upset that her sister Martha isn't helping her with the chores. Only one thing is necessary: acknowledging Jesus as Lord and spending time with Him Who died on Good Friday to pay the debt for Holy Thursday.

Power! I never before understood the Power of His Presence. His is a truly powerful Presence that calms me no matter how upset I am when going to visit Him. His power has led us to understand one other word - Trust. As difficult as it is to our prideful nature, we are learning to truly trust in God.

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