Read a report by Shane Gallagher, a member of the liturgy committee for Bagenalstown parish on the monthly Holy Hour organised by the committee as part of the preparations for the Eucharistic Congress 2012.
As part of the preparations for the Eucharistic Congress 2012, the parish of Bagenalstown in south Carlow decided to organise a monthly Holy Hour. The special liturgy takes place in the parish church on the last Sunday of each month, commencing on the first Sunday of Advent 2010 and continuing until the end of the Congress.
The structure is quite simple and minimal. A decision was taken to keep the tone sacred but without many of the familiar elements of a typical Holy Hour/Exposition. The Blessed Sacrament is already in its place of honour before the liturgy commences so silent reflection makes up the main atmosphere of the hour. Prayer begins with 4-5 minutes of reflective music and a taize-like, repetitive mantra. The guitarist from the local folk choir leads the singing and music, with the members of the congregation encouraged to sing along.
After a welcome from Fr. Paddy Byrne, silence descends. The remainder of the hour is composed of five short reflective readings on various appropriate themes, followed by taize music, followed once again by time for silent reflection.
The parish also decided to hold Night Prayer (from the Prayer of the Church) every evening during Lent and Advent. On the night of the Holy Hour, a shortened version of Night Prayer is included towards the end of the liturgy. Each liturgy concludes with the Divine Praises and a blessing, after which the Blessed Sacrament is removed to the tabernacle. A final piece of music accompanies this conclusion.
Attendance at the Holy Hour has been consistently encouraging since it began. We are also very fortunate to be able to include a large section of the parish by broadcasting the liturgy via parish radio. Feed back to the liturgy from this listenership has been very positive and bigger than anticipated. The structure is, of course, flexible and parishes should be encouraged to develop their own devotional liturgy to suit their needs.