Many things can test people’s faith and challenge their hope in the course of the day, and there is one person where people can turn to find light, comfort and strength, said Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio.
“We find it in the Eucharist, we find it in Jesus himself,” Msgr. Gervasio said in the homily he preached for the Oct. 15 closing service of the Forty Hours Devotion in St. Hedwig Church, Trenton.
“Through the powerful graces that flow from the Mass, the Lord helps us to face all those things that test our faith and challenge our hope,” he said.
Msgr. Gervasio, diocesan vicar general and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, preached at the service that included parishioners from St. Hedwig Parish and priests from the Trenton and Metuchen Dioceses and Newark Archdiocese. Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., presided at the service, and Father Jacek Labinski, pastor of St. Hedwig Parish, also was present.
This year’s Forty Hours began after the 8 a.m. Mass Oct. 13, when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and placed in the monstrance. Adoration continued throughout the day until Evening Vespers. The following day, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for several hours, then on Oct. 15, the devotion concluded with Vespers, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
PHOTO GALLERY: Annual 40-Hour devotion is upheld in Trenton parish
The closing ceremony included the participation of young people, including altar servers and students from the parish religious education program and those who attend the Polish school on the St. Hedwig campus. The students, some of whom were dressed in Polish attire, participated in the entrance procession and recessional as well as the procession with the Blessed Sacrament.
In his homily, which he preached in English, Msgr. Gervasio spoke of how the celebration of Forty Hours “serves as a beautiful reminder of the gift we possess in the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.”
“Forty Hours helps us realize that at Mass, the Lord makes himself really and truly present on the altar in his Body, Blood, soul and divinity. It is there he gives himself to us as food for the journey of life,” Msgr. Gervasio said.
“Forty Hours summons us to rekindle what St. John Paul II called our ‘sense of Eucharistic amazement,’” Msgr. Gervasio added. “It is the amazement of knowing that the Eucharist is not something, but someone.”
After Msgr. Gervasio, Father Richard Basznianin, pastor of St. Pius X Parish, Forked River, preached in Polish. He reflected on the Last Supper, when Jesus established the Eucharist, and how, ever since, the Last Supper has been commemorated every year each Thursday of Holy Week.
Father Basznianin extended appreciation to Father Labinski for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Forty Hours closing and share a message about the Eucharist with his parishioners. Forty Hours is a beautiful tradition, he said.
In closing remarks, Father Labinski thanked the Bishop, his brother priests and the congregation for their presence, then noted that Forty Hours has been a beloved, longtime annual tradition in St. Hedwig Parish for many years. He added that while Lent and Advent are more likely occasions for parishes to hold Forty Hours, the devotion in St. Hedwig Parish is held near the feast of St. Hedwig, Oct. 16.
Siblings and altar servers Kayla and Colin Holler said they were happy to serve a ceremony with the Bishop and many priests in attendance.
Colin Holler noted that he and his sister have heard a great deal about the National Eucharistic Revival within their parish and from their brother, Kyle, a seminarian from the Diocese.
Forty Hours, Colin Holler said, “is another way to promote devotion to the Eucharist.”
Tomasz Halat, St. Hedwig music director, said he finds Forty Hours to be a way for people to have a special contact with Jesus in the Sacrament.
“It’s a beautiful celebration,” he said, “and we’re very blessed to be able to keep this devotion going.”