Blessed Sacrament marks 40 years of perpetual adoration

Fr. Jason Borkenhagen, the pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita, opens a celebration of 40 years of perpetual adoration at a Mass Thursday, Nov. 2. Fr. Joseph Gile, at right, assisted at the event. Fr. Gile is an associate professor in the School of Catholic Studies, at Newman University. (Photo courtesy Samantha Ridder)

Fr. Jason Borkenhagen prayed Thursday, Nov. 2, that the Blessed Sacrament parishioners who were charter members of the adoration chapel are now at an elevated level of adoration.

“For all those who have been adorers of the Lord who have gone on to meet him, our prayer is that there is no more veil. It’s just them with the unadulterated Blessed Trinity in perfect unity.”

That’s the mindset parishioners should have when they go into the adoration chapel, he said. “That might not be your specific intention…that’s what you should be longing for.”

Opened event on All Souls’ Day

Blessed Sacrament’s pastor opened the Wichita parish’s celebration of 40 years of perpetual adoration with a Mass on All Souls’ Day. The Mass also marked the beginning of 40 Hours of Adoration.

Fr. Borkenhagen recalled the comment of a parishioner at a former parish, St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, who completed her hour and was waiting for the next adorer to relieve her. “She said, ‘I just looked at the Lord and said, well, I want to spend eternity with you, so I guess I’ll just get started now.’”

Adoration: the beginning of eternity on earth

Adoration is the beginning of eternity on earth, Fr. Borkenhagen said.

“It’s this little sense of beginning eternity right here on earth. It’s a really powerful thing that you all come here once a week, maybe more than once a week, sometimes at midnight, sometimes at five in the morning or 10 at night, whatever your hour is, and you kneel down before the Lord with whom you hope to spend eternity.”

The sacrament prepares us for eternity

Jesus left us a sacrament to prepare us for the very eternity we all long for, he said.

“Knowing that Jesus Christ is present really, truly, and substantially in the Most Holy Eucharist means that we not only receive him – although that’s super important – but we also adore him.”

If Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, he said, why wouldn’t you bow down? Why wouldn’t you spend time with him? Why wouldn’t you bring all your petitions before him?

“And that’s what we’ve been doing in this parish for 40 years,” Fr. Borkenhagen said.

On Feb. 24, 1980, he said, Pope John Paul II wrote Dominicae Cenae, a letter to all the bishops in the world “On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist.” One reason for the letter was to call attention to the priest’s action at the altar and the way the Eucharist is handled and distributed.

Pope John Paul II called for adoration chapels

“Early in the document, he did something that was really radical. He called for adoration chapels. He wanted the lay people to have perpetual adoration,” Fr. Borkenhagen said. “Up until the 1980s, that was something that was only reserved for a few different religious orders. It was not something that happened regularly in parishes.”

Within a few years, he said, “Fr. (Victor) Bieberle and many of our lay faithful said, ‘Let’s do it!’ And they did it. Our parish has been a beneficiary of that for 40 years now.”

He closed his opening homily by asking those attending to pray for those adorers who may be in Purgatory that they are quickly received into heaven; and if they are already in heaven they’ll pray that “we can be strengthened by that hour we spend with the Lord, and by the Holy Communions that we make, that we can truly be transformed.”

The closing Mass

Fr. Borkenhagen announced at the 40th anniversary celebration closing Mass, Saturday, Nov. 4, that it was 40 years ago to the day that Perpetual Adoration began in the chapel. He added that Fr. Bieberle’s sister, Ellie, her husband, Jerry, and their children were in attendance.

He reminded the congregation that Fr. Bieberle was the pastor at the chapel’s opening, that he was listening to the call of the Holy Spirit, and that he was leading a parish devoted to our Lord.
“All three of these things were necessary,” Fr. Borkenhagen said, adding that the parish was an important component in moving forward.

“There was no way (Fr. Bieberle) could do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For that to happen, many people’s hearts had to be touched – sometimes cajoled a little bit. But that’s okay. In my 22 years of priesthood, I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who said I wish I never had an adoration hour.”

Last Four Things

Fr. Borkenhagen said in November is normal to reflect on the last four things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell, adding that at the celebration’s opening he reflected on death and heaven.

“The second of the last four things I think, is worthy to think about in this 40th anniversary as well: judgment. Now, it might seem unrelated. We all know that when we die, we go right to the judgment seat of the Lord. And it’s not like a trial where there’s a prosecution and a defense lawyer, but you stand in the presence of truth itself.”

Those who died in the state of grace go to purgatory or heaven. “And if you don’t, you don’t.”

Be ready for the judgment

At the end of time the Lord will return in glory with all the angels for the general judgment, Fr. Borkenhagen said.

“And at that point, the thing I’d like to focus on, is you get to see all the good and how the good that you did affected the rest of the world. And so, if you think about that, in terms of a parish that’s been worshiping God and adoring him for 40 years, the effect of those prayers all those hours for all these years of people praying…we will all get to see what happened through the prayers of the people at Blessed Sacrament in front of the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.”

All will be nervous to stand before the Lord on Judgment Day, he said. “But it’ll be a wonderful thing if he says to you, you spent time with my Son. And this is the good it’s done.”

Blessed Sacrament’s perpetual adoration chapel has been a source of great grace, Fr. Borkenhagen said. “Instead of being filled with pride, we should be filled with joy and humility, that people respond to the Holy Spirit.”

Adoration: A holy weapon

Adorers should continue to implore the Lord for their personal, family, parish, church, and world intentions. “There are a lot of people who think they’re warriors, but there aren’t very many people who get down on their knees and use the very weapons that the Lord gave us –very different from the worldly weapons that are destroying countries and killing people all over the globe.”

In addition to looking back over 40 years, he said, parishioners should look forward to the day when they will meet the Lord. “Because the whole purpose of what we’re doing at Mass and at adoration is asking the Lord to draw us closer and closer to his heart, and through worthy reception of Holy Communion and forever adoring his most precious body and blood, that we can be transformed into Him.”

Rely on God’s mercy

Upon death all are totally reliant on the mercy of God, he said.

“But he will know us from our time of adoration, from our time at Mass, and from the effect we’ve had on the world through our prayers, through our living of the Gospel by deed and word. And that will be a beautiful thing for us individually, for us collectively as a parish, and for the whole world.”