Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne offers a different way and place to pray during its outdoor Adoration Under the Stars event.
Father Daniel Whelan, Our Lady of Good Hope parochial vicar, said outdoor adoration provides an opportunity to “worship the Lord in a different atmosphere, under God’s creation.” The evening “captures all the senses,” he noted, by its being under the night sky, by the use of incense and through silent prayer as well as sacred, traditional hymns.
Adoration Under the Stars started with Father Whelan thinking about how to bring Christ outside the church walls. Parishes often hold processions “to bring Christ outside of the church,” he said, but with Our Lady of Good Hope being alongside a busy road, a procession wasn’t Our Lady of Good Hope’s best option. He continued thinking about how to take Christ out into the world, and also about his love of adoration — and came up with Adoration Under the Stars.
The first Adoration Under the Stars took place in October 2018. Father Whelan said it was a beautiful time and “a reminder that God is present, even outdoors.” Individuals and families were able to make themselves comfortable on the front lawn of the church, many of them sitting on blankets in front of the makeshift altar. As the evening wrapped up, some of the younger children had fallen asleep.
Adoration Under the Stars happened twice in 2019, once in July and again in October. Both times it had to be moved back inside the church, however, because of rain.
So families and individuals of all ages gathered inside Our Lady of Good Hope on Saturday, Oct. 26. Candelabras surrounding the monstrance on the altar provided the main source of lighting in the darkened church. Paper bag candles with cutout stars lined the pews, a way of still incorporating stars into the evening.
Father Whelan began the evening by reading two Gospels from the Book of Matthew. The first was the similes of salt and light, (Mt 5:13-16) the second was the commissioning of the disciples. (Mt 28:16-20) He gave a brief homily focusing on how there is much darkness in the world, and how Christians need to bring Christ’s light into the darkness of their lives and the lives of their loved ones. He likened the result of bringing Christ’s light into darkness with a quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Adoration began after the homily. Silent prayer along with sacred, traditional hymns sung by a young adult choir were the focus of the evening. Father Whelan also led a decade of the rosary: the third luminous mystery, the proclamation of the kingdom.
Near the end of the evening Father Whelan invited everyone to process toward the altar to light a candle that they would hold onto for the rest of adoration. He instructed those present to pray that the light from the candle “may scatter the darkness” in their lives.
After lighting their candles everyone stood for the last hymn. Father Whelan compared the moment to preparing to go out into the world and spread Christ’s light.
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