A day in the life

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - Updated: 1:34 pm

It never fails. Any time I pay a visit to one of our elementary schools, the students in the lower grades will always ask the question: “What does a bishop do all day?” And so, just in case you’re wondering too, let me tell you.

As a very early riser, each day between 3:30 and 4 a.m. I head for a workout on the treadmill, then make myself presentable for the rest of the day. I go to the chapel and engage in Holy Hour, followed by morning prayer, followed by holy Mass. Business breakfasts are not uncommon. The routine of the day — meetings, one-on-one or with staff or outside groups — is sprinkled intermittently with phone calls, hundreds of e-mails, checking the “snail” mail, dictating responses and addressing things that I didn’t anticipate.

After my staff goes home for the night, I frequently head to a parish — perhaps for a confirmation — or to speak to groups of laity. And while I’m on the way, chances are that I’m fielding phone calls and texts from my staff about something that’s happening elsewhere in the diocese. With all of that, I also have to find time to take my car for upkeep, get my teeth cleaned and all the other must-dos of daily living.

When I wake every morning, I feel both the challenge and the charge of God’s trust in me as the bishop of Pittsburgh. But I can tell you without any hesitation — none of what I do each day could I do without Eucharistic adoration. The truth be told, without my Holy Hour, I would easily burn out. Spending time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament early every morn reminds me that what I do is not my work but his — the work of Jesus.

Deeper prayer

Every meeting at our diocesan offices begins with prayer — typically the Liturgy of the Hours. As people who serve Jesus, and whose mission is to help all of you come closer to him, my staff and I aim to make sure we are putting first things first. If we don’t pray, if we don’t seek God’s guidance, then how can we serve you as Jesus entrusts us to do?

In sharing with you my daily schedule and the efforts of my staff, I know that your schedules are no less busy. Tending to your jobs, taking care of your children, being soccer moms and dads, truly fills up your days. Many of you are simply stressed.

That’s one reason why I have called for 2020 in our diocese to be a special year of Eucharistic adoration. Complementing our On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative — we all need to grow closer to Jesus.

Yes, by virtue of my calling as a bishop, I try to serve Jesus and you, his people, to the best of my ability. As I deal with all the demands of the office of bishop, often making difficult decisions, the questions I ask are: Am I listening to his voice? Am I spending time with him alone? Aren’t the same questions apropos for you, too? Are you listening to the voice of Jesus? Are you spending time with him alone?

Adoration goes beyond our regular praying. Eucharistic adoration is indeed, by its very nature, an invitation to deeper prayer. It’s a time set aside to spend time with Jesus in his sacramental presence in the Eucharist — body and blood, soul and divinity — so that we can let him know what is on our minds and listen to what is on his heart.

A regular “date”

So many times in the Bible, a believer’s relationship with God is compared to a marriage. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from listening to my married friends it’s that spouses need to make special time for each other. No matter how much they love each other, if all that they do is their daily tasks, give each other routine greetings and engage in practical conversations about the children and the bills, each spouse will begin to feel neglected and they will grow apart.

Every couple needs a regular “date,” even if it’s as simple as going for a walk. Every couple needs to express their love for each other in words and gestures that demonstrate what they feel for each other. Every couple needs to draw strength from each other’s love.

That’s what happens in Eucharistic adoration. It’s our special time with Jesus. He thirsts for us to come to him there, just as married couples, good friends and family members look forward to special quality time with each other.

I have come to realize that many Catholics are not aware of this special devotion of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They are missing out on the comfort that comes with spending quiet time with Jesus. The time of adoration in any given church may begin and end with verbal and sung prayers. But the act of adoration itself is caressed in silence. Visitors with Jesus may come and go as they choose.

Special events and resources

So where and why has this practice come about for us as Catholics? The answer is found in what Jesus did at his Last Supper. He meant exactly what he said. When he broke the bread and told his disciples, “This is my body,” the bread was changed into his body. This gift from Jesus is not simply a symbol. It doesn’t merely remind us of Jesus and his love for us. It IS his presence — soul and divinity, body and blood.

When we receive the body and blood of Jesus during holy Communion, we receive his life, his strength, his power to follow the path he intends for us. When we visit with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration, it’s like a couple’s “date” or a family’s reunion or friends’ bonding. And just as happens in those encounters, we can bring Jesus our deepest questions, our nagging complaints, our most heartfelt thanks, our highest praise, grounded in a trust that makes our relationship with his love more real. When we quiet the chattering voices in our heads — even the greatest saints struggle with that one — we can feel his love, hear his voice and know that he is with us.

If you would like to participate in Eucharistic adoration, but don’t know where to find the chance to do so or how to begin, visit our diocesan website at www.diopitt.org/adoration2020. There you will find a map of adoration sites throughout the diocese, a list of special adoration events and resources to help you have a deeper experience of Jesus in Eucharistic adoration. There are even links to activities for young children, so you can bring them with you, too.

Adoration is a real part of my “day in the life.” It gives me the strength and inspiration I need not only to get through each day of life, but in the process trust that what I do needs to be grounded in knowing, loving and serving Jesus. My hope and prayer is the same for you.

So the next time someone asks you, “What do you do all day?,” may your answer be grounded in a deepened relationship with Jesus — helped surely by Eucharistic adoration. When you take time for your own “date” with Jesus, you will find your spirit renewed and your heart filled again with a love for the Lord and a love from the Lord.

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