When I was in college, I remember going to a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) conference with over 400 college students. I was then introduced to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which was ongoing throughout the conference. The room was silent, and people were kneeling and praying with Jesus. I went in, sat there for 5 minutes, but then I had to leave. It was mainly because I was drawn to all the interactions happening outside of the quiet room, and I was completely unaware of the invitation from the Lord to remain with him. Little did I know that even though I couldn’t spend more than 5 minutes that day in silence, the Lord would continue to draw me to him in silent Adoration throughout my own life.
As I became a FOCUS missionary and served 6 years on 3 different campuses, I learned how to, and was encouraged to pray in silent Adoration. Each missionary was required to pray a Holy Hour every day, and was also encouraged to recite a daily rosary, read and study the Bible (as you would lead Scripture Studies), seek out spiritual direction, and frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Perhaps you can see why I stress those things now as a priest, because they changed my life!
Our first reading today is beautiful and almost dumbfounding at the same time when you consider Samuel’s story. Samuel’s mother, Hannah was barren. She prayed profusely to have a child. The Lord heard her prayer, and Eli the priest revealed to Hannah that she would have a child despite her circumstances. Samuel was born, and when the child was old enough, Hannah gave her son back to the Lord by leaving Samuel under the guidance of Eli at the Temple.
Samuel is being trained in the temple to be a priest like Eli. One night while sleeping, he hears a voice, and mistakes it as Eli’s. Yet, the voice was the Lord’s. Why is this dumbfounding? If anyone in the world would be able to distinguish the Lord’s voice, you would hope it would be the one in the Temple training to be a priest?! And yet, perhaps Samuel himself needed more time in silence to know and hear the Lord better.
As I reflect on my time as a FOCUS missionary, I am grateful for the gift I received through their amazing missionary program. It was through this mission that I learned to pray and hear the voice of the Lord. This allowed me to ultimately respond to the Lord’s calling to become a priest, and I owe my vocation to FOCUS.
If I can encourage two things it would be to first, please support this missionary program either nationally, or by supporting our own FOCUS missionary from the parish – Lucero Manzanares at https://focus.org/missionaries/lucero-manzanares/ Secondly, like myself, I had to learn how to hear the word of the Lord through silent Adoration and prayer. May I encourage you to consider signing up for an Adoration hour once a week in our new chapel starting Feb 11th? You can sign up for an hour with a friend or family, so that you can either alternate or pray together: https://bit.ly/adoreJesusatOLM