Historic Basilica and Shrine Provide Stellar Backdrop for 40 Hours Eucharistic Devotion

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By Tony DeGol
Proclaim!

When someone gives you the ultimate gift, you must give something in return.

“Jesus Christ has given us absolutely everything – He has given us His very self, and if He has done that, then it is our vocation in life to turn to Him, to spend more and more time in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ because He wants us to adore Him, and most importantly because He wants also to adore us as well.”

That message from Father Brian Warchola echoed throughout the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto during the parish’s annual 40 Hours Eucharistic Devotion June 23 and 24.

The Catholic tradition, celebrated regularly at various parishes throughout the diocese, offers an extended prayerful period during which the faithful are invited for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Basilica devotion began at the parish’s weekly outdoor Mass on June 23 at the Our Lady of the Alleghenies Shrine. The Eucharist was carried in procession to the Basilica for overnight Adoration, which continued throughout the following day.

The Very Reverend John Byrnes, JCL, JV, is the Rector of the Basilica. Father Warchola served as guest homilist for both the outdoor Liturgy and solemn vespers concluding the observance on June 24.

“We know that the Eucharist is the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ,” assured Father Warchola during the outdoor Liturgy, which appropriately coincided with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. “Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and He has told us ‘This is my Flesh for the life of the world; this is my Blood you are to take and drink and those who eat my Body, those who drink my Blood remain in me as I remain in them.’ That is the truth of our Catholic faith. Never let anybody tell you anything different.”

The 40 Hours observance concluded with a beautiful and reverent Eucharistic procession around the grounds of the Shrine. Clergy from throughout the diocese, the faithful, and students from Saint Michael School in Loretto participated. Benediction followed.

“Let us continue to celebrate His real presence,” invited Father Warchola. “Let us worship the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us approach this sacred altar and truly be fed with that Bread from Heaven that truly does give us eternal life.”