By FR. ROLANDO V. DELA ROSA, O.P.
Our lives are punctuated by hours. Depending on how we spend it, an hour can be a rush hour, our finest hour, darkest hour, witching hour, or eleventh hour. Just as a drop of water changes the whole ocean, so one hour can change your lifetime.
Perhaps one of the most well-known (or notorious) hours is the “Happy Hour,” the favorite time of exhausted and bored workers who flock to bars and clubs to escape from their stifling work place that imprisons them five days a week. During that hour, they enjoy liquor, food, and entertainment at half the price. Late do they realize that the Happy Hour does not live up to its name. It’s an escape route that leads to another prison.
During this period of lockdown and forced quarantine, we have unprecedented leisure time in our hands.To some extent, how we spend our precious hours determine the kind of life we live. This is why the Bible enjoins us to “redeem” our time, which means to invest it in activities and experiences that enrich our lives and which we can look back to without regrets or guilt.When we redeem an hour, we sanctify it and make it an instrument of salvation for others. It becomes a Holy Hour.
How do we redeem our precious hours during these days of overflowing leisure? In the Gospel of John, when the word “hour” is used, it refers to those moments of deep crisis. Christ intensely experienced betrayal, abandonment, and loneliness, but also opportunities to fulfill His mission.While He sweat blood contemplating the sacrifices He had to undergo, He sought solace from His chosen apostles. To His dismay, He found them asleep. He begged them: “Could you not watch one hour with Me?”(Matt. 26:40). He was pleading with His disciples to give Him an hour of companionship and compassion.
The Holy Hour is a courageous response to that invitation. It is an excellent way of redeeming time, spending one hour each day exclusively for the Lord. We can spend it in an Adoration Chapel, or in any quiet place where we are alone with God. If we are sick, we can use the hour to unite our pain with that of Jesus. St. Paul wrote: “In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). Suffering, when it is united with that of Christ becomes redemptive.
When we consciously decide to spend an hour with Jesus as our constant companion, we begin to resemble Him. It’s unfortunate that many of us spend hours watching movies that glorify criminals, and lowlife persons. By watching these movies, these characters become our constant companions. St. Paul wrote: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1Corinthians 15:33). In the United States, adolescents who committed school shootings, were found to be frequent players of graphically violent video games and watchers of gruesome movies.
You might object: “What’s the use in spending an hour just looking at the Blessed Sacrament?” Maybe we should reverse our perspective. We are not wasting an hour just looking at God; rather, we become more aware that He is looking at us, or better yet, looking after us. He is not a spectator looking at us from a distance, but a God who is closer to us than we can ever imagine.
Make the Holy Hour your Easter Resolution. We have 24 hours every day but Jesus asks only for an hour. God is never outdone in generosity. When the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen was asked why he was so effective in touching minds and hearts, his answer was always: “The Holy Hour.” He testified that he had never missed a Holy Hour during his more than 60 years as a priest, and it was during this daily exercise that his conflicts were reconciled, his anxieties and insecurities were calmed, his heart was set on fire, making him more enthusiastic to respond completely to God’s call.