|The Nocturnal Adoration Society at Sagrado Corazon Hispinic Ministry Center sponsors an all-night vigil of Eucharistic adoration once a month. The devotion is for adults and children who pray for peace and for all people in the world, especially those who have fallen away from the faith. Father David Ramirez, director of Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Nashville, kneels before the monstrance holding the Eucharist at the start of the night of adoration.|
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. Frustrated, he asked his disciples, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”
Today, in the Diocese of Nashville and around the world, there are men, women and children who answer the Lord’s call as members of the Nocturnal Adoration Society. On one Saturday night each month, they take turns praying in Eucharistic adoration throughout the night.
Their desire is “to be with Jesus when everybody else is running away,” said Carlos Rivera, the representative delegate in Tennessee of the Nocturnal Adoration Society of the United States. On Saturday night, when many people are out having a good time, “Jesus is alone in the tabernacle,” Rivera said. He and his fellow Nocturnalists are there with Christ praying for peace and for all the people in the world, especially those who have fallen away from their faith.
The Nocturnal Adoration Society was brought to the Diocese of Nashville by immigrants from Mexico, where the devotion has been popular for more than a century.
|Jacquiline Alvarado, 12, at left, prays before the Eucharist. Several of the boys, above, spending the night with their fathers, get some sleep.|
Jesus Caratachea has been a member of the Society for more than 50 years, starting when he was 11 years old living in Mexico. He would accompany his father, riding a donkey for two hours to the church.
When he moved to Middle Tennessee, he began looking for the Society. When he couldn’t find one already established, he joined a group of men, including Rivera’s father, who established the Society at Sagrado Corazon Hispanic Ministry Center.
In 2003, the chapter at Sagrado Corazon was officially chartered. Today, about 80 adults and 35 children participate in adoration held on the first Saturday of every month.
Since the first chapter was founded, the Society has spread to four other churches in Tennessee: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville, Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville, St. William Church in Shelbyville, and Sacred Heart Church in Humboldt in the Diocese of Memphis.
The Society has established a Diocesan Adoration Council to spread the devotion to more parishes. People who are interested in starting a chapter at their parish can contact Father David Ramirez, director of Hispanic ministry for the diocese, at 615-931-3714 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The council will send a team to help them organize the chapter and the nights of Eucharistic adoration.
|Jacquiline Alvarado, 12, at left, prays before the Eucharist.|
he Society is a devotion the whole family can share. “This involves parents, grandparents, kids. It’s for the whole family,” said Lenin Tenorio, vice president of the chapter at Sagrado Corazon, who started going to nocturnal adoration with his father when he was a child in Mexico.
“The grandparents can be here, the sons, the daughters,” added Mario Vazquez, president of the chapter at Sagrado Corazon. “Everyone has a special moment with Jesus.”
The night begins about 9 p.m. with a procession into the church carrying the Eucharist in a monstrance that is placed on the altar. “We welcome God for being here with us,” Rivera said.
Then the children take their turn, praying from the Office of the Blessed Sacrament. The women take the hour of 10 to 11 p.m., and after that groups of men rotate, praying the Office before the Eucharist in one hour shifts until 6 a.m. When the men who stay through the night aren’t taking their turn in adoration, they are napping.
The women and children return in the morning and the entire group says a Rosary together before they attend Mass and receive Communion, completing the vigil.
Allowing the children to pray without their parents there, allows them a moment alone with God, Rivera said. “That creates a relationship with God for the children from a very young age,” he said.
The women and the men, praying separately, enjoy a similar personal moment with Christ, Rivera said. “The women have direct contact with God without her husband, without her kids.” It’s a special moment when they can have a heart-to-heart talk with Christ “as a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, as a friend,” Rivera said.
Victor Magadan, a member of the chapter at Sagrado Corazon, started coming to the Nocturnal Adoration after he was involved in an accident, he said. “I give thanks to God for being there for me.”
“God calls people in different ways,” said Alvaro Castillo, another member. “We come … to better ourselves and be happy with the help of God.”
Sindi Anguiano comes to Sagrado Corazon every month with her family from their home in Westmoreland, where they are parishioners at Holy Family Church in Lafayette. “It’s a moment to thank him for all the things he gives us,” she said. “And we pray for people who don’t believe in Him.”
The hour of adoration is also a time to listen to God, said Rivera. That’s why in every hour there are 10 minutes of silence, he said. “We come to listen to him. … Nobody listens to what God wants from them.”
It’s important to come as a family, Magadan said. “It’s better for our family to follow God. Our kids need to see the example.”
David Herrera, who is in his early 20s, started coming to the Nocturnal Adoration with his father about 10 years ago, he said, and continues to come on his own now. “It is a way of saying thank you to God one Saturday a month.”
The Society began in Italy in 1810 and spread to France, Spain and other countries in Europe. From France, it spread to Canada and the United States in the 1880s. From Spain, the Society traveled to South America and Mexico at the start of the 20th century. Today the Society has more than 4 million members in Mexico and is present in 80 percent of the country’s parishes.
Currently, most of the members in Tennessee are immigrants from Mexico who have brought the devotion with them, but the society is open to everyone, Vazquez said. The prayer book with the Office of the Blessed Sacrament that the members use is in both Spanish and English, he said.
Spending the entire night “to be with Jesus is a sacrifice,” Rivera acknowledged. “Not everybody stays because it’s not easy.”
But there are many benefits, he added. “I feel blessed to be born in a family with this devotion,” Rivera said. “You start feeling like it’s a vocation.”
For more information about the Nocturnal Adoration Society, visit www.nasheadquarters.org.