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What is a holy hour?

Lone Hispanic woman in church

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Philip Kosloski - published on 05/16/23

A holy hour is a time set apart for personal prayer, which can be at home or at a church.

Many saints over the centuries have talked about the concept of a “holy hour,” suggesting this practice to anyone who asked them for advice.

What exactly is a holy hour?

The basic definition of a holy hour is the dedication of 60 minutes to personal prayer. While many people will make a holy hour inside a church building or a Eucharistic adoration chapel, this is not a strict requirement. A holy hour can be made anywhere in the world, whether it is in your home, apartment building, hotel room, or in the subway.

Sometimes people even refer to the dedication of 30 or 45 minutes as a “holy hour,” even though it is not a full 60 minutes.

The key to any holy hour is that it is a time of personal prayer, where you converse with God. This could be through silent listening, the reading of the Bible, or praying your favorite devotional prayer.

Mother Teresa always stressed the importance of the daily holy hour. It was a vital part of her daily schedule. In Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, she writes:

“I make a Holy Hour each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. All my sisters of the Missionaries of Charity make a daily Holy Hour as well, because we find that through our daily Holy Hour our love for Jesus becomes more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, and our love for the poor more compassionate. Our Holy Hour is our daily family prayer where we get together and pray the Rosary before the exposed Blessed Sacrament the first half hour, and the second half hour we pray in silence. Our adoration has doubled the number of our vocations. In 1963, we were making a weekly Holy Hour together, but it was not until 1973, when we began our daily Holy Hour, that our community started to grow and blossom.”

The concept behind a holy hour draws its inspiration from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In a certain sense Jesus challenges all of us to keep watch with him for at least one hour, as he challenged his apostles on that fateful night.

And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?”

Mark 14:37

While not all of us can dedicate a full hour to prayer each day, we can do what we can to spend time with Jesus.

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