Forty Hours Devotion

A Specifically Salesian Approach

“The Forty Hours Devotion is a special forty-hour period of continuous prayer made before the Blessed Sacrament in solemn exposition. Of course, the focus of this devotion is on the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, the words of our Lord burn in our hearts: "I myself am the living bread come down from Heaven. If anyone eats this bread, He shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).” 

“Affirming our belief in the real presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, the Vatican Council II taught that the Holy Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life" (Lumen Gentium, #11). While the Mass is the central act of worship for us Catholics, an act which participates in the eternal reality of our Lord's passion, death, and resurrection, Vatican Council II upheld and encouraged the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. Of course such devotion derives from the sacrifice of the Mass and moves the faithful to both sacramental and spiritual communion with our Lord (Eucharisticum Mysterium, #50). As Pope Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei, "This practice of adoration has a valid and firm foundation." Pope John Paul II has repeatedly "highly recommended" public and private devotion of the Blessed Sacrament, including processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours Devotion (cf. Dominicae Cecae, #3, and Inaestimabile Donum, #20-22).” 

“Second, the number forty has always signified a sacred period of time: the rains during the time of Noah lasted 40 days and nights; the Jews wandered through the desert for 40 years, our Lord fasted and prayed for 40 days before beginning His public ministry. The 40 Hours Devotion remembers that traditional "forty-hour period" from our Lord's burial until the resurrection. Actually in the Middle Ages, the Blessed Sacrament was transferred to the repository, "the Easter Sepulcher," for this period of time to signify our Lord's time in the tomb.” 

“The Forty Hours Devotion begins with a Solemn Mass of Exposition, which concludes with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a procession. The Blessed Sacrament remains on the altar in a monstrance. During the next 40 hours, the faithful gather for personal or public prayer in adoration of our Lord. The Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle for the daily Mass, and then returned for exposition after Mass. At the end of the devotions, the Mass of Deposition is offered, again concluding with a procession, benediction and final reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. While the forty-hour period should be continuous, some Churches break-up the time, reposing the Blessed Sacrament at night because of security reasons.” 

“The Forty Hours Devotion can be seen almost like a parish mini-retreat or mission. A guest priest may be invited to give a series of homilies. Confessions should be offered and encouraged. Consequently, an appropriate time to schedule Forty Hours is either Advent or Lent.” 

(Saunders, Rev. William. "40 Hours with Jesus Christ." Arlington Catholic Herald. Copyright © 2003 Arlington Catholic Herald

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The De Sales Spirituality Center offers three homily/reflection templates, one for each evening during the course of the Forty Hours Devotion. Typically, there are three evening reflections given during the course of a Forty Hours Devotion. These three reflections/homilies offered here bring a specifically Salesian perspective to the Forty Hours experience. 

Download all of the Forty Hours reflections in a .zip file.
Or individually as PDFs below.