BOSTON -- To see the image of God in Boston, a passerby need only look up.
Two billboards featuring the Eucharist displayed in a monstrance tower over the streets in Brighton and East Boston. The words under the image read, “The Son’s rays for your soul.”
These advertisements are meant to get the word out about the return of perpetual adoration to Boston after a 40-year absence. St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine on Boylston Street will mark the start of adoration with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.
From then on, the Eucharist will be exposed in a monstrance all day, every day, apart from regularly scheduled Mass times. Currently, the shrine offers adoration six hours or more daily.
Tim Van Damm, coordinator of the effort, said the grace at the already vibrant St. Clement community will be multiplied.
“Anytime the Lord is present 24-hours a day, seven days a week, people are changed,” he said. “This is a way to build spiritually and bring people together in prayer.”
Van Damm said that St. Clement, a community he has been active in since 2000, was a natural choice for perpetual adoration because it is a eucharistic shrine.
Cardinal Richard Cushing made St. Clement into a eucharistic shrine, staffed by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, in 1945. The sisters maintained perpetual adoration from 1945 to the late 1960s. The Oblates of the Virgin Mary began staffing the shrine in 1976.
The effort to bring perpetual adoration back to Boston is a direct response to the call of Pope Benedict XVI to have spaces dedicated to prayers for vocations and the sanctity of priests during the Year for Priests which began in June and runs to June 2010. St. Clement’s will be the designated site in the Central Region of the archdiocese.
Van Damm said the inspiration for his involvement came from his own need to adore the Lord in the Eucharist. Van Damm said adoration has “re-ignited” his faith and given him much peace.
Marie Baranko, another member of the St. Clement’s community, agreed. Before she came to the shrine, Baranko said she did not believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Raised Catholic, she had never before seen adoration. After being invited to the shrine by a roommate, she attended adoration and recognized Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
“When you seek the truth, God honors that,” she said. “He reveals Himself to you.”
Her experience has also resulted in the discernment of her vocation. She will be entering the Sisters of Life order in September. She will be praying for the success of perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s from New York, she said.
“The shrine has played a major role in my vocation,” she said. “It’s centered around the Eucharist.”
She hopes that perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s will help others to “fall more in love with the Lord.”
Director of the shrine, Father Peter Grover, OMV said perpetual adoration has a “powerful effect” wherever it is instituted.
“Any church that emphasizes prayer is going to affect the Church of Boston as well as the community,” he said. “It will be a big grace in the city.”
In order to invite everyone to adoration at St. Clement’s, in addition to the billboards organizers are sending e-mails and posting signs in neighboring parishes. Van Damm has been a guest on two national radio shows and will be featured on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” on Aug. 4 at 10:30 a.m. Organizers also hope to be able to buy advertising space on the MBTA’s Green Line subway trains.
Van Damm said the costly advertisements are “a leap of faith.”
For more information, to download a sign-up sheet or to donate to the effort, visit the Web site at www.adorationboston.org.