St. Joseph Parish in Bonne Terre usually holds Eucharistic Adoration on the first Tuesday of every month for a short time — about an hour and a half.
Father Stephen Bauer, the parish pastor, sets the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar after morning Mass at about 8:30, then holds Benediction to close it out at about 10.
Not so on the first Tuesday of this November; it wasn’t a usual Tuesday.
The mid-term national elections were on Nov. 6, so the parish extended Eucharistic Adoration to 6 p.m. and added a Rosary marathon with requests for the Blessed Mother’s intercession at the start of each hour.
About a dozen people prayed the first Rosary at 9 a.m., with a half-dozen replacing them for the 10 o’clock hour and more coming in throughout the day. Many prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed the Rosary before heading to the voting booth, adding prayer to forming their consciences.
“We expanded it so people could pray before they went in to cast their votes,” Father Bauer said. “That’s a pretty good thing to do. Sometimes we forget about asking God for wisdom.
“Who are we to say we don’t need God’s assistance in these very difficult decisions, not just for people who are running but for all the propositions, too. We have so many issues facing us, tough emotional issues. (Praying) forces us to admit that maybe we don’t have all the answers and that we need divine assistance.”
Such requests for assistance dovetail with one of Father Bauer’s favorite phrases, from the prophet Micah in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book.
“Micah might be a minor prophet, but he has a major statement: What does the Lord require of us?” Father Bauer asked, then answered. “The Lord requires us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. It’s often quoted and hard to live, (but) to live justice, to be merciful and to be humble is Godly.
“We as individuals and as a nation have to request that God give us the grace to do those things. We hope all of our political figures also have those graces, a sense of justice and mercy and humility to be able to do that.”
Parishioner Mary Broome organized the daylong Rosary marathon, just as she helped organize the Mass marathon on election day in 2016 in Affton at the former St. George Parish Church, now St. John Paul II. The Mass marathon, which covered the time period in which the polls were open, also featured Rosaries to the Blessed Mother. St. Joseph Parish publicized the prayerful day in the old-school paper bulletin and via a high-tech smartphone app.
“Mary’s always there for us, so we put it in her hands, too,” said Father Bauer, who also had Perpetual Help devotions that morning. “Mary was there for Jesus and the infant Church.”
Parishioner Frances Haug attended the opening Rosary and viewed the election as not just a temporal duty but a spiritual one as well.
“I can’t get past applying the Ten Commandments to (candidates); it really strikes me when you get down to ‘Thou shall not kill,’” she said, adding that other issues — though important — will resolve themselves over time but that “abortion is eternal when the decision is made. I don’t get how you can go in as a person and vote for a candidate favoring abortion. Someday you’re going to stand before God and you’re going to answer to God for how you voted.”