Local priest releasing book on eucharistic adoration

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, February 14, 2024

“Jesus, Make Me Fully Alive: 30 Holy Hour Reflections” (Ave Maria Press, $17.95)

Have you ever wanted to participate in eucharistic adoration, but shied away because you didn’t know whether you could just sit there for an hour? Or even a half hour? Or have you wanted to develop a habit of daily prayer but found the mechanics of it daunting?

Father Timothy Anastos, assistant chaplain at the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, offers help in his new book, “Jesus, Make Me Fully Alive: 30 Holy Hour Reflections” (Ave Maria Press, $17.95). The book includes a brief explanation of what it means to make a holy hour and offers a template for “lectio divina,” imaginative prayer and journaling in each session. There are also reflections with prompts for 30 holy hours, which Anastos suggests be used over 30 consecutive days.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Chicago Catholic: How did you get the idea to write this book?

Father Timothy Anastos: I’m currently a chaplain at St. John Paul II Newman Center at UIC, so I’m with college kids all the time. My COR team, which is kind of like the core leadership team of students who are really interested and want to bring other students closer to Jesus, were organizing the retreat for the fall. They wanted it to be called “the abundant life,” because with Jesus, when we get close to him, he gives us fullness of life, and when we are away from Jesus, we are walking around like “zombies.” They used that phrase, that so many students are walking around campus like zombies, and these students have come to know that the closer they’ve gotten to Jesus, the more alive they’ve become.

We have adoration every day, and more and more students like are realizing that they need it — that it’s like a lifeblood for them, in that they’re more alive after they leave the chapel. I wanted to give every student that opportunity. Sitting in the chapel in silence shouldn’t be an obstacle to you growing in faith and prayer. Most Catholic students know how to repeat things, but they don’t know actually how to pray because they’ve never really learned how to just talk to Jesus and be with him.

Chicago Catholic: In the introduction, you mention how people seeking connection sometimes end up in parasocial relationships with celebrities and people they don’t really know. How do you help people develop a genuine relationship with Jesus?

Anastos: As great as going through catechism classes and religion classes is, learning about Jesus is only one part of it. To just know about our faith, or just knowing facts about the Lord — in a way, that makes it like a one-sided relationship. In order to get know him, we come to learn his heart, and the way that we learn the heart of Jesus is through prayer, through spending time with him, just like we spend time with someone that we like, someone that we’re invested in. What I’m desiring for this book to do is to move away from the idea that Jesus is like this guy in a textbook to a guy that you can actually have a relationship with, a real person who’s not far away in the clouds, who’s with us — Emmanuel, God is with us.

Chicago Catholic: Why did you decide to structure each day around lectio divina, imaginative prayer and journaling?

Anastos: That’s how I learned how to pray in college, so that was how I really truly encountered Jesus as a person. And as I’ve gotten to know how the brains of young people work, I’ve learned that they do need a structure, they need something to rely on. Using lectio divina and imaginative prayer, it is Jesus speaking very beautifully and directly to us. It’s a very effective way of being able to hear God’s voice through Scripture, through meditating on Scripture through imaginative prayer, especially with young people — their imaginations are awesome and God uses your imagination. Then journaling, especially with women, I’ve found that for a lot of college women, journaling really opens up their hearts to be able to share with the Lord and to receive his love. Men as well, but especially women.

Chicago Catholic: How would you define success for this book?

Anastos: In my own heart, it’s already been a success because I never thought I would ever write a book. But honestly, it’s for  Jesus. Like, what would make it a success is Jesus, if he wants to use this book as a medium for his love and his grace, praise God, he’s the one who can make it a success. Practically, I think if young people truly are able to be confident and commit to 30 days of prayer, even if it’s 20 minutes, 30 minutes of going through the reflections, you cannot help but become more fully alive.

Chicago Catholic: You’re one of the eucharistic preachers for the National Eucharistic Revival. Can you tell me how you became one of them? And what you do as part of that?

Anastos: I don’t know the answer to the first question. Fifty priests from around the country and all different dioceses were nominated by I don’t even know who, and we were all sent a letter from Bishop [Andrew] Cozzens, who is the head of the USCCB’s eucharistic revival.

The second part, it’s been being sent by the USCCB to different dioceses and giving talks and leading eucharistic revival missions throughout the United States.

Chicago Catholic: How does it impact your relationship with Jesus when you are with a group of people who have all gathered specifically around the Eucharist like that it?

Anastos: It automatically makes me want to be a better priest, and it inspires me to go deeper in my love and relationship with Jesus and the Eucharist, because here are these hundreds or thousands of people who come from different corners of the diocese gathered together because they are convicted — they are already convicted that the greatest gift that we have is as Catholics is the Eucharist, and that deepens my conviction as well. It’s amazing to see that the revival is actually is actually working and people want to know the Lord through the Eucharist. It’s been very, very inspiring.




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  • eucharist

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