Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: In Good Times and Bad, Pandemic or Not


Tabernacles mostly stand in solitude: as though the Lord were only present during the Mass, and afterwards, no longer in the Consecrated Hosts that are reserved.

Newsroom (03/08/2021 16:55, Gaudium Press) There is an important document, which was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2002, called the “Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Principles and Guidelines.” These instructions are permanently in effect and deserve all due respect. Let us look at  Number 165, which pertains to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Because of the ‘Coronavirus,’ visits to the Blessed Sacrament have been greatly limited, and the faithful have been deprived of this beneficial encounter with Our Lord, just when we most need it. In any case, the instructions of the Vatican Congregation, which we have referred to, are valid for times of feast or famine (or pandemic), provided, of course, that access to the Blessed Sacrament is made easier…

#165. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in which liturgical forms and expressions of popular piety converge and where sometimes it is not easy to establish clear boundaries, can be accomplished in various ways:

– a simple visit to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle: a brief encounter with Christ, motivated by Faith in His Presence, and characterized by silent prayer;

– Adoration before the exposed Blessed Sacrament: exposed, according to the liturgical norms, in the monstrance or the pyx, for either a prolonged or brief time;

– what is known as Perpetual or Forty Hour Adoration: involving a whole religious community, a Eucharistic Association, or a parish community, and which gives rise to numerous expressions of Eucharistic piety.

During these moments of Adoration, the faithful should be encouraged in using Sacred Scripture as an incomparable book of prayer; to employ hymns and appropriate prayers; to become familiar with simple models of the Liturgy of the Hours; to follow the rhythm of the liturgical year; to remain in silent prayer, and…. given the close bond uniting Mary to Christ, the recitation of the Rosary can give their prayers a profound Christological orientation, meditating therein on the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

The visit to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle

Considering these three classic ways of adoring the Blessed Sacrament, it seems that the first of them – the simple visit to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle – is the one least taken into consideration by the faithful. Indeed, one goes to Mass, to Perpetual Adoration, or the Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament, but often has no regard for the actual Presence of Our Lord in the Tabernacles of our churches.

In fact, it is rare to see people praying before the Tabernacle in churches; the Tabernacles are usually solitary, as if the Lord were present only during Mass and no longer in the consecrated Hosts that are reserved. To reverence Him only when He is on the altar and then to ignore Him completely afterwards? It is not a reasonable reaction.

It is necessary to value the Tabernacle, or rather, the One Who is hidden there, and to devise a pastoral approach that motivates the faithful not to neglect this divine presence. For example, consider something so elementary as this: to teach and insist to both young people and adults that the first thing to do when entering a church is to look to see where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, and make a genuflection or bow in that direction. We would not think of entering a house without greeting the owner; here in the church the owner is God Himself Who, moreover, is waiting for us.

Another custom that is falling into disuse and which must be restored is genuflecting, or at least bowing deeply, every time we pass in front of the Tabernacle, and not only when entering a church. The Blessed Sacrament is infinitely more important than the altar, the images of the Saints, the people we meet whom we never fail to greet! But beyond a passing bow or genuflection is the ideal of that “brief encounter with Christ, motivated by faith in His Presence and characterized by silent prayer” of which the Directory speaks.

Eucharistic Adoration according to liturgical norms

In the second form of Adoration outlined in the document, it specifically indicates that it must be done “according to the liturgical norms”. On this point we frequently witness some carelessness: the Lord is left exposed alone; care of the order and cleanliness of the altar cloths might be neglected; the Sacred Host may be exposed or reposed in haste, without the care and ceremony required by such an august mystery, etc. Something else that is becoming more common, unfortunately: paying more attention to one’s mobile phone or to others gathered there than to the Lord Who is truly present. These and other irregularities should be corrected.

Finally, we are given excellent aids to make the most of the time of Adoration; so often we do not know how to proceed and distractions beset us. In the first place, the reading from Sacred Scripture – the Gospels, for example – speak to us of “suitable songs and prayers”, not just any prayer, reading or music… texts are suggested that make up the Liturgy of the Hours where we find instructive readings and wonderful psalms. The possibility of silent prayer is evoked, so that a Spiritual Communion may be properly made. Silence is valuable, as it helps one to concentrate and is a sign of respect not only for the Blessed Sacrament, but also for the others present. In the same way, meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary is recommended.

At Adoration the most precious encounter of the day takes place

This Directory, easy to put into practice, should have been given more consideration than it has been or is. If the time of Adoration is to be blessed and fruitful, it is a matter of acquiring these habits and taking a liking to them, for at Adoration we experience the most precious encounter of the day, the week, or in life!

Sometimes the excuse for not going to the Blessed Sacrament is “lack of time,” …but sometimes because we squander our time on things of relative unimportance. Let us spend, squander, “waste” our time with Him! it is an investment that can only result in personal, family and social benefits. And if we cannot go to the Lord in person due to the restrictions of the pandemic, let us fly with our imagination and soul to some Tabernacle and adore Him from a distance in His Sacrament of love!

Mairiporã, São Paulo, August 2021.

By Father Rafael Ibarguren EP – Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Eucharistic Works of the Church.

Translated by Emílio Portugal Coutinho.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm


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