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EXPOSITION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

Relationship Between Exposition and Mass


Exposition of the Holy Eucharist, either in the ciborium or in the monstrance, is intended to acknowledge Christ’s marvelous presence in the sacrament. Exposition invites us to the spiritual union with him that culminates in sacramental Communion. Thus it fosters very well the worship due Christ in spirit and in truth. 

This kind of exposition must clearly express the cult of the Blessed Sacrament in its relationship to the Mass. The plan of the exposition should carefully avoid anything that might somehow obscure the principal desire of Christ in instituting the Eucharist, namely, to be with us as food, medicine and comfort. 

During the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the celebration of Mass is prohibited in the body of the Church. The celebration of Mass reveals in its orderly progress the various ways in which Christ is present in the Church. He is present in the congregation which gathers to acknowledge him: present in his word during the reading of Scripture and the homily; present in the person of the minister; last but not least, present under the form of bread and wine. His presence as God and man in the sacrament of the Eucharist is without parallel elsewhere: he is wholly and completely present. This is not to deny that Christ is genuinely present in other ways too, but we describe this as the "Real Presence because it is the most personal.” In addition to these reasons, the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery includes in a more perfect way the internal communion to which exposition seeks to lead the faithful. 

If exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is extended for an entire day or over several days, it is to be interrupted during the celebration of Mass. Mass may be celebrated in a chapel distinct from the area of exposition if at least some members of the faithful remain in adoration. 

Regulations for Exposition 

A single genuflection is made in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration. 

For exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, four to six candles are lighted, as at Mass, and incense is used. For exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the ciborium, at least two candles should be lighted, and incense may be used. 

Lengthy Exposition 

In churches where the Eucharist is regularly reserved, it is recommended that solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an extended period of time should take place once a year, even though this period is not strictly continuous. In this way the local community may reflect more profoundly upon this mystery and adore Christ in the sacrament. 

This kind of exposition, however, may take place, with the consent of the local ordinary, only if suitable numbers of the faithful are expected to be present. 

For a grave and general necessity the local ordinary may direct that a more extended period of supplication before the Blessed Sacrament exposed take place in churches where the faithful assemble in large numbers. 

If a period of uninterrupted exposition is not possible, because of too few worshipers, the Blessed Sacrament may be replaced in the tabernacle during periods that have been scheduled and announced beforehand. This reposition may not take place more often than twice during the day, for example, about noon and at night. 

The following form of simple reposition may be observed: the priest or deacon, vested in an alb, or surplice over a cassock, and a stole, replaces the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle after a brief period of adoration and a prayer said with those present. The exposition of the Blessed Sacrament may take place in the same manner (at the scheduled time). 

Brief Period of Exposition 

Shorter expositions of the Eucharist are to be arranged in such a way that the blessing with the Eucharist is preceded by a suitable period for readings of the word of God, songs, prayers and sufficient time for silent prayer. 

Exposition held exclusively for the giving of benediction is prohibited. 

Adoration in Religious Communities 

According to the constitutions and regulations of their institute, some Religious communities and other groups have the practice of perpetual Eucharistic adoration or adoration over extended periods of time. It is strongly recommended that they pattern this holy practice in harmony with the spirit of the liturgy. Thus, when the whole community takes part in adoration before Christ the Lord, readings, songs and religious silence may foster effectively the spiritual life of the community. This will promote among the members of the Religious house the spirit of unity and brotherhood, which the Eucharist signifies and effects, and the cult of the sacrament may express a noble form of worship. 

The form of adoration in which one or two members of the community take turns before the Blessed Sacrament is also to be maintained and is highly commended. In accordance with the life of the institute, as approved by the Church, the worshipers adore Christ the Lord in the sacrament and pray to him in the name of the whole community and of the Church. 

The Minister of Exposition 

The ordinary minister for exposition of the Eucharist is a priest or deacon. At the end of the period of adoration, before the reposition, he blesses the people with the sacrament. 

In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the Holy Eucharist for the adoration of the faithful: (a) an acolyte or special minister of Communion; (b) a member of a Religious community or of a lay association of men or women which is devoted to Eucharistic adoration, upon appointment by the local ordinary. 

Such ministers may open the tabernacle and also, if suitable, place the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance. At the end of the period of adoration, they replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the sacrament. 

The minister, if he is a priest or deacon, should vest in an alb or in a surplice over a cassock and should wear a white stole. 

Other ministers should wear either the liturgical vestments that are usual in the region or the vesture which is suitable for this ministry and which has been approved by the ordinary. 

The priest or deacon should wear a white cope and humeral veil to give the blessing at the end of adoration, when the exposition takes place with the monstrance; in the case of exposition in the ciborium, the humeral veil should be worn. 

Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction 

Exposition 

After the people have assembled, a song may be sung while the minister comes to the altar. If the Holy Eucharist is not reserved at the altar where the exposition is to take place, the minister puts on a humeral veil and brings the sacrament from the place of reservation; he is accompanied by servers or by the faithful with lighted candles. 

The ciborium or monstrance should be placed upon the table of the altar, which is covered with a cloth. If exposition with the monstrance is to extend over a long period, a throne in an elevated position may be used, but this should not be too lofty or distant. After exposition, if the monstrance is used, the minister incenses the sacrament. If the adoration is to be lengthy, he may then withdraw. 

In the case of a more solemn and lengthy exposition, the host should be consecrated in the Mass which immediately precedes the exposition and after Communion should be placed in the monstrance upon the altar. The Mass ends with the prayer after Communion, and the concluding rites are omitted. Before the priest leaves, he may place the Blessed Sacrament on the throne and incense it. 

Adoration 

During the exposition there should be prayers, songs and readings to direct the attention of the faithful to the worship of Christ the Lord. 

To encourage a prayerful spirit, there should be readings from Scripture with a homily or brief exhortations to develop a better understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. It is also desirable for the people to respond to the word of God by singing and to spend some periods of time in religious silence. 

Part of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially the principal hours, may be celebrated before the Blessed Sacrament when there is a lengthy period of exposition. This liturgy extends the praise and thanksgiving offered to God in the Eucharistic celebration to the sever­al hours of the day; it directs the prayers of the Church to Christ and through him to the Father in the name of the whole world. 

Benediction 

Toward the end of the exposition the priest or deacon goes to the altar, genuflects and kneels. Then a hymn or other Eucharistic song is sung. Meanwhile the minister, while kneeling, incenses the sacrament if the exposition has taken place with the monstrance. Afterward the minister rises and sings or says: 

Let us pray. 

After a brief period of silence, the minister continues: 

Lord Jesus Christ, you gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of your suffering and death. May our worship of this sacrament of your body and Blood help us to experience the salvation you won for us and the peace of the kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 

Amen. 

Other prayers may be chosen: 

Lord our God, in this great sacrament we come into the presence of Jesus Christ, your Son, born of the Virgin Mary and crucified for our salvation. May we who declare our faith in this fountain of love and mercy drink from it the water of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

Or: 

Lord our God, may we always give due honor to the sacramental presence of the Lamb Who was slain for us. May our faith be rewarded by the vision of His glory, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. 

Or: 

Lord our God, you have given us the true bread from heaven. In the strength of this food may we live always by your life and rise in glory on the last day. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

Or: 

Lord, give to our hearts the light of faith and the fire of love, that we may worship in spirit and in truth our God and Lord, present in this sacrament, who lives and reigns forever and ever. 

Or: 

Lord, may this sacrament of new life warm our hearts with your love and make us eager for the eternal joy of your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

Or: 

Lord our God, teach us to cherish in our hearts the paschal mystery of your Son by which you redeemed the world. Watch over the gifts of grace your love has given us and bring them to fulfillment in the glory of heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

After the prayer the priest or deacon puts on the humeral veil, genuflects and takes the monstrance or ciborium. He makes the sign of the cross over the people with the monstrance or ciborium, in silence. 

Reposition 

After the blessing the priest or deacon who gave the blessing, or another priest or deacon, replaces the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and genuflects. Meanwhile the people may sing or say an acclamation, and the minister then leaves. 

Meditation 

God’s union with us is his gift to us. So our union with one another is conditioned by the act of giving. We are members of Christ. But to keep this place of privilege we have to give and keep giving. Sacrifice is the law of love, both human and divine. 

God’s love, then, is to be given out with both hands, communicating to others the good things of Jesus Christ, this we do when we love one another. In this setting of love we come before the Blessed Sacrament. 

The love of Christ has gathered us together.

Let us rejoice in him and be cheerful;

Let us love the living God,

And love each other with honest hearts.

Let us take care not to be isolated in ourselves;

Let ill will, quarrels and disagreements stop,

And Christ our Lord be among us. 

At the Last Supper, our Lord identified himself completely with this command of loving one another. He said: “This is my commandment.” The Church assumes, when a Christian comes to worship, that love of neighbor and reconciliation with one’s brothers is a fact. Our Lord himself told his hearers that love of one another was the condition for making an offering at the altar. He taught that if we had anything against our neighbor, we should first go back and be reconciled, and then come before the Lord to offer the gift of sacrifice. 

In the Eucharist we have the sacrament of love. It is here before the altar that we can interpret best the true concept of love of all men in Christ, It is here before Christ, transfigured in the joy of the resurrection, that the most crucial test of love is experienced. 

Nor race, nor creed can love exclude

If honored by God’s name.

Our brotherhood embraces all

Whose Father is the same. 

Prayers 

ACT OF TRUST 

“We can never make air end of our gratitude to thee, who never ceasest to cherish us with thy mercy. Who can sufficiently praise the works of thy power, thou whose divine presence no human eye can see, whose greatness no words can tell? Let it be sufficient, then, that we are able to love thee as our Father, reverence thee as our Ruler, acknowledge thee as our Creator, welcome thee as our Redeemer. So as most gentle Ruler and Guide, lead us on that narrow path that thou wouldst have us ascend to the attainment of our lasting happiness” (Gothic Missal, seventh century). 

ACT OF HUMILITY 

“Devoutly kneeling before thy Majesty, we earnestly pray that, since thou dost see the limits of our human weakness, thou wouldst not in anger blame us for our disobedience, but with thy boundless pity cleanse us, teach us and comfort us; and since, if thou dost not help us, we cannot do what is well-pleasing in thy sight, let thy grace come to help us, that we may live to our own well-being, ever friends with thee” (Eleventh-century Missal). 

PRAYERS FOR OTHERS 

O Lord God of strength, who are true charity, unshaken tran­quility and hope unfailing: do thou, O Lord our God, give to thy servants here present in the sight of thy Majesty, the gifts of charity, kindness, calmness and lasting peace, that we may all in purity of heart and goodness of soul have peace with each other” (Liturgy of St. John).

“Be mindful, O Lord, of all those who have asked us to re­member them in the prayers and petitions we now make in thy sight. O Lord our God, be mindful of those whose memory is always with us, and those who are especially in our thoughts at this moment and in our present prayer. Bring them the grace of a strong and lasting defense against all that may harm them” (Coptic Liturgy).

PRAYERS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD 

“A man will have a great and long struggle with himself, before he fully learns to master self and to turn his whole affection towards God. 

“When a man relies on himself, he easily turns aside to human consolations. But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent pursuer of virtue, does not fall back upon consolations, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses; he prefers hard trials and would wish to undergo severe labors for Christ” (Imitation of Christ). 

“O my Lord Jesus, let me never for an instant forget that thou hast established on earth a kingdom of thy own; that the Church is thy work, thy establishment, thy instrument; that we are under thy rule; that where the Church speaks, thou dost speak. Let not familiarity with this wonderful truth lead me to be insensible to it” (John Henry Newman). 

“O Christ our Lord, perfect lover of mankind, grant, we beseech thee, that there may ever abide in us, knowledge, intelligence, understanding and wisdom. So may we see ever deeper and deeper, and understand and appreciate the lesson of thy holiness, which is open before us in thy sight. As thou didst so enrich Paul, making him worthy of such great graces, make us also, we beseech thee, O Author of life, to imitate him and follow closely in his footsteps” (Missa Ethiopum, tenth century). 

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us. 

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, *

God the Holy Spirit, *

Holy Trinity, one God, *

Heart of Jesus, Son of the eternal Father, *

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin’s womb, *

Heart of Jesus, hypostatically united to the Word of God, *

Heart of Jesus, infinite in majesty, *

Heart of Jesus, God’s holy temple, *

Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, *

Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, *

Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, *

Heart of Jesus, vessel of love and justice, *

Heart of Jesus, full of loving kindness, *

Heart of Jesus, deep well of all virtues, *

Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, *

Heart of Jesus, royal home of all hearts, *

Heart of Jesus, treasure house of wisdom and knowledge, *

Heart of Jesus, wherein abides all the fullness of the Godhead, *

Heart of Jesus, in which the Father is well pleased, *

Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received,

Heart of Jesus, desire of the eternal hills, *

Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, *

Heart of Jesus, bountiful to all who call upon you, *

Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, *

Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses, *

Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches, *

Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities, *

Heart of Jesus, patient even unto death, *

Heart of Jesus, opened by a spear, *

Heart of Jesus, fountain of all consolation, *              

Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, *

Heart of Jesus, our peace and atonement, *

Heart of Jesus, victim of all our sins, *

Heart of Jesus, health of them that trust in you, *

Heart of Jesus, hope of them that die in you, *

Heart of Jesus, delight of all the saints, *

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: graciously hear us, O Lord. 

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.

R. Make our hearts like unto yours. 

* Have mercy on us.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the heart of your well-beloved Son, honoring you and making amends in the name of sinners and whereas they implore your pity, do you mercifully grant forgiveness, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen. 

EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS PRAYER 

Father in heaven, You have made us for yourself; Our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Fulfill this longing through Jesus, the bread of life, So that we may witness to him Who alone satisfies the hungers of the human family. By the power of your Spirit Lead us to the heavenly table Where we may feast on the vision of your glory Forever and ever. Amen. 

Eucharistic Day or Holy Hour 

The Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship has stated that exposition of the Blessed Sacrament stimulates the people of God to a deeper awareness of the Real Presence of Christ and encourages parishes to have each year a period of solemn exposition in order to give the faithful an opportunity of adoring and meditating on Eucharistic mystery with deeper devotion. Care must be taken that the worship is seen in relationship to the Mass. 

It is forbidden to celebrate Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. During the exposition, Mass may not be celebrated in the same area of the church. The day or period of exposition could well begin with Mass and, if permitted, a votive Mass of the Eucharist. At the conclusion of the Mass, exposition takes place.

 

 
 

Prayerbook

A Catholic Religious Site

"A Collage of Catholic Information"

SUBJECTS