|By Father Edward McNamara
ROME, 28 SEPT. 2004 (ZENIT) ...
Q: How is the procedure
regarding the solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? In one of the
parishes in Malta, for example, on the first Fridays and first Saturdays,
the priest exposes the Blessed Sacrament. When it is time for Mass, the
priest reposes the Blessed Sacrament and exposes again after Mass. This is
done during all the Masses celebrated during the day. Is it permitted to
do this? —
J.G., Gozo, Malta
A: The procedure described is perfectly correct, as liturgical norms do
not allow the Blessed Sacrament to remain exposed in church during Mass.
The procedure followed is that described in the liturgical books for
veneration of the Eucharist outside of Mass.
It may be possible to have perpetual adoration if there is a separate
chapel specially dedicated for this purpose.
Such a chapel should ideally be accessible without the adorers having to
pass through a congregation participating at Mass and should be
sufficiently soundproofed so that silent prayer is possible while Mass is
Finally, the exposed Host should not be visible to the congregation at
If these conditions cannot be met, then the proper solution is to reserve
the Blessed Sacrament during Mass.
Both reservation and exposition after Mass are done in the simplest
possible form with no need to use incense or song. ZE04092822
* * *
Follow-up: Reserving the
Blessed Sacrament [from 10-19-2004]
To a question from Malta about exposition (Sept. 28), I responded that
reserving the Blessed Sacrament before Mass and exposing again after
Mass with the minimum of ceremony was "perfectly correct."
Since the question doubted the propriety of the simplicity of the
ceremonial, I concentrated on this aspect and in this respect the answer
However, as a kindly reader, a nun from Denver, Colorado, correctly
pointed out to me, this answer could be interpreted to mean that it is
all right to expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament during Mass several
times a day. She said this would not be according to the mind of the
"Eucharistiae Sacramentum," No. 83, forbids the celebration of Mass
during exposition although if the exposition is to continue for one or
more days, then it is interrupted during Mass.
No. 86 says that prolonged expositions should be held only if there is a
congruous number of faithful so that the Blessed Sacrament is not left
No. 88 allows for brief interruptions in which the Blessed Sacrament is
reserved in a simple manner should there be insufficient adorers during
the day. It also limits these interruptions to a maximum of twice a day,
for example, at midday and at night.
Although No. 88 does not directly address the question of reserving
during Mass, taken together with No. 83 I think that it is clear that it
would not be correct to be constantly reserving and exposing the Blessed
Sacrament on a Sunday, especially for brief periods between Masses.
It would be better to suspend the exposition completely during the most
intense periods. In most parishes, that would mean the whole morning or,
in very busy parishes, the whole day.
However, again based on the fact that No. 88's limit of two reservations
refers to the lack of adorers and not reservation because of Mass, I
would say that, at least hypothetically, in a parish that practices
adoration for several days at a time, with sufficient adorers, and with
several hours between Masses (for example, a parish with Eucharistic
celebrations at 9, noon and 6 p.m.), then it should be possible to
continue the exposition during the day even if it were necessary to
reserve three times.
Another correspondent, from Houston, Texas, asked about the ritual for
exposition immediately following Mass as she noticed that sometimes the
dismissal and final blessing were omitted.
This would be the correct procedure for expositions after Mass.
The Host, usually consecrated in the same Mass, is placed in the
monstrance after Communion.
Following the customary period of silence for thanksgiving after
Communion, the priest recites the closing prayer and, omitting the
blessing and dismissal, passes to incense the Blessed Sacrament while an
appropriate hymn is sung.
After a brief period of adoration he withdraws in silence and no closing
hymn is sung.
The omission of the blessing forms part of the Church's tradition in
which no blessings are imparted by a minister in the presence of the
Blessed Sacrament exposed.
Another reader asks if it sufficient to draw a curtain separating those
adoring the exposed Blessed Sacrament from the rest of the church while
Mass and other activities are taking place.
I would say that this would be insufficient since the silence necessary
for adoration would be well nigh impossible and it would undercut the
purpose of adoration itself.
Finally, a reader from British Columbia presented an interesting
dilemma: "In our parish, perpetual adoration takes places in a special
chapel as described in your latest column. We have the hour of adoration
immediately preceding one of our parish Masses. Since the Blessed
Sacrament is never to be left alone ... it brings up a hypothetical
question, What if a person were attending perpetual adoration, intending
to attend the last available Mass, and no one showed up to replace him?
Should he attend Mass and leave the Blessed Sacrament alone or stay with
the exposed Blessed Sacrament and miss Sunday Mass? In other words,
which obligation is greater, to attend Sunday Mass or to maintain the
constant presence of adorers in the perpetual-adoration chapel?"
Of course, attending Mass would be more important. In this case the
person would be justified in briefly leaving the adoration chapel just
before Mass and asking the priest to reserve the Blessed Sacrament.