Devotion to Holy Eucharist Outside Mass

Author: Pope Paul VI


Pope Paul VI

Holy Father stresses Need of Devotion to Holy Eucharist outside of Mass

The duty and present importance of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament not only during but also after and apart from the Mass are re-affirmed in a letter which the Holy Father has sent to the Superior General of the Congregation of Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Roland Huot, on the occasion of a meeting in Rome concerned with eucharistic devotion. The letter, the text of which we here reproduce in full, underlines the benefits accruing to the ecclesial community from adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in particular from the devotion of the "Quarant'Ore", re-affirming the doctrine of the real and substantial presence of Christ under the Sacred Species, whether during the Mass or after it, and the central position of the Holy Eucharist in the life of the Church.

To Our beloved Son, Roland Huot, Superior General of the Congregation of Priests of the Blessed Sacrament.

The most life-giving Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is so to say the centre-point of the life of the Church as being that in which the very author of grace is truly, really and substantially contained, so takes possession of the minds of the faithful that, not by any lengthy investigation but by a certain insight, they realise that the worship of adoration is to be accorded to it. By this act of supreme worship the virtue of religion is effectively developed and steadily increased whereby the faithful soul acknowledges its Creator, so far transcending nature, recognises his dominion and strives humbly to find its own place in relation to Him. Moreover this adoration is manifested also in the body which is offered as a "living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God" (cf. Rom. 12, 1), "because," as St Thomas Aquinas says, "in all acts of worship, what is external has reference to what is internal as to its motive, therefore external adoration is the expression of internal; just as by making use of bodily signs of humility our desire to submit ourselves to God is aroused" (cf. II-II, 84, a. 2).

Strengthen Catholic Eucharistic Belief

Therefore those who, like the religious Congregation of which you, beloved Son, are in charge, and other similar Sodalities, make their special concern the adoration of Christ present in this divine Sacrament, confirm Catholic belief in an eminent way against those who in their teachings or in their way of life deny God or, while seeming to adhere to that belief, hold it in scant esteem and minimize it.

To appreciate this matter the more fully, it is necessary to bear in mind that this adoration is not to be separated from that total sacrament or mystery of salvation "which is Christ... the hope of glory" (Col. 1, 27); that is to say that the Holy Eucharist is not to be considered only in the light of the real presence but "in its totality both in the Mass and in devotion to the Sacred Species which are reserved after the Mass in order to extend the grace of the sacrifice" (cf. Instructiode CultuMysterii Eucharistici 2g; A.A.S. 59, 1967, P. 593). Wherefore those who offer this adoration also continue their eucharistic devotion outside the sacrifice in order to receive the more abundantly the fruits that originate from it and the more efficaciously to participate in them.

But in order that this supernatural strength may penetrate the more plentifully into everyday life, the exercise of the virtues is required; for when we pay dutiful homage to Christ hidden in this august Sacrament, we receive an increase of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity which in turn make our mind the more readily able "to celebrate with proper devotion the memorial of the Lord and to receive frequently that bread given to us by the Father" (ibid. 55; A.A.S., mem., p. 567).

Moreover, this adoration whereby, as We have already said, the grace of the sacrificeis continued, is of salutary benefit to the whole community of the Church. For the prayers offered to Him who is "Emmanuel" exposed upon the altar, are truly "catholic" insofar as they have respect to the universal Church and to the whole world. History, too, teaches us this, for the supplications for forty hours before the august Sacrament offered in turn in the churches of Rome in the year 1592 were approved and encouraged by Our Predecessor Clement VIII in order to implore heavenly help for the human family in times of great difficulty (cf. Bull. Rom. V, 1; Romae 1751, p. 412). Thus this adoration is not primarily for the satisfaction of piety on the part of individuals, but by it the mind is moved towards "the development. of 'social' love whereby we put the common good before private good, take to ourselves the common cause of the community, of the parish, of the Church, and extend our charity to the whole world because we recognise that Christ's members are everywhere." (Litt. Encyc. Mysterium Fidei; A.A.S. 57, 1965, p. 772).

Church Needs Eucharistic Adorers

Therefore let those Institutes and Sodalities, to which is entrusted by special law approved by the Church the duty of manifesting this devotion of adoration in regard to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, be aware that they are carrying out a most important office, and doing so in the name of the Church. So long as the members respond dutifully, faithfully and unfailingly to their vocation, their life, no less than that of those dedicated solely to contemplation or that of those engaged in apostolic works, "is a manifest sign which can and should effectively attract the members of the Church... show forth to all men the supereminent greatness of the virtue of Christ triumphant and the infinite power of the Holy Spirit" (Const. Lumen Gentium, 44).

There is no reason, therefore, why those who carry out this most important duty of worship should lose heart in our day as if, as some are wont to say, it were a matter of some "obsolete devotion" and as if they were wasting their time when other work is more pressing. Let them be persuaded that the Church, as in the past so now, has need of those who adore this divine Sacrament "in spirit and in truth" (cf. Jn. 4, 23), and, by the same token, let them take all diligent care that the dispositions and regulations in regard to this matter be observed, which We have laid down in the Encyclical Letter Mysterium Fidei or in the Instruction De Cultu mysterii Eucharistici.

Meeting in Rome

It is Our hope, therefore, that in the forthcoming meeting in Rome directed towards a special study of devotion towards the eucharistic Mystery, this outstanding duty of adoration, resplendent with new light, willbe assessed at its true value and that opportune counsels will emerge and spiritual forces be aroused most conducive to the life of the Church.

With these wishes, as an augury of strength and solace from above and as a witness to Our benevolence and charity, We willingly impart to you, beloved Son, to the religious family in your care and especially to all those taking part in this meeting, the Apostolic Blessing.

Given at Rome, from St. Peter's, this 10th day of January in the year 1969,the sixth of Our Pontificate.  

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
6 February 1969, page 4

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