The Divine Praises at Adoration

Author: Father Edward McNamara


The Divine Praises at Adoration

ROME, 17 OCT. 2006 (ZENIT)

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: What is the most appropriate moment to pray the Divine Praises during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: immediately following Benediction or once the Sacrament has been returned to the tabernacle? — A.D., Boston, Massachusetts

A: The Divine Praises, or the prayers of reparation for profanity and blasphemy, are a sequence of acclamations, chiefly composed by Jesuit Luigi Felici in 1797, blessing God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the angels and saints.

The acclamations are usually recited publicly immediately after the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

While the rubrics do not specify that the Divine Praises be recited at all, when they are recited, it is customary to do so before reposing the Blessed Sacrament. This is the Holy Father's practice after imparting Benediction on concluding the Eucharistic procession of the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Monsignor Peter Elliott ably describes the rites concluding Benediction in his renowned ceremonies book: "If the Blessed Sacrament is to be reposed in the tabernacle, then (after the Divine Praises and) during a psalm, hymn, acclamation or appropriate music, the celebrant or the assisting deacon or priest goes to the altar. He genuflects, turns the back of the monstrance toward himself, removes the lunette and places it in the pyx, which he closes. He moves the monstrance to the left of the corporal and may veil it. He then takes the pyx and places it in the tabernacle, genuflecting before he locks the door.

"(If the tabernacle is in a chapel, a server should place a humeral veil over the shoulders of the celebrant or the assistant deacon or priest before he removes the lunette from the monstrance. Torch bearers should precede him to the chapel and then return with him to the sanctuary, unless it is thought more convenient to go directly to the sacristy.) All bow to the altar (or genuflect if the tabernacle is behind or on it) and return to the sacristy led by the thurifer. Sacristans and/or servers carry out their respective duties in the sanctuary and in the sacristy."

Given this description, and the most common practice of the Church, it seems more appropriate to pray the Divine Praises before reposition and not after the tabernacle is closed. ZE06101729

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Follow-up: Divine Praises at Adoration [10-31-2006]

After our comments on the Divine Praises before reposition (Oct. 17) several readers asked for clarification.

Two priests writing independently from England and another from Chicago made basically the same point. One wrote: "When I last looked, the 'new rite' for Benediction put the Divine Praises before the blessing (the Benediction) itself. You do not answer this, which is probably what your correspondent meant. I would certainly like to hear a reasoned view from you on this."

Our original correspondent gave a more detailed description in his question, which was edited for publishing. He referred to a quite uncommon practice of reciting the Divine Praises after the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

My Italian copy of the Rite of Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist places the Divine Praises after the Benediction as a possible acclamation. The rubric which accompanies the text in No. 237 says: "If considered opportune, following Eucharistic Benediction or before the reposition, the following acclamations may be recited according to custom."

As mentioned before, this is the practice in Rome for the Holy Father's Corpus Christi procession.

The English translation adopts a different policy, preferring not to have any official prayers after Benediction. The rite does, however, foresee that hymns or acclamations may be recited during the reposition.

It is worth pointing out that the original Latin text of the rite does not include the Divine Praises at all. In fact the Holy See gave wide leeway to the bishops' conferences to adapt the rites to particular circumstances and add recommended hymns and prayers according to local custom. For this reason the numerical references in the various languages also differ from the Latin text.

Since the Holy See deliberately opted for allowing wide scope for freedom of choice, it is fairly clear that including a prayer such as the Divine Praises in one or other part of the ritual is a case of recommending a custom without creating an obligation.

Thus, both in Italy and in England the Divine Praises may be recited after Benediction whenever customary. Or the reposition may be done in silence or accompanied by an appropriate hymn or other acclamations.

At the same time, it is certainly better to follow the indications of the official books for each nation. And while it is possible to continue an established custom, there is no good reason to introduce a custom contrary to the indications of the official ritual.

Likewise, the norms do not prescribe any set prayers for during the period of adoration but merely indicate that:

"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 Sacred 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 sacred 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" (English rite, Nos. 95-96).

Since there is great freedom in the selection of "prayers, songs and readings" there is no reason why the Divine Praises could not also be said either during the course of the adoration or immediately before intoning the "Tantum Ergo" or other hymn for Benediction, especially if there is no custom of reciting them afterward.

There are abundant publications available as aids for adoration. They usually contain appropriate selections of Scripture, writings of saints, hymns, prayers and litanies that may be profitably used during adoration either privately or for communal recitation. ZE06103140

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