Whenever we speak about handling the Eucharist, we desire to treat the Lord with the greatest respect. Even with this most important desire, there will be unexpected situations that will arise. How do we handle these situations while keeping respect for the Blessed Sacrament at the fore?
First, we need to understand some terms. The monstrance is the stand made of a precious metal that the Blessed Sacrament sits in during adoration. Exposing the Blessed Sacrament is when the Eucharist is placed in the monstrance. Reposing the Blessed Sacrament is when the Eucharist is placed in the tabernacle from the monstrance.
Exposing or reposing the Blessed Sacrament is ordinarily reserved to the priest or deacon. While seeming to be a simple transferring of the Eucharist from one place to another, it's a liturgical event.
The word liturgy, originating from Greek, means a public work, rendered on behalf of the people. Through the Christian use of this word, we come to understand that through the liturgy, Christ — in and through His ministers, sacraments and Church — continues the work of sanctifying the people of God.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, by its very nature, is part of this important work. It calls the faithful to recognize in adoration the Real Presence of Christ. Through such recognition and adoration, a deeper spiritual bond with Christ in the Eucharist is gained, which ultimately leads to receiving more deeply Holy Communion.
This is why the priest and deacon are entrusted to expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament. But what happens when someone needs to leave the church or chapel when adoration is taking place, and no one else is present?
Each place where adoration happens should clearly post instructions of what to do in these cases. Sometimes, it may be to call someone nearby who can come and be present before the Blessed Sacrament. Other times, it may be to call one of the priests or deacons to repose the Blessed Sacrament. In any case, we cannot leave the Blessed Sacrament exposed and unattended.
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is normally given at the end of a period of adoration. If the Eucharist is being reposed because a scheduled adorer didn't show up or a parish has adoration over a series of days, Benediction doesn't need to be given. This is called a simple reposition, where the priest or deacon places the Blessed Sacrament back into the tabernacle.
Father Mayo is pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton.
Editor's Note: Edited Feb. 7 to remove reference to veiling the Blessed Sacrament. Veiling is not permitted -- the Blessed Sacrament must be reposed.RELATED ARTICLE(S):