Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I was wrong about Holy Thursday and Good Friday

Ever since I was ordained I, I think like most priests have got this wrong, my custom was always to end the period of silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by extinguishing the candles at midnight and removing the Blessed Sacrament to prepared altar in the strong room but Fr Edward McNamara reads the rubrics differently, but I think more accurately.
What he has to say also means I should reflect on what I do up until midnight and afterwards. I will interested to know what happens elsewhere.

....the missal for Holy Thursday states: "The faithful should be encouraged to continue adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable period of time during the night according to local circumstances, but there should be no solemn adoration after midnight."
The above norm implies that adoration may continue during the night but not "solemn adoration." This interpretation is confirmed by other documents such as the Directory of Popular Piety and a circular letter on the celebration of the Easter solemnities published by the Holy See in 1988. No. 56 of this letter states: "Where appropriate, this prolonged Eucharistic adoration may be accompanied by the reading of some part of the gospel of Saint John (ch. 13-17). From midnight onward, however, the adoration should be made without external solemnity, for the day of the Lord's passion has begun."
The crux of the matter, therefore, lies in the interpretation of "solemn adoration" and here the authors take different views.
Some authors say that at midnight, almost all the lights and candles of the altar of repose should be extinguished but that people may still take turns "watching" with the Lord during the night.
Others believe that the prohibition of solemn adoration simply means that there should be no community vocal prayer, nor any reflections or exhortations before the altar of repose once Good Friday has begun.
There is sufficient leeway in the norm to allow for different expressions in accordance with local traditions and culture.
Therefore the practice of withdrawing the Blessed Sacrament to the sacristy safe is not a correct interpretation of the norms of the Roman Missal.
Even if local circumstances don't allow for the church to remain open after midnight, the Blessed Sacrament should remain in the altar of repose until the moment of holy Communion during the Good Friday rites.
Placing the Blessed Sacrament in the safe would be a viable option only if theft of the tabernacle or closed pyx of the altar of repose was a positive danger. In this case it should be restored to the altar either before the church is reopened or at least before the Good Friday services begin.
Finally, all the documents recall that it is totally forbidden to expose the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance at any moment of Holy Thursday.


Gregor said...

Interesting, Father. In the German edition of the missal this was always clear, the rubric says (I paraphrase from memory): "there should be adoration, but after midnight without solemnity".

PP said...

I never did like putting the Lord in the sacristy safe - I had been 'brought up' to do that and just continued doing it as a PP. I'll leave Him in the Tabernacle at the Altar of Repose from now on, but remove extra candles and flowers in time for Good Friday Matins and Lauds.

old believer said...

Why not go back to how things were before the changes in 1956? Before then people watched at the Altar of Repose throughout the night.

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