Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am not in favour of frequent Exposition

Sitting on our benches, or kneeling on our kneelers is a truly purgatorial experience, they really are uncomfortable even so many of our parishioners spent not only the night but many hours during the day in the Lord's presence. The faith of my people builds up and sharpens my own faith, in the same way as sometimes their faithlessness dulls or blunts my own. We need the example of one another, it builds us up and gives us courage.

Normally we can't afford flowers but a disabled lady living on a state pension and nothing else gave a hundred pounds for them and another hundred towards candles. We also sold candles at £2 apiece for the last month and encouraged people to put small labels on them for people's intentions, it helped to build up a sense that something was happening, they formed a wall of light raked on the gradine and the of profit on them paid in large part for the candles, on the altar.

I was I am truly edified by the faith and beauty of what we did, for the most part we allowed God to speak in silence.

That being said I am not in favour of the current trend for frequent Exposition, it seems to encourage a type of receptionism and undermine the fact that Lord is truly present and able to be adored when reserved in the tabernacle. I think there is a real danger in promoting a piety that says that he can only be adored or treated with reverence when he is exposed in the monstrance. In part I suspect this is result of the confusion after the Council about reservation in a side chapel. In many places diocesan bishops demanded the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel, with the consequence that many even the basics of Eucharistic piety were not only lost but undermined.

Exposition and Benediction were traditionally high points, always involving putting out more candles, having servers, using incense, a priest wearing cope and for Benediction a humeral veil. The modern directory on Eucharistic Devotion  seems to down play all these, having no more candles than at Mass, for example, and often the exposing and reposing is done by an extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion, with no priest present, and even if one is present it is often done without Benediction. The problem is making something which should be done with as much solemnity as possible worker-day and prosaic.
I do appreciate the intentions of those who try to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament but starting with Exposition rather than the reception of Holy Communion and reverence to the reserved Blessed Sacrament seems to me a dangerous mistake.


Paddy said...

I find reservation in side chapels awkward; my natural inclination is to genuflect towards the high altar.

pelerin said...

Interesting comment from Fr Levi. At a previous parish the Blessed Sacrament was moved to the Lady Altar some years ago. I noticed that after that most people still genuflected towards the main altar ignoring the side altar. I think the move made for confusion, as Fr Ray says undermining the basics of Eurcharistic piety.

At Arundel Cathedral recently there was a display of photographs from the 50s I think and I was surprised to see that the Tabernacle had once been on the High Altar there.

Fr Ray writes that he is not in favour of frequent Exposition. I am wondering what he regards as 'frequent?'

Grateful thanks, Father, for two very special days during the 40 hours. It was a wonderful opportunity for prayer and thanksgiving - thank you.

ServusMariaeN said...

I think you right about this Father Ray. In my small local parish there is adoration before Mass for about an hour. I upon entering the Church try immediately to go down on both knees before greeting anyone already there. Sometimes I am spoken to before I get an opportunity to do this. I find that many simply curtsy...perhaps they have genuine medical reasons not to double genuflect I don't know. I just think that considering the chatter in the sanctuary that this is problematic. People really have become desensitized to the Holy of Holies.

Anonymous said...
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Fr Ray Blake said...

We have a weekly hour of Exposition, always with trad. Benediction, I've been asked for it daily, for half an hour before Mass.
Weekly seems fine, daily seems too frequent.

JMO (Michael) Vyse said...

I do agree that if you are going to reserve our Lord, then reserve Him in pride of place (at, on, behind or above the high altar).

Jacobi said...


You are right about too frequent Exposition, but we are after all trying to re-establish a balance which was completely lost in the post-Vatican II attempt to downplay (to put it mildly),the Real Presence.

More candles and the use of the humeral veil are surly appropriate, but Exposition carried out by lay people is quite inappropriate.

More frequent reception of Communion at Mass, as called for by St Pius X, is surely the right way forward - but only by those who have fasted and are in a State of Grace, something our priests seem curiously reluctant to point out!

nickbris said...

When I was younger in the early 50,s we had Benediction after school at 4pm in the Convent next door.It was compulsory for Catholics but the non-catholics always used to join us because it was a most enjoyable occasion with all the Nuns & novices singing.

I can never remember Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I have never really figured out what exactly we are supposed to do.

I was at sea for thirty years and although occasionally was able to get to Mass when we were in a port on a Sunday I think I may have missed out on some of the changes.

There must be millions of people of my generation who feel a bit lost.

Kirt Higdon said...

What is your take on permanent Exposition? In my diocese (Corpus Christi, TX) there are several locations where this is done, some stand-alone chapels and some side chapels or adoration rooms connected with parishes. There is a significant number of people who are dedicated to being adorers at any hour of the day or night, so it leads to more Eucharistic devotion than simply reminding people they can always make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever heard it suggested that Eucharistic exposition could be too frequent.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It depends ...
In a place of pilgrimage perpetual adoration seems a good thing, but probably not in an ordinary parish. though to set aside one Church in large city as a shrine to the Blessed Sacrament, if it is frequently visited, I have no problem, unless there is little devotion to the BSac.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points Father Blake. I agree heartily.

I think the Church should give some thought to incorporating Exposition and Benediction as an extended rite of thanksgiving,but keeping it within Mass itself. Something similar to the Byzantine liturgy where the celebrant blesses the congregation with the "holy mysteries" before taking them ot the prothesis table.

Those who haven't communicated would have an opportunity for ten or perhaps fifteen minutes between the distribution of Holy Communion and the ablutions to adore the exposed host and the chalice with remaining drops of the Precious Blood. Then the celebrant could say the Post Communion prayer and give the usual blessing.

Benediction and Exposition should never be severed from the framework of the liturgy itself, or uprooted from it's source.

Pablo the Mexican said...

The two angels on the Arc of the Covenant are there forming a seat for the invisible God.

The Jews did not see him; their Faith was based in worldly things.

Now that God has presented Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, we Catholics no longer see Him either.

For the same reason.

Most of our Modernists Priests no longer believe in the Real Presence.

What is to become of us?


TRAD DAD said...

You have a current trend to frequent exposition ? How do I emigrate ?
Pax et bonum .
From Our Lady`s Land of the Southern Cross .

philip said...

Dear Fr
I would be interested in some small explanation of your point I have pasted below. Did anything actually change in the Council or did some people just use the Council as an excuse to re-order churches in this way? There are some situations where new churches are built and they are used for other functions too (and without this they would not be viable) and the Blessed Sacrament has been placed in a separate room to avoid disrespect. Whether this is right or wrong at least the motives are understandable. In my own church (in your diocese) the tabernacle is round in a side chapel and there is no good reason for that at all.
"In part, I suspect this is result of the confusion after the Council about reservation in a side chapel. In many places diocesan bishops demanded the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel, with the consequence that many even the basics of Eucharistic piety were not only lost but undermined."

Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster said...

Fr Blake

What do you think About Churches that Have Perpetual Adoration Chapels?

Fr Ray Blake said...

There were various rather confusing instructions from the CDW about the placement of the tabernacle from the 70s until about ten years ago it was only Red. Sac. that clarified the normal place was at the apex of the Church.

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B. said...

Dear Father Blake, you inspired me!

GOR said...

I agree Father, that Exposition should be special, done by a priest or deacon and accompanied by candles, flowers and concluding with Benediction. However, my bigger concern is the lack of acknowledgement of the Real Presence in the Tabernacle at all times.

Once the Tabernacle was removed from the Sanctuary, people lost the sense that Our Lord was really present there all the time. The clue used to be the Sanctuary Lamp. Once that was visible and lit, you knew that the Eucharist was there and you acted accordingly and with reverence.

After Vatican II it was put about by the ‘liturgical experts’ that Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament was unnecessary, detracted from the Mass and was ‘un-liturgical’. Popular devotions were bad-mouthed as being the practice of simple, ignorant peasants and not what ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘grownup’ Catholics should embrace.

Well we have seen where this has led us these past 40+ years. The faith of our fathers may have been a simple faith, but it was deeply held and many gave their lives for it. Can we say the same for the ‘faith’ of many today – “living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword”…?

Margaret said...

Dear Father Blake
I have witnessed an 'Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister"
going to the tabernacle, taking down the ciboria one by one, stirring the Blessed Sacrament, breaking them, I can still hear the snapping, and on my knees and in tears I left.
When I wrote to the Administrator of the Cathedral, because that is where this happened, I was smartly told that this person was a very devout lady and the practice would continue. I cannot believe that such people believe in the Real Presence. Is this not heart breaking for everyone concerned?

The Romish Papist said...

Father, I had never even considered any of the points you mentioned and I thank you for posting this. It's always refreshing to read an article or argument that is so convincing and full of plain truth that it causes one to do a complete 180 in the way they think about something. I find myself suddenly and surprisingly agreeing with your position.

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