SALT LAKE CITY Numerous parishes in Utah celebrate the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis. Saint Joseph and Holy Family parishes in Ogden have dedicated perpetual adoration chapels, while other congregations commit to weekly or monthly celebrations during which parishioners pray for an hour or more in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is one way for Catholics to answer Jesus' question, "Could you not watch one hour with me?" (Mt 26:40)
While it's unclear when the practice of the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament began, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that it was common in the 15th century. Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) wrote, "Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the Sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us."
More recently, Pope Benedict XVI noted the Church's teaching in his "Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis: ""With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church's pastors and to the People of God the practice of Eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community?. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist."
For Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist is displayed in a special case called a monstrance and prominently placed, typically on an altar. At the end of the period of adoration a Benediction a blessing of the people with the Eucharist takes place, if a priest or deacon is available to celebrate. In the case of perpetual adoration, a Benediction service may be planned at a time when many people can be present.
Sometimes Eucharistic adoration takes place with the Eucharist in a ciborium rather than displayed in a monstrance. In this case, the ciborium is placed prominently, usually on an altar.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' guidelines, "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 Scripture with a brief homily or 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 religious silence."
For additional information, visit http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/devotionals/adoration/perpetual-expositon-of-the-blessed-sacrament.cfm
View Bishop John C. Wester's Tuesday Tapestry video on Eucharistic adoration, with guests Father Patrick Elliott, pastor of Holy Family Parish; and Joan Opheikens, coordinator of the Perpetual Adoration at Saint Joseph Parish, online at www.icatholic.org, click on the Tuesday Tapestry tab.