Journal 31 July 2002

USCCB misleading on Divine Praises in liturgical book

Australian Liturgy and the Double Genuflection

Reservation of Eucharist



This is a liturgical service of exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, concluding with a blessing (Latin: benedictio) of the people with the sacrament.

The ceremony consists of:

Exposition: Blessed Sacrament is brought to the altar
Adoration: prayers, songs, readings, Hours, rosary
Benediction: prayer by minister, then the blessing
Reposition: Blessed Sacrament replaced in the Tabernacle

The blessing may only be done by a cleric (i.e. a bishop, priest or deacon). In the absence of a priest or deacon, or if they are lawfully impeded, authorised lay people may do the ceremony. "It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the sacrament." (Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, n. 91).

The ceremony may be done with the Blessed Eucharist in a monstrance or ciborium. If the monstrance is used there also needs to be four or six lighted candles and incense used. If the ciborium is used "at least two candles should be lighted and incense may be used" (Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, n. 85).


If the minister is a priest or deacon he is to wear:

a. an alb and stole; or

b. a surplice over a cassock and stole

For the blessing using the ciborium, the priest or deacon also wears a humeral veil. For the blessing using the monstrance the priest or deacon also wears a cope and humeral veil. (Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (1973) , n. 92, directs a white cope is to be worn. However the Ceremonial of Bishops (1984), n. 1104 directs that the cope be "white or of some other festive color". It seems reasonable that this be followed by a deacon and priest, as well as a bishop.)

Other ministers should wear either the liturgical vestments which are usual in the region or the vesture which is suitable for this ministry and which has been approved by the Ordinary.

Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (1973)

83. During the exposition of the blessed sacrament, the celebration of Mass is prohibited in the body of the Church. ... Mass may be celebrated in a chapel distinct from the area of exposition if at least some members of the faithful remain in adoration. ...

84. A single genuflection is made in the presence of the blessed sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration. (Latin text: Coram sanctissimi Sacramento, sive in tabernaculo asservato sive publicae adorationi exposito, unico genu flectitur.) ...


97. Toward the end of the exposition the priest or deacon goes to the altar, genuflects, and kneels. Then a hymn or other eucharistic song is sung. Meanwhile the minister, while kneeling, incenses the sacrament if the exposition has taken place with the monstrance.

98. Afterward the minister rises and sings or says: Let us pray ....

99. After the prayer the priest or deacon puts on the humeral veil, genuflects, and takes the monstrance or ciborium. He makes the sign of the cross over the people with the monstrance or ciborium, in silence.

100. After the blessing the priest or deacon who gave the blessing, or another priest or deacon, replaces the blessed sacrament in the tabernacle and genuflects. Meanwhile the people may sing or say an acclamation, and the minister then leaves.

Differences in unofficial books

The liturgical books make no mention of the Divine Praises. Despite this unofficial books include them:

"Divine Praises, a series of praises beginning with "Blessed be God" commonly used at Benediction before repositon of the Host. They are usually recited in the vernacular with the assembly repeating the phrases of the presider. ..." (Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1995, page 422).

"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." (Msgr. Peter Elliott, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, Ignatius Press, 1995, page 254).

The liturgical books specifically instruct to genuflect on one kneel, yet:

"The new directives for eucharistic adoration did not maintain the double genuflection (kneeling on both knees for a moment while bowing the head) as universal practice before the Blessed Sacrament exposed (cf. Eucharistic Worship outside Mass, no. 84). While clergy may be aware of this and some insist on reminding people not to make the double genuflection, many of the faithful often continue to make this extra act of reverence ... No one should ever be discouraged from making this extra act of reverence to Our Lord. That would be as pastorally insensitive as forbidding people to make small gestures that are ethnic religious customs." (Msgr. Peter Elliott, Liturgical Question Box, Ignatius Press, 1998, page 65).

I disagree and believe the liturgical books should be faithfully followed, in accordance with Canon 846.

"While the celebrant receives the humeral veil, the thurifier may come to the center of the sanctuary. During the Eucharistic Blessing, he incenses the Eucharist, kneeling, with three double swings, bowing before and after the incensation. (He may remain at his place for these incensations.) According to local custom, the M.C. or server rings the bell three times, keeping pace with the blessing, or appropriate organ music may be played. After the celebrant has placed the monstrance on the altar, the thurifier stands and returns to his place, to the right of the celebrant or deacon. According to custom or national or diocesan directive, the Divine Praises may be said or sung while the celebrant remains kneeling." (Msgr. Peter Elliott, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, Ignatius Press, 1995, page 253).

This is not what the liturgical books say. People are receiving a blessing to conclude the ceremony. They should not be distracted by the thurifier moving, incense, bells or the priest returning to lead the Divine Praises before the reposition.

Ceremonial of Bishops (1984)

"1103. Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament exposed for public adoration is on one knee. (Latin text: Coram Sacramento publicae adorationi exposito, unico genu flectitur.)"

"1109. The bishop rises, the censerbearer goes to him, and, as the deacon holds the incense boat before him, the bishop puts incense into the censer and blesses it. Kneeling, the bishop takes the censer from the deacon, bows together with the ministers assisting him, then incenses the blessed sacrament. After again bowing to the blessed sacrament, he returns the censer to the deacon."

"1114. After the blessing, the deacon takes the monstrance from the hands of the bishop and places it on the altar. The bishop and the deacon genuflect. While the bishop removes the humeral veil and remains kneeling before the altar, the deacon reverently transfers the blessed sacrament to the place of reservation, where he returns it to the tabernacle, genuflects, and closes the tabernacle.

Meanwhile, the people may sing or recite an acclamation."

Directory for Popular Piety and the Liturgy (December 2001) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Eucharistic Adoration

164. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a form of Eucharistic cult which is particularly widespread in the Church and earnestly recommended to her Pastors and faithful. Its initial form derives from Holy Thursday and the altar of repose, following the celebration of the Coena Domini Mass. This adoration is a most apt way of expressing the connection between the celebration of the memorial of the Lord's Sacrifice and his continued presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. The reservation of the Sacred Species, so as to be able to administer Viaticum to the sick at any time, encouraged the practice among the faithful of recollection before the tabernacle and to worship Christ present in the Sacrament [Footnote 175: Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical letter Mediator Dei in AAS 39 (1947) 568-572; PAUL VI, Encyclical letter Mysterium fidei in AAS 57 (1965) 769-772; SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, nn. 49-50, in AAS 59 (1967) 566-567; RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu mycteria eucharistici extra Missam, cit., 5.]

Indeed, this worship of adoration has a sound and firm foundation," especially since faith in the Lord's real presence has as its natural consequence the outward and public manifestation of that belief. Therefore, the devotion prompting the faithful to visit the blessed sacrament draws them into an ever deeper share in the paschal mystery and leads them to respond gratefully to the gift of him who through his humanity constantly pours divine life into the members of his Body. Abiding with Christ the Lord, they enjoy his intimate friendship and pour out their hearts before him for themselves and for those dear to them and they pray for the peace and salvation of the world. Offering their entire lives with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, they derive from this sublime colloquy an increase of faith, hope, and charity. Thus they foster those right dispositions that enable them with due devotion to celebrate the memorial of the Lord and receive frequently the bread given us by the Father.[Footnote 176: SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES, Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, nn. 49-50.]

165. In adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which can take different forms, several elements deriving from the Liturgy and from popular piety come together and it is not always easy to determine their limits [Footnote177: On the matter of indulgences attached to Eucharistic adoration and processions, cf. EI, Aliae concessiones, 7, pp. 54-55.]

- a simple visit to the Blessed Sacrament: a brief encounter with Christ inspired by faith in the real presence and characterized by silent prayer;

- adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for a period of time in a monstrance or pyx in accordance with liturgical norm [Footnote178: Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De sacra communione et de cultu mycteria eucharistici extra Missam, cit., 82-90; CIC, canon 941];

- perpetual adoration or the Quarantore, involving an entire religious community, or Eucharistic association, or parish, which is usually an occasion for various expressions of Eucharistic piety [Footnote 179: Cf. CIC, canon 942.].

The faithful should be encouraged to read the Scriptures during these periods of adoration, since they afford an unrivalled source of prayer. Suitable hymns and canticles based on those of the Liturgy of the Hours and the liturgical seasons could also be encouraged, as well as periods of silent prayer and reflection. Gradually, the faithful should be encouraged not to do other devotional exercises during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament [Footnote180: Cf. Reply ad dubium on n. 62 of the Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, in Notitiae 34 (1998) 133-134; concerning the Rosary, see the following note.] Given the close relationship between Christ and Our Lady, the rosary can always be of assistance in giving prayer a Christological orientation, since it contains meditation of the Incarnation and the Redemption [Footnote 181: Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, 46; Letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline pf the Sacraments (15.1.1997), in Notitiae 34 (1998) 506-510; see also the rescript of the Apostolic Penitentiary of 8 March 1996, in Notitiae 34 (1998) 511.].

Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum

This Instruction of 25 March 2004 makes it clear that the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance is never to be unattended:

"138. Still, the Most Holy Sacrament, when exposed, must never be left unattended even for the briefest space of time."

The Conclusion of this document has "All things to the contrary notwithstanding."

Posted by J.R. Lilburne, 30 July 2002. Updated 3 November 2002, 7 November 2002, 28 April 2004, 17 November 2004.

Other sites:

Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy