In faith, Catholics believe that when the words of concentration are pronounced over the bread and wine at Mass, the bread is no longer bread; it becomes the Body of Christ. The wine in no longer wine; it becomes the Blood of Christ. Jesus, the Son of God made man is truly, really, wholly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is for this reason that the church adores Him in the sacrament during a time of Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration.
Pope John Paul II called the worship of the Holy Eucharist outside Mass “an important practice that becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness” and a practice “of inestimable value to the life of the Church.” The Eucharistic presence of our Lord and savior is a priceless treasure to God’s faithful people. By not only celebrating the Eucharist (at Mass), but also in praying before it outside of Mass, we are able to connect on a deeply personal level with the wellspring of all grace and holiness.
Eucharistic adoration leads us to contemplate Christ’s wondrous presence in the sacrament we receive and invites us to anticipate a richer spiritual union with him that culminates in sacramental communion at Mass. Eucharistic adoration extends our reception of Holy Communion at Mass in a lasting way through an even deeper connection with the Eucharistic mystery. Affirming the connection Eucharistic adoration has with the Mass, the Host exposed during the period of Exposition and Adoration is always consecrated at the Mass which immediately precedes the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
What you may not realize is that there is a difference between Eucharist adoration and Eucharistic exposition. Eucharistic adoration is prayer before the Blessed Sacrament housed within the tabernacle. The presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the tabernacle is noted by a constantly burning sanctuary candle near the tabernacle. This is a sign of the honor which is shown to the Lord. Therefore, whenever we are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (whether before or after Mass) it is appropriate to adore Him in silent prayer and meditation.
Eucharistic exposition, on the other hand, is the ritual by which the Blessed Sacrament is displayed outside of the tabernacle in a monstrance for the purpose of public veneration by the faithful. It is this communal celebration of the glory of God in the Blessed Sacrament that enables us, the faithful, to perceive more clearly the relationship between the “reserved” Sacrament and the sacrifice of the Mass which is the origin of the purpose of our worship outside of Mass.
During Eucharistic exposition and adoration it is fitting that we, as a worshiping community, show our reverence to the exposed Sacrament. We do this in several ways. The profession of our belief and reverence is found in the common prayer of the people that occurs during the exposition ritual. Our silent reflection on the mystery of Our Lord’s paschal sacrifice continues throughout the period of adoration. Also, the use of Eucharistic songs, incense and sacred vestments at various times during the period of exposition are other signs of our reverence and adoration for the Blessed Sacrament. We genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament in recognition of being in the presence of Almighty God. And remember…a single genuflection is made in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration.
Every Tuesday Mother of Divine Providence has Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration that begins after the reception of Holy Communion at the 8 AM daily Mass. This period of public exposition of Our Lord is concluded with a Eucharistic blessing and benediction shortly before 7 PM. I invite everyone to spend some time during the day before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament as we acknowledge his marvelous presence in the sacrament. Let this visible presence of God lead you to a richer and fuller participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and foster within you a true desire to worship our savior, Jesus Christ, in spirit and in truth.
“O sacrament most holy,
O sacrament divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving
Be every moment thine”
May God abundantly bless you and your family.