The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The Eucharist so important, it is considered the center of the life of the particular Church (CCC 893). All the other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it (CCC 1324). In Catholic churches and chapels, the Eucharist is reserved in a secure metal receptacle called a Tabernacle. The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle fosters our adoration before the Lord, who is really present there (CCC 1183). The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine (CCC 1412).
During Eucharistic Adoration, the Body of Christ, under the appearance of bread is placed in a decorative sacred vessel called a monstrance, and placed on the altar. There, Christ’s faithful may give veneration and adoration of Jesus Christ who is sacramentally present: body, blood, soul, and divinity. The spiritual practice of adoration makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with Jesus Christ’s one offering (CCC 1368). Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator (cf. CCC 2628). When we pray to the Lord God, we adore and glorify him together with the Son and the Holy Spirit (CCC 2789). It is important to remember that when we worship God, we are set free from turning in on ourselves, from the slavery of sin, and from the idolatry of the world (CCC 2097).
Jesus desires that we enter into Eucharistic adoration. In his Discourse on the Eucharist, Jesus said “Indeed this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him, shall have everlasting life. Him I will raise up on the last day” (Jn 6.40). Many people who commit to weekly adoration have come to experience abundant graces and blessings in their lives.
An organized schedule allows us to continue our spiritual journey of discipleship, to safeguard the Holy Eucharist, and to be good stewards of the health and wellness of our community. A minimum of two adorers are required at all times. Please consider signing up for an hour or more. Sign-up sheets are maintained in the cathedral vestibule. If you are unable to attend at your committed time, please arrange an alternate from among the other adorers.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we ask all adorers to maintain the precautionary guidelines implemented by Bishop Farncis I. Malone. This includes wearing facemasks, maintaining 6’ social distance, and sitting only in pews marked with signs. The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has instituted a Sanitizing Ministry, and is following prudent measures to assure the safety of our parishioners and adorers.
“101 Questions and Answers on the Eucharist”
The following questions and answers are excerpts from the book entitled 101 Questions and Answers on the Eucharist, published in 2006, by Dominican priest Giles Dimock, O.P.
82. What is eucharistic spirituality? Is it a devotion? Is it biblical? As we have seen, the Eucharist is the summit and the source of the life of the Church within the context of the liturgy. Clearly one’s Christian life, one’s way of prayer flows from the Eucharist. Thus it is a spirituality, not simply a “devotion,” as the term has come to be understood—an optional form of prayer to which one is especially drawn. Devotions are popular nonliturgical prayers (often private) that are warmly recommended by the Church (cf. S.C. no. 13) if they are in conformity with the teaching of the Church. One can see that while eucharistic adoration is popular (“of the people”) as an extension of the Mass, offering oneself in union with Christ’s sacrifice, it goes beyond merely private or individual prayer, although eucharistic prayer is clearly a part of such a spirituality.
62. What is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? This is a medieval form of eucharistic devotion. In the Middle Ages the Mass was celebrated in Latin, whether sung at High Mass or read quietly as Low Mass, as was beginning to be the custom. After Berengar had been corrected for seeing the Eucharistic Presence as only symbolic, the practice of elevating the host immediately after the consecration became very popular. This was taken up by the people since much of their participation in Mass at the time was visual or expressed in postures and of course in silent prayer. Popular piety even assigned various blessings to be received for looking on the host that day. Monstrances (from the Latin monstrare, “to show”) and ostensoria (from the Latin ostendere, “to show”) were vessels of precious metal made with a crystal tube or window so that the host could be seen and adored. A vessel of either type was sometimes taken out of the ambry or sacrament tower to bless the people, or the latter was often designed with open grillwork so that the host was visible all day.
The current rite of Exposition is viewed as a continuation or extension of the Mass. This is seen particularly in the rite for a solemn Exposition, when it is recommended that a host be consecrated at the Mass for Exposition, that after Communion it be placed in the monstrance and the concluding prayer be said but that no blessing or dismissal be given. The Mass is extended to the period of Exposition, and Benediction at the end of such adoration is the blessing and dismissal (HCEWOM).
63. What is Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament? Exposition grew in response to the medieval desire to see the Blessed Sacrament and to adore Christ in this sacrament of the Eucharist. At the end of Vespers or Compline (Evening Prayer and Night Prayer respectively), which were well attended in religious-order churches and even parish churches, the priest at the end of the service would take out the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and the congregation would salute it with a hymn (hence the French term salut for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament) and often salute the Blessed Virgin Mary with the “Salve Regina” or other Marian hymn. The priest would then bless the people with the Blessed Sacrament much like the bishop can bless the people with the Gospel Book at Mass.
In the course of time Benediction became an independent ceremony in itself detached from the Liturgy of the Hours and, as has been said, became very popular in itself. Among Venerable John Henry Newman’s sermons there is a lovely one describing evening devotions ending with Benediction, the Lord blessing his people at the end of the day, and Newman sees it as an enactment of the blessing from the Book of Numbers: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24–26).
67. May any prayer at all be said before the exposed Blessed Sacrament? HCEWOM (no. 95) states that there should be prayers, songs, and readings (from Scripture) “to direct the attention of the Faithful to the worship of Christ the Lord.” Since Christ is present in this sacrament of the altar, it would seem odd to have a public novena to St. Anthony before the Eucharist in the monstrance. The same would be true of prayers recited to Our Lady. Prayers, litanies, hymns, and chaplets to the Lord are appropriate, although attention should be given to the need for silence. Private prayers are left to one’s discretion.
One might further ask if this applies to the Rosary. A response to this query in Notitiae (1968, 4) stated that since the Rosary is classified as a Marian prayer, it could not be recited publicly before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. We must note that although Notitiae is an organ of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Notitiae’s responses are time conditioned and change. In 1974, Paul VI issued Marialis Cultus, in which he described the Rosary as a meditation on the paschal mystery, on the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, which shows it is appropriate and sufficiently Christic to pray before the Eucharist. After John Paul II instituted daily Eucharist adoration in the four major basilicas of Rome, the Rosary was recited publicly in these holy places before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Recently, the Congregation for Divine Worship has stated that the Rosary may be recited before the monstrance containing the Eucharist as long as the Eucharist was not exposed just to say the Rosary before it (Notitiae XXXIV : 501–11). Redemptionis Sacramentum calls the praying of the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament admirable and praises the simplicity and profundity of this prayer (no. 137).
“Reasons for Reserving the Eucharist; Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament” The following is an excerpt from the Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium: Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, released in 1967, by the Vatican Sacred Congregation of Rites.
 Vatican Council II : The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, electronic ed. of the new revised ed., vol. 1, Vatican Collection (Northport NY: Costello Publishing, 1992), 106, 107, 110–111, 129-130.