Fr. John P. Grigus, OFM Conv
Spiritual Director: PJPIIEA
I have information on items (Statues, Pictures etc.) being by the Blessed
Sacrament in adoration, can there be any and how far must they be?
The regulation regarding the
presence of sacred images is treated in the 2003 General Instructions for
the Roman Ritual (GIRM), paragraph 38 as follows:
Images of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the
Saints, in accordance with the Church’s most ancient tradition, should be
displayed for veneration by the faithful in sacred buildings and should be
arranged so as to usher the faithful toward the mysteries of faith celebrated
there. For this reason, care should be taken that their number not be increased
indiscriminately, and that they be arranged in proper order so as not to
distract the faithful’s attention from the celebration itself. There should
usually be only one image of any given Saint. Generally speaking, in the
ornamentation and arrangement of a church as far as images are concerned,
provision should be made for the devotion of the entire community as well as
for the beauty and dignity of the images.
Although the above regulations
refers specifically to the presence of sacred images in the body of the church
rather than a separate chapel of adoration, one may also apply its principles
to make wise decisions regarding the latter. Consequently, though the presence
of sacred images would be judged to be permissible in a chapel of adoration as
well, the question of number, type and their distance from the Blessed
Sacrament exposed must be such as to enhance rather than detract the faithful
from the central purpose of Eucharistic adoration – the worship and adoration
due to Our Lord himself. Thus there should not be too many images used,
specifically if the chapel is small, and those that may be used (if any at all)
should blend in well with the contemplative atmosphere of the chapel. In
general, outside of a particular depiction of Our Lord Himself (the crucifix,
Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, etc.), exclusive preference should be given to
images of Mary and Joseph and perhaps the patron saint of the parish community.
a Chapel is within the walls of the Church but is in a separate room, can the
Blessed Sacrament be exposed during Mass?
The question is treated
succinctly in paragraph 61 of the 1967 Instruction On Eucharistic Worship issued
by the Sacred Congregation of Rites as quoted below:
While the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the celebration
of Mass in the same area of the church (eadem aula ecclesiae) is
forbidden .... This is because ... the celebration of the Mystery of the
Eucharist includes in a more perfect way that spiritual communion to which
exposition should lead the faithful. Therefore there is no need for this
further help. If exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is prolonged for a day, or
for several successive days, it should be interrupted during the celebration of
the Mass, unless it is celebrated in a chapel apart from the exposition area
and at least some of the faithful remain in adoration.
So to answer the question
accordingly: Yes, the Blessed Sacrament can be exposed during Mass if the
chapel of exposition is physically separated from the main body of the
church where the mass is celebrated provided that some of the faithful remain
in adoration in the adoration chapel. If adoration is held within the same
body of the church or integrally connected to the worship area even if off
to the side, then the Blessed Sacrament should be reposed prior to Mass, to be
exposed again at the conclusion of the Mass.
just anyone expose the Blessed Sacrament? If not, why?
The question of who is to be
considered a valid minister of exposition and reposition is treated in
paragraph 91 of the document, “Holy Communion and Worship of the
Eucharist Outside Mass” (Eucharistiae Sacramentum) issued on June 21,
1973 by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship as quoted below:
The ordinary minister for exposition of the eucharist
is a priest or deacon. At the end of the period of adoration, before the
reposition .... In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully
impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the
eucharist for the adoration of the faithful:
a. an acolyte or special minister of communion;
b. upon appointment by the local Ordinary, a
member of a religious community or of a pious association of laymen or laywomen
which is devoted to eucharistic adoration.
Such ministers may open the tabernacle and also, as
required, place the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance.
At the end of the period of adoration, they replace the blessed sacrament in
the tabernacle. It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with
Accordingly, priests or deacons
are considered to be the “ordinary” ministers of the Eucharist because they are
specifically ordained for this function. Only in their absence (unavailability)
can others also be commissioned or designated as “extraordinary” ministers in
the following order after having received proper instructions and knowledge in
handling the sacred species: acolytes, ministers of communion, members of
religious community or pious association of the faithful. As to the reason for
this, it must be kept in mind that the Eucharist is the Church’s central
treasure, the gift of the Lord himself, to be treated with deep respect and
reverence. Allowing anyone to handle the sacred species would expose Our Lord
to the danger of irreverence and even profanation.
close can people be to the Blessed Sacrament during adoration? Two feet from
There are no specific norms
specifying the distance to be kept between the worshiper and the exposed
presence of Our Lord. The distance however should be great enough not only to
prevent a person from physically touching the monstrance, since doing so is
limited to the ordinary and extraordinary ministers as explained in point three
above, but also maintaining an atmosphere of prayer where the central focus can
be placed on the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord and not those present to
adore Him. From this perspective, prudence would require a distance of at least
5 or more feet depending upon the number of worshipers present and the size of
starting a chapel how long should it take you to be within all the guidelines?
According to Eucharistiae
Sacramentum, paragraph 86, “This kind of (lengthy) exposition, however,
may take place with the consent of the local Ordinary, only if there is
assurance of the participation of a reasonable number of the faithful.” The
purpose of all guidelines and procedures followed in the course of establishing
a chapel of adoration are geared towards the reasonable assurance that the Blessed
Sacrament will not be left unattended once adoration is established.
Consequently, a chapel of adoration cannot be started until those guidelines
are already met.
there anything about adorers leaving prayer materials, or Miscellaneous items
in the chapel or in pews etc..
Materials should not be permitted
to be left in the chapel or pews by anyone without first being reviewed for
proper theological and spiritual content by the pastor or those he judges to be
competent enough to make that judgment on his behalf.
there any guidelines about a glass tabernacle surrounding the Blessed Sacrament
in a Monstrance? Can the monstrance be displayed in a locked glass case or in a
tabernacle with a glass shield? If not, How can we secure the Blessed Sacrament?
The question of the construction
and placement of the tabernacle to be used as a depository for the sacred host
consecrated at mass is specified in the General Instructions for the Roman
Ritual, paragraphs 314 - 315:
314. In accordance with the structure of each church
and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in
a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily
visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.
The one tabernacle should be immovable, be made of
solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked in such a
way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the greatest extent
315. It is more in keeping with the meaning of the
sign that the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on
an altar on which Mass is celebrated. Consequently, it is preferable that the
tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop, a.
Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and
place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for
celebration; b. Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful’s private
adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and
readily visible to the Christian faithful.
Accordingly, the tabernacle
should “be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent.” This
would invalidate the use of tabernacles that are totally made of glass or other
transparent materials through which the inner contents can be seen. It would
however not exclude the use of tabernacles made of other “solid”, “inviolable”
and “noble” material that encloses the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament
behind a glass shield and possesses doors which can be closed securely to also
hide the Blessed Sacrament from view when it is not being adored. Such might be
the case with a tabernacle permanently fixed to the altar of exposition or the
front wall containing the monstrance behind bullet proof glass in which case
extra safety would be provided even when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for