Adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
At Epiphany, the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs each weekday following the daily Mass, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and all day, to 8 p.m. at night on Thursdays.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during its Exposition on the Altar is a form of meditative or contemplative prayer practiced in the Catholic Faith. We believe that the consecrated Host, although retaining the appearance and form of bread, is in reality the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, in physical reality before us.
There is evidence from the earliest days (Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century AD and Tertullian in the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD) that the consecrated Body of the Lord was reserved outside of Mass. This practice evolved over the next thousand years and became more popular during the Middle Ages.
At the beginning of the fourth session of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Mysterium fidei. This letter encouraged the faithful – clergy, laity, and religious – to attend daily Mass wherever possible and receive Holy Communion. He also said –
“In the course of the day the faithful should not omit to visit the Blessed Sacrament, which according to the liturgical laws must be kept in the churches with great reverence in a most honorable location. Such visits are a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, an acknowledgment of the Lord’s presence.”
Later, Saint Pope John Paul wrote in Dominicae Cenae:
“The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith.”
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may be practiced when the Sacrament is exposed to public view, in a Monstrance, on the altar, with candles and flowers, so that it may be clearly seen by the people. Or it can happen when simply visiting the Church, and praying before the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Thus, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may be practiced at any time that the Church is open, which is generally from 7 Am to 7 PM, seven days a week.
During Adoration, individuals practice various forms of contemplative and meditative prayer.
Meditative practices including praying prayers (such as the Rosary, the Our Father, extemporaneous/spontaneous prayer from the heart, charismatic prayer in an unknown tongue, etc.), spiritual reading, reading the Bible, and thinking about spiritual things. Meditation brings mind and intellect into union with the Spirit by involving our imagination and knowledge with our spirituality.
Contemplative prayer has been described as the “prayer of the heart.” Some have compared it to the way that a parent gazes lovingly upon their child, not really thinking words, but just enjoying the experience of their son or daughter.
St. Francis de Sales described contemplative prayer as “a loving, simple, and permanent attentiveness of the mind to divine things.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the great mystic St. Theresa of Avila on the subject – “Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.’ Contemplative prayer seeks him ‘whom my soul loves’. It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.” (2709).
The line between meditation and contemplation is not “bright” but instead fuzzy, in that contemplation often begins as meditation and then evolves into a more silent contemplation, and then as it draws to the end may return to a more meditative state.