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Vatican tries to revive Eucharistic adoration
Christian Century ^ | June 16, 2011 | Francis X. Rocca

Posted on 06/16/2011 12:24:16 PM PDT by NYer

VATICAN CITY (RNS) For seven centuries, Eucharistic adoration -- praying before an exposed consecrated Communion host -- was one of the most popular forms of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, the focus of beloved prayers and hymns and a distinctive symbol of Catholic identity.

Following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the practice fell from favor, especially in Europe and the U.S. But over the last decade, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the church has strongly encouraged a revival of the practice.

"No one eat this flesh, if he has not adored it before; for we sin if we do not adore," Benedict said, quoting St. Augustine, in a 2009 speech at the Vatican.

Next week (June 20-24), the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome will host an academic conference on Eucharistic adoration, where the speakers will include six prominent cardinals, focusing on the rediscovery of the practice.

At the same time, however, some theologians object to adoration as outdated and unnecessary, and warn that it can lead to misunderstandings and undo decades of progress in educating lay Catholics on the meaning of the sacrament.

Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, said Eucharistic adoration by the laity originated in the 13th century as a substitute for receiving Communion at Mass. 

At the same time, he said, the church often encouraged a believer's sense of "personal unworthiness" to receive the sacrament -- which Catholics believe to be the body of Christ -- so many resorted to so-called "ocular communion" instead.

Eucharistic adoration was also used as a teaching tool to reaffirm the doctrine of the "real presence" of Christ in the Eucharist, said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a noted theologian at the University of Notre Dame.

For instance, McBrien said, devotion grew during the 16th- and 17th-century Counter-Reformation, in response to the arguments of some Protestant Reformers that the Eucharist was merely a symbol, not the actual body of Christ.

In the days when priests celebrated Mass in Latin with minimal participation by the congregation, the hymns and prayers associated with adoration gave lay Catholics an opportunity for public worship, Irwin said.

Liturgical reforms after Vatican II greatly increased the laity's participation at Mass, which Irwin said satisfied the "felt need for participation in public prayer." Irwin called that an "underlying reason" for the practice's decline.

In his final encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), John Paul decried the rise of a "very reductive understanding of the Eucharistic Mystery" that discourages adoration. He and Benedict have unambiguously endorsed the practice.

In 2005, according to Vatican statistics, there were about 2,500 chapels around the world -- including 1,100 in the U.S. -- that offered so-called "perpetual" round-the-clock adoration. Many other parishes now offer "holy hours," when the consecrated host is exposed for silent prayer or for services that include readings and hymns.

Adoration is also central to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, one of the church's most dynamic and fast-growing movements, especially in the developing world.

American college students have proven particularly receptive to the revival of Eucharist adoration. Catholic University's student chapel regularly draws 150 or more to its two weekly holy hours of adoration, according to the campus chaplain, the Rev. Jude DeAngelo.

"There is somewhat more of an intimacy" in prayer before the exposed host, says Brett Garland, a CUA undergraduate from Ohio who's majoring in theology and religious studies. "There's a difference, too, because you know others have come there for that same reason. It's a call to prayer."

Adoration appeals because it facilitates a "passive spiritual experience," said Adam Wilson, a spokesman for the Virginia-based Cardinal Newman Society. "It's a place where our Lord reaches out to the person, with the person having to do nothing but be present to our Lord," Wilson said.

The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes a traditional sense of religious identity at Catholic colleges and universities, has sponsored a traveling campus exhibition on "Eucharistic Miracles" and recently released an online video promoting adoration among college students.

It is also appealing, Irwin said, as an "external manifestation of a unique Catholic identity," much like other traditional practices that have regained popularity, such as meatless Fridays.

Irwin also noted adoration's appeal to a growing number of divorced and remarried Catholics, who are forbidden to receive Communion but may participate in adoration. In addition, parishes that lack full-time priests are able to offer adoration as a form of communal worship in lieu of Mass.

McBrien acknowledged that some Catholics find adoration "spiritually enriching," but said many liturgists see it is a "step back into the Middle Ages."

"It distorts the meaning of the Eucharist," McBrien said. "It erodes the communal aspect, and it erodes the fact that the Eucharist is a meal. Holy Communion is something to be eaten, not to be adored."

For that reason, McBrien said, the practice should be "tolerated but not encouraged."

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Worship
KEYWORDS: adoration; eucharist; eucharisticadoration
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To: thane1944

“The act of “declaration” neither causes or changes anything.”

Really? So when does the wafer and wine become Jesus?

81 posted on 06/17/2011 5:56:49 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: Salvation

When we are Saved, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is part of the Trinity.

82 posted on 06/17/2011 5:57:37 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: thane1944

Nicely explained. It’s mind-numbing that Christians would ever consider The Lord can invoked like some type of B-Movie spirit. So odd.

83 posted on 06/17/2011 6:08:56 AM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Mad Dawg
Perhaps when we reach the Jordan He will not hold it back but oblige us to wade through the waters where once our Lord stood ...

I'm a strong swimmer and a trained lifeguard ;-).

84 posted on 06/17/2011 6:27:45 AM PDT by Tax-chick (One step ahead of the jailer.)
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To: HushTX
So why is it that I have a deeper appreciation for this practice than he does? Why is it that I have a firmer grasp on the importance of this practice than he does?

Liberals consider themselves to be "enlightened" and consider those with whom they differ to be ignorant rubes. It is a particularly uncharitable form of conceit.

The liberal catholics essentially believe that the mass is not for worship, but is an expression of fellowship. That is why they have the hand holding, the grope-slobber-kiss of peace and the Disney movie music. Their focus is on Leftist causes such as the acceptance of septic sex, womyn power, pacifism, the confiscation of wages, and the dissolution of the United States through unlimited immigration.

To them, worship of the Creator of the Universe is the folly of lesser minds.

85 posted on 06/17/2011 9:20:41 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Just once I'd like someone to call me 'Sir' without adding 'You're making a scene.' - Homer Simpson)
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To: Cronos; Judith Anne

It certainly does. It doesn’t do much to alleviate my frustration at the conundrum, but it is comforting to know that I am not alone in my difficult position. I wish I could honestly say that I maintain daily prayer and regularly read the liturgy. I wish I could honestly say that I even do that on a weekly basis. But I certainly do try to keep the discipline, and this is an excellent way to manage the problem.

When I go to Basic Training, I may find myself unable to take Communion at Mass, depending on which services are provided. The same will be true during deployments. I WILL have my BCP with me and WILL be maintaining daily prayers. I think reading the text for the Eucharistic Mass will go a long way toward alleviating some of the burden of not being able to actually take the Eucharist.

I’ll still attend Roman Rite Mass, when it is offered, even if I won’t be welcome to take the Eucharist. Something is better than nothing.

86 posted on 06/17/2011 10:48:09 AM PDT by HushTX (I make libs rage quit.)
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To: Cronos

I won’t say that respecting the sentiments regarding Communion is without its frustration. A large part of me is inclined to simply take the Eucharist and not make a big deal about debating or explaining or any such thing. But then there is the stronger part of me that feels like it is more important to show the utmost respect to those whose faith is as important to them as mine is to me.

Maybe this Ordinariate trend will alleviate a large part of the problem. I don’t know much about it and what it entails, but I certainly look forward to seeing how it plays out.

87 posted on 06/17/2011 10:56:39 AM PDT by HushTX (I make libs rage quit.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

“Some people worship the lord in the bathroom mirror ...”

Where’s my like button?!

88 posted on 06/18/2011 1:50:34 PM PDT by BenKenobi (Honkeys for Herman!)
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To: HushTX

“I’ll still attend Roman Rite Mass, when it is offered, even if I won’t be welcome to take the Eucharist. Something is better than nothing.”

I did that myself for a year. You will find this very helpful to you.

89 posted on 06/18/2011 1:52:50 PM PDT by BenKenobi (Honkeys for Herman!)
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To: NYer

our bishop actively promotes Eucharistic Adoration in the diocese, many churches now offer adoration at various times during the week and since adoration has increased so has the number of seminarians.

90 posted on 06/23/2011 7:29:50 PM PDT by Coleus (Adult Stem Cells Work, there is NO Need to Harvest Babies for Their Body Parts!)
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