Eucharisticum Mysterium 49-51: Reserving the Eucharist

With this section, the Consilium examines the reservation of the Eucharist, and offers some important reminders:

49. “It is pertinent to recall that the primary and original purpose of reserving the sacred elements in church outside Mass is the administration of viaticum; secondary ends are the distribution of communion outside Mass and the adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ hidden beneath these same elements.” [Sources chretiennes Sacraments, Instr. Quam plurimum 1 Oct. 1949: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 41 (1949) 509-510. See also Council of Trent, sess. 13, Decr. de Eucharistia cap. 6; Denz-Schon 1645. St. Pius X, Decr. Sacra Tridentina Synodus, 20 Dec. 1905: Denz-Schon 3375.] For “the reservation of the sacred elements for the sick . . . led to the praiseworthy custom of adoring the heavenly food that is reserved in churches. This worship of adoration has a sound and firm foundation,” [Pius XII, Encycl. Mediator Dei: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 39 (1947) 569.] especially since faith in the Lord’s real presence has as its natural consequence the outward and public manifestation of that belief.

The reservation of the Eucharist has the roots of pragmatism. I like that modern Eucharistic devotion has a source in ministry to the needy. Other reminders for those who adore:

50. When the faithful adore Christ present in the sacrament, they should remember that this presence derives from the sacrifice and has as its purpose both sacramental and spiritual communion.

Those who adore may gain an increase in the virtues, and a more profound experience in the Mass. It seems rather flip to suggest to people who get little or nothing out of the Mass to just pray about it. Too bad more Christians aren’t schooled in contemplative prayer.

Therefore, the devotion prompting the faithful to visit the blessed sacrament draws them into an ever deeper share in the paschal mystery and leads them to respond gratefully to the gift of him who through his humanity constantly pours divine life into the members of his Body. [See Presbyterorum ordinis no. 5.] Abiding with Christ the Lord, they enjoy his intimate friendship and pour out their hearts before him for themselves and for those dear to them and they pray for the peace and salvation of the world. Offering their entire lives with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, they derive from this sublime colloquy an increase of faith, hope, and charity. Thus they foster those right dispositions that enable them with due devotion to celebrate the memorial of the Lord and receive frequently the bread given us by the Father.

Priests should set the example:

The faithful should therefore strive to worship Christ the Lord in the blessed sacrament in a manner fitting in with their own way of life. Pastors should by example show the way and by word encourage their people. [See Presbyterorum ordinis no. 18.]

Our church is most often locked in the evenings. And when it’s not, it’s a locus for busy choir practices. That’s a challenge for the prayer life of our faith community perhaps we need to move beyond.
51. Pastors should see to it that all churches and public oratories where the blessed sacrament is reserved are open at least several hours in the morning and evening so that the faithful may easily pray before the blessed sacrament.

Any thoughts from the commentariat?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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