"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. In the many Churches that have this adoration, the Eucharist is displayed in a special holder called a monstrance, and people come to pray and worship Jesus. Christ’s great love for us was shown when he was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life. He loves us without limit and offers Himself to us in the Holy sacrament of the Eucharist. Can we not give Jesus a few minutes of love and adoration in return?
It is the physical presence of Christ in our midst, no less truly present than He is now present at the right hand of the Father of Heaven. It is called the "Real Presence" because it is presence in the fullest sense possible. It is a substantial presence by which Christ, the God-man, is now on earth, no less truly that He was during His visible presence in history in the first century in Palestine.
For just one hour a week, the Lord of Hosts waits patiently for you to come and spend a few minutes with him. He waits to receive you with open arms and admire you as His most precious creation, helping to relieve your weariness and give you the strength you need. This is an opportunity to share your life with Him, sharing your fears, doubts and heavy burdens with Him in private conversation.
The Code of Cannon Law prescribes that those who have the responsibility of instructing the faithful should neglect no opportunity of fostering in their hearts devotion to the Holy Eucharist and urge them frequently to assist at Mass and visit the Blessed Sacrament, not only on Sundays and days of obligation but also during the week.
Private exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, with the pyx or ciborium, is allowed for any justifying reason without the need of the Ordinary’s permission in churches and oratories authorized to reserve the Blessed Sacrament. The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore authorized public exposition on certain days in churches and in chapels of religious communities, but this authorization now yields to the exclusive competence of the local Ordinary, as provided by canon law.
For private exposition, the door of the tabernacle is opened and the covered pyx or ciborium may be placed near the opening of the tabernacle to allow the worshipers to see it, but not outside the tabernacle. At least six wax candles must burn on the altar. The celebrant wears surplice and stole, and may incense the Blessed Sacrament although this is not prescribed. After a private exposition, including suitable prayers and the Tantum Ergo, benediction may be given with the Blessed Sacrament.
Public exposition requires at least twelve candles burning on the altar. It must be accompanied by benediction with the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance. A double incensation is also obligatory. According to the Caeremoniale.
Forty Hours Devotion
The final canon on the worship of the Eucharist prescribes that the Forty Hours’ devotion be held every year with as much solemnity as possible, on days to be determined with the consent of the Ordinary of the place. This obligation affects all parish churches and other churches where the Blessed Sacrament is habitually reserved. If any place, owing to peculiar circumstances, it cannot be held with the reverence and without grave convenience, the local Ordinary should see to it that on determined days the Blessed Sacrament be exposed in a solemn manner.
Authoritative directions for the observance of the Forty Hours are found in the Instructio Clementina, issued by Clement XI in 1705. Unless a dispensation has been granted by the Holy See, the attached indulgences can be gained only if these directions are followed. In the United States, the requisite permission allows, without the loss of indulgences, the interruption of the exposition during the hours of night.
By a decree of Pius XI in 1933, the usual indulgences for the Forty Hours’ devotion were enlarged. Henceforth a plenary indulgence may be gained once each day by those who receive the sacraments, visit the church, recite five times the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the Father, and pray for the intention of the Holy Father. A partial indulgence of fifteen years may be gained each time the church is visited and suitable prayers are recited with a contrite heart.
Eucharistic Adoration has been practiced for hundreds of years. St. Ignatius of Antioch, the third Bishop of Antioch appointed by St Peter, wrote about venerating the Real Presence of the Christ in his epistles written prior to his death in 98 A.D. His writings are saturated with the conviction of Jesus' words in Jon 6:66 as truth, a truth he and his predecessors were willing to die to defend. The cause of veneration was also clearly edified by Pope Gregory VII in 1050 in response to a growing number of clergy who began to doubt the Real Presence of Jesus within the Eucharist, "I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine placed upon the altar are, by the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and life-giving flesh and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that after the consecration there is present the true body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and offered up for the salvation of the world, hung on the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and that there is present the true blood of Christ which flowed from His side. They are present not only by means of a sign and of the efficacy of the sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substance."
The Council of Trent was called to address this same question brought forth in the Reformation with equally steadfast language. “The holy council teaches," declared Trent, "and openly and straightforwardly professes that in the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really and substantially contained under the perceptible species of bread and wine...’This is My body. This is the chalice of My blood.’"
In our time, this doubt has again come to the forefront within our own parishes. Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., of the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Society wrote in 1979, “Pope John Paul II is deeply concerned about this weakening of belief in the cardinal truth of Catholic Christianity. For the first time in history there is now Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during every weekday of the year. One of the hopes of the Holy Father is that Eucharistic Adoration outside of the Mass be promoted throughout the world.”