Weekly reflections by Father Cusick on the Sunday Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The MCITL Liturgical Library



Facts on the Liturgy: the Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass



--from Mysterium Fidei, on the Holy Eucharist, by His Holiness Pope Paul VI:

55. ...the Catholic Church has held to this faith in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, not only in her teaching but also in her practice, since she has at all times given to this great Sacrament the worship which is known as latria and which may be given to God alone. As St. Augustine says: "It was in His flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has given us to eat for our salvation. No one, however, eats of this flesh without having first adored it...and not only do we not sin in thus adoring it, but we would sin if we did not do so."

Latreutic worship of the Sacrament of the Eucharist

56. The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers the cult of latria to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving Consecrated Hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to solemn veneration of the faithful and carrying them in processions to the solemn joy of great crowds of the faithful.

57. In the oldest documents of the Church we have many testimonies of this veneration. The shepherds of the Church in fact, solicitously exhorted the faithful to take the greatest care in keeping the Eucharist which they took to their homes. "The Body of Christ is meant to be eaten, not to be treated with irreverence," St. Hippolytus warns the faithful.

58. In fact the faithful thought themselves guilty, and rightly so, as Origen recalls, if after they had taken the Body of the Lord and kept it with all care and reverence, a small fragment of it fell through inadvertence.

60. Indeed St. Cyril of Alexandria rejects as folly the opinion of those who maintained that if a part of the Eucharist was left over for the following day it did not confer sanctification. "For," he says, "neither Christ is altered nor his Holy Body changed, but the force and power of the blessing and vivifying grace always remain with it."

63. This faith also gave rise to the feast of Corpus Christi which was first celebrated in the diocese of Liege especially through the efforts of the servant of God, Blessed Juliana of Mont-Cornillon and which our predecessor Urban IV extended to the universal Church. From it have originated many practices of Eucharistic piety which under the inspiration of divine grace have increased from day to day and with which the Catholic Church is striving ever more to do homage to Christ, to thank him for so great a gift, and to implore his mercy.

--from Dominicae Cenae 3, Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition--short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)--eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses.[13] A particular mention should be made at this point of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as an act of public worship rendered to Christ present in the Eucharist, a feast instituted by my predecessor Urban IV in memory of the institution of this great Mystery.[14] All this therefore corresponds to the general principles and particular norms already long in existence but newly formulated during or after the Second Vatican Council.[15]

--from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1378 Worship of the Eucharist)

In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."
(Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 60)

--from the Ordo

The annual procession on the feast of Corpus Christi, or on an appropriate day near this feast, is desirable. See Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass, 102
(21 June 1973).

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