Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is the homage of the spirit to the King of Glory, respectful silence in the presence of the ever greater God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives us assurance to our supplications.
-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2628
Adoration in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
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." 208
1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent, outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end,"209 even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, 210 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:
- The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease. 211
1381 "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that ‘cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, ‘but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 (‘This is my body which is given for you.'), St. Cyril says: ‘Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.' "212
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true. 213
1418 Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is ... a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66).
Above information taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1378-1381, 1418
206. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf. Mt 26:26 ff.; Mk 14:22 ff.; Lk 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor 11:24 ff.
207. Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.
208. Paul VI, MF 56.
209. Jn 13:1.
210. Cf. Gal 2:20.
211. John Paul II, Dominicae cenae, 3.
212. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 75, 1; cf. Paul VI, MF 18; St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Luc. 22, 19: PG 72, 912; cf. Paul VI, MF 18.
213. St. Thomas Aquinas (attr.), Adoro te devote; tr. Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Rite of Exposition and Benediction
Toward the beginning to the thirteenth century, great emphasis was being placed on the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Although Catholics had always believed that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist, the fact was now being stressed to counteract some false ideas that were prevalent at the time. To correct mistaken notions and even superstition in regard to the doctrine, the Church fostered a renewal in the faith and devotion toward the Real Presence. In 1246, the feast of Corpus Christi, honoring the Body of Our Lord was established. Also in this period, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, composed his beautiful hymns, praising the Holy Eucharist.
After the people have assembled, a song may be sung while the minister comes to the altar. If the holy Eucharist is not reserved at the altar where the exposition is to take place, the minister puts on a humeral veil and brings the sacrament from the place of reservation; he is accompanied by servers or by the faithful with lighted candles.
The siborium or monstrance should be placed upon the table of the altar, which is covered with a cloth. After exposition, if the monstrance is used, the minister incenses the sacrament. If the adoration is to be lengthy, he may then withdraw.
During the exposition, there should be prayers, songs and readings to direct the attnetion of the faithful to the worship of Christ the Lord.
To encourage a prayerful spirit, there should be readings form Scripture with homily or brief exhortation to develop a better understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. It is desirable also for the people to respond to the word of God by singing and to spend some periods of time in religious silence.
Part of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially the principal hours, may be celebrated before the Blessed Sacrament when there is a lengthy period of exposition. This liturgy extends the praise and thanksgiving offered to God in the Eucharistic celebration to the several hours of the day; it directs the prayers of the Church of Christ and through him to the Father in the name of the whole world. One of the following hymns may be sung:
Saving Victim opening wide
The gates of heav'n to man below!
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.
To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee. Amen.
O salutáris Hóstia
Quæ cæli pandis óstium.
Bella premunt hostília;
Da robur fer auxæilium
Uni trinóque Dómino
Sit sempitérna glória:
Qui vitam sine término.
Nobis donet in pátria. Amen.
I devoutly adore you, O hidden God,
Adóro te devóte, latens Déitas,
Toward the end, the priest or deacon goes to the altar, genuflects and kneels. As a hymn or other Eucharistic song is sung, the minister, while kneeling, incenses the sacrament, if the exposition has taken place with the monstrance. A hymn such as the following may be sung:
Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory,
Of his flesh the mystery sing,
Of the blood, all price exceeding,
Shed by our immortal King;
Destined for the world's redemption,
From a noble womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
Born for us on earth below,
He, as man with man conversing,
Stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
Then he closed in solemn order
Wondrously his life of woe.
On the night of that last supper,
Seated with his chosen band,
He, the paschal victim eating,
First fulfills the law's command;
Then as food to all his brethren,
Gives himself with his own hand.
Word made flesh, the bread of nature
By his word to flesh he turns;
Wine into his blood he changes:
What though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
Faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo, the sacred Host we hail;
Lo, o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who reigns on high,
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally.
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty. Amen.