Friday, June 29, 2018

Communion, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament & Benediction

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” – Psalm 34:8


Along with Baptism, Eucharist is the foundational Sacrament of the Church. It is where we return again and again to meet Jesus. Anglicans have typically been wary of trying to explain how Jesus is present in the Sacrament, but we have affirmed that, however mysteriously, he is present, really and tangibly. And visibly. We receive Jesus in the Bread and Wine of Communion and taste his goodness. Through it we are woven more deeply in our communion with the life and love of the Trinity and woven more deeply in communion with one another. And we are transformed.


The conviction that Jesus is really present in the Bread and Wine of Eucharist leads us to treat the
consecrated elements with care and reverence. Almost from the beginning some of the Sacrament was set aside–reserved–in churches for those who were unable to be present at Eucharist. In the Middle Ages, Christians began to extend the reverence for the Sacrament beyond the Eucharist by praying before the reserved Sacrament. This led to the practice of adoration in which believers sit or kneel in prayer in the presence of the Sacrament–in the presence of Jesus. There, they can gaze in adoration at the one who loves us so much–Jesus, mysteriously present in the outward and visible sign of the Sacrament. It is another way to commune with the one whose love evokes ours.

Vision Restored

In a secular society such as ours, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can seem quite strange. But, its strangeness might actually be a reason it is a valuable and instructive practice in our context. Whether we like it or not, and in spite of ourselves, our imaginations have been shaped to see the world secularly. We experience God, more or less, but we tend to engage creation and other people as though they are drained of sacredness.

But, that is not the Christian vision. The Christian vision is that all creation and every human being is sacramental. The universe, including all humanity, is a vast interlocking web of glory, charged with the grandeur of God. All things participate in and manifest God. Not just grand vistas and glorious sunsets, but every tree, plant, and animal. And especially each human being along with the whole human community. Creation vibrates with God who is in, with, and under it all, sustaining and cherishing everything. The stuff of creation, like some bread and wine, can bear the Presence of God. Jesus came to heal the damage done to all of this by sin and to restore our ability to see all of creation, including every human being, with God’s delight.

In a secular age it can be hard to hold onto that vision. We have mostly lost it. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one means of regaining that vision. When we gaze at the Host in the monstrance, we see Jesus. But, it might also be a lens through which we begin to see the rest of the world and each person sacramentally, as something holy, to be engaged with care and reverence.


Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be done simply, alone or in small groups wherever the Sacrament is reserved. But, it can also be a more formal liturgy that includes the celebrant blessing the assembly using a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. The word “benediction” comes from the Latin word meaning “blessing.” Jesus came to bless us. So, it is fitting to end our adoration with a benediction from the one whom we adore. But, of course, it never ends there. We who have been blessed are to go forth bearing that blessing to the world.

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