The Book of Common Prayer (p.857) tells us that the adoration of God in prayer is “the lifting up of heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.” The practice of Eucharistic Adoration is the spiritual exercise of adoring the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The intention of such a devotion is to allow the faithful to be connected with an awareness of the gift of Christ’s sacramental presence and experience a spiritual communion with Him. Private Eucharistic Adoration involves prayer at the site where the Sacrament of the Altar is reserved. In some places, there is also the opportunity for corporate acts of Adoration through Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Exposition.
There is a long-standing practice of corporate Eucharistic Adoration in the English, Roman, and Orthodox expressions of the faith. Devotions to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Eucharistic celebration have been documented as early as the 8th century.
In Spain during the 900s there were Eucharistic processions, with the Blessed Sacrament carried in a ciborium. In the 11th century, Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury permitted exposition of the Blessed Sacrament using a ciborium as the sacred vessel. He also began the practice of Eucharistic processions at Canterbury Cathedral. The liturgy for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament began to take form in the 12th century and by the 15th century it had the basic structure that continues to this day.
In the Church of England, Father John Mason Neale (1818-1866) revived interest in Eucharistic Adoration among Anglicans when he made it a part of the devotional life of the nuns of the Society of Saint Margaret. Father Neale saw Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Exposition as the logical devotional expression of the Church Catholic’s understanding of the Real Presence.
In the Orthodox Church, liturgical devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is found in a service called The Canon of Supplication to Our Lord Jesus Christ, a liturgy that adores the presence of Christ in the artophorion, the tabernacle upon the altar. Both the Orthodox Church and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics (Uniate Christians) have a form of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament that involves the priest or bishop blessing the people with “the Lamb of God” – the consecrated host.
The adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Altar is not the stuff of superstition and false doctrine. It is for us a legacy and inheritance of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and its faith in the Real Presence of the living Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration at Good Shepherd
Sundays from 9:00 am to 10:20 am in Saint Mary's Chapel
Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament
I hear thy voice, O Lord Jesus, saying: “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy-laden, and I will refresh you.” I come unto thee weary and laden with my sins and with the cares and distractions of the world. Let me rest awhile in thy sacred presence; let my heart find rest in thy most Sacred Heart. Let me lie safe there and be at rest. Let nothing separate me from thee, here in this world or in the world to come. Amen.
Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book