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-   -   Touching the Monstrance (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=169973)

tm30 Jul 18, '07 7:49 am

Touching the Monstrance
 
Question:

I'm having difficulty with one of Fr. Serpa's responses regarding handling of the monstrance.

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=2107784

I have been under the impression that no one - not even the priest - can handle the monstrance without a humeral veil. If it's okay for everyone to touch the monstrance (according to Fr. Serpa), why all the ceremony during benediction?

I find this particularly troubling, as I have witnessed deacons at my parish "close out" adoration without benediction, grabbing the monstrance and removing the ciborium like they're replacing a battery (i.e., with little or no reverence whatsoever).

Perhaps this is an overreaction, but the monstrance is a sacred vessel when the Blessed Sacrament is displayed. Just as no one could touch the ark of the covenant, I find it scandalous that Fr. Serpa is encouraging anyone - much less lay congregants - to just touch the monstrance, when the Church has made great pains to assure that neither a priest or deacon touches the vessel by use of a humeral veil. This seems to me on a par of inviting people around the altar during the Mass. One could argue that they're in the church already, so what? But we treat the sanctuary as a sacred place, even though that place, in and of itself is not efficacious sacrament itself. The same goes for the monstrance. Sure, we already receive Communion, but that doesn't excuse us from treating with the utmost reverence the vessel in which He is exposed.

Thoughts?

LilyM Jul 18, '07 7:54 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
The humeral veil is used during Benediction, certainly. This is to emphasise that it is Christ himself, in the Blessed Sacrament, blessing the people at the time rather than the priest.

Otherwise - priests can touch, open and handle the Tabernacle itself, and the Sacrament therein, at any time, can they not? They don't need a humeral veil to do so. Nor to touch the paten, ciborium or chalice during or after Mass.

Why is a monstrance any 'better' or any more of an Ark of the Covenant than any of these other articles or vessels? Do they not all hold precisely the same Blessed Sacrament?

Surely the Sacrament itself is far more important than the vessel which temporarily holds it - to think otherwise smacks of idolatry.

If a humeral veil is necessary at all times for the Monstrance than why not at every other time the Blessed Sacrament is handled or one of these vessels touched? Should those lay EMsHC who take Communion to the sick or housebound be required to wear humeral veils when handling the pyx containing the Host as well?

The mind boggles at the implications of what you're saying.

lizaanne Jul 18, '07 8:06 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Yes - and if this logic were to hold, then the humeral veil would be required during the distribution of Holy Communion as well, and EMHCs would certainly not be allowed under any circumstances.

~Liza

LilyM Jul 18, '07 8:28 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lizaanne (Post 2480332)
Yes - and if this logic were to hold, then the humeral veil would be required during the distribution of Holy Communion as well, and EMHCs would certainly not be allowed under any circumstances.

~Liza

I'm sure some traditionalists would be perfectly happy for that to be the case - at least until they were sick or homebound themselves, in which case I think most of 'em would see a bit more sense and be grateful that anyone could bring the Sacrament to them.

tm30 Jul 18, '07 8:37 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Surely the Sacrament itself is far more important than the vessel which temporarily holds it - to think otherwise smacks of idolatry.
1. Then why is it necessary during Benediction? I'm not referring to touching the monstrance when there's nothing in it. I'm talking about handling it while the sacrament is EXPOSED. The sacrament isn't exposed when it's in the tabernacle, and certainly the ciborium can be handled when transferring Communion into the Tabernacle and distributing to the congregation. When the sacrament is exposed, it's for the express purpose of adoration, not consumption. Would it be acceptable, then, for someone to stand at the front, hold up the Eucharist in hand for the purpose of adoration, and not use a monstrance at all? Why or why not? It seems irreverent to me, when there is no obstacle to using a humeral veil, to just pick up the monstrance and move it around like a cheap vase. If it's not okay at benediction, why is it acceptable anytime else?

2. Why is the sanctuary off limits to laity during Mass? It seems to me if you're going to argue idolatry of a vessel, isn't that idolatry of place? Isn't the chalice a sacred vessel? Aren't there rules for handling the chalice properly when the blood of Christ is present after consecration?

3. I'm not sure where you jumped to the conclusion that I think the monstrance is more important than the Sacrament itself. This is about reverence toward the exposed Sacrament and proper handling of the vessel which holds it.

Quote:

The mind boggles at the implications of what you're saying.
Not if you don't blow it out of context. You don't have to address me like I'm an idiot.

LilyM Jul 18, '07 8:56 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tm30 (Post 2480441)
1. Then why is it necessary during Benediction? I'm not referring to touching the monstrance when there's nothing in it. I'm talking about handling it while the sacrament is EXPOSED. The sacrament isn't exposed when it's in the tabernacle, and certainly the ciborium can be handled when transferring Communion into the Tabernacle and distributing to the congregation. When the sacrament is exposed, it's for the express purpose of adoration, not consumption. Would it be acceptable, then, for someone to stand at the front, hold up the Eucharist in hand for the purpose of adoration, and not use a monstrance at all? Why or why not? It seems irreverent to me, when there is no obstacle to using a humeral veil, to just pick up the monstrance and move it around like a cheap vase. If it's not okay at benediction, why is it acceptable anytime else?

As I said - during Benediction the priest holds it up the Monstrance and makes a sign of the cross over the congregation with it - a gesture of blessing.

This blessing, however, is entirely unique in that it comes from Christ himself in the Blessed Sacrament, with no intermediary, unlike ordinary blessings the priest gives during mass or anywhere else.

The priest wears a humeral veil at this point to emphasise that the blessing is not one which he as a priest is giving or having any part in - rather Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament, is doing so directly.

It has nothing to do with Exposition, which is an entirely different creature from Benediction (that ceremony of the blessing) in any event.

THAT is why the humeral veil is necessary at that particular point where the blessing happens and not, for example, when a deacon fetches the ciborium from the Tabernacle during Mass so that extra Hosts are available for distribution.

I hope this makes the point clearer.

Quote:

2. Why is the sanctuary off limits to laity during Mass? It seems to me if you're going to argue idolatry of a vessel, isn't that idolatry of place? Isn't the chalice a sacred vessel? Aren't there rules for handling the chalice properly when the blood of Christ is present after consecration?
Properly yes, rules for reverent treatment certainly. Never with use of a humeral veil (or gloves or anything other than bare hands) required though! Handling the Blessed Sacrament or any sacred vessel with bare hands is not inappropriate by any means!

Quote:

3. I'm not sure where you jumped to the conclusion that I think the monstrance is more important than the Sacrament itself. This is about reverence toward the exposed Sacrament and proper handling of the vessel which holds it.
Maybe not more important than the Sacrament, although you do think it's more important than the Tabernacle itself, the ciborium or paten and the chalice. None of which need a humeral veil or anything other than bare hands for handing.

Your logic is that the exposed host requires a humeral veil for handling, whereas equally consecrated, equally holy, but unexposed, hosts and precious blood don't. Never have, never will.

Can I ask where did you get the idea that the fact the host is exposed makes this EXTRA attention and reverence necessary? What document, what Papal statement, what anything, makes you think this is the case? The Body and Blood of our Lord should always be paid reverence, exposed or not makes not the slightest difference.

As I've tried to indicate, the use of a humeral veil isn't merely because the Sacrament is exposed, rather because it is elevated over the people in blessing.

Quote:

Not if you don't blow it out of context. You don't have to address me like I'm an idiot.
No, not an idiot, but a little more catechesis about the purpose of a humeral veil, and about Benediction, may be in order.

tm30 Jul 18, '07 9:34 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Thank you for your response. I understand the significance of the blessin,g yet on another thread, Fr. Serpa says this:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=164081

Quoting:

Quote:

The priest or deacon holds the monstrance with a veil to call attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament. They actually touch the host to put it in the holder (luna) that is placed at the center of the monstrance. Our Lord placed the Eucharist in the hands of the Apostles. We receive it on our toungue and down into our stomach. By His incarnation Our Lord made it abundantly clear that He does not consider it a dishonor to be touched by the likes of us.
This begs the question then, is it a sign of disrespect for an ordained priest or deacon to NOT use the veil when there is no obstacle to it? Fr. Serpa doesn't limit its purpose to the blessing, but also "call[ing] attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament." Should a deacon always perform Benediction when the Sacrament is being removed and put back in the tabernacle? Shouldn't the deacon always "call attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament"? Is this an optional attitude? Is this a frivolous ritual?

Again, thank you for your response.

LilyM Jul 18, '07 9:44 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tm30 (Post 2480677)
Thank you for your response. I understand the significance of the blessin,g yet on another thread, Fr. Serpa says this:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=164081

Quoting:



This begs the question then, is it a sign of disrespect for an ordained priest or deacon to NOT use the veil when there is no obstacle to it? Fr. Serpa doesn't limit its purpose to the blessing, but also "call[ing] attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament." Should a deacon always perform Benediction when the Sacrament is being removed and put back in the tabernacle? Shouldn't the deacon always "call attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament"? Is this an optional attitude? Is this a frivolous ritual?

Again, thank you for your response.

There are many ways of calling attention to the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament, as Fr Serpa puts it. Kneeling in its presence, processing with it, using patens. Even NOT having it in the tabernacle - leaving the empty tabernacle on Holy Thursday as a sign that Christ has entered His passion and will not rise again until Sunday.

Not all can or should be used all the time. After all, throughout Mass we are in the presence of the Sacrament in the Tabernacle. And yet we stand or sit at appropriate times. And the priest never or hardly ever kneels.

So with the humeral veil. To my knowledge Benediction is indeed separate from Exposition and Reposing of the Blessed Sacrament, and doesn't always have to occur at such times. Benediction requires the use of a humeral veil, other occasions do not. It doesn't make it frivolous or empty. On the contrary, more solemn or rarer gestures are often more meaningful. Still doesn't mean they can, must or should be used every day. Often they lose something if they are.

Benediction is unique, like a girl's wedding where she is veiled. Is she a different person at other times? Not really. Does the fact that she isn't veiled at other times mean that people show less respect to her or she shows less respect for herself at other times? Not a bit.

lizaanne Jul 18, '07 9:56 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
With all due respect - "it" is not an "it", it is Jesus. ;)

~Liza

LilyM Jul 18, '07 10:04 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lizaanne (Post 2480763)
With all due respect - "it" is not an "it", it is Jesus. ;)

~Liza

The Blessed Sacrament certainly is the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus. The Blessed Sacrament is also the 'bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation'.

Even St Paul had no problems speaking in terms of bread and wine - 'when we eat this bread and drink this cup' - so the Blessed Sacrament is BOTH a 'something' AND a 'someone' and can rightly be referred to as 'it' :)

tm30 Jul 18, '07 10:55 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Benediction requires the use of a humeral veil, other occasions do not. It doesn't make it frivolous or empty. On the contrary, more solemn or rarer gestures are often more meaningful. Still doesn't mean they can, must or should be used every day. Often they lose something if they are.
How do they "lose something"? That's a subjective response to the ceremony, not a quality of the ceremony itself. Should we do away with the final blessing at Mass because, well, we do it every week and it doesn't seem that important after a while? Do you think that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament sighs heavily and cries out "Not again!" when He is called upon to bless us in Benediction? Choosing not to perform Benediction where it is ordinary custom seems a rather indifferent response to this gift that Christ so willingly wants us to have. It smacks of taking advantage of loopholes in order to avoid the work of Benediction (putting on vestments, saying the prayers, blessing those present), which, I submit, is an improper attitude and one which spreads to other facets of administering the faith. It would be like doing away with daily Mass because it's not a requirement and people will start finding Sunday Mass boring.

We have an entire devotion (the Sacred Heart) dedicated to reparation of indifference toward the Blessed Sacrament. It's obviously of great importance to the Christ, thus, the indifference displayed by opting out of the customary blessing without material cause is troublesome to me. Since reposition is not an everyday occurence (in perpetual adoration chapels, it's typically only from Good Friday until Easter Sunday, and any other extraordinary circumstances), Benediction is rare to begin with.

So here's what I've taken away from this:

1. It is acceptable for anyone to touch the Sacramental monstrance.

2. The humeral veil's only purpose during Benediction is to separate the ordinary from the actual blessing from Christ.

3. Benediction - the direct blessing by Christ - is at the discretion of the ordinary and not a required custom.

Philothea53 Jul 18, '07 11:01 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by LilyM (Post 2480519)
No, not an idiot, but a little more catechesis about the purpose of a humeral veil, and about Benediction, may be in order.


But answers like this one and the other make those of us who are not as wll versed as you shrink from asking questions. Sometimes I feel as though some of us are to be silent and invisible and let the privileged few run the Parish. Talk about stewardship, anyone?

I am struggling with this at my Parish also so you really opened a can of worms for me. Anonymity can sometimes be a wonderful thing!

Caesar Jul 20, '07 1:09 pm

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
You are absolutely correct tm30, nobody should be touching the monstrance without a humeral veil, especialy when the Blessed Sacrament is residing within. During Benediction only the priest should be touching the monstrance. Remember, the laity shouldnt even touch the Sacred Vesssels.

valient Lucy Jul 20, '07 8:47 pm

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tm30 (Post 2480441)
Would it be acceptable, then, for someone to stand at the front, hold up the Eucharist in hand for the purpose of adoration, and not use a monstrance at all? Why or why not?



Actually, this happens at every Mass. After the Consecration, the priest elevates the Host using only his hands (no monstrance, no veil, nothing) for the purposes of adoration of the faithful.

I'm not saying that anyone should do that, or that that should be done outside of Mass. I'm just pointing out that it does happen.

Aramis Jul 21, '07 3:24 am

Re: Touching the Monstrance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tm30 (Post 2480677)
This begs the question then, is it a sign of disrespect for an ordained priest or deacon to NOT use the veil when there is no obstacle to it?

Keep in mind that the Humeral Veil was, at first, apparently for handling the monstrance during a processional benediction outside. According the the 1917 catholic encyclopedia, the earliest instructions had it used by acolytes, and in processions.

It was later that the subdeacon came to use it during the liturgy.


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