Exposition Abuse? - Grave Matter Question

Hello - I am a member of a lay association that has daily Eucharistic Adoration from 8am until 8pm. Last year I became aware that one of our policies was incorrect. We have been instructed by our leaders to veil the monstrance and Blessed Sacrament in the event of an emergency and we have to leave. For instance, if the next adorer does not arrive on time and you wait for a sufficient amount of time (30 minutes or so) and they do not show up, you are supposed to call one of the leaders to either find someone or they come themselves to relieve you.

But if nobody can or does come, then we are supposed to use the veil and then just leave.

This has bothered me and last year I actually spoke with the leaders to fix it. I was assured that since it was only an emergency situation that it wasn’t really very serious. But today I found this:

(From Redemptionis Sacramentum)

138. Still, the Most Holy Sacrament, when exposed, must never be left unattended even for the briefest space of time. It should therefore be arranged that at least some of the faithful always be present at fixed times, even if they take alternating turns.


  1. Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist: namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168. Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.

Since this is only being done in the case of a serious need, and perhaps even on a relatively rare occasion, should this be considered grave matter? I understand something can be objectively wrong but cuplability can be subjective.

Do I need to cause another stir? I realize we are all bound to protect the sacrament, and I have volunteered to come whenever I am needed since I live close by to the chapel.

Also, sometimes people get up to use the bathroom which is right next to our very tiny chapel. Are we also forbidden to do that when nobody else is there?:confused:

nobody seems culpable of anything but before a parish attempts to institute the worthy practice of extended hours for adoration they must assure enough worshippers, and more than two is expedient, are on hand and scheduled for all the open times. The Blessed Sacrament cannot be unattended. The chapel has to be locked and Sacrament ideally returned to the tabernacle or at least veiled if someone has to leave. If this occurs more than once in a blue moon the pastor will have to revisit the plan and make changes. better to reduce the time than have to cut it out all together because people cannot keep their commitment. There should never be a time when only one person is in the chapel,( it is not safe for one thing), and need to answer a call of nature. If more people don’t commit the hours will have to be curtailed.

That it would be thought ok to leave the blessed sacrament unattended suggests that the value of the blessed sacrament is been overlooked in the praiseworthy pursuit to have Eucharistic adoration widely available .

No one would agree to leave a million dollars unattended in this manner and the blessed sacrament is a far more valuable treasure than all the money in the world.

Leaving the blessed sacrament unguarded for even one second is a great act of negligence and is grave matter, that includes toilet brakes which is why as previously mentioned there should be at least two people in attendance to keep the watch during Eucharistic Adoration.

The reason is immaterial as the problem is been caused due to the organisational mistake of having only one person present whcih can easily be corrected. If the occurrences of the blessed sacrament been left unprotected are rare each one of those rare occurrences would still in themselves be grave matter and steps should be taken to prevent them from happening again.

It is not acceptable to put the blessed sacrament needlessly at risk in this way for any reason.

Advocatus Fidei - I realize this is a serious problem, which is why I am seeking advice. Nobody is leaving the Blessed Sacrament alone unless there is a serious reason. At least, I have no real reason to think so.

For instance, if you are having a medical or family emergency and nobody can take your place, what would someone be required to do in this situation?

I plan on speaking with a good priest (traditionalist) tomorrow about this situation.

When you veil the Eucharist, the Eucharist is no longer exposed.

That is why veiling when you leave (if there is on one else to adore) is REQUIRED!

Cover with the Veil. Lock the doors.

As far as I can tell, the best solution would be to reserve the Sacrament in the tabernacle. This should be done by a priest or deacon (can’t recall if a layman can do so licitly) and should be simple (cf. Norms on Eucharistic Exposition). This would be for emergency situations, as you are limited to reserving the Sacrament only twice a day. At night when your done is one and if you have a Mass during the day, that would be two – so this emergency situation would necessarily put a number of adorers in the dark (all those until Mass if in the morning, or all those for the rest of the day if after Mass).

I think the intent of the veil is to reserve, but that would still count against the two per day. Also, since there will be no one there the Sacrament is not secure (pagans could come and carry the Sacrament away to do whatever). It is one thing if you use a veil during Mass, as there are plenty of people there to keep the security, but if no one is there, the Sacrament should be in the tabernacle.

When you veil the Eucharist, the Eucharist is no longer exposed.

That is why veiling when you leave (if there is on one else to adore) is REQUIRED!

Cover with the Veil. Lock the doors.

I guess technically it isn’t exposed, but I read also on the USCCB website (I think it was there) that the veiling was not acceptable. I read that last year when I first found out there was a problem.

These are our procedures, for everyone’s reference: The bolding is in the original, not mine.


  1. Never just leave (see footnote below). We have assured the Bishop that we, as guardians of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament guarantee that there will be a scheduled adorer present with Him at all times. Visitors cannot be depended upon to stay for the hour.

  2. If you can stay another hours, please do, but call the appropriate Hour Captain to report the incident, so that the problem can be avoided in the future. A list of Hour Captains is posted on the bulletin board in the hall and an available phone is there for your use.

  3. If you cannot stay, call the appropriate Hour Captain to send a substitute to relieve you.

  4. If you cannot contact the Hour Captain, call the Division Leader or the Coordinator or Assistant Coordinator. A list of their names and phone number is also posted on the bulletin board in the hall and an available phone is there for your use.


That situation should not occur. It can be avoided by correct planning. The correct plan to avoid that situation is to plan to have more than one person watching at the blessed sacrament at any one time.

As the occurrence of a personal emergency can be foreseen, and indeed has been foreseen, the emergency occurring should not result in the commitment of an act that is grave matter as naturally due to your desire to avoid such acts you and the other people responsible for the care of the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic adoration will have implemented a suitable plan to deal with such a situation.

A plan that does not result in our most precious treasure been left unguarded and unwatched.

There is no justification to have foreseen this possibility and then not to have acted to avoid it.

Two people need to be watching at all times to ensure the blessed sacrament is safe, to ensure they are safe and to allow for a personal emergency that requires one person to leave.

Put this into perspective, how would you feel if you were the one who left the blessed sacrament and when you were gone someone came into the church and stole it?

You would be devastated I would imagine, so to avoid that possibility don’t put yourself in a situation where that can happen to you. Situations such as having the sole responsibility for the protection of the Blessed Sacrament.

Everyone at the chapel is aware that 2 adorers at each hour is the goal. We are constantly reminded of that by our leaders.

The chapel is in a very rural area and there is very little traffic on the road. It is attached to the rectory of a church and the office is right next to it. We’re open from 8am to 8pm now since there weren’t enough adorers to keep it going as a perpetual adoration chapel.

I think a case can be made, easily, for someone being alone in the chapel and having an emergency and having to leave. (i’m talking about cuplability of sin here) Its not their fault they are the only one there at the time. You keep talking about planning and trust me that has been done. But there are only so many people who will volunteer. We get lots of people coming in and out daily but getting them to commit is the tough part.

I am planning on trying to fix the situation with the emergencies, whatever I can do. That also includes advertising for the chapel to get more adorers, which is the real solution to the problem. I agree with the above poster that is should be reposed rather than veiled. These people don’t think they are doing anything wrong so I need to do some serious praying that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts and give me the strength to see it through.

Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament must never be left alone
If an emergency arises leaving no one present to adore our Lord, then one who is designated and on call must repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

When there are no adorers the Blessed Sacrament must be reposed in a secure tabernacle, the Chapel, Oratory or Church and all keys must be secured. It is not permitted to simply cover the monstrance with a cloth or place a barrier in front of it.

Pope John Paul 2 Eucharistic Association of the Archdiocese of Chicago

I didn’t realize that leaving the Blessed Sacrament alone was actually forbidden. There is one church in our area that has daily adoration from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm More than once I’ve gone in there and no one else has been there. Also, there is another church that has adoration on Thurs afternnon until 6:45 pm, and just last night I went in there and no one else was there. I’m thinking this must be a common occurrence in churches. I will now make sure that I never leave the Blessed Sacarement alone when I’m there.

And that is what normally happens. If you look at our guidelines that I posted above, there are 4 steps before the veil is placed over the monstrance.

My real question was whether or not in this situation, what is happening could be considered grave matter in the personally sinful and subjective way. Perhaps only our Lord knows that answer.

Like I said, I plan on working this out with the good people there, and discussing it with a priest.

Our chapel handles this by having a group of emergency people–like you–who are willing to come in at short notice. In an emergency, the adorer calls the church office/rectory first. One of the priests or someone from the office will come over to the chapel right away to be with Our Lord while the emergency person arrives (or the next scheduled adorer). If the situation is extremely urgent, the Eucharist is reposed and the chapel closed until things go back to normal. Even in the absence of a priest, Our Lord can be reposed by a lay person if the situation warrants.

Your guidelines are incorrect. You must repose Our Lord, then leave. No veil.
How can someone be charged with a sin for an unforseen emergency?
This is not something to be worked out with good people and your priest. As Adoration is normally a lay-run program, with cooperation by the priests ,the procedures are not subject to individual interpation. Contact Pope John Paul 2 Eucharistic Adoration Association for the proper guidelines.

The most informative comment so far has been from Advocatus Fidei where the comparison is made between a million dollors and the Blessed Sacrament. THAT ANSWERS EVERYTHING !!

Those who arrive and see the Blessed Sacrament possibly unattended might consider that there is someone there, only out of sight. I frequently will use part of my Adoration time to complete small tasks in and around the sanctuary that are appropriately done during that time. I don’t announce myself to visitors, but I will let the regulars know so that I don’t startle them :wink:

At my parish we have an excellent coordinator who phones the less reliable people to remind them, and she makes sure to do the final reposing herself, along with blowing out the candles, etc. We do not repose for a trip to the restroom, since that is very close by, but we as laypeople have permission to replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle if someone doesn’t show and we really must go.

It would be so nice to have two people at a time, but it is a real treat to be alone with Jesus, too.

The Blessed Sacrament must be placed in a secure tabernacle if no one is available, not just veiled.

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