I’m a new Catholic. I am sitting here at work thinking about how wonderful it is to go to Adoration. I thought about something I’ve been meaning to ask about. During the Benediction someone, either the deacon or a layperson if no deacon, puts a shawl (?) over the priest’s shoulders. Then the priest picks up the monstrance and hold it up to each section of the church with only his covered hands touching it. What is the “shawl” called? Also, why doesn’t he touch the monstrance with bare hands? When he removes the Eucharist he’s touching it.
It’s called the humeral veil.
It’s used to show that the priest is not blessing us, it is the Lord who is blessing us directly at that moment.
Thank you so much for your answer. I really appreciate it.
I’ve read that it was originally used when the metal of the monstrance was too cold to comfortably touch directly, and was later given symbolic meanings. That’s often the way of it with liturgical traditions: something everyday and practical takes on new, symbolic meanings and is retained in ceremonial form long after the original, practical meaning has ceased. Nothing wrong with that.
That’s part of what makes the liturgy so beautiful!
Another practical reason I’ve heard is during Eucharistic processions: it allows one to put the weight of the monstrance on the solders instead of the arms.