Touching the Monstrance

So recently, at a retreat, a Latin priest invited [lay] people to come up, grab on to the monstrance and pray. I was wondering if this is a common practice and if there is any prescription prohibiting it.

Don’t know about anything prohibiting it, but personally, I would be really hesitant to ‘grab on’ a Monstrance, since even the Priest uses some sort of veiled hands during Benediction.

Personally, I wouldn’t attend retreats at that location anymore, but that’s just me.:shrug:

This must be a thing in Latin American countries, if that’s what you mean by “Latin”. We had a priest come from a South American country for a parish mission at my former parish, and he did the same thing. Asked everyone to come forward and touch the Monstrance and say a brief prayer privately. Was odd…but everyone present did it.
I’m reminded now that the priest doesn’t carry the Monstrance without covering his hands with the cope material…
I never thought about it again until now, when I read your post…:blush: :hmmm:

I’d be interested to see what others say about it.

Hmm…I wonder if it’s an influence of the Spanish. These devotional acts of piety are common, whether it be a statue or image of God, Jesus, Blessed Mother, or the saints, a crucifix, or even a tabernacle.

Latin i.e. Latin Church not Latin America.

The priest or deacon uses a humeral veil instead of his bare hands during benediction as a sign that the blessing comes from Jesus and not the priest or deacon. This is for benediction only, when the priest raises the monstrance and gives the Eucharistic blessing.

Other than that, no, there is no prohibition. Just be respectful. Approach it with the reverence you would have while being handed the chalice during reception of communion.

I set up for benediction and carry the empty monstrance - with reverence and respect to be sure - all the time. I treat it as if it were a chalice.


I have to do the same setting-up, and treat the monstrance as you say, Tim, with reverence and respect but not as if it’s too holy to be touched with bare hands,

I have to say, I find the use of the word ‘grab’ in the OP troubling. Surely ‘touch’ would be less judgmental?

No. It isn’t common practice.

There’s no specific prohibition against it; but that doesn’t mean that it’s consistent with the Church’s liturgy, nor that it’s acceptable practice.

The Church’s liturgical norms say “do this, and do it exactly this way” even though there are often “pick from A, B, or C” options. The Church could not possibly imagine everything that someone might someday start to do and list those things. There’s no rubric that says “don’t pour chocolate sauce on the Eucharist” That doesn’t mean it can be done.

There are norms (rules) for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The priest (every priest) should be following those norms. There’s simply no legitimate reason to tell people to come forward and touch the monstrance. It’s nothing more than another “silly” thing that was recently innovated.

Well put Tim. It is only when the priest or deacon is presiding over benediction that he should have his hands and arms “veiled”, especially when the blessing is given by the priest or deacon.

I have seen sacristans or others who set up for benediction use handkerchiefs or purificators in order to not touch the monstrance, other than trying to minimize long term damage by oils and slats naturally found on hands, there is no reason to not touch the monstrance any more than not touching the ciborium which is used during communion. Both are a sacred vessel designed for holding the Body & Blood of Christ.

As long as the people coming up do so in a prayerful and reverent way this can be done. My bishop, my pastor, and I have offered this very opportunity for the laity to come up and “tough the hem of His garment”. This can be a very beautiful prayer time if it is led properly.

With that said, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t go up. There is nothing wrong with that either.

I just want to clarify, especially in light of what’s recently been posted:

There’s nothing wrong with laity touching the monstrance, as such. There used to be rules about who could touch a sacred vessel. No one, unless he was a subdeacon, was supposed to touch the chalice, paten, monstrance, etc. Those rules are NOT applicable anymore.

The problem here is not the part about touching the monstrance. The problem is adding something to the liturgical act of Exposition. As Vatican II reminds us, no one, not even a sacerdos (bishop or presbyter) can add, remove, or change anything in the Church’s liturgy on his own authority.

Roman Catholic Church in South America and Mexico.

Catholics from South America and Mexico.

Labels and short cuts drive me nuts.

me 2

Father, I ask this with all sincerity and respect.

To be clear, my comments above were more about private adoration and not about during benediction.

Apart from benediction, what about touching the monstrance in a quiet perpetual adoration chapel? How do you feel about someone kneeling in front of the monstrance and maybe placing a hand on the base, reverently for a moment, or touching it briefly at the end of a prayer?

I have seen this in adoration and wonder how you feel about it.


Trouble maker :slight_smile:

Your question was “how do you feel?” so I’ll answer from that perspective.

First, I see no reason for it. Why touch the monstrance?

I know that we have many traditions of touching hole objects. I’m thinking about the Holy Land where people can touch the actual Tomb of Christ. I can see a reason for that. I understand it.

What I don’t understand, though, is why touch the monstrance? It’s not holy in itself (even though it’s blessed, and even though it should be dignified and beautiful), it’s merely a vessel.

I just don’t see any positive value to it. On the other hand, I can see many negative values.

I don’t see any reason (including what you asked about, re; private adoration) for doing this.

Simply put, the Church tells us what should be done at Exposition. We should be following the ritual and not trying to find ways to change it.

I’m not making an ethnic statement. I used Latin to reference a Roman Catholic priest who is part of the particular Church known as the Latin Church (as opposed to the Melkite Church) which generally uses the Roman rite.

Anyway, thank you for your discussions everyone - I’m inclined to agree with Fr. David.

So am I. :slight_smile:

I noticed that many Mexican-Americans and Mexicans touch the base of a statue and pray in front of statues in church (sometimes even during Mass!). I saw this done in Mexico, too, even more so. Maybe just a more hands-on culture?

After Mass one weekday, Father all had us lay our hands, either physically or symbolically, over a person to pray for healing.

Worshipers are doing all sorts of things with their hands during Mass these days: imitating the priests hand movements and pray positions, raising them a la Pentecostal style, linking with others during the Our Father (70’s holdover), etc.

The use of hands thing seems to be evolving, as I did not notice it so much years ago. :whackadoo:
Sister Scholastica trained us to keep those grubby little hands to ourselves and together in a prayer position. I’ve got that stuck in my head.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on some of these points. I’ll follow my bishop.

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