Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

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Cardinal Godfried Danneels vested in a humeral veil, holding a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. Sacrament Cardinal Danneels.jpg
Cardinal Godfried Danneels vested in a humeral veil, holding a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.
Benediction at a Carmelite friary in Ghent, Belgium Karmel-Gent-Sacrament.JPG
Benediction at a Carmelite friary in Ghent, Belgium

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, also called Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament or the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, is a devotional ceremony, celebrated especially in the Roman Catholic Church, but also in some other Christian traditions such as Anglo-Catholicism, [1] [2] whereby a bishop, priest, or a deacon blesses the congregation with the Eucharist at the end of a period of adoration. [3]


Exposition before the blessing

The actual benediction or blessing follows exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, i.e., the placing of the consecrated Host in a monstrance set upon the altar or at least exposition of a ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament. [4] Thus "the blessing with the Eucharist is preceded by a reasonable time for readings of the word of God, songs, prayers, and a period for silent prayer", while "exposition merely for the purpose of giving benediction is prohibited". [5]

The readings, songs and prayers are meant to direct attention to worship of Christ in the Eucharist. A prayerful spirit is encouraged also by periods of silence and by a homily or brief exhortations aimed at developing a better understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist. [6]

Latin hymns traditionally sung during the exposition are "O Salutaris Hostia", "Tantum Ergo", "Laudate Dominum" (Psalm 117) and "Ave verum corpus". The Divine Praises are a prayer traditionally recited but no specific hymn or prayer is required, except that, immediately before the blessing, one or other of seven prayers given in the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, 98 and 224-229 is to be recited. [6]

Western Catholic Church

Before publication of the 1973 Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, there was no codification of the rite. However, the guidelines for the Diocese of Rome issued under Pope Clement XII (and hence called the Clementine Instruction) and drawn up by the Cardinal Vicar, Prospero Lambertini (later Pope Benedict XIV), were widely adopted.

The rite now in force for the Latin Church requires the use of incense at the beginning of the exposition and before the blessing, if the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance, but not if a ciborium is used [7] (although sometimes this is omitted). Similarly, the priest or deacon, wearing an alb or a surplice, should also put on a cope and use a humeral veil when giving the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, but the cope is not required when using a ciborium. [8]

A person other than a priest or deacon authorized to expose the Eucharist for adoration cannot give the blessing with it. [9]

Immediately after the benediction, the Blessed Sacrament is replaced in the church tabernacle, while an acclamation such as "O sacrament most holy" is sung. [10]

Zucchetti are to be removed during the Benediction (and the preceding adoration) - they may only be donned again once the Blessed Sacrament is replaced.

Eastern Christianity

Among the Eastern Catholic churches, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Ruthenian Catholic Church, the Melkite Catholic Church, [11] and the Maronite Catholic Church, have a rite of Benediction.

While Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament is not a practice of most Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox churches, or of the Assyrian Church of the East, these churches do believe in the Real Presence. As a sign of this, in many Eastern Orthodox churches, the Eucharist is venerated during the Divine Liturgy; however, this is part of the liturgy and not a distinct form of benediction. When the deacon brings the chalice out before the Communion of the Faithful, all either make a full prostration or bow. Also, at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, during the Great Entrance, as the priest carries the chalice and diskos (paten) to the Holy Doors, everyone prostrates themselves in veneration before the Eucharist. [12] The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA [13] has had a rite of Benediction.

See also

Related Research Articles

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during a Passover meal, Jesus commanded his disciples to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, as well as in Anglican, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox, and Old Catholic churches.

Divine Liturgy Rite practiced in Eastern Christian traditions

Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Byzantine Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.

Benediction short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance

A benediction is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. It can also refer to a specific Christian religious service including the exposition of the eucharistic host in the monstrance and the blessing of the people with it.

Blessed Sacrament devotional name for the body and blood of Christ

The Blessed Sacrament, also Most Blessed Sacrament, is a devotional name used in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to refer to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated sacramental bread and wine at a celebration of the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Rite, the terms Holy Gifts and Divine Mysteries are used to refer to the consecrated elements. Christians in these traditions believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic elements of the bread and wine and some of them, therefore, practice Eucharistic reservation and adoration. This belief is based on interpretations of both scripture and sacred tradition. The Catholic understanding has been defined by numerous ecumenical councils, including the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Sign of the cross ritual blessing

The sign of the cross, or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of some branches of Christianity. This blessing is made by the tracing of an upright cross or + across the body with the right hand, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of the trinitarian formula: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Genuflection human positions

Genuflection or genuflexion is the act of bending a knee to the ground, as distinguished from kneeling which more strictly involves both knees. From early times, it has been a gesture of deep respect for a superior. Today, the gesture is common in the Christian religious practices of the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church, and Western Rite Orthodox Church. The Latin word genuflectio, from which the English word is derived, originally meant kneeling with both knees rather than the rapid dropping to one knee and immediately rising that became customary in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It is often referred to as "going down on one knee" or "bowing the knee".

Eucharistic adoration Religious practice

Eucharistic adoration is a Eucharistic practice in the Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic and some Lutheran traditions, in which the Blessed Sacrament is adored by the faithful. This practice may occur either when the Eucharist is exposed, or when it is not publicly viewable because it is reserved in a place such as a church tabernacle.

Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis. Although the term liturgy is used to mean public worship in general, the Byzantine Rite uses the term "Divine Liturgy" to denote the Eucharistic service.

Church tabernacle A locked box in which, in some Christian churches, the Eucharist is stored.

A tabernacle is a fixed, locked box in which, in some Christian churches, the Eucharist is "reserved" (stored). A less obvious container for the same purpose, set into a wall, is called an aumbry.

Paten small plate used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated during the Mass

A paten, or diskos, is a small plate, usually made of silver or gold, used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated during the Mass. It is generally used during the liturgy itself, while the reserved sacrament are stored in the tabernacle in a ciborium.

Altar bell

In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, Methodism and Anglicanism, an altar or sanctus bell is typically a small hand-held bell or set of bells. The primary reason for the use of such bells is to create a joyful noise to the Lord as a way to give thanks for the miracle taking place atop the altar. An ancillary function of the bells is to focus the attention of those attending the Mass that a supernatural event is taking place on the altar. Such bells are also commonly referred to as the Mass bell, sacring bell, Sacryn bell, saints' bell, sance-bell, or sanctus bell. and are kept on the credence table or some other convenient location within the sanctuary.

Reserved sacrament

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second part of the Mass, the elements of bread and wine are considered to have been changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner in which this occurs is referred to by the term transubstantiation, a theory of St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran communions also believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the bread and wine, but they believe that the way in which this occurs must forever remain a sacred mystery. In many Christian churches some portion of the consecrated elements is set aside and reserved after the reception of Communion and referred to as the reserved sacrament. The reserved sacrament is usually stored in a tabernacle, a locked cabinet made of precious materials and usually located on, above, or near the high altar. In Western Christianity usually only the Host, from Latin: hostia, meaning "victim", is reserved, except where wine might be kept for the sick who cannot consume a host.

Anglican eucharistic theology

Anglican eucharistic theology is diverse in practice, reflecting the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism. Its sources include prayer book rubrics, writings on sacramental theology by Anglican divines, and the regulations and orientations of ecclesiastical provinces. The principal source material is the Book of Common Prayer, specifically its eucharistic prayers and Article XXVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Article XXVIII comprises the foundational Anglican doctrinal statement about the Eucharist, although its interpretation varies among churches of the Anglican Communion and in different traditions of churchmanship such as Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelical Anglicanism.

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

Eucharist here refers to Holy Communion or the Body and Blood of Christ, which is consumed during the Catholic Mass or Eucharistic Celebration. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, ... a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" As such, Eucharist is "an action of thanksgiving to God" derived from "the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification."

Catholic liturgy Roman Catholic rituals and ceremonies

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is divine worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and active charity.

Mass in the Catholic Church Central liturgical ritual

Mass in the Catholic Church goes by many names. As fundamentally an action of thanksgiving to God it is called Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. Other terms for it are Lord's Supper, Breaking of Bread, Eucharistic assembly, memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection, holy sacrifice of the Mass, Holy and Divine Liturgy, Sacred Mysteries, Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, the holy things, and finally Holy Mass from the sending forth (missio) of the faithful.

Divine Service (Lutheran)

The Divine Service is a title given to the Eucharistic liturgy as used in the various Lutheran churches. It has its roots in the pre-Tridentine Mass as revised by Martin Luther in his Formula missae of 1523 and his Deutsche Messe of 1526. It was further developed through the Kirchenordnungen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that followed in Luther's tradition.

Holy orders in the Catholic Church Sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Forty Hours' Devotion". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


  1. Petiprin, Andrew (September 5, 2016). "Benediction is Good for the (Anglican) Soul". The Living Church .
  2. "Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament". The Anglican Service Book.
  3. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 91
  4. John A. Hardon, "Eucharist, Worship and Custody"
  5. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 89
  6. 1 2 Diocese of San Diego, Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction Archived December 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 93 and 97
  8. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 92
  9. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 91
  10. Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 100
  11. Melkite Greek Catholic Rite of Benediction
  12. Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
  13. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2016.Missing or empty |title= (help)