Monday, March 01, 2010

Forty Hours

... is a form of prolonged Eucharistic devotion in the Roman Rite of the Church, where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a large reliquary of sorts known as a "monstrance" on the main altar. Parishioners are called upon to “remain one hour with Me” in the form of his Real Presence, at least two persons available at all times, night or day, for up to forty hours. (Must be where they got the name.)

Perpetual exposition (not to be confused with perpetual adoration, where the Eucharist is left in the tabernacle) is normally not permitted by a bishop at a parish, reserving it to religious orders specifically devoted to this apostolate, as it is considered a great responsibility. This is as close as a parish usually gets.

I remember the experience as a boy. My dad took me to church for the closing Mass. I seem to recall it was a Pontifical Mass, which means that a bishop was the celebrant, although I don't remember which one. I did meet him, though, or somebody wearing enough scarlet trim to stand out in a crowd, because Dad knew him from somewhere. There was a big spaghetti supper after the Mass. The event would rotate from one parish to another throughout the archdiocese, so that over the course of a year, everybody got a piece of the action.

Contrary to the clip shown above, I don't remember that many candles. Nice touch, though.

This form of devotion fell out of favor by the end of the 1960s, for all the usual reasons. It has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years. At St John the Beloved in McLean, they began it yesterday. There was a Dominican friar as a guest homilist (Father Basil Cole from the Dominican House of Studies -- thanks, Father!), and there will be opportunities for confession, as well as the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours at the appointed times, until tomorrow morning. There were sign-up boards for parishioners in the vestibule (lobby) and the parish center. The sacristan brought one of the boards into the sacristy, and I noted that there were one or two persons signed up for every single hour, including all through the night. She told me that the other four boards were just like that as well. That means that there should be at least four or five people in the church at all times.

Not too shabby.

Meanwhile, although there are no videos of the Traditional Mass at St John's, I thought I would include this one from a church in Vienna, Austria. It is near the beginning of the Mass. The prayers at the foot of the altar have been completed, and the priest has imposed the incense. An acolyte or crucifer (crossbearer) removes the missal from the altar as a prudential measure, while the thurifer (censerbearer) attends to the left of the priest, opposite the master of ceremonies to his right, as the priest incenses the altar of sacrifice.

I get to do this nearly every Sunday. It's even more awesome in person.

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