john paul

Saint John Paul II

Eucharistic Adoration

Association of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Sanctification of persons, families and parish communities through growth in deeper prayer before our Eucharistic Lord.



1. Can I have information on items (Statues, Pictures etc.) being by the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, can there be any and how far must they be?

 The regulation regarding the presence of sacred images is treated in the 2003 General Instructions for the Roman Ritual (GIRM), paragraph 38 as follows:

 Images of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints, in accordance with the Church?s most ancient tradition, should be displayed for veneration by the faithful in sacred buildings and should be arranged so as to usher the faithful toward the mysteries of faith celebrated there. For this reason, care should be taken that their number not be increased indiscriminately, and that they be arranged in proper order so as not to distract the faithful?s attention from the celebration itself. There should usually be only one image of any given Saint. Generally speaking, in the ornamentation and arrangement of a church as far as images are concerned, provision should be made for the devotion of the entire community as well as for the beauty and dignity of the images.

 Although the above regulations refers specifically to the presence of sacred images in the body of the church rather than a separate chapel of adoration, one may also apply its principles to make wise decisions regarding the latter. Consequently, though the presence of sacred images would be judged to be permissible in a chapel of adoration as well, the question of number, type and their distance from the Blessed Sacrament exposed must be such as to enhance rather than detract the faithful from the central purpose of Eucharistic adoration ? the worship and adoration due to Our Lord himself. Thus there should not be too many images used, specifically if the chapel is small, and those that may be used (if any at all) should blend in well with the contemplative atmosphere of the chapel. In general, outside of a particular depiction of Our Lord Himself (the crucifix, Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, etc.), exclusive preference should be given to images of Mary and Joseph and perhaps the patron saint of the parish community.

2. If a Chapel is within the walls of the Church but is in a separate room, can the Blessed Sacrament be exposed during Mass?

 The question is treated succinctly in paragraph 61 of the 1967 Instruction On Eucharistic Worship issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites as quoted below:

While the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the celebration of Mass in the same area of the church (eadem aula ecclesiae) is forbidden .... This is because ... the celebration of the Mystery of the Eucharist includes in a more perfect way that spiritual communion to which exposition should lead the faithful. Therefore there is no need for this further help. If exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is prolonged for a day, or for several successive days, it should be interrupted during the celebration of the Mass, unless it is celebrated in a chapel apart from the exposition area and at least some of the faithful remain in adoration.

 So to answer the question accordingly: Yes, the Blessed Sacrament can be exposed during Mass if the chapel of exposition is physically separated from the main body of the church where the mass is celebrated provided that some of the faithful remain in adoration in the adoration chapel. If adoration is held within the same body of the church or integrally connected to the worship area even if off to the side, then the Blessed Sacrament should be reposed prior to Mass, to be exposed again at the conclusion of the Mass.

 3. Can just anyone expose the Blessed Sacrament? If not, why?

 The question of who is to be considered a valid minister of exposition and reposition is treated in paragraph 91 of the document, ?Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass? (Eucharistiae Sacramentum) issued on June 21, 1973 by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship as quoted below:

The ordinary minister for exposition of the eucharist is a priest or deacon. At the end of the period of adoration, before the reposition .... In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the eucharist for the adoration of the faithful:

a. an acolyte or special minister of communion;

b. upon appointment by the local Ordinary, a member of a religious community or of a pious association of laymen or laywomen which is devoted to eucharistic adoration.

Such ministers may open the tabernacle and also, as required, place the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance. At the end of the period of adoration, they replace the blessed sacrament in the tabernacle. It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the sacrament.

Accordingly, priests or deacons are considered to be the ?ordinary? ministers of the Eucharist because they are specifically ordained for this function. Only in their absence (unavailability) can others also be commissioned or designated as ?extraordinary? ministers in the following order after having received proper instructions and knowledge in handling the sacred species: acolytes, ministers of communion, members of religious community or pious association of the faithful. As to the reason for this, it must be kept in mind that the Eucharist is the Church?s central treasure, the gift of the Lord himself, to be treated with deep respect and reverence. Allowing anyone to handle the sacred species would expose Our Lord to the danger of irreverence and even profanation.

 4. How close can people be to the Blessed Sacrament during adoration? Two feet from the Monstrance?

 There are no specific norms specifying the distance to be kept between the worshiper and the exposed presence of Our Lord. The distance however should be great enough not only to prevent a person from physically touching the monstrance, since doing so is limited to the ordinary and extraordinary ministers as explained in point three above, but also maintaining an atmosphere of prayer where the central focus can be placed on the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord and not those present to adore Him. From this perspective, prudence would require a distance of at least 5 or more feet depending upon the number of worshipers present and the size of the chapel.

5. After starting a chapel how long should it take you to be within all the guidelines?

According to Eucharistiae Sacramentum, paragraph 86, ?This kind of (lengthy) exposition, however, may take place with the consent of the local Ordinary, only if there is assurance of the participation of a reasonable number of the faithful.? The purpose of all guidelines and procedures followed in the course of establishing a chapel of adoration are geared towards the reasonable assurance that the Blessed Sacrament will not be left unattended once adoration is established. Consequently, a chapel of adoration cannot be started until those guidelines are already met.

 6. Is there anything about adorers leaving prayer materials, or Miscellaneous items in the chapel or in pews etc..

 Materials should not be permitted to be left in the chapel or pews by anyone without first being reviewed for proper theological and spiritual content by the pastor or those he judges to be competent enough to make that judgment on his behalf.

7. Are there any guidelines about a glass tabernacle surrounding the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance? Can the monstrance be displayed in a locked glass case or in a tabernacle with a glass shield? If not, How can we secure the Blessed Sacrament?

The question of the construction and placement of the tabernacle to be used as a depository for the sacred host consecrated at mass is specified in the General Instructions for the Roman Ritual, paragraphs 314 - 315:

 314. In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

 The one tabernacle should be immovable, be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the greatest extent possible...

 315. It is more in keeping with the meaning of the sign that the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on an altar on which Mass is celebrated. Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop, a. Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration; b. Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful?s private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful.

 Accordingly, the tabernacle should ?be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent.? This would invalidate the use of tabernacles that are totally made of glass or other transparent materials through which the inner contents can be seen. It would however not exclude the use of tabernacles made of other ?solid?, ?inviolable? and ?noble? material that encloses the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament behind a glass shield and possesses doors which can be closed securely to also hide the Blessed Sacrament from view when it is not being adored. Such might be the case with a tabernacle permanently fixed to the altar of exposition or the front wall containing the monstrance behind bullet proof glass in which case extra safety would be provided even when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for viewing.

Answered by
Fr. John P. Grigus, OFM Conv
Spiritual Director Emeritus: PJPIIEA

Saint John Paul II Eucharistic Adoration Association of the Archdiocese of Chicago
c/o Charles D.Smith
230 West Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60606