Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Fr. McBrien said about adoration of the Eucharist.

His opinion is not unusual.
Yesterday I realized that only about 9 people come regularly to the weekly day of adoration offered at my parish, and every one is old.  Aside from personal devotion, I spend so many hours there because I'm filling in for a couple of people who can no longer make it due to illness or incapacity.  While there, I can't help but on occasion notice some of the parish staff coming and going - religious and ordained.  Most often, no one ever takes the time to spend even a few moments in an attitude of prayer - kneeling, or sometimes even just genuflecting. 
Of course I have no idea of their interior disposition and I am not making a judgement in that regard.  Nevertheless based upon their comportment, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament appears to have a different meaning for these folks.  Traversing the sanctuary, they appear to ignore the monstrance containing the Eucharist, while nodding to the tabernacle as they open it to remove consecrated hosts for a sick call.  Yesterday, the woman religious who would conduct today's Liturgy of the Word (Regular morning Mass is cancelled when the priest has a funeral Mass later in the day.) arrived minutes before the closing of adoration to prepare the lectionary.  She was quickly in and out.  It appears her Eucharistic piety is most likely focused upon celebrating the Liturgy of the Word... and perhaps her homily.
Active participation of the laity...
I suppose I should mention that although the weekly parish bulletin publishes the hours for adoration and notes it's conclusion with Benediction - there is no real Benediction.  The 2 or 3 lay people present simply read the rite for Benediction and one of them reposes the Blessed Sacrament on their own.  That is permitted of course, but the lack of a priest or religious to participate either in adoration and or to officiate at the rite of Benediction suggests to me a relative disinterest in the practice.
Which calls to mind what Fr. McBrien had to say regarding Eucharistic Adoration.  Indeed, he and other progressive Catholics appear to no longer see a need for such piety, believing the Novus Ordo Mass sums up Eucharistic piety sufficiently for our day.  In fact, piety itself is looked down upon as only useful for the ignorant, illiterate, and the under-educated.  Although the learned and the clever often forget that piety is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; as such, it ought not to be disparaged or so easily dismissed.
The Christ in me, the Christ in you; I'm okay, you're okay.
I think Fr. McBrien and his ilk consider reverence for the Eucharist outside of Mass to be localized exclusively in one another - that is, the Christ in me and the Christ in you - while the sacrament in the tabernacle is just for the sick - activated at the point of communion - or something like that.  Such a loss of faith can engender doctrinal error and alien spirituality, which might explain why some priests and women religious incorporate Native American and/or New Age ritual to supplement their spiritual malnutrition.     
Anyway - the following is what Fr. McBrien had to say, and like I suggested, I think a number of progressive pastors and sisters agree with him:
Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.
Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.
Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward. - Source
Such thinking seems to be out of step with the devotional life and popular piety of  faithful Catholics however, while the rule of attrition appears to be having its effect upon the aging progressive element in the Church.  Better days are coming.  I hope.


  1. Austringer7:33 PM

    Just when I thought I couldn't feel more depressed about the state of the Church and our culture......

  2. I didn't know that many people paid serious attention to Fr. McBrien; he seems to be off on his own tangent.
    In my opinion the thing needed most to make Eucharistic Adoration successful in a parish is a pastor who passionately wants it to happen, not just allows it. We had such a pastor ten years ago who started it, and it has been going ever since, pretty much 24/7, except during Mass hours, though there are a few night hours open. Ironically the priest who started it left the priesthood; last I heard he was a stockbroker and was engaged to be married. Go figure, at least one thing he started outlived his tenure as a priest.

  3. Anonymous8:46 PM

    To the Nuclear
    Plant I went
    With wafered host
    I was hell-bent.
    Exposed the wafered un-
    Consecrated host
    To radiation
    Now, nuked toast.
    Offered heretic
    "Taste and see."
    "Oh no!" He cried
    "That's not for me!"
    "But look, " I said,
    "Nothings changed...
    A still white wafered
    Host arranged."
    "Though looks the same,
    Could do much harm!"
    The heretic knew
    Exclaimed with alarm.
    As Catholics know
    A spiritual radiation
    Daily at Mass
    The Transubstantiation!

  4. Two weeks ago I went to the Cathedral for Adoration and it wasn't in the main church. When I went downstairs to the small, enclosed chapel, one of the security guys asked if I was going to be there the whole time, to make sure He wouldn't be left alone. The guy thought the Deacon had called me to make sure someone was there as Saturday Adoration doesn't have anyone assigned to it.

    It'snormally in the main church; while there are usually only a few people there for the duration of Adoration, it takes place concurrently with Confession so people may go to the center for Adoration before or after Confession. And there are always people wandering through for other reasons so no risk of leaving Him alone.

  5. saintos9:15 PM

    Our eldest is 21 and takes herself to Adoration at least twice a week. I usually go once. We have daily Adoration 7 days a week and I always spend a little time following morning Mass, when I go, before the Blessed Sacrament. At that Mass and at other times during the week there are not a huge number but not a small number of 20 somethings who are in Adoration. Our eldest will, in just a few weeks, be attending her first come and see weekend as she discerns a vocation to the religious life. The Dominican order just completed build its new facility and is at at capacity even as potential members are embraced. In our parish I know a growing number of people, many of them young who make their Confession at least monthly. This evening I have just come home from the inaugural information meeting for the establishment of a KofC chapter in our parish and most of the men were younger than me and not a few were well under 25.

    Try as I might to join the crowd of folks depressed about the state of our Lord's Church, I can't, thanks be to God.

    One thing we can rejoice over is the many of the "progressives" are dying off or finding their way to wheel chairs and walkers. I shouldn't, really, I suppose but I say, thanks be to God for that as well.

  6. Nan ~ How can the Cathedral operate that way? The rubrics DEMAND that someone be present, two people if possible, whenever the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Period. Not left to chance that "someone might be wandering through."

    Are you SURE there isn't a signuup, or is it possible that someone didn't show for their hour and the guard was just trying to find out if you were the assigned person or sub?

    EVERY parish I know that has it has assigned people. Mine does. I have to call if I'm not going to be there.

    I can't imagine the Cathedral, given the orthodoxy of the rector and the ARCHBISHOP would ignore the Rubrics in favor of "chance".

  7. Adoro, I think that applies if the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance. Ours is in a lunette (at least I think that is the term) with a glass lense. It is in a niche enclosed by a glass door (locked), situated in a side chapel. Perhaps the cathedral has a similar situation. Originally we had the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance on the main altar, but had to move to the chapel due to insurance issues.

  8. Terry - McBrien and his ragtag team of mcbrienettes need a lot of prayers. On Judgment Day, they are either going to willingly adore Christ, or do so begrudgingly with hate in their hearts. It seems to me that the more one is disposed to adore and worship Christ in this life, the likelihood of doing so in the next is increased.

    And the same goes for me, as well. Keep me in your prayers!

  9. michael r.12:51 PM

    I agree with the other comments. Those who share McBrien's attitude are dying off. In the places where I go for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, there is usually a mix of old and young. Some couples bring their young children along. I'm not worried at about this at all. It seems to me that there are more and more people interested in resurrecting the practice. Unfortunately, there are plenty of blockheads around who won't allow it in their parishes, but they are slowly being replaced. This post reminds me of what I told you had happened to me several years back, when that knucklehead Trappist monk asked me about my sacramental involvement in the Church. I responded by saying that I usually spent the office hour of None before the Blessed Sacrament. "But, Michael, that isn't the sacraments!", as he wagged his finger at me. I pray for him every day, as I also pray for all of the lost vocations that those kinds of people are responsible for.

  10. Adoro, don't the priests count? They're present but in the confessionals for the duration of Adoration as it's concurrent with confession.

    People are lined up an hour ahead of confession, not counting people who go to Adoration on purpose, or those who are in pews but not right up by the altar.

    And yes, I'm certain that the only reason the guy asked if I'd be there the whole time is because the location had changed; Adoration is only in the main church for an hour and a half on Saturday afternoon. The other times are in the chapel downstairs and have people signed up for them.

  11. I believe someone has to be present with Christ during Adoration at all times. I don't have a citation for this but it makes sense. At my parish, we strive to have, at least, 2 at all times but there are the occasional hour when only 1 is there. Just being "around" in the church or the chapel is not the same thing. I'm saying this out of my experience not that I have documentation. You may physically be there but your focus should be on Christ. If you are doing something else, traveling to another chapel, waiting in Confession line, you are not focused on the Adoration. Christ is not, technically, alone but is spiritually alone.

    That probably makes no sense.

    In any case, may God reward you, Terry for visiting with Him when others can not or will not.


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