Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Blessed Sacrament at Benediction...

Consider, if you will, the High Altar flooded with the light of an hundred or more candles and bedecked with flowers, in the midst whereof stands the Blessed Sacrament in a golden Monstrance.

Arrayed around the Sanctuary are priest, deacon, sub-deacon, clerks, servers and brothers. The schola in robes stand in the nave outside the Sanctuary singing the praises of God whose blessed Body is enthroned upon high.

In the pews the Faithful look up with adoration at the tiny white Host that lies within its golden throne.

It is Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the commencment of the Quarant'ore (or Forty Hours) devotions at the Brompton Oratory.

To an outsider it seems unusual indeed.

Why are all these people focusing so much devotion and splendour on the small white circle so lavishly encased upon high?

What can this mean?

How can so small a thing be the focus of so much attention and solicitude?

Well, it is perhaps rather remarkable.

In former times, popes and emperors, bishops and kings, dukes and prelates knelt before the tiny disc of wheaten bread in the self-same way but perhaps with even greater solemnity, pageantry and awe.

Who but God could ever have conceived of such an idea, combining, as it does, the due splendour that is, and ought, to be accorded to the Almighty but at the same presenting Himself to us in so simple and humble a form, concealing His might and greatness in the form of the food of the poor, simple bread?

Without doubt it is the same God that chose to come to save His people, the world and creation in the form of a new-born babe - weak, tiny and helpless, mewling in the arms of His mother and suckling at the maternal breast. The greatness of God is even more magnified by the depths of His extraordinary humility: He keeps Heaven and Hell, and the whole Universe and all Creation, in being whilst simultaneously appearing to men as a tiny child or a morsel of bread.

Who but God could have thought of such a marvellous idea?

Madonna and Child (Madonna Litta), by Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519



Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Many thanks to Tribunus for this post.

It is quite a while since I saw Brompton Oratory, but I imagine they still adhere to the Instructio Clementina.

It is good to know that in these irreverent times, Christ, the King of kings, is still adored with due solemnity in the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

Adulio said...

It is quite a while since I saw Brompton Oratory, but I imagine they still adhere to the Instructio Clementina.

Not necessarily - there isn't a red banner with a symbol of the Blessed Sacrament hung outside the church and it isn't technically 40 hours non-stop, since the church closes around 9pm.

Despite this - the Quarant'ore at the London Oratory is magnificent and should be copied where possible.

Tara Sz. said...

Beautiful picture of the Blessed Sacrament; I borrowed it for my facebook and gave you the photo credit. Thank you for this faithful Catholic blog.