When praying before Jesus’ Sacred Body exposed in the monstrance, you can certainly pray any prayers you like but really don’t need to say anything! The word monstrance comes from a Latin verb that means “to show.” Inside the monstrance is the consecrated Host; Jesus is quite literally showing himself to us fully revealing His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The best way to pray with Jesus in the monstrance is to allow Jesus to look at us as we look at him. The same way that a man falling in love with a woman stares into her eyes without saying anything, so too should we stare into the eyes of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and know that we are loved by God profoundly. Just as a young engaged couple, very much in love, loses themselves by staring into the eyes of their fiancé, so also do we lose ourselves in the loving eyes of God. When was the last time you allowed Jesus to really look at you? God wants to speak to you through His Son Jesus fully present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. You look at God and God looks at you in a loving embrace. May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment on all the altars and in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. Amen.
During Solemn Eucharistic Exposition the consecrated Host is solemnly exposed on the main altar of the of the church in a sacred vessel called a monstrance. Since the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread and shared the Cup saying, “This is my body” and “This is my Blood,” Catholics have believed that the bread and wine are no longer merely baked wheat and fermented grape juice, but the actual living presence of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ! Eucharistic adoration and exposition is meant to supplement a person’s regular reception of Holy Communion during Sunday Mass and is really all about falling in love with Jesus and allowing God to love us as we adore His Eucharistic presence. Spending time in prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament allows us to see God face to face and Jesus speaks to our hearts in a most powerful way. God wants to pour His divine love into your heart and adoration is the perfect way to experience Jesus’ presence in your life. May God speak to your heart in a powerful way.
What are the special rituals about that are done with the RCIA Elect during Lent?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) stipulates that on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent it is customary to perform three scrutinies of the catechumens (now called Elect) who are preparing to receive all three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. During these rituals the Gospels of the woman at the well, the healing of the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus are read in order to accentuate the scrutinizing of the Elect preparing for baptism. A scrutiny is a brief rite that serves as a way of ritually assessing one’s readiness for baptism. We pray a series of exorcism prayers in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation and to give them strength in Christ. At its core, the scrutinies are not about the sinfulness of the elect but about the overwhelming grace of God in Christ. Please continue to pray for all of the RCIA elect and candidates as they begin their final preparation for full reception into the Catholic Church during Easter.
I have seen some churches empty the holy water fonts during the entire Lenten season…...does the Church tell us to do this? What is the meaning behind this practice?
In recent years, some parishes have taken the holy water out of the holy water fonts during Lent. I have even seen fonts filled with sand in some cases. The idea, they say, is to convey the thought that Lent is a time of spiritual dryness--a “desert” experience--that precedes Easter, in which we refrain from using the sacramental of holy water. Despite its popularity in some places, this practice is not permitted.
It has been the Church’s practice to empty the holy water fonts during the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday), but for a different reason. It is not permitted to have them empty through the whole season of Lent.
The Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome provides us with the following guidelines: the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday). So keep on using that holy water during Lent, folks.
What is the meaning behind the emphasis of extra prayer, fasting and almsgiving during the Lenten Season?
The season of Lent is the 40-day period before Easter in which Catholics pray, fast, contemplate, and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. We do these things because Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is the greatest holy day of the Christian year (even above Christmas) and Catholics have recognized that it is appropriate to prepare for such a holy day by engaging in such disciplines.
The reason Lent lasts 40 days is that 40 is the traditional number of judgment and spiritual testing in the Bible (Gen 7:4, Ex 24:18, 34:28). Lent bears particular relationship to the 40 days Christ spent fasting in the desert before entering into his public ministry (Mt 4:1-11). Catholics imitate Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
Fasting is a biblical discipline that can be defended from both the Old and New Testament. Christ expected his disciples to fast (Mt 9:14-15) and issued instructions for how they should do so (Mt 6:16-18). Catholics follow this pattern by holding a partial fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Abstinence from certain foods is also a biblical discipline. In Dn 10:2-3 we read, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.” Catholics use a practice similar to Daniel’s when, as a way of commemorating Christ’s Crucifixion on a Friday, they abstain from eating meat on that day of the week during Lent. The only kind of flesh we eat on Friday is fish, which is a symbol of Christ.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."