I have an adoration chapel nearby that presents the Blessed Sacrament in a beautiful tabernacle / monstrance with a hinged door that opens to showcase the Consecrated Host. It is behind a small altar on a raised, sanctuary-like platform.
Am I allowed to “open / close” this door? I was told by a parishioner that I could, but I honestly don’t feel as though it’s proper for me to touch this vessel – even if it’s for adoration purposes.
Instead, I’ve been sitting in the chapel by myself in front of the closed monstrance. I don’t think that lessens my ability to pray, but I’d like to properly adore Christ, too. I don’t know if I can approach or not. I feel like if I can’t touch an actual monstrance, I can’t touch an adoration tabernacle.
There is a document called Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (par. 82-100) that covers this situation. This document provides that laypersons may – under certain conditions – expose the Blessed Sacrament in the absence of a bishop, a priest or a deacon.
The ordinary minister for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is a bishop, a priest or a deacon. They are also the only ones permitted to give Benediction (Blessing) of the Blessed Sacrament.
However, in the absence of a bishop, a priest or a deacon – or I suppose if the cleric present is physically unable to do so – the following lay people are permitted publicly to expose publicly expose and publicly to repose the Blessed Sacrament:
- an installed Acolyte
- an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
- a member of a religious community or of a pious association of laymen or laywomen dedicated to Eucharistic adoration who has been appointed by the local Ordinary
These people may open the tabernacle and put a ciborium on an altar or put the lunette with a Host in a monstrance. They may then, consequently, repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.
So, if you are going to be involved in this, meet with the pastor of the parish where this chapel is or contact the local bishop (who will probably refer you back to the parish priest). You cannot be an Acolyte, for only men are admitted to that ministry, but you could be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Becoming an EMHC has a process. The pastor will know what it is.
And never… never… just assume that you can do this without checking with the pastor, just to be clear and sure.