I was at a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) “evangelization of the faithful” retreat not long ago, where parishioners give their
testimony and conversion stories to other parishioners. One such testimony of about 30 minutes took place at a podium to the side of a makeshift altar, while the Eucharist was exposed in a monstrance on the altar. No priest was around at the time. This is apparently the usual practice for this frequently recurring retreat. I explained the situation to our priest, and voiced my concerns. He is a Novus Ordo pastor of a huge parish near ___ and, as far as I can tell, a faithful priest. He said it was fine and that was the way it was done. Could this possibly be correct? I thought when Jesus was exposed on the altar, then only worship and adoration should be going on at that time. Thank you very much for clarity on this subject, and for your priesthood and blog. You are in my prayers twice every day.
The rules for exposition in the post-Conciliar manner of things are rather vague. However, there can be readings, hymns and sermons during exposition.
However, in the spirit of mutual enrichment we might take a clue from the traditional way of doing things.
Even in the most solemn way of exposition the Blessed Sacrament, 40 Hours Devotion, during the Mass celebrated in the midst of 40 Hours, sermons were only “tolerated” and it would have been unthinkable for the sermon not to have been by a bishop or priest. The moment of the “tolerated” sermon would have been fully liturgical, no question.
It seems to me that a “makeshift” altar and testimonies by lay people are not the sort of context that the custom of exposition foresees. It seems rather to lessen attention on the Blessed Sacrament, doesn’t it?
This in no way diminishes the sincerity or utility of testimonies. But, perhaps they should be given before exposition, rather than after. And the monstrance needs something more than a “makeshift” altar, don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, for Eucharistic processions, we set up “makeshift” altars. But in general they are beautiful, even sometimes over the top.