Q: An adult group has approached me about doing a ‘procession’ with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance following Mass. Their intention is to process the Blessed Sacrament around the church and then place the monstrance on the altar for a period of adoration. They propose to do that twice and then end with Benediction. Rather than processing from Point A to Point B (similar to Holy Thursday’s altar of repose or a Corpus Christi procession), they only intend to circle the church twice.
I have perused “Forms of Worship of the Eucharist: Exposition, Benediction, Processions, Congresses” (USCCB, 1976) and find that this proposed ‘procession’ is not sanctioned therein. Rather, it seems to me to be an ersatz do-it-yourself liturgy contrary to the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 22 (1) (“Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.” and No. 22 (3) (“Therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”)
Lastly, Canon 846.1 states: “In celebrating the sacraments the liturgical books approved by competent authority are to be observed faithfully; accordingly, no one is to add, omit, or alter anything in them on one’s own authority.” Given the above Church documents, I am reluctant to endorse or approve this request. (For the sake of brevity, I am omitting pertinent portions of Redemptionis Sacramentum.) Your thoughts would be appreciated before I respond to this request.
A: Renewed popularity in eucharistic adoration has prompted adaptations not envisioned in the liturgical books, and what you describe seems to be one of them.
One reason we have liturgical books is so that Catholics can expect uniform celebrations wherever they go. I agree with you that the proposal does not match the point of eucharistic adoration. Better is for Catholics inside a church building to develop the spiritual discipline of adoration before a monstrance in a fixed spot.