Q: In our parish, there is Exposition Tues, Wed and Thursday from early morning till late evening. We have many people that are regulars and have specific hours that they pray during those days. However, there are some hours that are “open” because the person cannot be there that day or week; or we just don’t have enough people to fill all the time slots.
When there is an open hour or if the next person after you doesn’t show up as scheduled, the adorer reposes the Blessed Sacrament without ceremony. Then an hour or two later, when the next adorer comes, the adorer exposes the Blessed Sacrament, again without ceremony.
As an example, this happened once on Tuesday, twice on Wednesday and 3 times this Thursday. Of course, the Eucharist is never left exposed with no one present. It is the practice here to just “put it away” rather than actively pursue more people or ask someone to take your hour. We do ask for volunteers through the weekly bulletin, but there is no one who actively tries to fill ‘spots’ as they open up.
My question is: is this acceptable practice to exposed/repose the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day? All of our lay people are reverent towards the Blessed Sacrament when they expose/repose but it seems irreverent to take Jesus “in and out” at will.
A: This practice you describe is not in keeping with the vision of this liturgy. The document I’m quoting is “Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass” from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. The regulations have been in place since 1973, and there has been no further revision.
The third chapter describes eucharistic worship outside mass, which envisions that a lengthy exposition should be done “only if there is assurance of the participation of a reasonable number of the faithful” (86). Reposition may take place twice a day. I think that this is to ensure the integrity of a single liturgical ceremony. It also envisions that the times for exposition be at “fixed hours that are announced ahead of time” (88).
In my view, your situation deserves a review. Another solution is to limit exposition to one hour when the largest number of people can be present, and then encourage individual prayer before the tabernacle (not exposition of the Blessed Sacrament) at other hours of the day.