Benediction is a beautiful word. It means a blessing, a greeting, an expression of kindness and love. Benediction is also a beautiful service of the church. It is a service that makes real to us in an impressive way the fact that God is always reaching out to us, to bless, to strengthen, to assure us of his loving kindness toward us. The greatest blessing that God ever bestowed or could bestow upon mankind was the sending of his Son. He is no longer present in the physical body that was his in Palestine many centuries ago, but we believe that he is really present among us in the Sacrament which he appointed. "This is my body," he said over the bread at his Last Supper with his disciples. The same words are said over the bread at every Eucharist, that it may be to us the body of the Lord, so that he may come again among us today as he came at his first appearing in Palestine.
Benediction is a popular service, that is to say, a peopleís service. The clever and the sophisticated do not come much to Benediction, but the simple, the poor, those who acknowledge an emptiness in their lives that only God can fill. Even those who might not come to Holy Communion will sometimes come to Benediction where God reaches out to them though they think they are only on the fringes. I think of some of those with whom I have knelt at Benediction: harassed citydwellers in New York, working-class people from the back streets of Dublin, soldiers serving in the deserts of North Africa, Indian Christians living as a tiny minority in a great Hindu city Ö They have all had the grace of humility. Those who seek a blessing come with empty hands. "How blessed are those who know their need of God!" (Matthew 5.3, New English Bible) God cannot give a blessing to the proud, the self-sufficient, the superior, those who secretly despise the simple devotion of their brethren. So we can only come to Benediction waiting and expectant. As we sing the hymns and look upon the Host, we open our hearts to God, knowing that he who sent the blessing of his Son to lighten the darkness of the world still sends through the same Son his blessing to us.
Then a very remarkable thing happens. For we find ourselves saying the words of the Divine Praises: "Blessed be God! Blessed be his holy Name!" We came seeking Godís blessing, and now we find that we are blessing God! We begin by coming in our need to God, seeking his blessing. He gives us that blessing, and our response is to bless and adore him. This indeed is the goal of all our worshipping ó that we may come to love God better. And we cannot love God without loving our neighbours who are Godís children, so that in seeking Godís blessing, we are praying that in blessing us he will make us a blessing to others.
Benediction © copyright 1975 & 1979 John
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
The People kneel down as the service of Benediction begins. The
Priest and Server go to the Altar and prepare incense. Then, taking
the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle, the Priest places it in the
Monstrance. The Priest kneels and censes the Blessed Sacrament as the
hymn, O salutaris hostia, is sung.
All praise and thanks to thee
A time of silent adoration is observed. Then, during the second line of the hymn, Tantum ergo Sacramentum, all humbly bow. Incense is offered once again during the second verse of the hymn.
Therefore, we before him bending,
Glory let us give and blessing
Priest: Let us pray.
God, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy
Passion: Grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred
mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves
the fruits of thy redemption; who livest and reignest world without end.
The Priest receives the humeral veil on his shoulders. Then he goes up
to the Altar, takes the Monstrance into his hands, and turns towards the
People. The Priest gives the Benediction, making the sign of the cross
over the kneeling congregation in silence. At the same time, the
sanctus bell is rung three times and the Server censes the Blessed
Sacrament. Placing the Monstrance back on the Altar and giving up the
humeral veil, the Priest kneels and begins
The Divine Praises
The People repeat each line after the Priest who says
Blessed be God.
A hymn may be sung as the Priest removes the Blessed Sacrament from the Monstrance and replaces it in the Tabernacle. The service ends with the hymn or else with this psalm.
Antiphon: Let us for ever adore: *