ROME, 17 OCT. 2006 (ZENIT)
Answered by Father Edward McNamara,
professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: What is the most appropriate moment to pray the Divine Praises during
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: immediately following Benediction or
once the Sacrament has been returned to the tabernacle?
A.D., Boston, Massachusetts
A: The Divine Praises, or the prayers of reparation for profanity and
blasphemy, are a sequence of acclamations, chiefly composed by Jesuit
Luigi Felici in 1797, blessing God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed
Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the angels and saints.
The acclamations are usually recited publicly immediately after the
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
While the rubrics do not specify that the Divine Praises be recited at
all, when they are recited, it is customary to do so before reposing the
Blessed Sacrament. This is the Holy Father's practice after imparting
Benediction on concluding the Eucharistic procession of the feast of the
Body and Blood of Christ.
Monsignor Peter Elliott ably describes the rites concluding Benediction
in his renowned ceremonies book: "If the Blessed Sacrament is to be
reposed in the tabernacle, then (after the Divine Praises and) during a
psalm, hymn, acclamation or appropriate music, the celebrant or the
assisting deacon or priest goes to the altar. He genuflects, turns the
back of the monstrance toward himself, removes the lunette and places it
in the pyx, which he closes. He moves the monstrance to the left of the
corporal and may veil it. He then takes the pyx and places it in the
tabernacle, genuflecting before he locks the door.
"(If the tabernacle is in a chapel, a server should place a humeral veil
over the shoulders of the celebrant or the assistant deacon or priest
before he removes the lunette from the monstrance. Torch bearers should
precede him to the chapel and then return with him to the sanctuary,
unless it is thought more convenient to go directly to the sacristy.)
All bow to the altar (or genuflect if the tabernacle is behind or on it)
and return to the sacristy led by the thurifer. Sacristans and/or
servers carry out their respective duties in the sanctuary and in the
Given this description, and the most common practice of the Church, it
seems more appropriate to pray the Divine Praises before reposition and
not after the tabernacle is closed. ZE06101729
* * *
Follow-up: Divine Praises at Adoration [10-31-2006]
After our comments on the Divine Praises before reposition (Oct. 17)
several readers asked for clarification.
Two priests writing independently from England and another from Chicago
made basically the same point. One wrote: "When I last looked, the 'new
rite' for Benediction put the Divine Praises before the blessing (the
Benediction) itself. You do not answer this, which is probably what your
correspondent meant. I would certainly like to hear a reasoned view from
you on this."
Our original correspondent gave a more detailed description in his
question, which was edited for publishing. He referred to a quite
uncommon practice of reciting the Divine Praises after the reposition of
the Blessed Sacrament.
My Italian copy of the Rite of Holy Communion and Worship of the
Eucharist places the Divine Praises after the Benediction as a possible
acclamation. The rubric which accompanies the text in No. 237 says: "If
considered opportune, following Eucharistic Benediction or before the
reposition, the following acclamations may be recited according to
As mentioned before, this is the practice in Rome for the Holy Father's
Corpus Christi procession.
The English translation adopts a different policy, preferring not to
have any official prayers after Benediction. The rite does, however,
foresee that hymns or acclamations may be recited during the reposition.
It is worth pointing out that the original Latin text of the rite does
not include the Divine Praises at all. In fact the Holy See gave wide
leeway to the bishops' conferences to adapt the rites to particular
circumstances and add recommended hymns and prayers according to local
custom. For this reason the numerical references in the various
languages also differ from the Latin text.
Since the Holy See deliberately opted for allowing wide scope for
freedom of choice, it is fairly clear that including a prayer such as
the Divine Praises in one or other part of the ritual is a case of
recommending a custom without creating an obligation.
Thus, both in Italy and in England the Divine Praises may be recited
after Benediction whenever customary. Or the reposition may be done in
silence or accompanied by an appropriate hymn or other acclamations.
At the same time, it is certainly better to follow the indications of
the official books for each nation. And while it is possible to continue
an established custom, there is no good reason to introduce a custom
contrary to the indications of the official ritual.
Likewise, the norms do not prescribe any set prayers for during the
period of adoration but merely indicate that:
"During the exposition there should be prayers, songs, and readings to
direct the attention of the faithful to the worship of Christ the Lord.
"To encourage a prayerful spirit, there should be readings from Sacred
Scripture with a homily or brief exhortations to develop a better
understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. It is also desirable for the
people to respond to the word of God by singing and to spend some
periods of time in sacred silence.
"Part of the liturgy of the hours, especially the principal hours may be
celebrated before the Blessed Sacrament when there is a lengthy period
of exposition" (English rite, Nos. 95-96).
Since there is great freedom in the selection of "prayers, songs and
readings" there is no reason why the Divine Praises could not also be
said either during the course of the adoration or immediately before
intoning the "Tantum Ergo" or other hymn for Benediction, especially if
there is no custom of reciting them afterward.
There are abundant publications available as aids for adoration. They
usually contain appropriate selections of Scripture, writings of saints,
hymns, prayers and litanies that may be profitably used during adoration
either privately or for communal recitation. ZE06103140