THE Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is a Rite in which Jesus, in the Sacrament of His love, is not only exposed to the adoration of the faithful, but in which He, present in that Sacrament, is implored to bless the faithful present before the Altar. It is not so much the Priest who blesses the people by this Rite, as it is Jesus Christ Himself, in the Blessed Sacrament, who bestows His benediction upon them.
In this country Benediction usually follows Vespers. After the final Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin is said, the Priest, vested in surplice, stole, and cope, goes up to the Altar, while the choir sings the O salutaris Hostia; and opening the Tabernacle, he makes a genuflection, and taking out a consecrated Host enclosed in a kind of locket, called a luna, places this in the centre of the Monstrance or Ostensorium—a stand of gold or silver, with rays like the sun. He then descends to the foot of the Altar, and puts incense in the censer; kneeling again, he receives the censer from the hand of the acolyte, and incenses the Adorable Host. When the choir sings the second line of the Tantum ergo, all bow humbly down, and then, or during the Genitori, the Priest again incenses the Blessed Sacrament.
As soon as the choir has ended the hymn the Priest chants the Versicle; and after the Response he chants the Prayer of the Blessed Sacrament, and sometimes another prayer. He then
St. Mary's Dominican Convent.Belfast.
kneels again, and a veil is placed around his shoulders, after which he ascends again to the Altar, and, making a genuflection, takes the Monstrance, and, turning to the people, gives the Benediction in silence, making the sign of the Cross over the kneeling congregation.
Replacing the Host in the Tabernacle, he descends, and, preceded by his assistants, retires, while the choir chants the 116th Psalm, Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, or some other Psalm or Canticle permitted by the usage of the place.
During this holy Rite the devout worshipper may either join in the chant of the choir, or pour out his soul in aspirations of love, adoration, gratitude, petition, or contrition to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, thus humbled for our love.
When the Priest has exposed the Blessed Sacrament, the choir sings:
O SALUTARIS Hostia,
Qui cœli pandis ostium:
Bella premunt hostilia:
Da robur, fer, auxilium.
Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria,
Qui vitam sine termino
Nobis donet in patria.
O SAVING Victim! opening wide
The gate of Heaven to man below!
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.
To Thy great Name be endless praise,
Immortal Godhead! One in Three!
O grant us endless length of days
In our true native land with Thee!
Here is frequently snug the Litany of Loreto (p. 65), or some hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament (p. 658).
Lastly is sung the Tantum Ergo; during which incense is again offered to the Blessed Sacrament, and all prostrate themselves at the second line.
TANTUM ergo Sacramentum,
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui;
Præstet fides supplementum
Laus et jubilation;
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benediction;
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. Amen.
DOWN in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail!
Lo! oe'r ancient forms departing,
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son who reigns on high,
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty. Amen.
Still kneeling, the Priest sings:
V. Panem de cœlo præstiti eis.
V. Thou gavest them bread from heaven.
R. Omne delectaimentum in se habentem.
R. Having in it the sweetness of every taste.
[In Easter-tide, and during the octave of Corpus Christi, Alleluia is added to V. and R.]
Rising, he sings the following prayer:
DEUS, qui nobis, sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quæsumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.
O God, who, under 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 Benediction Veil is now placed upon the shoulders of the Priest. He ascends the steps of the Altar, takes the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, and solemnly and in silence makes with It the sign of the Cross over the kneeling people. (Meanwhile a bell is rung by an acolyte.)
After the Blessed Sacrament has been replaced in the Tabernacle all rise and sing:
LAUDATE Dominum, omnes gentes: laudate eum, omnes populi.
Quouiam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
Gloria Patri, etc.
O PRAISE the Lord, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye people.
For His mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Glory be to the Father, etc.
During the singing of the Sicut erat of the Gloria, the Celebrant and ministers retire; and thus ends the Benediction.