Reservation and Adoration:
A Historical and Devotional Inquiry
Shirley Carter Hughson
Superior of the Order of the Holy Cross
The Holy Cross Press
West Park, New York
transcribed by Dr
Elizabeth G Mellilo
The Real Issue
Historical questions are important and must be considered, but after all, the main point regarding every devotion is, Does it help souls? Let us hear the answer of a learned and holy bishop of our own day. Bishop Arthur Chandler of Bloemfontein has lately written: "In addition to its primary function of providing for the Communion of the Sick, the Reserved Sacrament has a wonderful power of attracting and focussing the prayers and devotions of the faithful In the midst of the turmoil and the hurry and the distractions of life, in the midst of its sorrows and sins, the divine Presence makes itself felt, tranquil and strong; a light every shining through gross darkness, drawing in the weary and tempted; infusing into them anew mysterious peace and power, sending them back with fresh courage to face the world."
If what this holy bishop tells us be true, no man can be in doubt as to his course. Even if in many of our parishes it be not yet feasible to have Benediction or Processions of the Blessed Sacrament, the perpetual Presence of our Lord on our altars can be maintained, and our people taught how to find Him there whom their souls desire to love. Let us organise amongst our people a guard of honour to the Blessed Sacrament. Go with them into the church at informal times, and lead them in their simple devotions to our Lord. Encourage them to come by groups, a few children here, young boys and girls there, and older folk, for little prayer meetings which they themselves may lead before the altar where He dwells. Teach them not only of the joy and blessing His Presence is to them, but of the ineffable privilege of giving joy to Him Who awaits our coming with a heart hungry for our love; to Him Whose love constrains Him to remain with His people unto the end of the world, Who rejoices in the habitable parts of His earth, Whose delights are to be with the sons of men. Let us teach them these things, - teach and, above all, lead them, showing ourselves first among those to whom His Presence is precious; and out of the dullest parish will spring the finest flower of personal devotion; and a flame will be enkindled which will leap from heart to heart until the whole Church be aglow with the warmth and glory of His love.
After considering all these facts and conclusions the query presents itself, Is any synodical action regarding Reservation of the Holy Sacrament necessary? The law of the Church, as binding upon bishop and priest, is explicit. It covers every point. It accords every privilege for which clergy or people have the right to ask. New legislation can give us nothing that is not ours already, and if enacted it will almost surely be used, in one place, if not in another, as a ground of attack upon that privilege and right which the clergy have exercised for the benefit of their people since apostolic days.
If the General Convention desires to do anything in the matter, surely it would be wiser to follow the distinguished example of its predecessor of 1808, and make a declaration that the principle and law of the Catholic Church which have come down to us from the ancient Fathers, are already of force in this Church, making unnecessary any further enactment.
We do not need new laws. We need to have the present laws enforced.
return to Project Canterbury