OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS
The participants in the XI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, meeting to discuss the theme: “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church,” are gathered in quiet prayer in the Vatican Basilica, together with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the members of the Roman Curia and the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, in order to adore the abiding presence of Christ in the Eucharist during this Year of the Eucharist, a special moment of faith and devotion for the whole Church. “Adoration should be foremost in the minds of the celebrant and the liturgical assembly in the presence of an Almighty God who makes himself really present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Oftentimes in the Catholic Church, this act of adoration continues even after Holy Mass in various ways” (Instrumentum laboris, No. 65).
By adoring the Eucharist on the liturgical memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a witness to the faith of the earliest Christians, the assembled Bishops and faithful confess that in the mystery of the Eucharist there is present “the flesh of Christ our Saviour, who suffered for our sins and was most mercifully raised up by the Father” (cf. Ad Smyr., 7,1).
The adoration unfolds in alternating moments of prayer and song, proclamation and attentive hearing of God’s word, profession of faith and thanksgiving, together with moments of silence fostering contemplation and praise.
Following the entrance of the Blessed Sacrament and the chant accompanying the exposition – the first four verses of the mediaeval hymn Pange lingua, the celebrant invokes the Most Holy Trinity and invites the assembly to joyful praise.
The word of God is then proclaimed, shedding light on the Eucharistic mystery as a mystery of the Lord’s presence. The text from the Book of Exodus (3:1-8,13-15) presents us with God’s self-revelation in the Old Testament – “I am who am!” and the reverent adoration with which Moses approached the burning bush. In the Gospel reading (Jn 6:51-58), preceded by the chant of the Alleluia and its versicles, we listen to the central words of the revelation of the Eucharist in John’s Gospel: “I am the living bread come down from heaven... The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” A song of praise, incorporating parts of the prayer found in the ninth chapter of the Didache, then follows, serving as our response of acclamation and thanksgiving for the word of the Lord.
After a fitting moment of silence, the assembly continues its adoration of the Eucharist by chanting the mediaeval hymn Adoro te devote, attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas. As a means of bringing out the hymn’s biblical inspiration, every verse is introduced by a phrase from the Gospel in various languages. This is meant to create an intense dialogue between the word of the Lord and the response of faith and love offered by the Church in prayer.
Eucharistic Benediction follows with the chant of the Tantum ergo, the prayer and the sign of the Cross with the Blessed Sacrament. Our Eucharistic adoration concludes with the chant Ave verum Corpus, natum de Maria virgine, a synthesis of our profession of faith in the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.
“Jesus, Son of Mary ... comfort us in our final passage and graciously welcome us into the house of the Father”.