Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Solemn Spy Wednesday

We did something a little different at my parish this evening; I wonder if anyone did anything like this. We had a mini-Eucharistic procession, similar to what happens tomorrow, but with no great solemnity.

Here's why--and any "armchair liturgists" as Todd at Catholic Sensibility terms them, feel free to comment.

First datum. At our parish, Mass on Wednesdays is in the evening, at 6 -- we have confessions starting at 5. Our parish is blessed with a perpetual exposition chapel, in the basement under the sanctuary. That also happens to be where daily Mass usually is, and where people come, obviously, for prayer before our Eucharistic Lord.

Second datum. The rubrics say that the tabernacle is empty on Holy Thursday.

So, question: when and how to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle?

I decided to do it following this evening's Mass. I explained what I'd do, and said anyone who wanted to could come along, but it was a simple, practical thing, not a solemn procession as happens tomorrow. (My concern was to confuse people.)

So, here's how I did it. After communion, I kept the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, rather than return the Lord to the tabernacle. After the post-communion prayer, blessing and dismissal, I genuflected to the altar, rather than tabernacle, exited briefly to take off my chasuble, and put on a humeral veil, and returned. The reader and server carried candles ahead of me, and we went outside, around and down to the chapel. I wondered if anyone would sing; no one did. I placed the ciborium on the altar, before opening the special "tabernacle" we have, that contains the monstrance. I removed the monstrance, placed the host in the ciborium, and put the ciborium in the tabernacle. And then departed simply and quietly, putting the monstrance away until after the Vigil.


Mark Anthony said...

It sounds like a reasonable and respectful way to solve a practical problem. Does this mean that the tabernacle in the church is supposed to be empty during the Mass of the Lord's Supper? As you know, some parishes have the removal of the Eucharist at the end of the mass.

On a related note, check out my poem, "Holy Wednesday" on my blog. Shameless self-promotion, I know...

Fr Martin Fox said...


I don't know what some parishes do, but the sacramentary says, in the rubrics for the Mass of the Lord's Supper, "the tabernacle should be entirely empty."

So I take that to mean it should be empty before tonight's Mass begins. It doesn't say when it is emptied.

Yes, I saw your poem, and liked it very much!

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