by Clemens Pater
When the Most Holy Eucharist is exposed at the time of Benediction, we recite the Divine Praises. They are acclamations of adoration before the Real Presence of Christ on the altar. There we announce, “Blessed be Jesus Christ, True God and True Man.” In the Latin, we say “Perfectus Deo. Perfectus Homo!”
The mystery of the Holy Eucharist and the Mass has its necessary context in the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. In the days of Holy Week leading up to Easter, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, as the institution of two great Sacraments: the Priesthood, and the Holy Eucharist. In this context of the Last Supper, and that of the Passion and Death of Jesus on Good Friday, and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday, the Mass receives its most important title: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We can also reflect on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist in the setting of the Incarnation of Christ, the Christmas mystery.
It is in the Mystery of the Incarnation that the Eternal Son took human flesh and became man. It is this, His true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, which we receive in Holy Communion. We might say that, without the Incarnation of Christ – that is, unless the Son of God had taken human flesh – there would be no Holy Communion. In the “Bread of Life discourse” in St John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks so explicitly about His intention to give His Body and Blood as food and drink that some of His followers determine to leave. Nonetheless Jesus teaches clearly that what he is giving is His true flesh and blood as food and drink for eternal life. (Jn 6:47 ff)
On Good Friday, Jesus suffers excruciating pain and dies; He is buried, and He rises in His body. The truth of His Incarnation, the mystery by which God took on human flesh, is an important part of the reality of Jesus’ suffering. The greatness of His human suffering underlines for us the immensity of His sacrifice.
The night before He died, at the Last Supper, Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist as a perpetual sacrifice and a Sacrament that would be made complete and perfect by His death on the Cross and His Resurrection. He entrusted the Eucharist to His first priests, telling them to “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19)
He so desired to be with us always, that he offers Himself – His true Body and Blood - under the humble appearance of bread to be consumed. Again we can see, through the lens of the Incarnation, how He remains with us, not only as a Real Presence to be adored, but as a Sacrament to be received, to be eaten.
Another great Eucharistic Feast in the Church is that of Corpus Christi. Traditionally celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, it can fittingly be observed with a Procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament, often through city streets. It is a way to bear testimony to our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; and as a sign of our desire to bring the Incarnate Lord into the whole world.
The Divine Praises: recited before the Blessed Sacrament Exposed.
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.
Another pray is sometimes added:
May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.