What is reverence?
This classical definition is taken from Father John Hardon’s Pocket Catholic Dictionary:
REVERENCE: “The virtue that inclines a person to show honor and respect for persons who possess some dignity. There are four forms of reverence, corresponding to four forms of dignity: 1) familial reverence towards one’s parents or those who take the place of parents; 2) civil reverence towards persons holding civil authority; 3) ecclesiastical reverence toward the Pope, Bishops, priests, and others in the service of the church; 4) religious reverence toward any person, place or object, related to God.” (Etymology: Latin reverential, awe, respect)
The article, “We are called to give God reverence,” by Fr. Ed Broom OMB, discusses “Reverence for God As Reflected in Divine Revelation — The Bible.” It highlights reverence shown in the life of Abram/Abraham, Moses and the Burning Bush, the vocation of Isaiah, in Church and in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the Magi visiting the Child Jesus with profound reverence, the reverence and respect that Jesus has for us, the Children of Fatima and the Appearance of the Angel at Fatima:
“Reverence in Church and in Front of the Blessed Sacrament
“Building upon the last point of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, as well as His Presence in every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let us return to Reverence before the Eucharist. The following are concrete steps that we can take to live out true Reverence before a three times Holy God in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
- a) SILENCE. Upon entering any Church, an attitude of silence, silent respect should permeate our whole being. Remember, you are in the presence of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the God of the universe!
- b) MODESTY. Our attire should be that of great modesty in front of our Lord and God. If we were to have a personal audience with a King, Queen, or President, our attire would be modest and dignified. Remember that this is God present to us in the Tabernacle!
- c) GENUFLECTION. Once again, remember that the way we pay tribute to the Eucharistic Lord in the Tabernacle is by genuflecting. In earlier times this was a gesture done before royalty; now, it is done before Jesus, our King and our Lord.
- d) KNEELING. If we do not have serious health problems, it is most appropriate to kneel down in reverence and in silent adoration before the Eucharistic Lord.
- e) PRAY: TALK TO THE LORD. An essential part of both adoration and reverence is that of humble, confident, and trusting prayer. Pour out your heart to your Lord, God, and King and He will listen to you and respond to the suppliant prayers that issue from your heart.
- f) SIGN OF THE CROSS. This might be plain, obvious, or even common sense, however, part of reverence is that of making the Sign of the cross properly and with meaning. By saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”… and crossing yourself, you are reverentially expressing two important truths. First, the sublime Mystery of the Blessed Trinity—the belief in One God and three separate Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also, included is the belief that we were saved by the Cross—the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- g) SILENT REVERENCE AND LOVE. Reverence can also be expressed by silently gazing with love at the Blessed Sacrament, and then looking up and contemplating Jesus on the cross loving and thanking the Lord from the depths of your heart.”
Eucharistic adoration gives reverence and respect to Jesus in the Eucharist
A very saintly priest, Servant of God Father John A. Hardon S.J., had many assignments throughout his 53 years as a priest. Much of his mission as a priest was centered around promoting reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament urging priests and lay people to establish Perpetual Adoration. Here are some of his quotes about the importance of Eucharistic Adoration in our lives:
- “I strongly recommend that each of us make a resolution – no matter how much the decision may cost us – to make a Holy hour…once a week.”
- “If we have the grace and our vocation in life permits it (we should make a Holy Hour) several times a week.”
- “It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in Adoration as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in (Adoration) as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity.”
- “We are given graces to overcome our fears and to accomplish great things at Adoration.”
- “The blessings we may expect are the blessings already proven by the lives of all the great saints who were devoted to the Holy Eucharist.”
- “Not only does our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament give us the courage to cope with our natural fears, He also gives us the ability to undertake great things for the sake of His name and the power to undergo great trials in our loyalty to His cause.”
- “During our Holy Hour our souls are fed in two faculties of the spirit – the Mind and the Will. In the Mind we need light; in the Will we need strength.”
- “We should build the whole edifice of our spiritual life around Adoration. We should not hesitate to ask Him to work miracles, now, as He did in Palestine.”
- “For Jesus to ‘work miracles’ is available in our day on one condition. That we come to him in Adoration and confidently beg him to give us the graces that we so desperately need.”
- “Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me? I felt the power going out from Me.’ In the same way, because Christ is present on the earth in the Eucharist, He radiates grace. Grace emanates from Him – grace goes out from Him.”
- “There is no greater profession of faith possible for a human being to make here on earth than during prayer before the Holy Eucharist; so we ask, why should prayer before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament be so powerful in obtaining miracles of conversion?: bcause it is prayer rising from faith in the cardinal mystery of Christianity.”
- “How do we grow in a deeper love of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? By taking every opportunity of being in His Eucharistic Presence during the day and, shall I add, into the night.”
“The Blessed Sacrament should always be shown the greatest reverence and respect by our posture and actions at Mass. This is especially true when we receive Holy Communion. When we are able to gather again to receive Holy Communion, let us not forget WHOM we are receiving, and the prayer we offer. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.'”
– Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick
Resurgence of the use of the Communion/chin plate at Novus Ordo Masses:
Someday there will be an accounting for particles of Christ in the Host that have been lost, discarded and not properly cared for. The 2006 Novus Ordo Vatican document Sacramentum Redemptionis instructed: “The communion plate [aka chin paten] should be retained for the communion of the faithful, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling”. It is used every day in the Novus Ordo on EWTN which can viewed on TV and the on the Internet worldwide. The 2012 General Instructions on the Roman Missal G.I.R.M for the Novus Ordo omitted to mention this. A canon lawyer and another priest who is faithful to the rubrics, verified in 2022 that it is currently optional and “perfectly fine” to use the communion plate/paten – it is “strongly recommended” for the Novus Ordo and not verboten.
Why wouldn’t it be used to prevent particles of the Host (God) from falling and being trampled on and to care for and reverence for particles of the Blessed Sacrament? The Communion plate remains in use at many Novus Ordo Masses where there are no altar boys – it is simply held under one’s chin and carefully passed along to the next communicant, for example in Mother Teresa’s convents and in Masses in Catholic schools for girls or in parishes. Altar boys can put the Communion plate under the hands of those taking communion in their hands in order to catch Hosts and particles. We see this at Novus Ordo Masses.
At Novus Ordo Masses, without Communion plates, Hosts are sometimes seen falling on the floor. When they are picked up, why is nothing done to purify the area for particles when we believe the Host is the Body of Christ? Certainly at Usus Antiquior Masses, if a Host ever falls by accident, great care is taken to purify the area of any remaining particles. There is more danger of sacrilege from Communion taken in the hand at Novus Ordo Masses, compared to exposition of the Blessed Sacrament where at least one or more adorers are always present to ensure that no one walks off with the Host. Perhaps one reason some prefer the traditional Latin Mass is because of all of the particles of Christ being lost and discarded on the floor through Communion in the hand at the Novus Ordo?
Other resources on reverence and respect:
- Sacred Liturgy Conferences – many videos
- Catholics United for the Faith – Faith Facts on kneeling after Communion
- Venite Adoremus! O Come Let us Adore Him!
- Head of Italian Medical Association declares Communion on tongue safer than in the hand, May 2020
- Una Voce America’s resource list with other links