On Sunday afternoon at 4.00 pm the Choir will lead us in Choral Evensong, one of the glories of Anglican worship. After the anthem, the priest will set on the altar the monstrance (from the Latin “to show”), a stand with a glass “clock-face” surrounded by a gold sunburst in which the consecrated bread, “the host,” is placed for all to gaze upon. There then follows a time of silence, another anthem, prayers and a hymn, all before Jesus present in his Blessed Sacrament. The priest then makes the sign of the cross over the people with the monstrance.
What is all this for? How is it different from receiving Holy Communion in the Mass? When we take communion, of course, we are joined together with each other and the whole Church of God as the Body of Christ. We draw strength from the Lord to go out to live with his life and love with his love in the world. In this service of Benediction, as in the Holy Hour we keep on the second Sunday of each month, we are given space to bask in the presence of Jesus with us in sacramental form, as once he was present in human form 2000 years ago. We can delight in him, and rest in his presence amongst us, bringing to him our thanksgivings, prayers and concerns. Doris, a former parishioner of mine in the north of England, used to say, “Father, it’s like looking at the menu in a restaurant, anticipating and savouring all the delights that are to come!”
Blessed, praised and hallowed be Jesus Christ on his throne of glory, and in the most holy sacrament of the altar!