Because of our belief that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, we hold immense reverence for his Presence in the consecrated host. The early monastics had such a keen sense of the Real Presence of the Eucharist that a devotion emerged over time which involved the display of a consecrated host as a focal point of prayer. Let me explain the flow of our evenings of Praise and Adoration to help describe what goes on in this devotion.
Our adoration evenings begin with songs of praise and joy. Then, the priest brings out our Lord, in the form of the host, and places Him in what is called the monstrance. This is an ornate and golden vessel whose sole purpose is to hold the body of Christ on display. Then, we sit in His presence. We sing. We listen. We pray. We talk. We are quiet. As the end of the evening approaches, we participate in the ancient rite of benediction. Here, the monstrance is raised up, as Christ was raised on the cross, and we are blessed in His presence. We proclaim the "Divine Praises" and sing the medieval hymn by Thomas Aquinas, "Tantum Ergo:"
Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail;
Over ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who made us free,
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.
Then, the priest returns Him to the humble tabernacle, where He is hidden away, ever present, ever loving, always waiting for us. We stand and sing with hearts full of joy, songs of praise and thanksgiving.
"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste -or foretaste- of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires." ~J.R.R. Tolkien