Home News The priest is a servant of the Liturgy, not its inventor or producer – Bishop Augustine Echema
News Nigeria

The priest is a servant of the Liturgy, not its inventor or producer – Bishop Augustine Echema

By Padre Michael Nsikak Umoh, CSN

The newly appointed Episcopal Chairman for Pastoral Affairs Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Most Rev. Augustine Ndubueze Echema, has charged priests to stop making a ridicule of the liturgy as if it were their personal invention.

The prelate gave this message on Tuesday March 29, 2022, in his address at the opening ceremony of the annual conference of the Directors of Liturgy and Masters of Liturgical Ceremonies held at the CSN Resource Centre in Abuja.

The Professor of Liturgy expressed great joy at the enormous work already done by the body of experts “to better the liturgical life of the Church in Nigeria … to curtail abuses, polarization and even grave scandals in liturgy,” noting however that there is still so much that needs to be done.

While commending the Directors on the theme of their discussion, “The worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament outside the Mass”, Bishop Echema lamented the growing number of ministers of the Eucharist who fail to respect liturgical laws during public Eucharistic adorations in various dioceses, convents, chapels and parishes. He exhorted that “The priest must understand that he is not the one who presides but one who acts in the person of Christ. He is servant of the Liturgy, not its inventor or producer.”

Another professor of Liturgy teaching at the Major Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul in Ibadan, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Igbekele, gave the lead paper at the conference on the title: “Worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament outside the Mass: a historical and theological exposition”. The scholar, who made an in-depth analysis on the topic affirmed that “the worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament is one of the greatest expressions of faith,” because, “in the Blessed Sacrament, ‘the same worship of latria or adoration that we offer to God’ is given to our Lord who is present in the Sacrament.”  He therefore emphasised that the “Eucharistic worship outside Mass is fundamentally rooted in the mystery of the Eucharist.”

Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Igbekele

Fr. Igbekele went on to assert that Eucharistic worship outside Mass “finds its being, basis and inspiration in what the Eucharist is to the Church,” and the Adoration of the Eucharist is the highest form of reverence that could be given to God, which is known as latria. “This adoration could be public or private, during the celebration of the Eucharist or after, in the reserved sacrament.”

The Seminary formator and Liturgist further outlined nine possible forms of the worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside the Holy Mass, which are: Benediction, Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, Perpetual Adoration, Forty Hours Devotion, Eucharistic Procession, Holy Hour, Eucharistic Congress, Communion to the sick and Viaticum.

Similarly, the lead presenter also touched on some common abuses of the Eucharistic Adoration. These include: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the same church where the Holy Mass is being celebrated or exposition when Mass is going on; Charismatic forms of worship like uncoordinated dancing, singing and irregular movements carried out when the Eucharistic host is exposed; Having multiple monstrances with the Consecrated Host on the same altar; Retiring a smaller consecrated host for a bigger one; Disregard and lack of care for the Blessed Sacrament especially when it is taken in communion to the sick; and Lay ministers blessing with the monstrance or carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession.

Fr. Igbekele concluded his paper on the strong note that since worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament outside Mass is dependent on the celebration of the Eucharist, it deserves all the reverence due to God and must always be approached with utmost decorum.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exit mobile version