The question before us is, since a priest is capable (by the power of God) of consecrating the Bread and Wine into the body and blood of Christ with his bare hands, and even at benediction, he touches the most precious body of Christ and places it in the lunet, then fixes it in the Monstrance/Ostensorium; why then must he use a veil to lift up the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament? Is it a sign of respect? If yes, why does he touch the Sacred Host with his hands in the first place? What exactly is the message? In order to understand this, we have to first understand the essence of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
We must note that at ordination, the hands of a priest are consecrated with the Oil of Chrism in order that he might bless and consecrate the people of God, that is why one without hands cannot be ordained, he’s said to have a canonical impediment (except he’s granted an Apostolic dispensation).
Apart from blessing the people of God, there’s a special moment reserved for Christ Himself to bless his people. This moment is called Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. During the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (as it is called) “the Blessing of Jesus Christ,” it is not the priest who blesses or acts, neither does he act nor blesses in the person of Christ, no, it is Christ himself (the true Priest) who acts and blesses at that very moment He’s exposed on the altar. Therefore, in order to illustrate that the priest is not blessing the people, he veils (hides) his hands (used for blessing) with a humeral veil (humerus means “shoulder” so a humeral veil is a “shoulder veil”). Thus, once the hands of the priests ain’t seen, it would be understood that he’s not the one blessing the people but Christ himself.
Therefore, at benediction, adoration, or during the procession of “Corpus Christi” (an offshoot of Benediction), the priest carries the Blessed Sacrament in procession with his veiled hands, while our Lord Jesus Christ blesses the people in a way that radiates like the sun (as seen in the shape of the monstrance). It is Christ himself who goes about blessing in procession.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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