Synchronized, Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration

Given my interest in liturgical practices and the internet, I am intrigued by this:   The Vatican has announced that an hour of synchronized, worldwide Eucharistic Adoration will be broadcast from St. Peter’s Basilica this coming Sunday, 2 June, from 5:00-6:00pm (local time).  “It will be an event,” Archbishop Fisichella explained, “occurring for the first time in the history of the Church, which is why we can describe it as ‘historical’.  The cathedrals of the world will be synchronized with Rome and will, for an hour, be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration.”

More information here.


  1. Except for Brazil, practically the entire Western Hemisphere will be in the middle of a Sunday morning Mass schedule at this time. While I know that most of the Catholic world seems to observe the feast on Sunday, I don’t understand why this wouldn’t have been scheduled for Thursday.

    My community would likely have been very willing to reschedule our daily Mass or make some such adjustment in order to make this observance more meaningful. And while our new archbishop suggested that the “nearest” Sunday Mass celebrated with some “solemnity” would be fitting, I still think this event, not terribly well-publicized, could have been much richer had a little less euro-centrism been part of the discernment.

    As it is, a tack-on procession or period of adoration won’t be the best thing we could have offered.

  2. The conflict of this initiative with Sunday Mass schedules, which Todd rightly notes as problematic, was part of an earlier discussion here at Pray Tell.

    At the time, some question was raised as to whether this was “left over” from an earlier schedule created under Pope Benedict, and whether Pope Francis actually had anything to do with it. If the former, it’s perhaps not surprising that it hasn’t received much publicity.

    I am not really sure why synchronizing Eucharistic adoration is desirable. It seems like magical thinking to me. If we all pray at the same moment, will God listen more closely? It seems to privilege Rome time over the natural progress of day and night across the whole world, which is part of the beauty and glory of creation.

    If doing something together at the same moment is very important, perhaps we ought to celebrate Eucharist at the same moment. Has anyone ever suggested this? I don’t think so.

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #2:

      Perhaps the timing is for the faithful, who will know that they are praying at the same time as the Pope. I’ve met priests and seminarians who value the fact that they pray the Liturgy of the Hours at the same time as others in their diocese, even if they are hundreds of miles away.

      [Edited for grammar, yikes!]

  3. Synchronisation is a point of view, but there are others.

    When unpacking the Rite of Election for catechumens, candidates, sponsors, godparents, catechists, etc, around the diocese each year, one of the points that grabs them is that the Rite is part of something the universal Church is doing. Lots of people in our country will be doing it this weekend, whether on the Saturday or the Sunday. Those in some timezones will have already celebrated it, while those in other timezones will be celebrating it later. All across the globe, it’s like a sort of “Mexican Wave” of Rites of Election!

    All in all, I think that’s a more powerful image than trying to synchronize the entire Catholic planet at a single moment in time, especially with a devotional practice which is essentially static rather than dynamic.

  4. Todd +1.

    Our parish has same response…not gonna interfere with Sunday Mass times for this.

    Is it not enough that we observe feasts and rites on same days in our own time zone? Agree with Rita and Paul about fitting in cosmology and “wave” ideas.

    I think the notion that everyone in the world could/would/should stop everything and do this just because the pope will is kind of silly. On a Sunday no less.

    But the folks who coordinate the perpetual adoration efforts in our parish are pretty jazzed…and we will invite people to remain after our 10a ET Mass to pray in our Blessed Sac chapel. But no Exposition and no rituals.

  5. Agree – feels like some sort of *magical* idea…thought eucharist was an *action* – a community verb. And will we get some sort of *special* indulgence for our attendance? Reminds me of the *last gasp* of some final *triumphant church* regalia – like the last parties of the dying monarchies in Europe prior to World War I.

    This strikes me as reading scripture literally…..same sort of thinking process.

    Notice that most parishes are just fitting this in between already scheduled masses. And this is the *new evangelization*? Really?

  6. We won’t be synchronizing here in Japan – it is the middle of the night. Transport problems mean people can’t get to the Cathedral. So the Bishop was considering looking into other possibilities. Since I’ve heard nothing since, I suspect this “Euro-centered” (Bishop’s words) proposal, will get a pass here.
    As Rita mentions, noting the date on the letter sent out, this was proposed/planned under Benedict XVI.

  7. Gosh, I disagree with the sentiments of almost every post here! From where I am sitting, namely studying changing practices due to the advent of new media, digitalization, cyberspace, etc., doing something at the same time — synchronicity — is increasingly important in a world in which physical co-presence and shared geography is not longer a rock-bottom requirement for profound expressions of communal gathering. So what if the time-schedule is chosen by ROMAN time? Better than Wall Street time any day, as far as I am concerned.
    As to experiences of catholicity: yes, this is one possible technologically-mediated expression of the catholicity of the church. Welcome to liturgical life in 2013.

    1. @Teresa Berger – comment #8:


      Actually the world has already decided that synchronicity is a relative term.

      A recent example: World Organ Day was on Monday May 6, culminating in a mammoth four-and-a-half-hour organ recital in Notre-Dame-de-Paris (at which I happened to be present) that ended at 1:00am on May 7. But the celebration of “the Day” was observed all over Europe starting on Friday evening May 3 and continuing right through the weekend. That kind of thing happens everywhere. NPM’s St Cecilia’s Day observance takes place at different times in different timezones across the US. The celebrations for the new millennium were staggered across the world.

      It’s the thought behind it, not the actual horological congruity, which counts.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #15:
        I might argue that these are the OLDER forms of celebration 🙂 — i.e., as each time zone around the globe entered a particular day and hour. The kind of synchronicity I am talking about is a newer phenomenon, related to advances in technologically-mediated connectivity. So, there are now ecclesial communities online whose members span the globe who all meet on a given Sunday, at an appointed hour, no matter what that hour is in your own time zone (and whether it’s convenient to you, or not).

    2. @Teresa Berger – comment #8:
      OK, I’ll buy it that synchonicity is important in cyberspace and with new media.

      But this isn’t new media. It’s a broadcast, a “televised event” — the technology of which is now a good 50-60 years old. Remember when the Second Vatican Council was picked up via satellite for television? That was a big deal then. “As the satellite traveled over Rome…”

      Teresa, this said, I nonetheless found your explanation of the psychology helpful. This would explain why some people find this cool; they are associating it in their minds with the potentials of new media which may be a tool to experience catholicity in a new way. But what I don’t get is why does it seem to you that those who do not find this idea attractive are not living in the present? Do we all have to agree in order to be in 2013?

      It’s a very old put-down to say to people “get with the times.” I trust that’s not what you mean.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #22:
        Rita: 1. Just because it’s “Televised” doesn’t mean it’s not also online and digital, and many people will join in that way, via the Vatican YouTube channel for example, and on their computers, iPads, etc.
        2. As to “put down”: i will let you be the judge of that. But just as you may be tired of Eucharistic adoration as a litmus test, I react negatively to occlusions of the pluriformity of liturgical practices that have emerged (and re-emerged) in the last 50 years. Yes, I am willing to engage Eucharistic adoration online, and feminist liturgies too. I pray the liturgy of the hours online, in a digitally-mediated community, and I break bread in a parish I cycle to. On occasion, I bring out my mother’s mantilla and wear it to a Tridentine Mass. I have also knelt in an online sanctuary via an avatar. I am Catholic, for heaven’s sake! Why constrain the breadth of liturgical practices, especially as these are broadening through digital mediation (yes, in 2013 — and much more so in years to come!). 🙂

    3. @Teresa Berger – comment #8:
      Teresa, Since you’re studying “changing practices due to the advent of new media…” you must be aware of stock market synchronization (perhaps that’s why you mentioned “Wall Street time”). Certainly qualifies as “communal gathering.”

      Could you “unpack,” to borrow a term from Paul Inwood, “technologically-mediated expression of the catholicity of the church?” How is globally synchronized Eucharistic adoration a “technologically-mediated” expression of the catholicity of the church?

      1. @Damian LaPorte – comment #30:
        Uhhh, you make me realize how much like an academic I write :). Here is an attempt at a quick “unpacking”.
        I am assuming here that “catholicity” is not only a grandiose theological claim (and part of our name as Catholics) but is lived on a number of very concrete levels (institutional, juridical, spiritual, symbolic — to name just a few). Liturgically, catholicity finds expression, for example, in the mention of the pope in the Eucharistic Prayer. Now, joining the pope in a synchronized Eucharistic adoration he is leading — and we will be able to join him not only in prayer but visually (the event will be streamed, I assume) seems to be one possible expression of catholicity under the conditions of digitalization, new media, etc.

  8. Whether one is kneeling in silent adoration of the exposed Eucharist or actively participating in the Mass, it is still the same one mystery in which they participate. And even if they do so at different times of the day they are still ‘in unison’.
    Although I’m guessing this Sunday’s solemnity will be just one more Mass Sunday Mass, there are exceptions I know of:
    –One parish is having a Eucharistic procession ‘around the city block, with stops along the way for blessing and prayer;
    –Another parish, at the end of Mass, is having a mile-long procession into the woods with Benediction under the pines;
    –A group of high school/college students are having a “Eucharistic Day” of adoration ending with Mass and a feast.
    There are liturgical ‘sophisticates’ who will find problems with all of this. To paraphrase a thought from Pope Francis a few days ago: if you want to know what the Eucharist is, go to the theologians, they’ll tell you. If you want to know how to love the Eucharist, watch the lay people of God. CS Lewis once lamented: “Lay people used to try to hide the fact they believed so much less than their priests. Now they try to hide the fact they believe so much more.” That is still true today.

  9. I have to say I don’t have a problem with synchronization as such. I just don’t think this event was carefully thought out on Rome’s part. Thursday would have been a better day to synchronize. Sunday could use some more options for Mass, a Sunday Liturgy of the Word in places without a priest, suggested Scriptures for Lectio Divina and Word services, a universal intention for the day/feast. Maybe even an accompanying novena or small-t triduum. Especially the latter: maybe a Thursday evening adoration, Friday and Saturday prayers, maybe an act of charity on one or both of those days, and something for Sunday Mass. Like bringing someone new to church. And maybe offering an indulgence or something for people who do.

    Our pastor’s in Rome on pilgrimage and when the associate and I put our heads together on this today, we both agreed more time would be needed to do something meaningful and not appearing as if it were dropped in from the sky.

    I don’t have a problem with older devotional forms getting recast in the 21st century. But please, let’s not treat them so unimaginatively, like museum pieces.

  10. We calendar for 14 months every May.

    I receive first notice of this three days ago.

    We’re going to throw something today with one week’s notice?

    First of all it’s an insult; it assumes that we are all sitting around waiting for the vatican to tell us what to do.

    Second, as already noted, it’s in the middle of Sunday morning masses.

    Third, something I read on an NCR comment:

    “First, as is well known, there was a fundamental shift in our attitude towards the Eucharist crudely between the first and second millennium–from a sacred meal producing divine union, to a divine object to be adored. Historically the emergence of benediction as a new devotion arose in tandem with the practice of the laity rarely sharing in the meal. Quite explicitly, the notion of divine food was replaced by the notion of divine adoration in the minds and hearts of the faithful. The revival of the liturgy post V2 is the direct result of research during the preceding 100 years or so into the full history of our Sunday celebration; and for good reason, that study warranted a return to former practices, including return to the notion the Eucharist as primarily food.

    Second, with the above in mind, I think it is important to distinguish the on-going practice of benediction in some places, including my own parish, from this Vatican sponsored focus on a global benediction. In my experience, the on-going practice makes sense in as much as the primary participants are the very old, either in age or mentality. Such folks are entitled to respect in their practice of an old devotion they became attached to, but when the Vatican pushes such an event, it can and should and must be seen just another ongoing rejection of V2 by the episcopate JP2 single handedly created and B16 continued.

    Third, please see my next comment:

  11. Thirdly, note the promoter of this event–the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the group that is supposed to reach out to all those in the north who have stepped out of the Catholic faith in which they were catechized. Promoting benediction, rejecting V2–yeah, that’s the way to bring’em back. Give me a bloody break!

    (This I quoted from a comment at NCR.)

    1. @Fr. Jim Blue – comment #12:
      Oh come on, have you not not encountered the young, bright, vibrant Catholics who ask precisely for practices like Eucharistic adoration — and not because they reject Vatican II but because the unhurried, quiet, meditative, slow, “un-productive,” simple being coram Deo is so innovative and graceful, in their lived lives.

  12. Since I’m associated with a parish named after the Blessed Sacrament, this is already a big day for us. We will combine our 10:30 English and 12:30 Spanish Masses into one bilingual Eucharist at 11:30, and our bishop will be the principle celebrant. Five adults will complete their initiation into the church as part of this celebration. At the conclusion of Mass we will have a Eucharistic procession, going to three outdoor altars (created by different groups in the community), culminating back in the church, where the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for another hour or so of adoration for those who wish to remain and pray. At the same time, an international festival will begin outside with a ridiculous amount of food representative of several different cultures, as well as music, dancing, etc.

    To know that many others around the world will be joining in prayer, focused on the Eucharistic Mystery, at approximately the same time helps me remember my connection to the mystical Body of Christ beyond the boundaries of this parish or diocese. I feel that it is a powerful sign of unity, and, though I might quibble with the planning and execution, I can’t argue with the overall inspiration.

  13. Sadly, I’m not terribly surprised of the general reaction to this event on this website. I’m looking forward to Eucharistic Adoration at our parish in union with faithful across the world – I think it’s a great idea!

    To those complaining about being given short notice: all this was announced by Archbishop Rino Fisichella at a press conference on June 21st, 2012, which was reported by the Catholic press. Sites I quickly (i.e. 5 minutes) searched and got results for include Zenit, Catholic News Service, Catholic Herald (UK) – even the National Catholic Reporter had a story! The Annus Fidei website also went live on 21st June 2012; there’s a calendar on there, and the worldwide Eucharistic Adoration has been on there since the beginning.

    To those complaining about the timing: well, sorry that, for those of you in North America, 5.00 pm Rome time clashes with your timing for Sunday Mass. But the very nature of worldwide, simultaneous events means that, whatever time they happen, they are inevitably going to clash with something, somewhere. Couldn’t Sunday Masses in NA have been rescheduled for just one week? Couldn’t we encourage people in Australia and the Far East to get up in the middle of the night for this special time of Adoration?

    Todd: as far as the Thursday/Sunday question goes, I think Sunday is by far the better option. Corpus Christi is not either a) a Holy Day of Obligation in all places (hence it is not celebrated on the Thursday) or b) a public holiday in all places. What with Sunday being the day of rest (cf. CCC 2188-2188), such a worldwide event is less likely to interfere with people’s jobs, therefore meaning more people can participate if they wish.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #16:
      To be fair, I think there’s a difference between outright criticism and being the loyal opposition (where I would place myself on this event). My problem with the event is not that it’s being done, but that there was a lack of thoughtfulness and creativity to it.

      If Sunday were really important, the event would have been planned to coincide with the hour when Sunday is celebrated worldwide–not leaving Korea, Japan, and much of Australia to observe early Monday morning.

  14. You synchronicity nay-sayers need to pull out your old albums from The Police, whose song has been playing involuntarily in my head as I’ve read through this post and comments. Some of the lyrics are ready-made for this worldwide adoration event: “A connecting principle, linked to the invisible. Almost imperceptible, something inexpressible, Synchronicity!”

    Seriously, though, while the synchronicity question is surely a judgment call (I personally think a planetary adoration “wave” is a pretty cool concept), the more serious problem that should be clear to all is the inadequacy of preparatory planning and promotion.

    This info linked in the post at wasn’t there a few days ago, nor was almost anything else out there. Given the chance, I’m sure “news outlets” like the National Catholic Register, EWTN, etc, would have made loud noise about this for months, with all sorts of features, interviews, and columns. (As it is, there are 2 articles on the Register website about it, one from 2 weeks ago and one from yesterday.) I have no doubt many American bishops would also have played it up dramatically.

    Why wasn’t Archbishop Fisichella out giving interviews on this a month or two ago? Where’s the promotional video — or at least video comments from a smiling Fisichella — posted on YouTube? This is being directed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, for heaven’s sake (someone might remind them that JP2 defined the new evangelization as “new in ardor, methods, and expression”), and the best they could do is a press release made available less than a week in advance?

  15. The hour chosen for this worldwide adoration works out to be 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning here in Louisiana, at which time our parish has a regularly scheduled Mass. We are not changing that. And doing Adoration at some other time kind of messes with the “praying at the same time” dynamic, which seems to be the focus of this event. So, we are doing a drive for canned goods instead, connecting our Eucharistic banquet with providing something for those without food for their bodies. The ‘Eucharistic procession’ will take place later in the week, when without pomp or fanfare, the donated food is carried to the local food pantry. The message offered to the People of God will be that this is where our celebration of Eucharist should lead us.

    1. @Tom Piatak – comment #23:
      As opposed to the “bad Catholics in India”? Or as opposed to the “bad Catholics” elsewhere?

      Honestly, I am tired of Eucharistic adoration “at the point of a gun”: Adoration as a litmus test of who’s a good Catholic and who isn’t.

      It’s really unfortunate that a devotion should become a badge of who’s good and who isn’t.

  16. Ms. Ferrone,

    There have been two posts here criticizing the Pope’s decision to have a global Holy Hour. If anyone is making Eucharistic adoration a litmus test, it’s those who are objecting to it because it contradicts their ideas of how Catholics should worship, ideas they have imposed on other Catholics since Vatican II.

    I think Fr. Andrew Greeley, who just passed away, had it exactly right: “Much of the ceremony and art of the Catholic tradition was summarily rejected, without vote or even consultation. The altars were stripped, to use the phrasing in the title of Eamon Duffy’s book on the Reformation in England. The leaders of this secondary revolution banned statues, stained glass windows, votive candles, crucifixes, and representational art from new or remodeled churches. They rejected popular devotions like May crownings, processions, First Communions, incense, classical polyphony and Gregorian chant. They dismissed the rosary, angels, saints, the souls in purgatory, and Mary the mother of Jesus. They considered these old customs and devotions liturgically or ecumenically or politically incorrect. … These various movements subverted much of the richness of the Catholic imaginative and communal tradition in the name of being ‘correct’ and ‘postconciliar.’ There was nothing to be learned from the preconciliar past, from anything that had happened before 1965. … No one seemed to understand that they were destroying precisely that sacramental dimension of the Catholic heritage that was more important than prosaic rules and that held Catholics in their Church regardless of what else happened.”

    1. @Tom Piatak – comment #26:
      Let’s clarify – criticized the idea of a *synchronized adoration period* as if this carries some magical connoctation; appears to be some new sort of *literalism*; repeated the earlier comment about eucharist vs. adoration.

      Didn’t say anything about *contradicting how church should worship or ideas imposed on catholics since VII* – nothing like leaping to conclusions.

      Your claim is inaccurate and prejudicial.

      Let’s also be clear – this was not a decision by the current Pope – this was declared almost a year ago with little to no promotion or development. A fact checker would have a field day on your comment.

      Really love the ideas and directions espoused by Andrew Greeley – but, he, of all folks, would have condemned any type of litmus test. And, like many church figures, Greeley had a tendency to exaggerate and paint with a broadbrush e.g.”there was nothing to be learned from the preconciliar past, etc.” Am sure that is a true statement for some…..but that is about as far as it goes.

    2. @Tom Piatak – comment #26:
      ” If anyone is making Eucharistic adoration a litmus test, it’s those who are objecting to it because it contradicts their ideas of how Catholics should worship, ideas they have imposed on other Catholics since Vatican II.”

      Actually, I got the distinct vibe that it was I who should get on board without complaint. It goes deeper than Rita’s protest about traditional prayer coerced. Not only does one have to do it, but at the same time and in the same way, and with no suggestions for improvement.

      The reality is that in my community the residents and students drive the bus on this one. The other parish in town has a tradition of 24/7 adoration and a Corpus Christi procession. Ours does last Tuesdays during the summer months, and adds other Tuesdays when students are in town. Nobody from the “adoration committee” offered any suggestions, and if the clergy and I found out about it Monday from the new archbishop, the lay people certainly weren’t tuned in until the publicity this week.

      The clergy are all out of town for the archbishop’s installation, and I’m gone for a friend’s wedding. When we put our heads together on this earlier this week, we’d have liked to do something. But the circumstances were not great, and we knew the other parish would attract our devoted people for their offerings.

      I don’t know if this was B16’s idea or not. Like I said before: it doesn’t strike me as well-publicized nor particularly full of ideas. Synchronization is candy, not substance. I have no objection, but if I’m going to help plan and promote it, I want more to go on.

      When the clergy themselves tell me we’ll settle for a brief mention in the homily, and I put the pope’s intention in this weekend’s petitions, that seems like all we can do short of going head-to-head with another parish’s long-standing procession.

      But next year, look out … And we won’t need Pope Francis to tell us what to do.

  17. And next Synchronized, Worldwide Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer!

    There was a “New Calendar” proposal a couple years back that advocated that we adopt Universal Time regardless of our time zone so that we would all be on the same time and date all the time.

    If I remember right, the advocates even had tried to make the case for some people in the world perpetually working in the middle of the night so they could communicate with people on the other side of the world who were working during daylight hours! And then of course some people would be morning workers, and other people evening workers but all at the same time!

    Calendar wars likely have a longer history than cultural wars! Isn’t it nice that we are not leaving them behind as we step into the global age!

    In the World Values Study framework I regard “Synchronized Worldwide Anything” as definitely Industrial Age rather than Traditional or Post-industrial. Having grown up next to a steel mill I am definitely glad to have said goodbye to the industrial age.

    Now I like to celebrate the Monastic Office with daily recordings of some monks in Europe

    However I do like to pray them at my time rather than their time. That Is definitely post-industrial

  18. Just as a footnote. In my current parish, the largest in the diocese, we have Eucharistic Adoration every Friday. Sadly timing means that the core group who attend is rather small. Also at our seminary, we have been combining Evening Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration, every Sunday for more years than I can remember. When I lived at the seminary, it was something I looked forward to – a prayerful end to a busy Sunday, and time-out to prepare for the coming week of teaching at High School.
    If the timing had suited our schedule here in Japan, I’d have been happy to lead the time spent in adoration.

  19. I am reminded of the lines from the hymn, The day, thou gavest, Lord is ended by John Ellerton, 1870.

    2. We thank Thee that Thy Church unsleeping,
    While earth rolls onward into light,
    Through all the world her watch is keeping,
    And rests not now by day or night.

    3. As o’er each continent and island
    The dawn leads on another day,
    The voice of prayer is never silent,
    Nor dies the strain of praise away.

    4. The sun, that bids us rest, is waking
    Our brethren ‘neath the western sky,
    And hour by hour fresh lips are making
    Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

    Had the authorities asked for an Holy Hour at 5pm local time there would have been 24 hours of adoration around the world, and no-one’s Sunday schedule should have been unduly put out.

    Just my two pennorth…
    John Henley

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