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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“If I could only make the faithful sing the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei…that would be to me the finest triumph sacred music could have, for it is in really taking part in the liturgy that the faithful will preserve their devotion. I would take the Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum, and the Litanies sung by the people over any piece of polyphony.”
— Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto, Letter to Msgr. Callegari (1897)

The Turns at Benediction
published 8 April 2018 by Fr. David Friel

HEN giving benediction, the question sometimes arises among clerics of which direction to turn when lifting the monstrance from the altar and returning it there. The question does not apply when benediction is given while standing behind the altar, as is commonly done nowadays. Standing before the altar, however, raises the question of whether the presiding cleric should turn to his left or his right at two points: 1) when lifting the monstrance from the tabor, and 2) when replacing the monstrance upon the tabor.

Recently, I was interested to learn that O’Connell and Schmitz address this question directly in their Book of Ceremonies. With respect to the first turn, the correct method is always to approach the altar, lift the monstrance, and turn to the right.

For the second turn, O’Connell and Schmitz use a footnote to describe three potential methods, giving priority to the first:

There are three approved ways of placing the monstrance back on the altar after the Blessing. The most acceptable way—when the C[elebrant] is assisted by the D[eacon] or priest—is given above [to turn left to the altar after having given the blessing]. . . . Another accepted way is to place the monstrance on the altar immediately after completing the first swing to the right, i.e., to complete the circle as at the Orate, fratres. A third acceptable way is to return the monstrance to the center before the breast, after having completed the first swing to the right, pause momentarily, then turn right again, and place it on the altar. 1

In the Philadelphia area, we have a local custom of appending a short, devotional prayer to the end of the Divine Praises recited at benediction. The prayer is as follows:

May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time!


1   Laurence J. O’Connell and Walter J. Schmitz, The Book of Ceremonies, rev. ed. (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1956), 377, footnote 68.