Question: Is it ever acceptable to leave Eucharistic adoration when you are the only one present? Also, one location I know has the veil to cover the monstrance available when one is the last to leave. Is this acceptable?
— Joann Capone, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Answer: The Blessed Sacrament when exposed for adoration in the monstrance should not be left unattended. The whole point of exposition is that the Most Blessed Sacrament be adored by the faithful. There is also the concern to prevent desecration or theft of the Blessed Sacrament. Consecrated hosts are sometimes sought by satanic cults.
You are correct; most adoration chapels have provisions if one must leave the presence of the Lord and no one else is there. In some places, there are doors that can be closed over the monstrance. In other places, a veil is placed over the monstrance. If one must leave for the restroom and the monstrance cannot be conveniently covered, this is OK, but only for a moment or two. In such cases, the adoration chapel ought to be secured by a lock of some sort.
Clearly, pastors must make some of these options available since people do run late or forget to keep their commitments to pray. He should not assume that all will be well simply because a schedule is published.
Jesus’ time in hell
Question: Are there any teachings about what Jesus did during the time he went to hell, as described in the Apostles’ Creed?
— Robert Lusby, Commerce City, Colorado
Answer: It is important to distinguish the hell of the damned from the place of the dead, which the ancients termed variously as Sheol, Hades or hell.
Since the Catechism of the Catholic Church answers your question quite thoroughly, here is an excerpt:
“[Jesus] descended [to hell, that is to the realm of the dead] as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits [of men] imprisoned there. Scripture calls [this] abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, ‘hell’ — Sheol in Hebrew, or Hades in Greek — because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. ... Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. ... Christ went down into the depths of death so that ‘the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.’ … [Jesus delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.
“The Gospel was preached even to the dead. The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.
“This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 631-635).
Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org.