VATICAN CITY -- For seven centuries, Eucharistic adoration—praying before an exposed consecrated Communion host—was one of the most popular forms of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, the focus of beloved prayers and hymns and a distinctive symbol of Catholic identity.
Following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the practice fell from favor, especially in Europe and the U.S. But over the last decade, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the church has strongly encouraged a revival of the practice.
“No one eat this flesh, if he has not adored it before; for we sin if we do not adore,” Benedict said, quoting St. Augustine, in a 2009 speech at the Vatican.
Next week (June 20-24), the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome will host an academic conference on Eucharistic adoration, where the speakers will include six prominent cardinals, focusing on the rediscovery of the practice.
At the same time, however, some theologians object to adoration as outdated and unnecessary, and warn that it can lead to misunderstandings and undo decades of progress in educating lay Catholics on the meaning of the sacrament.