Excerpts from the English translation of
"Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass,"
©1974, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Louis A. Marini
Imprimatur: The Most Reverend Patrick J. Sheridan
Archdiocese of New York
All rights reserved. National Headquarters, Nocturnal Adoration Society
1. The Nocturnal Adoration Society of the United States is an association for Catholic men and women. It was established in accordance with church Law on November 28, 1928, and is officially affiliated with the Archconfraternity for Nocturnal Adoration established in Rome in 1810.
2. It is composed of autonomous chapters, each of which a) has been canonically established by the bishop ordinary of the Diocese in which it is located; b) possesses its own Constitution, approved by the bishop; c) is duly affiliated with the Roman Archconfraternity through the U.S. Headquarters. Church legislation in this matter is found in Canon Law Nos. 301 #1, 304 #1, 312 #2.
3. Chapters are either a) parochial, when membership is principally from one parish, or b) inter-parochial (city, town, or area) when members come from several parishes to one church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
Because a Vigil of Prayer, during the hours it is held, is enhanced by a sizable number of participants, the inter-parochial Chapter would seem to be the preferred model when parishes or the number of Society members of a particular parish are small. When a Chapter is inter-parochial, it is customary for each participating parish to assume the responsibility for one or two hours of the Vigil.
The Nocturnal Adoration Society has a threefold purpose:
(4) - 1) To provide a fervent response to Christ's invitation to keep prayerful vigil with him (Mt 26:38-40; Mk 14:37, 38; Lk 22:40-46).
This response takes shape when there is formed an assembly of members who strive, through prayer, to share in Christ's confrontation with the forces of evil. Since this confrontation took dramatic expression in the Garden of Gethsemane at night, prayer in the hours of darkness, an ancient tradition in the church, is rich in symbolism, significance, and inspiration.
(5) - 2) To deepen the experience of communion with Christ Eucharistic, as he continues his self-offering and saving influence.
The presence that Christ gives of himself through the sacrament of the Eucharist is one in which he, though risen and glorified, is yet in the act of his redemptive sacrificial offering and unceasing intercession on behalf of he world (Heb 8-9)
Members of the Nocturnal Adoration Society, by praying in the presence of the exposed sacrament, seek to be of one mind and heart with Christ in his priestly prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, atonement, and petition to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. At the same time, they worship Christ as Lord and Savior. (See "Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass," No. 80, June 21, 1973).
(6) - 3) To live more consciously and actively the full significance of the Eucharist as the sacrament of charity and unity for the church and the world.
By living more intensely from the Eucharist, through the celebration of Mass and prolonged prayer before the sacrament, members strive to acquire and actualize in themselves the spirit of Christ by which he placed himself at the service of others. In this way, members enter into and extend Christ's work of salvation, and manifest his presence to the world. (See "Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass," Nos. 80 and 81, June 21, 1973)
Membership is open to Catholic men and women who are eager to enrich their prayer and Christian life by means of the Eucharist.
CONDITIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP
Three conditions are required for valid membership in the Society:
(8) - 1) Formal reception into the Society according to the prescribed Ritual (See the Office Book, Part I ) by the Reverend Moderator or any priest delegated by him for that purpose. (See No. 16 of these Statutes, and Canon 307 #1)
(9) - 2) Inscription of the members' full names (Christian and family) in the Society's official Register which is carefully kept in each affiliated chapter.
(10) - 3) The declared promise of fulfilling the Society's principal obligation, namely, one hour of adoration before the exposed Eucharist during the hours of the night (See Nos. 47 and 48 ).
This does not mean that a member who misses the monthly hour of prayer ceases to be a member. It simply means that to become a member the firm intention of fulfilling that monthly obligation must be expressed.
(11) - The choice of the night of the month for the Prayer Vigil is determined by each chapter (See No. 34 ).
(12) - Local chapters are encouraged to organize their hours of prayer according to a rotating system, traditional in the Society, whereby the members, month by month, share equally the easier and more difficult hours. According to this system, members are divided into as many groups as there are hours of exposition. Each group is assigned one of the hours of the night on a rotation basis, advancing one hour on each succeeding night of Vigil. Here is an example:
Group 1 for January: 10:00 p.m.,
Group 2 for January: 11:00 p.m.,
Group 3 for January: Midnight,
Group 1 for February: 11:00 p.m.,
Group 2 for February: Midnight,
Group 3 for February: 1:00 a.m.
Group 1 for March: Midnight
Group 2 for March: 1:00 a.m.
Group 3 for March: 2:00 a.m.
Some chapters have adopted a split-night Vigil whereby prayer takes place during the late hours of evening, is interrupted, and then resumes for the early hours of morning (e.g., 9:00 p.m. to Midnight, 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.). When the vigil is organized in this manner, the groups rotate the hours on their respective half-night as explained above.
(13) - Within the rotating system there is provided a fixed hour for those who, for various reasons (illness, advanced age, shift work, etc.) cannot take part in the rotating system.
(14) - A chapter, for reasons of its own determining, may choose to organize its members for prayer over a two-hour or even one-hour period only. Local conditions are usually the determining factor in how the Prayer Vigil is organized.
(15) - Each chapter of the Society has the following officers: the Reverend Moderator, a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and Leaders.
a) Where desirable, a Vice President and a Marshal may be added to the roster of officers as supplementary or optional.
b) When Nocturnal Adoration is a spiritual activity of an existing organization, there is no need for a new panel of officers. The officers of the parent organization are automatically the officers required for the local Chapter of the Society. They appoint a Chairperson who, in their name, takes care of Nocturnal Adoration.
(16) - The Reverend Moderator is appointed by the Ordinary of the Diocese (Canon 317 #1 ). This is done once for all when the chapter is canonically established. At that time, in an official document, the Pastor (and his successors in office for as long as the Society will last) of the church where the Society is based is appointed as Moderator. He may delegate any priest or priests to act as Moderator with all the faculties he himself enjoys in this matter (See No. 22 ). Delegated Moderators may not sub-delegate their faculties. The Pastor is advised to delegate all his assistants once for all, even though only one actually moderates the group.
(17) - The other officers (except for the Leaders who are appointed) come into office by any of the following approved methods:
1) All are appointed by the Moderator.
2) All are elected by the membership form a list of candidates submitted a) by a nominating committee, or b) by the Moderator, or c) by the outgoing officers. For these elections the required majority is decided by the Moderator and officers.
3) Selected by the Moderator from a list of volunteers.
(18) - There is no fixed rule concerning the length of the term of office. The prevalent custom is for two or three-year terms.
DUTIES OF OFFICERS
The Moderator exercises the following duties and functions:
(19) - Opens the night of adoration by exposing the Blessed Sacrament. After making the exposition he may give a short instruction on the significance and value of nighttime prayer before the Eucharist.
When the Moderator is prevented, for legitimate reasons, from personally exposing the Blessed Sacrament and no other cleric is available, he may take advantage of the following ritual concession:
(20) -"The ordinary minister for exposition of the Eucharist is a priest or deacon. At the end of the period of adoration, before the reposition, he blesses the people with the sacrament.
"In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the holy Eucharist for the adoration of the faithful:
"a) an acolyte or special minister of communion;
"b) a member of a religious community or of a lay association of men or women which is devoted to Eucharistic adoration, upon appointment by the local ordinary.
(21) - "Such ministers may open the tabernacle and also, if suitable, place the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance. At the end of the period of adoration, they replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the Sacrament.
"Others (i.e., lay) ministers should wear either the liturgical vestments which are used in the region or the vesture which is suitable for this ministry and which has been approved by the Ordinary."
(From "Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass," Nos. 91 and 92, June 21, 1973)
(22) - 2) The Moderator also, personally or by a priest delegated by him (See No. 16 ), each month receives new members into the Society in accordance with the official Ritual. (See No. 8 and the Office Book for the complete reception ceremony.) Canon 307 #1 )
(23) - 3) The Moderator takes care that the Secretary carefully enters the names of new members into the Register (See Nos. 9 and 27 ). He affixes his signature at the bottom of each page of the Register. (A rubber stamp signature is not sufficient.)
(24) - 4) The Moderator exercises the general direction of the Society, guiding the officers in the fulfillment of their duties, and taking every means to assure faithful attendance. By his zeal and example he encourages members in the living of their commitment to Nocturnal Adoration and a Eucharist-centered life.
(25) - The President serves as the Moderator's assistant in keeping members faithful and dedicated. The President devises the means to assure faithful attendance and to recruit new members. He presides at such meetings as the Moderator may convoke.
(26) - The Secretary is a key figure in the he organization. The Secretary's duties are:
1) Every month, and on time for the next Vigil, makes sure to send out the monthly reminder cards. If in the Chapter reminder cards are not used, the Secretary sees to it that whatever substitute reminder system is employed is carefully implemented. Negligent performance in this matter can seriously impair attendance.
(27) - 2) The Society's official Register is in the Secretary's care. The Secretary enters the names of new members no later than a week after their reception, taking care to have the names correct -- full Christian and family names, without abbreviations, except for the middle name (See No. 9 ). The Secretary sees to it that the Moderator signs each page of the Register after it is filled (See No. 23 ). Since entry into the Register is essential for valid membership, the Secretary will fulfill this duty with careful attention.
(28) - 3) The Secretary faithfully keeps attendance records each month, and once a year, when request is made, sends in the Annual Report to Headquarters.
The keeping of attendance records is vital to the life of a chapter, not for the sake of mere statistics but for the effective direction of the Vigil program. It is the most practical way of knowing who is faithful (to thank and praise) and who is not (to approach and encourage the member).
(29) - 4) The Secretary reminds the Treasurer to furnish the stipend for the Mass that must be celebrated for each deceased member in the name of the Society (See No. 40 ).
(30) - The Treasurer keeps an account of the money contributed at each Vigil (See No. 50 ), and banks it promptly each month. The Treasurer makes sure that all bills are paid on time, and keeps a careful account of all expenditures. Though it is entirely up to the discretion of the Moderator, it may be advisable to have either the Moderator or the President as a co-signer on checks made out on the Society's account.
As soon as the Treasurer is notified of the death of a member he makes sure that a stipend is provided for a Mass to be celebrated as soon as possible (See Nos. 40 and 51).
(31) - The Leaders. A Leader is appointed by the Moderator, or the President with the Moderator's approval, for each group of adorers. Because of the importance of their role in the effective functioning of the Society, Leaders shall be carefully selected on the basis of attendance and leadership qualities. Once chosen, they will fulfill their duties with care and dedication.
1) The Leader is responsible for the proper carrying out of the hour of prayer. When the Office of the Blessed Sacrament is the chosen format, the Leader guides the Nocturnalists in the recitation of the Office. The Leader selects a left and right reader (See the Office Book) from among those present. (What is said here of the Office of the Blessed Sacrament applies, with necessary adaptations taken into account, to other prayer formats.) As a means of fostering a spirit of shared responsibility, the Leader, from time to time, is encouraged to invite another person to lead at prayer.
2) The Leader is also responsible for the attendance of the members of one's group. Even where monthly reminder cards are sent by the Secretary, the Leader is advised to phone or visit personally those needing encouragement to more faithful attendance.
3) The Leader is also encouraged to do something about recruiting new members into the Society and should use whatever means are available to increase membership. The Leaders should occasionally exhort the members of their group to do the same.
SUPPLEMENTAL AND OPTIONAL OFFICERS
(32) - The Vice-President (See No. 15a) assists the President and assumes responsibilities when the President is away or incapacitated (See No. 25).
(33) - The Marshal (See No. 15a) is in charge of the material things relating to the Vigil. The Marshal sets out the prayer booklets and whatever else is needed for the Vigil. Where security is needed, the Marshal, or if need be some other person, fulfills this function. Sometimes conditions require that a Marshal be present through the night. In this case, two or three are appointed to share the duties in shifts.
(34) - Choice of Night. The Moderator and Officers decide on which night of the month the Vigil will be held. It can be any night (See No.11) to meet local conditions. It may also be changed whenever circumstances require this.
(35) - Length. The length of the Vigil is left to the determination of each local Chapter. While a Vigil of eight hours is traditional in the Society, present-day conditions (e.g. concern for security, desirability of larger groups at prayer) may indicate the expediency of fewer hours of prayer (See Nos. 12,13,14).
(36) - Additional Vigils. Additional nights of adoration may be called by the Moderator after consultation with the Officers, whenever opportune, e.g. Holy Thursday, New Year's Eve, Eucharistic Days, Anniversaries, or other occasions of public or parochial importance.
(37) - The Prayers. It is traditional in the Society and of proven benefit that a Vigil include both common prayer and private prayer. Common prayer fosters a spirit of corporate praise of God and encourages the communal hearing of and reflecting on the word of God. On the other hand, private prayer allows for more personal communion with Christ and meditation on matters that affect one deeply.
(38) - 1) It is recommended that the common prayer be the recitation of a portion of the Office of the Blessed Sacrament, according to the directions suggested in the Society's official prayer book, the Office of the Blessed Sacrament. However, there is no binding obligation in this matter. Any prayer format may be used provided it is employed reverently and unites the members to the prayer of Christ in His Eucharistic Mystery.
2) The Society has established a traditional manner of praying the Office. The practical directions for this are clearly set forth in the Office Book.
(39) - 3) In each hour there must be some time set aside for quiet meditation and personal prayer. This is a time of special grace, a time when a Nocturnalist puts aside all other concerns, contemplates Christ in His great Eucharistic action, and in the light of Christ peers into his or her life to see how extensively the Christian Gospel and spirit have been assimilated.
PRAYERS FOR DECEASED MEMBERS
(40) - Every deceased member, still listed in the Society's Register at the time of death, shall benefit of the following suffrages:
1) One Mass will be celebrated, at the expense of the Society, for the repose of the soul of a deceased member as soon as possible (no later than ten days) after the announcement of death.
2) Each member of the Society shall in charity offer two Communions each year for deceased members.
3) At every hour or each Vigil, special prayers for deceased members shall be recited by all present. (See the Office Book)
In this matter, two praiseworthy traditions have developed in the Society:
a) Once a year, fittingly in November, a special Mass is celebrated for all the deceased members of a Chapter. The family of the deceased and friends are invited to participate. All members do their best to be present and offer prayers for their deceased fellow Nocturnalists.
b) As soon as it is known that a member has passed over to God, the President, or the Secretary, or a committee named for this purpose, sets to work by phone to organize as large a group of members as possible to wake the deceased. The Society's own Little Office of the Resurrection is recited.
(40) - The Nocturnal Adoration Society's aims and purposes are strictly spiritual (See Nos. 4,5,6). It leaves social activities to other parish societies and limits its own meetings to a minimum.
However, for the proper functioning of the Society and its monthly Vigil of Prayer, as well as for reasons of mutual support and encouragement, an occasional meeting is necessary.
(42) - 1) Business Meetings for the entire membership, or for the officers and leaders, may be called whenever needed at the discretion of the Moderator or President.
(43) - 2) The practice of having an annual Mass and Communion Breakfast or Supper is commendable and to be encouraged. It has the advantage of bringing together members who perhaps see each other only infrequently.
(44) - 3) Also recommended is an occasional Day of Recollection in which the meaning, value and responsibilities of Nocturnal Adoration are explained and reflected upon. Most often, these Days are informal in character, held in parochial facilities, last a few hours, and, if possible, include a period of Exposition of the Eucharist and time for adoration, the recitation of the Office of the Blessed Sacrament, and, finally, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
(45) - 4) Another form of meeting is the one that gathers a Chapter's entire membership for a common hour of Eucharistic prayer, e.g. Mass with a homily of topical nature, time for quiet prayer before the exposed sacrament, benediction, either on the regular night of Vigil or at some other time. This is an occasion when the Society can give a strong witness to Eucharistic faith. When it is held on the regular night of Vigil, this single hour takes the place of the all-night Vigil.
(46) - 5) The meetings described in Nos. 2, 3, 4 above take place on the individual chapter level. They may, with great spiritual benefit, be organized on an inter-Chapter basis (several N.A.S. Chapters together) or even on a Diocesan basis (all the N.A.S. Chapters of a Diocese participating). When such gatherings are planned, all members should show active interest, help as best they can with the task of organizing, and actually participate.
(47) - Membership in the Nocturnal Adoration Society brings with it duties and responsibilities.
1) Members promise to spend one hour in adoration, once a month, before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, on the night of the Society's Vigil, in the church where the Vigil is held and at the hour assigned (See Nos. 10,12,13 and 14).
a) Of its nature, this promise has the force of one's word of honor and does not bind under pain of sin. However, members who are absent six times consecutively from their assigned hour and who fail to give a satisfactory explanation for their absence may be deprived of the privileges granted members in good standing, and may even lose membership in the Society (Canon 208).
b) The very existence of the Nocturnal Adoration endeavor depends on the members' presence at their assigned hours. While the Society enjoys certain privileges concerning the number of adorers required for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (See No. 53), it remains true that each Chapter, when it is established, assumes the responsibility for adequate coverage of every hour. Only on that condition does the Bishop approve the establishment of a Nocturnal Adoration Society. This responsibility devolves on each individual member and is clearly assumed in the he Reception Ceremony (See the Act of Consecration). Members, therefore, should not lightly change their hour and never without first contacting the Secretary in sufficient time for him to make a substitution if necessary.
(48) - 2) Members should honor their promise of a monthly hour, even if absence from home makes attendance at their Chapter's Vigil impossible.
a) Those who are out of town should join with another N.A.S. Chapter if there is one holding a Vigil in the area in which they happen to be. Failing such a Chapter, members should try to make their hour privately in any church where the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed or at least reserved, at any convenient hour of the day. The Secretary should be notified that this hour has been duly offered.
b) those members who are ill are encouraged, if at all possible, to make their hour (unbroken or in segments) wherever they may be, at home, in hospital or nursing home. Such an hour can prove an effective spiritual sharing in the Passion of Christ, and help sanctify their own sufferings.
(49) - 3) The attainment of the Society's ideals depends in good measure on a strong sense of purpose and fellowship among its members. Therefore, they should pray, work and hold together as they pursue the mission entrusted to them by the Society as spelled out in these Statutes.
(50) - In keeping with a long-standing tradition, the Society does not have dues. However, funds are needed to meet the Society's operational costs. These are obtained through voluntary contributions by the members on the night of the Vigil. The accepted procedure is to place an offering basket in an accessible and visible place where members may leave their donations. Offerings are always strictly voluntary.
Rules governing the care and use of the funds derive from these Statutes and from Canon Law.
(51) - The Statutes
1) The care of the Society's funds devolves on the Treasurer, who administers in the name of the members. The Treasurer's duties are spelled out in No. 30.
2) Ordinary operating expenses include the purchase of supplies from National Headquarters (books, pins, promotional materials, etc), the mailing of the monthly reminder cards, Mass stipends for deceased members, etc.
3) To defray expenses for such things as heating and lighting, the Society is expected to make an annual donation to the church in which the Vigil is held.
4) Surplus funds, if there are any, may be used in any way the membership decides. Donations to Headquarters will be used to promote Nocturnal Adoration in the United States and is of invaluable assistance in maintaining the Office.
Church Law legislates in this matter as follows:
1) An association which is legitimately established (as is the N.A.S., See No. 2) acquires a juridical personality (Canon 313) with all the rights and obligations of a moral person in the Church (Canon 113), such as the right to acquire, own and administer property under the authority of the Local Ordinary (Canon 319 #1).
2) An association must render to its proper ecclesiastical authority a faithful account of the disposition of the offerings and alms which it collects (Canon 319 #2).
(53) - 1) The Nocturnal Adoration Society, because it is chartered by legitimate authority for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, shares with some Religious communities the privilege of having Exposition even if only one or two are present in adoration. ("Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass." No. 90, June 21, 1973).
(54) - 2) As members of a church-chartered society dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Nocturnalists have the designation of praying in the name of the whole community and of the Church ("Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside of Mass," No. 90, June 21, 1973).
(55) - 3) the following Indulgences, which are taken from the revised Book of Indulgences and which may be gained by anyone who fulfills the required conditions, are listed here because they encompass the actions and prayers of Nocturnalists.
a) A Plenary Indulgence may be gained for an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (Enchiridon No. 3).
The grant is extended to whomever makes 30 minutes of adoration.
Conditions: Confession, Communion, prayer for the Holy Father. Confession may be several days before or after the Hour. Communion and prayer for the Pope, preferably on the same day.
Plenary indulgences may be applied to the deceased.
b) A Partial Indulgence may be gained for the following good works:
Spiritual Communion, i.e., Communion of desire, expressed in any formula (Enchiridion No. 15).
Recitation of the DeProfundis, as is done in our Prayers for the Deceased (Office Book) or in our Little Office of the Resurrection (Enchiridion No. 19).
Spending some time in meditation, as is done in our Vigils (See No. 39 and Enchiridion No. 38).
For the devout making of the Sign of the Cross (Enchiridion No. 55).
Prayers for Vocations, as is done in Part III, Petition, of our Office Book (Enchiridion No. 37).
The Statutes presented here, like all law, are means to an end; they are meant to help achieve the purpose of the Nocturnal Adoration Society. Some of the Statutes are of a binding character, others are more flexible in nature. This is of course as it should be, since a truly vibrant organization must enjoy stability yet have room for imagination and creativity. Granting this, a local Chapter of the Society will do well periodically to measure itself against the ideals and practical directives set forth herein. Ultimately, however, it is the lively Eucharistic faith of Nocturnalists that will nurture their fidelity to prayer, their deeper communion with Christ and their day to day witness to the grace and significance of the sacrament of the Lord's memorial.