Tabernacle and Monstrance

Yesterday at Holy Rosary in downtown Indianapolis, we held our annual Corpus Christi procession.  Although my family's job for this celebration involves a lot of running around getting the three altars set up, it was a lovely procession!  As I was thinking about the feast of Corpus Christi, the procession, and the Holy Eucharist, I thought of something which I want to develop and meditate on a bit further here.

What are the purposes of a tabernacle and a monstrance?  Tabernacle comes from the word for "tent" - a tabernacle is something you stay in, rest in, find comfort and home and security in when you are surrounded by the desert or the wilderness.  A tabernacle is a home-away-from-home when you're on the road. 

Monstrance comes from the word "to show or reveal", the same root as "demonstrate".  A monstrance exhibits to the world something that is worthy of honor or veneration.  A monstrance could be compared to a sedan chair, a pope-mobile, a float, where a person who is worthy of public honor is shown forth, displayed.  This does not mean displayed in the sense of a museum exhibit, where something dead and gone is peered at only by the interested parties that want to see it.  The monstrance brings something or someone who is alive and important, to the public eye.

The Holy Eucharist is housed, in different times and for different reasons, in both a tabernacle and a monstrance.  A tabernacle when Christ resides with us, when He rests in His home in the church.  A monstrance when He mingles with His people that they may see Him and recognize Him shown forth in His glory.

We are called to be both tabernacles and monstrances.  When we receive Holy Communion, we must provide our Lord a resting place, a home of comfort and security in the desert of the world.  But a tent is not a permanent structure; it is for use in travelling.  A man cannot travel within a tent.  When Christ travels, in us, we must be His monstrance!  Just as the priest carrying the Eucharist travels through the streets of a city at Corpus Christi, so we must carry Christ with us everywhere we go in the world.