An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Exposition (Sacramental)

Exhibition of the consecrated eucharistic bread for the purpose of devotion. The practice became common in the fourteenth century. It is an extension of the practice of the elevation of the host to be seen by the people during the words of institution in the eucharist. Popular devotion to the sacrament and the desire to see, rather than to receive, was characteristic of the late middle ages. Exposition was a method of extending this time. A monstrance may be used for exhibition of the Host. A monstrance is a gold or silver frame, usually in the form of a cross or a sunburst, with a glass case through which the host may be seen in the center. Exposition can also form the focus of a service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, an extra-liturgical devotion, in which hymns (usually the eucharistic hymns of Thomas Aquinas) are sung and the priest blesses the people with the sacrament. Exposition ceased in the Church of England at the Reformation but was reintroduced by Anglo-catholics in the late nineteenth century. The BCP makes no provision for exposition, but it may be seen in parishes with an Anglo-catholic piety. The significance of exposition may be questioned relative to the proper use of the sacrament for the communion of the people of God.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.