The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church
The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church — Instrumentum Laboris
General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
SYNOD OF BISHOPS
XI ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SOURCE AND SUMMIT
OF THE LIFE AND MISSION
OF THE CHURCH
The Synodal Assembly in the Year of the Eucharist
The Instrumentum Laboris and Its Use
THE EUCHARIST AND TODAY’S WORLD
HUNGERING FOR THE BREAD OF GOD
Bread for Each Person in the World
Some Essential Statistics
The Eucharist in Various Situations in the Church
The Eucharist and the Christian Meaning of Life
THE EUCHARIST AND ECCLESIAL COMMUNION
Eucharistic Mystery: The Expression of Ecclesial Unity
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Church as ‘Bride and Body of Christ’
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Other Sacraments
The Close Bond Between the Eucharist and Penance
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Faithful
Shadows in the Celebration of the Eucharist
THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH
IN THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST
THE EUCHARIST, GOD’S GIFT TO HIS PEOPLE
The Eucharist: the Mystery of Faith
The Eucharist: The New and Eternal Covenant
Faith and the Celebration of the Eucharist
Personal Faith and the Church’s Faith
The Perception of the Eucharistic Mystery among the Faithful
The Sense of the Sacred in the Eucharist
THE PASCHAL MYSTERY AND THE EUCHARIST
The Centrality of the Paschal Mystery
Names for the Eucharist
Sacrifice, Memorial and Meal
The Real Presence
THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
CELEBRATING THE EUCHARIST OF THE LORD
“We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence...”
The Introductory Rites
The Liturgy of the Word
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Concluding Rite
The Word and the Bread of Life
The Meaning of Norms
An Urgent Pastoral Program
The Dignity of the Sacred Space
ADORING THE LORD IN MYSTERY
From Celebration to Adoration
Sentiments of Adoration
Awaiting the Lord
THE EUCHARIST IN THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
The Eucharist: Font of Christian Morality
Eucharistic Persons and Communities
Mary, Woman of the Eucharist
THE EUCHARIST AND THE MISSION OF EVANGELIZATION
A Eucharistic Attitude
Social Implications of the Eucharist
The Eucharist and Inculturation
The Eucharist and Peace
The Eucharist and Unity
The Eucharist and Ecumenism
The Eucharist and Intercommunion
Ite missa est
From the very beginning, the Church has drawn her life from the Eucharist. This Sacrament is the reason for her existence, the inexhaustible source of her holiness, the power of her unity, the bond of her communion, the source of her dynamism in preaching the Gospel, the principle of her evangelizing activity, the font of charity, the heart of human promotion and the anticipation of her glory in the Eternal Banquet at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:7-9).
The Risen Lord is present in his Church in various ways, but he is present in a particularly unique way in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Through the words of consecration and the grace of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the praise and glory of God the Father. This inestimable gift and great mystery were realized at the Last Supper. With the express command of the Lord Jesus: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19), the Sacrament passes down to us through the Apostles and their successors. In this regard, St. Paul, in his account of the bread and cup of the New Covenant, writes: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” (1 Cor 11:23). Sacred Tradition accounts for its faithful transmission from one generation to the next, down to the present day.
Under Divine Providence, the deposit of Eucharistic faith, despite various doctrinal and disciplinary controversies, has come to us in its original purity as a result of primarily two ecumenical councils: Trent (1545-1563) and Vatican II (1962-1965). Various individual popes have also made notable contributions to a better understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, among them, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, both of whom undertook the task of applying in the universal Church the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council. The pontificate of Pope John Paul II enriched the Catholic Church with important documents on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, such as The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Encyclical LetterEcclesia de Eucharistiaand the Apostolic LetterMane nobiscum Domine. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has also shown his intention to continue the implementation of the Second Vatican Council and to follow faithfully the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Church by stating in his first discourse, addressed through the College of Cardinals to the whole Church, that the Eucharist is the lasting centre and source of the Petrine service entrusted to him.
These documents provide a profound reflection on the Sacrament of the Eucharist which has important spiritual and pastoral implications. The question of great pastoral concern, episcopal responsibility and prophetic vision is to see how this rich patrimony of faith can be implemented in the Catholic Church, extended over five continents, in the initial years of the Third Millennium of Christianity and beyond.
It came as no surprise that the episcopal conferences around the world and other ecclesial entities, after being contacted by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, proposed the topic of the Eucharist for the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat took the matter up and then submitted it to the consideration of the Holy Father, who, given the topic’s importance, most willingly accepted the proposal. He then formulated the synod’s theme in the following manner: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church, and, at the same time, established the dates of the synodal assembly, 2 - 23 October 2005. The topic explicitly alludes to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council on the Eucharist, set forth for the most part in the Dogmatic Constitution on the ChurchLumen gentium, 11 and taken up anew in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1 and 13. It is not a matter of simply citing the conciliar document but systematically assessing—considering the renewed enthusiasm for the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council—how its teachings on the Sacrament of the Eucharist have been applied in light of the Church’s Magisterium on the subject.
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, with the assistance of the members of the Ordinary Council, began preparation for the XI Ordinary General Assembly, with the drafting of theLineamenta. This document was published at the beginning of 2004 to foster in the Church widespread discussion and reflection on the mystery of the Eucharist, the mystery celebrated and adored in the dioceses and communities of the Catholic Church and the mystery proclaimed by the Church to all the world. The Lineamenta was sent to the episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General, with the expressed request that they set aside time for reflection and prayer on the topic and respond to the questions which treated various pastoral aspects related to the Eucharist. Because of the means of social communication, this document received a wide distribution in the Church and the world. Under the guidance of the bishops, the entire People of God made significant contributions on the topic in preparation for the synodal assembly. In various countries of the world, dioceses, parishes and other ecclesial communities engaged in discussion in what amounted to an inquiry on faith in the Eucharist and Eucharistic practice in the Universal Church.
Submissions arriving at the General Secretariat from the aforementioned collegial bodies were categorized as “responses,” while the unsolicited contributions of others wishing to take part in the synodal process, were classified as “observations.” In each case, the results were included in the Instrumentum laboris, a document which is intended to be a faithful summary of the information which arrived at the General Secretariat. The present document reflects the general contents of the submissions and does not represent a systematic, complete, theological treatise on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which already exists in the Church. Instead, it touches upon some doctrinal truths of notable influence in celebrating this sublime mystery of our faith, which puts in relief the Sacrament’s great pastoral richness. This document then is principally concentrated on the positive aspects of the celebration of the Eucharist which bring the faithful together and make them a community, despite their differences in race, language, nation and culture. Mention is also made of various insufficiencies and oversights in the celebration of the Eucharist which, thanks be to God, are rather contained. Their inclusion, nonetheless, provides the occasion for clergy and the faithful to consider the due reverence and piety towards the Eucharist which is to characterize their celebration of this sacred mystery. Each section ends with various proposals from a number of responses which were a result of a profound pastoral reflection by particular Churches and other bodies which were consulted.
Clearly, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated in a notable variety of ways in each country and continent as a result of the Catholic Church’s many spiritual traditions or rites. This diversity, far from weakening the Church’s unity, manifests the Church’s richness as a catholic communion distinguished by an exchange of gifts and experiences. Catholics of the Latin tradition perceive this richness in the spirituality of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as seen in both the Lineamenta and Instrumentum laboris. Christians of the Eastern Traditions in turn rediscover the notable theological and spiritual patrimony of the Latin tradition. Such an understanding has ecumenical implications. Indeed, if the Catholic Church is said to breathe with two lungs—and for this, we render thanks to Divine Providence—she also awaits the blessed day when such spiritual richness can be extended and revived in full, visible union with the Eastern Churches, who, in the absence of full communion, profess in great part the same faith in the mystery of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The prime purpose of the Instrumentum laboris is to provide the synod fathers with their “working document” and reference point in further discussion on the Eucharist, which, as the heart of the Church, spurs her on in communion to a renewed missionary dynamism. There is no doubt that reflection will be fruitful, because the spirit of collegiality, characteristic of the synod, will foster consensus on the propositions which are destined for the Holy Father. In the process, further benefit will also result in liturgical renewal, exegetical research and theological study which has taken place since the Second Vatican Council.
The submissions, summarized in the Instrumentum laboris, demonstrate the desire of the People of God that the work of the synod fathers, gathered around the Bishop of Rome, the Head of the Episcopal College and President of the Synod, together with others coming from the Church community, contribute towards a rediscovery of the beauty of the Eucharist as the Sacrifice, Memorial and Banquet of Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. The faithful are awaiting appropriate guidance so that the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Bread-Come-Down-from-Heaven (cf. Jn 6:58), offered by God the Father in his only-begotten Son, might be celebrated with more dignity; that the Lord might be adored with greater devotion under the species of bread and wine; and that the bond of unity and communion might be strengthened among those who are nourished by the Lord’s Body and Blood. Such an idea is to be expected, since Christians, who participate in the Table of the Lord and are enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are a living part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. They are his witnesses in everyday life and in the workplace, always attentive to the spiritual and material needs of others and active in constructing a more just world, where every one will have a share in our daily bread.
Inspired by the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Woman of the Eucharist, the synod fathers approach their work in a spirit of readiness and willingness to do the will of God the Father as well as in an attitude of openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They will be sustained by their bond of communion with the clergy and faithful, who, in this Year of the Eucharist, continue, with renewed zeal, to pray, celebrate, adore and bear witness to the fruitfulness of the Eucharistic mystery through a Christian life and fraternal charity, thus proclaiming with renewed apostolic vigour—to those nearby and those far away—the beauty of the great gift of faith contained in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church in the Third Millennium of Christianity.
Tit. Archbishop of Sisak
The Synodal Assembly in the Year of the Eucharist
1. The XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place from 2 to 23 October 2005 to treat the topic: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church. The preparatory phase for this synodal assembly involved the entire Catholic Church throughout the world, thanks to the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II, who promulgated the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia and the Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine. Also contributing to the preparation were the bishops and theologians who participated in the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.1 Other documents, related in a certain way to the synod topic, are the Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum and the subsidy The Year of the Eucharist: Suggestions and Proposals of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The latter was distributed on the occasion of the opening of the Year of the Eucharist, which began on 17 October 2004 and will conclude with the synodal assembly.
The Lineamenta was drafted to guide the preparatory phase. The document was not intended to be a complete tract on the Eucharist nor was it a simple presentation of the doctrinal content of the above-mentioned documents. Instead, it delineated various questions which are emerging on essential points of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist in light of Sacred Scripture and Divine Tradition.
Responses to the Lineamenta and its Questions were sent to the General Secretariat by episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General. Observations also came from bishops, priests, men and women religious, theologians and the lay faithful. Both are contained in the Instrumentum laboris. This “working document” for the future assembly, provides general information on the situation of faith, worship and Eucharistic life in the particular Churches throughout the world and evaluates that situation in light of the faith of the Universal Church.
The Instrumentum Laboris and Its Use
2. The Instrumentum laboris presents both doctrinal and pastoral information to promote reflection and discussion in the immediate preparation for the synodal assembly and to assist the synod fathers in their interventions and exchange in the synod hall. Bishops are always engaged in taking into account the doctrinal and pastoral aspects of the Eucharist in the normal exercise of their triple office as bishop—to teach, to shepherd and to sanctify the People of God. Indeed, the Church’s practice must continually be placed alongside her perennial teachings, which find their source in Sacred Scripture and Divine Tradition.
In applying this method to the synod topic, we are to see if the law of prayer corresponds to the law of faith. We are to consider what the People of God believes and how the People of God lives, so that the Eucharist can become more and more the source and summit of the life and mission of not only the Church but each member of the faithful through liturgy, spirituality and catechesis in the various areas of culture, society and civil life.
The responses to the Lineamenta have shown that the Eucharist needs to be considered under the two aspects of fons and culmen in the Church. The Eucharist as Sacrifice and Sacrament is the source from which, through the Lord’s words and the work of the Holy Spirit, comes the fruits of the passion of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection. The Eucharist is the summit of the Church’s life, since communion with the Lord leads to the sanctification and “divinization” of a person as a member of the community gathered around the Table of the Lord. The duty to transform temporal realities flows from this truth—fons et culmen—which is the general topic for the synod. The Eucharist can be said to contain the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice: God who totally and gratuitously giving of himself and the person who completely abandons himself to a loving Father. This dual action of love corresponds in some way to the Eucharist as sacrifice and banquet.
Generally speaking, the responses indicated that people were pleased that the Lineamenta proposed a consideration of the Eucharistic liturgy from both the Latin and Eastern traditions. An osmotic action of this type can be mutually enriching and beneficial; it can serve to praise the positive aspects or “lights” concerning the Eucharist and help disperse the negative aspects or “shadows” said to exist in many places. The Instrumentum laboris seeks to follow the same process, in other words, to consider the subject from the perspective of the entire tradition of the Church, and not simply from the Latin tradition, though some phenomena singularly exist in this rite.
The Instrumentum laboris is offered to the bishops of the particular Churches so that they, together with the People of God, might prepare themselves for the synod, when the synod fathers will formulate useful recommendations for the Bishop of Rome in fostering Eucharistic renewal in the Church’s life.
THE EUCHARIST AND TODAY’S WORLD
HUNGERING FOR THE BREAD OF GOD
“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. They said to him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’” (Jn 6:33-34)
Bread for Each Person in the World
3. When the people ask Jesus for a sign so they can believe, he tells the crowd that he himself is the true bread that satisfies hunger (cf. Jn 6:35); he is the Bread come down from heaven for the life of the world. The present-day world also stands in need of this bread, if it is to have life. In the discourse in which Jesus presents himself as the Bread for the life of the world, the crowd begs him: “Lord, give us this bread always” (Jn 6:34). This plea is charged with meaning, since it expresses a deep longing planted in the heart of not only the Church’s members but every person who seeks happiness, a happiness which is symbolized by the bread of eternal life. Despite various kinds of difficulties and contradictions, the world, in this year of the Lord 2005, aspires to happiness and desires the bread of life for soul and body. In response to this hunger of the human heart, Pope John Paul II made an earnest appeal to the Church’s members to use the Year of the Eucharist as an occasion to make a serious commitment to fight the tragedy of hunger, the affliction of illness, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships of the unemployed and the struggles of immigrants. The actions in response to this appeal will be the measure for judging the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations.2
Humanity and all creation in general await the new heaven and the new earth (cf. 2 Pt 3:13) and the unification of all things in Christ, even the things of earth (cf. Eph 1:10). Therefore, since the Eucharist is the summit towards which all creation tends, the Eucharist is the response to the concerns of the contemporary world, even those of ecology. Indeed, the elements of water and wine, chosen by Jesus Christ for every Mass, bind the Eucharistic celebration to the world created by God and entrusted to the stewardship of humanity (cf. Gen 1:28), all the while respecting the laws which the Creator has placed in the work of his hands. The bread to become the Body of Christ is the fruit of a productive, pure and unpolluted land. The wine to be changed into the Blood of Christ is the sign of the transformation of creation to meet the needs of humanity and the safeguarding of resources necessary for future generations. The water, united to the wine and symbolizing the union in Christ of our human nature and his divine nature, retains its beneficial effects for humanity, which is thirsting for God, “the spring of water, welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14).
Some Essential Statistics
4. The topic of the synod, The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church, requires looking at some pertinent information from the world in which the Church lives and works. Though a complete, exhaustive presentation is impossible, some general statistics and considerations are given.
Some statistics plainly show the numerical relationship of the general population to the faithful who profess the Catholic faith. In 2003, the number of Catholics was 1,086,000,000,3 an increase of 15,000,000 from the preceding year. The breakdown by continent is: Africa +4.5%; America +1.2%; Asia +2.2%; and Oceania +1.3%. Europe remained practically unvaried. Regarding the distribution of Catholics in various geographical areas, figures show that America has 49.8% of the world’s Catholics, while Europe has 25.8%. The percentage is less in other continents: Africa 13.2%, Asia 10.4% and Oceania, 0.8%. In relation to a continent’s total population, the percentage of Catholics is: 62.46% in America, 39.59% in Europe, 26.39% in Oceania, 16.89% in Africa and 2.93% in Asia.4
As for areas of jurisdiction in the Church, ecclesiastical territories showed an increase of 19 in 2001, that is, the number rose from 2,864 in 2001 to 2,883 territories in 2002, indicating a growth on all continents.5 The number of the world’s bishops grew 27.68%, increasing from 3,714 in 1978 to 4,742 in 2003. The overall number of priests in 2003 (405,450 - 268,041 diocesan and 137,409 religious), with respect to the figures of 1978 (420,971: 262,485 diocesan and 158,486 religious), fluctuated 3.69%, due to a decrease of 13.30% in the number of priest-religious and an increase of 2.12% in that of diocesan priests. There was a decrease of 27.94% in the number of non-clerical professed men-religious (75,802 in 1978, 54,620 in 2003). The number of professed women-religious (990,768 in 1978, 776,269 in 2003) fluctuated 21.65%.6
Because of the vital connection between the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Orders, attention needs to be given to the increase, from 1978 to 2003, in the number of Catholics in relation to the number of priests, that is, one priest for every 1,797 Catholics in 1978 to one priest for every 2,677 Catholics in 2003. The situation is quite diverse from continent to continent. For example, in Europe, there is one priest for every 1,386 Catholics; in Africa, one for every 4,723 Catholics; in America, one for every 4,453; in Asia, one for every 2,407; and in Oceania, one for every 1,746.7 In the same period, the permanent deaconate also witnessed a strong development with the overall number of deacons multiplying over 15 times or having a relative increase of 466.7%. It should be pointed out that America (especially North America) has 65% of the permanent deacons worldwide, with Europe having 32%. The noteworthy role of the world’s lay missionaries (172,331) and catechists (2,847,673) also deserves mention.8
5. The synod is to take place in a period marked by strong contrasting forces within the human family. The idea of globalization gives the illusion of a united human race, in many cases as a result of the mass media which report happenings from every corner of the globe. For the most part, the last ten years have witnessed an exceptional development in technology. Unfortunately, globalization and technological progress have not lead to peace and greater justice between the rich nations and the poorer ones of the Third and Fourth Worlds. The situation makes one think that, while the synod fathers are gathering, acts of violence, terrorism and war will unfortunately continue in various parts of the world. At the same time, many brothers and sisters will fall victim to various illnesses, for example, AIDS, which brings devastation to entire sectors of populations, especially in poorer countries.
Regrettably, the scandal of hunger continues to endure; indeed, it has worsened in recent years, given that more than a billion people live in misery. In this regard, some statistics from society are worth considering, particularly relating to the question of hunger. This subject cannot be overlooked in the Church’s evangelizing mission in the world. Human promotion, in many areas of social life, including health, humanitarian assistance and education, have always gone hand in hand with the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel and her gift of salvation in the Sacraments. Therefore, in treating hunger, it must be borne in mind that, in the years 1999 to 2001, 842 million persons were undernourished in the world, 789 million of them in developing countries, especially Sub-Sahara Africa, Asia and the Pacific.9 This dramatic situation is an inescapable reality in the discussion of the synod fathers, who, like every Christian at various times during the day, pray to the Lord: “give us this day our daily bread.”
The Eucharist in Various Situations in the Church
6. The Lineamenta responses indicate that Mass attendance on Sundays is high in various particular Churches in the countries of Africa and also in some Asian countries. The opposite is the case in the majority of countries in Europe, America and Oceania. In some cases, the percentage of those who participate at Sunday Mass is as low as 5%. Generally speaking, the faithful who neglect to attend Mass on Sundays do not consider participating at Mass important in their life. Basically, they lack an understanding of the true nature of the Mass as Sacrifice and Eucharistic Banquet which gathers the faithful around the Lord’s altar.
Mass on Saturday evening permits those truly unable to attend Sunday Mass to fulfill their Sunday obligation. However, in some cases, people take advantage of this privilege to engage in servile work on Sundays. In many places, the number of persons attending weekday Masses is small. Some participate on a regularly basis, others on occasion, and still others come out of a sense of their Christian commitment.
Ongoing, intensive catechesis on the importance and obligation to participate at Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation needs to be encouraged. At times, the obligatory character is minimized by a person’s insisting that its observance depends on how one feels at the moment.
7. Certain particular Churches are witnessing a significant decline in the practice of the faith and participation at Mass, prevalently among the young. This should lead to a reflection on how much time pastors and catechists spend in teaching the faith to children and youth as compared to time in social activities.
An increasingly secularized society has caused a weakening in the sense of mystery. This is witnessed in mis-interpretations and distorted ideas in the Council’s liturgical renewal, which has led to rites superficial in nature and devoid of spiritual significance. Nevertheless, some Christian communities have maintained a deep sense of mystery, so much so that the liturgy continues to have great meaning.
Some express a certain appreciation for inculturated liturgies which permit increased participation. As a result, Mass attendance has been on the rise, with many young people and adults more actively involved in the Church’s life and mission. In rural areas, the scarcity of clergy in parishes has resulted in the celebration of Mass at certain times each month or even each year. In these situations, the practice of entrusting a Sunday service to lay people is unavoidable.
8. People ought clearly to be taught that entering into the mystery of the Eucharist depends on a liturgical celebration which is done with dignity, due preparation and, above all, faith in the mystery itself. In this regard, the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio can be of assistance, since it points out two causes for a lack of faith which is having a negative impact on the missionary spirit: the secularization of salvation and religious relativism. The former leads to a struggle in favour of the person, but a person reduced to only one dimension—earthbound.10 Such an attitude takes the minister of the mysteries of God and links his vocation to being simply a promoter of social justice. The latter leads to the destruction of Christian truth, since it maintains that one religion is as good as another.11 Far from allowing this to be a source of lament, Pope John Paul II appealed in his Apostolic Letter, Novo millennio ineunte, for a strengthening of the Church’s missionary activity.12
The synod’s topic can be developed properly by bearing the aforementioned in mind and remembering that for the Apostles and Church Fathers—consider St. Justin alone13—the Eucharist is the holiest action the Church can perform. She firmly believes that the Risen Lord is truly and fully present in the Eucharist. Christ’s presence is the Sacrament’s basic end.
Because of the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, the Church always approaches this mystery—the essence of the Liturgy—with fear and trembling, and likewise, with great trust. Reverence towards the mystery of the Eucharist and awareness of its sublime character are much needed today. This requires a structured program of formation. Much will depend, however, on having places which can serve as models, places where the Eucharist is truly believed and properly celebrated, places where people can personally experience what the Sacrament is—the only authentic response to a person’s every need in the search for life’s meaning.
The Eucharist and the Christian Meaning of Life
9. Each person questions the meaning of life: What is the meaning of my life? What is freedom? Why does suffering and death exist? Is there anything beyond the grave? In a word, does life have meaning or not?14 This questioning continues even though people often delude themselves into thinking that they are self-sufficient or fall victim to fear and uncertainty. Religion is the ultimate response to the search for life’s meaning, since it leads a person to the truth about himself in relation to the true God.
The Eucharist “reveals the Christian meaning of life”15 and provides a response to the perennial question of life’s meaning by proclaiming the resurrection and the full and lasting Real Presence of Christ, the pledge of future glory. This implies that people put their relationship with God at the
basis of everything. This relationship is to become their source of freedom, enabling them to enter into the most profound depths of their being so that they can make a totally free gift of self. This occurs in the paschal mystery where truth and love meet and show themselves to be the distinguishing features of true religion. Thus, the Eucharist manifests the truth of God’s Word: nihil hoc verbo veritatis verius, as sung in the Eucharistic hymn Adoro Te, Devote.
The meaning of the Eucharist is entirely explained in Jesus’ words: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19). Firstly, these words proclaim that Jesus Christ has brought eternity into time, giving it a definitive orientation and eliminating its destructive power. Secondly, these words highlight the fact that divine and human freedom meet in Jesus Christ, thereby establishing a communion which enables a person to conquer the Evil One. Finally, these words mean that Jesus Christ is the inexhaustible source of renewal for both people and the world, despite humanity’s limitations and sins.
10. The Lineamenta responses lament a certain separation of the pastoral life from the Eucharist. The synod, therefore, could encourage the strengthening of the bond between life and mission. The Eucharist is the response to the signs of the times in contemporary culture. In a culture of death, the Eucharist is the culture of life. In an atmosphere of individual and societal selfishness, the Eucharist re-affirms total self-giving. Where there is hate and terrorism, the Eucharist places love. In response to scientific positivism, the Eucharist proclaims mystery. In desperate times, the Eucharist teaches a sure hope of a blessed eternity.
The Eucharist manifests that the Church and the future of the human race are bound together in Christ and in no other reality. He is the one, truly lasting rock. Therefore, Christ’s victory is the Christian People who believe, celebrate and live the Eucharistic mystery.
THE EUCHARIST AND ECCLESIAL COMMUNION
“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17)
Eucharistic Mystery: The Expression of Ecclesial Unity
11. In exhorting the faithful to flee from idolatry and to avoid eating flesh sacrificed to idols, St. Paul highlights the Christian’s intimate bond of communion with the Body and Blood of Christ, thus making of the multitudes of the faithful, one body, one community and one Church (cf. 1 Cor 8:1-10).
The subject of ecclesial communion received particular attention during the Second Vatican Council.16 It was also treated in the final report of the Second Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops—held to commemorate the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the same Council17—and the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the bishops of the Catholic Church.18 Ecclesial communion was amply set forth in Chapter VI of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, promulgated after the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This papal document, reflecting the mind of the synod, emphasized that the communion of the bishops with the Successor of Peter, the sign of unity between the universal Church and the particular Churches, has its culminating point in the Eucharistic celebrations of the bishops with the Pope during their ad limina visits. The Eucharist presided over by the Holy Father and concelebrated by the Pastors of the particular Churches expresses the unity of the Church in an eminent way. These concelebrated Masses clearly illustrate that “every Eucharist is celebrated in communion with one’s own bishop, with the Roman Pontiff and with the College of Bishops, and through them with the faithful of the particular Church and of the whole Church. So that the universal Church is present in the particular Church and the particular Church becomes part, together with the other particular Churches, of the communion of the universal Church.”19
The responses to the Lineamenta, in commenting on the Eucharist as the expression of ecclesial communion, highlight the following aspects of the subject which warrant particular treatment: the relation of the Eucharist to the Church; the relation of the Eucharist to the other Sacraments, especially Penance; the relation of the Eucharist to the faithful; and adverse situations or “shadows” in the celebration of the Eucharist.
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Church as ‘Bride and Body of Christ’
12. The Eucharist is the heart of ecclesial communion. From the many figures applied to the Church, the Second Vatican Council preferred one which expresses her totality—mystery. The Church is primarily the mystical encounter between God and humanity. As such, she is Spouse and Body of Christ, Mother and the People of God. Because of the mutual relationship between the Eucharist and the Church, the notes of the Creed can be applied to both—one, holy, catholic and apostolic—as illustrated in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia.20
The Eucharist builds the Church and the Church is the place where communion is realized with God and humanity. The Church is aware that the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity, holiness, apostolicity and catholicity and the sacrament essential to the Church as Bride of Christ and the Body of Christ. At the same time, the marks of the Church are the bonds of catholic communion which give the Eucharistic celebration its legitimacy.
Pope John Paul II recalled that “the Church is the Body of Christ: we walk ‘with Christ’ to the extent that we are in relationship ‘with his body’.”21 This is the real basis for a certain manner of acting at the Eucharist and for observing the norms of celebration. This is the Church as Bride rendering obedience to Christ.
13. The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist builds the Church. Although both were instituted by Christ, one in view of the other, the two terms of the well-known aphorism are not equivalent. If the Eucharist builds up the Church, because of the presence of the living Christ in the Sacrament, Jesus willed the Church beforehand to celebrate the Eucharist. The Christians of the Eastern Churches emphasize that the Church pre-existed from the time of creation in her earthly realization. Belonging to the Church is the basis for admittance to the sacraments. No one can approach the Eucharist without having first received Baptism; no one can return to the Eucharist without first having received the Sacrament of Penance, the so-called “arduous Baptism” which takes away mortal sins. From the early days of the Church, to express this exacting preparation, the catechumenate for initiation and the penitential practice for reconciliation were instituted respectively. Furthermore, without the Sacrament of Orders, there can be no valid and lawful celebration of the Eucharist.
For this reason, the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia speaks of the “causal influence of the Eucharist...at its very origins,”22 and the intimate bond linking one to the other.23 Bearing this in mind, one can better understand that “the celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection. The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension...and in its visible dimension.... The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation. Only in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and true participation in it.”24 In this Eucharistic ecclesiology, the Eucharist always remains the source and summit of ecclesial life. However, this does not mean that everything in the Church can be drawn from the Eucharist. In this regard, the Second Vatican Council affirms: “The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and conversion.”25
The parish is the ordinary place where the Church lives her life. The parish, duly renewed and animated, is most suited to formation and Eucharistic worship, given that—as Pope John Paul II taught—“parishes are communities of the baptized who express and affirm their identity above all through the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.”26 The parish should also draw from the experience and assistance of movements and new communities which, under the promptings of the Holy Spirit and in accordance to each’s charism, have shown an appreciation for the elements of Christian initiation, thereby helping many of the faithful to rediscover the beauty of the Christian vocation with the Sacrament of the Eucharist as its centre.
14. Catholic ecclesiology is expressed in the Anaphora of the Liturgy, in the so-called diptychs, which recall the Eucharistic aspect of the primacy of the Pope, Bishop of Rome, as the interior principle of the universal Church. This is analogous to the role of the bishop in his particular Church.27 One Eucharist calls the one Church to unity, defying any break-down into multi-Churches. The one Church willed by Christ always returns to the Eucharist, which is realized in communion with the apostolic college, whose head is the Successor of Peter. This bond gives to the Eucharist its legitimate character. The Eucharistic unity willed by Christ does not result simply from the common union of so-called “Sister Churches.” The interior character of the Sacrament is communion with the Successor of Peter, who is the principle of unity in the Church and the recipient of the charism of unity and universality, that is, the Petrine charism. Ecclesial unity, then, is manifested in the unity of Christians in a sacramental and Eucharistic manner.
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Other Sacraments
15. A specific relationship exists between the Eucharist and the other sacraments. A treatment of this subject needs to bear in mind the teaching of the Council of Trent which states that the sacraments “contain the grace they signify,” and confer that grace in their celebration.28 All sacraments, ecclesiastical ministers and apostolic works are intimately bound to the Sacred Eucharist and are ordered to it.29 Therefore, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is “the perfection of all perfections.”30
The relation of the Sacraments to the Eucharist does not only concern their liturgical celebration but is based primarily on the essential nature of each sacrament. The Sacrament of Baptism is indispensable for entering into ecclesial communion, which in turn is strengthened by the other sacraments, thus offering the believer “grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). The fundamental relation of Baptism to the Eucharist is understood to be the font of the Christian life. In Churches of the Eastern tradition, Holy Communion is administered with Baptism, while in the Churches of the Latin tradition, the Eucharist is received at the age of reason, and only after Baptism.
The responses to the Lineamenta call for a clearer treatment of the theological connection of Baptism to the Eucharist as the summit of initiation, though this does not necessarily mean that the Sacrament of Baptism should always be celebrated during Mass. Concern was raised at the quality of such a catechesis.
16. A theological connection also exists between Confirmation and the Eucharist, because the Holy Spirit leads a person to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. To make this connection more evident, some particular Churches restored the practice of administering Confirmation before Holy Communion.
The Eucharist is the summit of an authentic program of Christian initiation. To live as a Christian means to put the gift of Baptism into effect, a gift which is strengthened in Confirmation and nourished through regular participation at Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation.
In many cases, by delegating the administration of Confirmation to priests, the role of the bishop as the ordinary minister of the Sacrament is put at risk. In so doing, the newly confirmed lose the opportunity of meeting the father and visible head of the particular Church.
17. Some responses commented on the proper age for receiving First Communion in the Church of the Latin tradition, given the spiritual and pastoral benefits which have resulted in administering the Sacrament in early childhood. When treating the subject, the words of Pope John Paul II, reported in his book, Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way!,31 deserve consideration. The Pope recently recalled that “children are the present and the future of the Church. They play an active role in the evangelization of the world, and, with their prayers, help to save and improve it.”32
In the past, this question received treatment in the Decree Quam singulari, which allowed children to receive the Eucharist as early as 7 years old—considered to be the age of reason—when they can distinguish the Eucharistic bread from ordinary bread. In this case, First Communion is preceded by First Confession in the Sacrament of Penance.33 Today, this approach seems even more necessary, because many children attain the use of reason and are subject to dangers and temptations at an early age. This practice affirms the primacy of grace, which has brought great benefits to the Church, and fostered priestly vocations.
18. The relation of Holy Orders to the Eucharist is seen primarily at Mass presided over by bishop or priest in the Person of Christ the Head.
The Church’s teaching makes Holy Orders a requirement for the valid celebration of the Eucharist.
For this reason, many strongly recommended highlighting the fact that “in the celebration of the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood differs from the common priesthood of the faithful in essence and not merely in degree.”34 Similarly, it was suggested that when priests participate at the celebration of the Eucharist, they do so as celebrants, thereby fulfilling their role coming from their reception of the Sacrament of Orders.35
19. Reference was made to the Sacrament of Matrimony which customarily takes place during the celebration of the Eucharist in Churches of the Latin tradition; this is not the case in Eastern Churches.
The celebration of Matrimony during Mass highlights the paradigm of Christian love, that is, the love of Jesus Christ, who, in the Eucharist, loves the Church as his Bride to the point of giving his life for her. This spousal love is likewise accentuated when the Sacrament of Matrimony is celebrated outside of Mass.36 The Eucharist then remains the inexhaustible source of union and enduring love for the Sacrament of Matrimony and becomes food for the entire family in building a Christian home.
20. As for the other sacraments, the relation of the Sacrament of the Sick to the Eucharist finds its source in the person of Christ, who, in his concern for those afflicted with every kind of illness, revealed the meaning of his mission to heal and save humanity.
The Lineamenta responses suggest presenting the relation of the Anointing of the Sick to the Eucharist as comfort and hope in time of illness, even before the idea of the Eucharist as Viaticum. Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are encouraged to visit the seriously ill and elderly persons unable physically to be present at Mass in Church. For the benefit of these people, some responses think it opportune to utilize the means of social communication in broadcasting Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations. In putting this modern technology to use, however, those employed would benefit from an appropriate formation in theology, pedagogy and culture.
21. Generally speaking, the liturgical norms of the Eastern Churches do not provide for the celebration of the sacraments during Mass, though some exceptions exist for Baptism and Matrimony. Each Church is responsible for issuing appropriate norms regarding the practice.
The responses show that in the particular Churches of the Latin rite the celebration of the sacraments during Mass takes place in various ways according to local customs from country to country. Some dioceses have norms regulating the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals during Mass, especially in the case of mixed marriages and funerals of non-practising Catholics.
As in Baptism and Penance, the rituals normally make a distinction between individual and communal celebrations. Although the latter is pastorally preferred, it should not lead to an over-emphasis on the communal aspect, since the sacraments always remain a gift to the individual person. In determined circumstances, the faithful have the right to receive a sacrament individually.
The Close Bond Between the Eucharist and Penance
22. The Sacrament of Penance restores the bonds of communion broken by mortal sin.37 Consequently, the relation of the Eucharist to the Sacrament of Penance deserves particular attention. The responses point out the need to treat the Sacrament of Penance as geared towards the Eucharist and the Church, understanding it to be the necessary condition for encountering and adoring, in a spirit of holiness and purity of heart, the Lord who is All-Holy. Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles to indicate the holiness of the Eucharistic mystery. St. Paul affirms that sin is a profanation likened to prostitution, because our bodies are one with Christ (cf. 1 Cor 6:15-17). Thus, for example, St. Csarius of Arles states: “every time we come to Church, we set our souls in order according to the state of God’s Temple. Do you want to find a resplendent basilica? Then, don’t soil your spirit with the uncleanliness of sin.”38
The relation of the Eucharist to Penance in today’s society greatly depends on both a sense of sin and a sense of the sacred. The distinction between good and evil oftentimes becomes a subjective matter. People today, by insisting that conscience is strictly a personal affair, risk losing a sense of sin.
23. Many Lineamenta responses refer to the rapport between the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
In many countries, persons have lost, or are gradually losing, an awareness that conversion is necessary for receiving the Eucharist. Its connection with the Sacrament of Penance is not always understood, e.g., the necessity of being in the state of grace before receiving Holy Communion. As a result, the obligation of confessing mortal sins is forgotten.39
The idea of communion as “food for the journey” has also caused a minimization of the necessity of being in the state of grace. Instead, just as proper nourishment presupposes a healthy, living being, so the Eucharist requires that a person be in the state of grace so the Baptismal commitment can be re-enforced. How can a person be in the state of mortal sin and receive the One who is a “medicine” of immortality and an “antidote” to death.40
Where many faithful know that they cannot receive communion while in mortal sin, they do not have a clear idea of what constitutes mortal sin. Others give no thought to it. Oftentimes, the situation creates a vicious circle: “I won’t receive communion because I have not gone to confession; I don’t go to confession, because I have no sins to confess.” Though such an attitude can be traced to a variety of causes, the principal one is a lack of proper catechesis on the subject.
Another rather widespread problem is created by a lack of access to the Sacrament of Penance at convenient times. In some countries, individual confessions have been eliminated. At most, the Sacrament is celebrated twice a year, during a communal liturgy, resulting in a hybrid form of the Sacrament which draws from both the second and third rites provided in the ritual.
Certainly, thought needs to be given to the great disproportion between the many who receive Holy Communion and the few who go to confession. The faithful frequently receive Holy Communion, without even thinking that they might be in the state of mortal sin. As a result, the receiving of Holy Communion by those who are divorced and civilly remarried is a common occurrence in various countries. At funeral Masses, weddings or other celebrations, many receive Holy Communion only out of the generally-held, mistaken conviction that a person cannot participate at Mass without receiving Holy Communion.
24. Apart from the fore-mentioned pastoral problems, many responses were very encouraging. They call for an awareness of the proper conditions for receiving Holy Communion and the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance, which, preceded by an examination of conscience, prepares the heart, purifying it of sin. To achieve this, the responses mention that the connection between the two sacraments be often treated in homilies.
Some wished that serious thought be given to reverting to the Eucharistic fast practised by the Eastern Churches.41 Fasting relies on self-control which has recourse to the will and leads to the purification of mind and heart. St. Athanasius states: “Do you want to know what fasting does? ... it casts out demons and liberates us from evil thoughts; it raises the mind and purifies the heart.”42 The Lenten liturgy calls for the purification of the heart through fasting and silence, as St. Basil recommends.43 Some Lineamenta responses raised the question of the timeliness of returning to the obligation of the three-hour Eucharistic fast.
Greater effort is needed in providing the opportunity for individual confessions. This could possibly be done in conjunction with neighbouring parishes, not only on Saturdays and Sundays but especially during Advent and Lent. Through preaching and catechesis much can be accomplished to restore a sense of sin and penitential practice, which will counteract the difficulties resulting from a secularized mentality.
Some feel that confessions should be heard before Mass, adapting the schedule to the penitent’s needs and offering the possibility of approaching the Sacrament of Penance even during the Eucharistic celebration, as recommended in the Apostolic Letter Misericordia Dei.44
Priests need to see that in administrating the Sacrament of Penance they themselves are a particular sign and instrument of God’s mercy. The Church is deeply grateful to priests who zealously hear confessions so the faithful can receive and encounter Christ in the Eucharist. The faithful will be more inclined to go to confession, if they see the priest exercising his ministry in the confessional, as seen in the example in our day of St. Leopold Mandić, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and many other holy pastors.
The Relation of the Eucharist to the Faithful
25. According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and other documents of the Magisterium,45 the lay faithful are an essential part of the communion of the Church, which is structured hierarchically.
In the incarnation of the Word, God the Father made himself visible and began a worship in spirit—conforming to reason—which is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Worship can no longer be “something learned by rote” (Is 29:13). Christian worship has Christological and anthropological implications. Therefore, the participation of the faithful at liturgical celebrations, particularly the Eucharistic Liturgy, is essentially entering into this spiritual worship where God comes down to the individual and the individual is raised to God. The Eucharist itself, the Son’s memorial, is adoration which arises to the Father in the Holy Spirit. This is the basis of the liturgical renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council.
Many mention that the idea of participation is often limited to its exterior aspects. Not everyone understands that its true meaning comes from faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Participation in the Eucharist is rightly seen as the quintessential act in the Church’s life. It is communion with Trinitarian life: God the Father, the incarnate and risen Son of God and the Holy Spirit, who works the transformation and the “divinization” of human life.
The responses to the Lineamenta agree that the faithful need assistance in understanding the nature of the Eucharist and its connection to the incarnation of the Word, in addition to their seeing that their participation in the Eucharistic mystery is primarily an interior gift of themselves in heart and mind, before ever being an exterior act. For this purpose, the suggestion was made to give greater emphasis to the spousal aspect of the Eucharist in relation to the new covenant, using it as the model for the vocations of the Christian life—marriage, virginity and priesthood—so as to form Eucharistic persons and communities who love and serve, like Jesus in the Eucharist.
26. The Second Vatican Council recommended that the means of social communication already in place should be put to good use, particularly in facilitating the participation of the faithful, who, for various reasons, cannot be physically present in Church for the celebration of the Eucharist.46 Some proposed that the various mass-media under the auspices of the Holy See engage in a coordinated effort to supply appropriate services to the universal Church in a timely and professional manner, an undertaking which could promptly counteract the increasing spread of anti-Christian teachings. A great part of this work could be done by the means of social communication which have underlying Catholic principles, so that they can be of use in the urgent task of proposing the Christian message in a balanced and positive manner and enlightening the consciences of all people of good will on ethical and moral topics of great importance for the life of the Church and society.
Shadows in the Celebration of the Eucharist
27. Regrettably, the Lineamenta responses also indicate that the ecclesial community is seriously concerned about and affected by shadows in the celebration of the Eucharist. Pope John Paul II already touched upon the subject in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia.47 The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments treated the matter more extensively in its Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum,48 which is an invitation to consider in an attentive, calm but nonetheless critical fashion, the way the Church celebrates this Sacrament, the source and summit of her life and mission. That this invitation comes at a moment when the Church is becoming more engaged in a dialogue with other religions and the world, shows the hand of Providence in the Pope’s appeal. In this way, he teaches that the Church must always take a hard look at herself, if she is to speak faithfully about herself with those involved in dialogue, without losing her proper identity as the universal sacrament of salvation.
The following text describes various shadows which came to light in analysing the Lineamenta responses. These observations should not be seen as merely transgressions of the rubrics or violations in liturgical practice but rather as indications of deep-rooted attitudes.
Regarding the observation of the Dies Domini, the responses refer to a decrease in participation at Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, due to a lack of understanding on the content and meaning of the Eucharistic mystery and to an attitude of indifference, particularly in progressively secularized countries, where oftentimes Sunday becomes just another workday.
It is widely held that Christ’s presence is a result of the community and not Christ himself, who is the font and centre of our communion and head of his Body, the Church.
Neglect of prayer, contemplation and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery has weakened the sense of the sacred in relation to this great Sacrament.
This situation can lead to compromising the truth of Catholic teaching concerning the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, traditionally called transubstantiation. It can also threaten faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a belief which suffers from ideas which intend to explain the Eucharistic mystery not so much in itself but rather from a subjective point of view, for example, in the use of terms like “trans-finalization” and “trans-signification.”
The responses note that the people are not always consistent in the faith they profess in the Sacrament and the moral implications of the Sacrament in both personal matters as well as in the general cultural and social arena.
Some Church documents are barely known, especially those of the Second Vatican Council, the great encyclicals on the Eucharist, including Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, and others. Some liturgical celebrations suffer from an improper balance, ranging from a passive following of rituals to an excessive creativity which sometimes draws too much attention to the celebrant of the Eucharist. The latter is often characterized by lengthy commentaries which do not allow the Eucharistic mystery to speak for itself through liturgical signs and formulas.
THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH
IN THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST
THE EUCHARIST, GOD’S GIFT TO HIS PEOPLE
“The Mystery of Faith”
The Eucharist: the Mystery of Faith
28. Using the above phrase, the priest-presider at the Eucharist, proclaims, in a spirit of awe, the Church’s faith in the risen Lord, really present under the elements of bread and wine, which have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into his Body and Blood.
There is general insistence on the Second Vatican Council’s teaching which refers to the Eucharist as the centre and heart of the Church’s life and, in a particular way, as the Mystery of Faith, God’s plan revealed in Jesus Christ. The God who gives himself to us, and is with us, is not only a gift and mystery of ineffable richness but also a gift and mystery continually to be rediscovered. The Mysterium fidei is the God who gives to us, the First, the Last and the Living One who has entered into time. The Lord Jesus is truly man and truly God in our midst. He is Son of God and Son of Man.
A well-known, Second Vatican Council text provides assistance in the matter of faith and mystery: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light....Christ, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”49
The word “mystery,” occurring three times, summarizes the truth concerning Christ and the truth concerning each person. The question of the mystery of the Word, the mystery of the Father and the mystery of humanity are never unresolved; they find a response in Jesus Christ who is true God and true man. By making himself “truly one of us” and being “united in a certain way with every man,”50 our Lord gives the full meaning of existence to all who desire it. He is not outside the human condition; he has brought the truth of creation to fulfilment, because “he worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart.”51 Pope John Paul II has taken this text from his first encyclical Redemptor hominis52 and practically made it the Church’s manifesto in the new millennium, in which she is called to draw on the truth concerning Christ and the truth concerning humanity and its dignity, as found in the Gospel.
29. The fact and mystery of the incarnation, fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, allows each person to participate in the divine life which is present in the Eucharist, the Bread of Eternal Life, because it has the power to overcome death. “Truly, truly I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death” (Jn 8:51). Therefore, the resurrection is offered to humanity.
The Eucharist is also at the heart of the message proclaimed by all Christians to the world for two thousands years—we bear witness that Jesus Christ was crucified but is now risen from the dead (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5).
The Eucharist proclaims the death of Christ, whose drama all can understand. Likewise, it proclaims his resurrection, which requires a faith and openness to receive God into our world. In this way, a faith born in the Eucharist becomes the basis for a new way of acting which contains in itself the ultimate, definitive meaning of awaiting the Lord’s coming.
The trinomial—faith, liturgy and life—widely existent in pastoral circles, alludes to the fact that without faith the Eucharist cannot be celebrated or lived. Without faith, there can be no discussion on the subject of active participation in the liturgy.
The Eucharist: The New and Eternal Covenant
30. Citing St. Irenaeus, The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking’.”53 In this statement, how can one not see God’s covenant in action, the very place where the individual is to live his faith commitment? “If you do not believe, surely you shall not be established” (Is 7, 9b), says the Lord. The Eucharist is the New and Eternal Covenant, the pact and testament left by Jesus in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Indeed, the entire Church expresses her faith in the New and Eternal Covenant. After listening to the Word, faith is professed in the Eucharistic mystery, the revelation and gift of God himself in Jesus Christ, which spurs Christians to give wholly and entirely of themselves. First and foremost in the Eucharist, faith means acknowledging and welcoming Jesus Christ in an encounter which totally engages a person in the depths of his being, as was the case in Mary, the model of a faith fully realized.
Faith and the Celebration of the Eucharist
31. The Lineamenta responses also treat various aspects of the faith required in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Sacrament manifests the primacy of the grace of God, who is always at the origin of everything, and his gift of the Holy Spirit, who makes us participate in his mysterious action in the Sacrament by changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus as well as making us holy. To approach the Eucharistic liturgy without faith in grace or without at least the desire to be in the state of grace, makes void any participation in worshipping in spirit and in truth.
The Eucharist proclaims the truth of God’s Word revealed in Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh, who already bears in his Person the ultimate fulfilment of human history. If one goes to the Eucharistic liturgy with doubt rather than the assent of truth, real participation is impossible.
The gift of freedom, which the Creator gives to each person, makes the act of faith a free choice of adhering to the Person of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6). In the Eucharistic liturgy, God reveals himself but also remains hidden, so as to stimulate the believer’s reason and understanding to seek him constantly and to find him in everyday life. The liturgy leads to a deeper participation in this mystical action or mistagogy, to quote the technical term used by the Church Fathers.
According to the Apostles James and Paul, love actuates and completes faith. Faith effects a change in the believer’s heart, converting it and opening it to love. Faith and love, together with hope, are the basis of Christian identity. The Eucharist, the Sacrament of Love, leads a person to love and provides the basis and purpose for his existence. Without agape-love, there is no life in the Spirit.
In considering the full reception of Holy Communion, these aspects of participation find their ultimate expression in doing God’s will, a plea made in the Our Father. A person can certainly participate at Mass, even though the necessary conditions do not exist for him to receive Holy Communion. However, the person must always nourish a desire and determination to fulfill these conditions as soon as possible.
Personal Faith and the Church’s Faith
32. Communion with Christ and his Church teaches that a personal faith continuously tends towards an ecclesial dimension, just as the profession of faith in Baptism naturally tends towards the liturgy. For this reason, access to the Eucharist—which presupposes faith—can only come about through Baptism. If the grace of Baptism is lost through sin, the “arduous Baptism,” Penance, is required to return to the Eucharist.
Before partaking of the Eucharist, the profession of faith is renewed. This fundamental bond manifests the communion of each particular Church with the local Churches throughout the world, and also the primary union with the Church of Rome and its Bishop, the necessary principle of the Church’s unity. Likewise, this reciprocity is expressed in the Anaphora, in the diptychs. In the Eucharist, we manifest both a personal faith and the faith of the Church.
Participation at the Eucharist leads to an increase in understanding the mystery of each person and his life and provides the strength for the Christian to defend his faith, when partial or erroneous explanations threaten it. Essentially, the liturgy is an integrating part of the lifelong journey in faith.
The general meaning of faith is primarily seen in the witness of the martyrs, who freely accepted death as a result of hatred towards the faith, oftentimes during or immediately after the celebration of the Eucharist. They were certain of truth and life; they followed Christ, who made a free offering of himself, leaving a memorial of his sacrifice in the Eucharist. Indeed, the acts of martyrdom which are taking place in many Churches suffering open and ill-hidden persecutions, bear witness, in the fullest manner possible, that the Sacrament is the fons et culmen of the life and mission of the Church.
The Perception of the Eucharistic Mystery among the Faithful
33. Generally speaking, the responses to the Lineamenta reveal a certain decrease in the understanding of the mystery celebrated. The Eucharist as gift and mystery is not always perceived. This is witnessed in various cultural nuances. For example, in those countries enjoying a general climate of peace and prosperity—primarily western countries—many perceive the Eucharistic mystery as simply the fulfilment of a Sunday obligation and a meal of fellowship. Instead, in those countries experiencing wars and other difficulties, many understand the Eucharistic mystery more fully, that is, including its sacrificial aspect. The paschal mystery, celebrated in an unbloody manner on the altar, gives profound spiritual meaning to the sufferings of Catholic Christians in these lands, helping these people to accept them as a participation in the mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Some responses, coming from the Church in Africa, mention that the idea of sacrifice is indigenous to the cultures of that continent. Therefore, this understanding, properly taken and purified of elements extraneous to the Gospel, is often used in pastoral catechesis for a better understanding of the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist.
Catechesis is faced with the difficulty of preserving the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist as well as the idea of the Eucharist as a meal. Oftentimes, the latter receives more emphasis than the former.
To deal with these pastoral situations, many Lineamenta responses want an effective, faithful application of the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council to reestablish a balance among the various aspects of the Eucharist. In this case, some thought that certain liturgical norms might be reviewed. Similarly, the suggestion was made to promote an adequate catechesis at all levels to help people better understand that the paschal mystery is renewed in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of praise and communion, which causes the community grow.
The Sense of the Sacred in the Eucharist
34. No one doubts the great effects resulting from the liturgical renewal prompted by the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Indeed, the post-conciliar liturgy has greatly fostered the active, conscious and fruitful participation of the faithful in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.54
Nevertheless, responses coming from various countries note some deficiencies and shadows in the celebration of the Eucharist on the part of both the clergy and the faithful, which seem to have their origin in a weakened sense of the sacred in the Sacrament. Safeguarding the Sacrament’s sacred character basically depends on being aware that the Eucharist is a mystery and gift, whose remembrance requires signs and words corresponding to its nature as a sacrament.
Certain actions which challenge a sense of the sacred, often mentioned in the Lineamenta responses, can be of assistance in treating the subject, for example, a neglect by the celebrant and the ministers to use proper liturgical vestments and the participants’ lack of befitting dress for Mass; the use of profane music in Church; the tacit consent to eliminate certain liturgical gestures thought to be too traditional, such as genuflexion before the Blessed Sacrament; an inadequate catechesis for Communion in the hand and its improper distribution; a lack of reverence before, during and after the celebration of Holy Mass, not only by the laity but also the celebrant; the scant architectural and artistic quality of sacred buildings and sacred vessels; and instances of syncretism in integrating elements from other religions in the inculturation of liturgical forms.
All these negative realities, occurring more often in the Latin Liturgy than the Liturgies of the Eastern Churches, should not lead to great alarm, since they seem to be limited. Nevertheless, they ought to spur serious reflection on how to eliminate them and to ensure that the Eucharistic liturgies are places of praise, prayer, communion, listening, silence and adoration, out of deep reverence for the mystery of God, who is revealed in Christ under the elements of bread and wine, and out of the utter joy of feeling oneself a member of a community of the faithful reconciled with God the Father through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist is the most sacred and highest form of prayer. It is the Great Prayer.
THE PASCHAL MYSTERY AND THE EUCHARIST
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).
The Centrality of the Paschal Mystery
35. Every Eucharistic celebration renews the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, bread broken for the life of the world and blood poured out for the redemption of humanity and the liberation of the cosmos (cf. Rm 8:19-23).
The synod topic ought to lead to a rediscovery of Jesus’ paschal mystery as the mystery of salvation, which gives rise to the life and mission of the Church. The Eucharist is revealed as Gift: the Lord gives himself; he is God-with-us. The Eucharist is his Person and his life given for us. The Lord exercises his priestly, prophetic and kingly mission in the Eucharist.
The Apostles and disciples declare: “The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon” (Lk 24:34). St. Paul exhorts Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim 2:8). Concerning the apostles’ testimony, St. John Chrysostom observes: “It is evident then, that if they did not see him risen and did not have undeniable proof of his power, they would never have left themselves open to so many perils.”55
In a certain way, people want everything, but they have only what can be achieved with their limited, finite power. Death and its fore-warnings of disease and suffering show how limited a person’s freedom of choice is. In his resurrection, Jesus planted the seed of ultimate hope in the history of humanity—victory over death. In the end, this is the high point of his revelation. Death is conquered not only because sin was destroyed and humanity was reconciled to God, but also because life was restored and is to be given in eternity to those who believe in Christ. Jesus Christ offers a concrete sign of this hope in willing his Church as his Mystical Body. Believers, indeed, have died and risen with Christ (cf. Rm 6:1-11).
Names for the Eucharist
36. The names given to the Eucharist need to be better explained and their content better examined for a better understanding of Christian worship. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the names given to this Sacrament: first of all, the Eucharist;56 The Lord’s Supper, both as the commemoration of the paschal meal celebrated by Christ in anticipation of The Supper of the Marriage of the Lamb in the Heavenly Jerusalem; The Breaking of Bread, the rite which emphasizes the communal sharing in one body and serves as the basis for the synaxis or Eucharistic Assembly, the visible expression of the Church; Memorial of the passion and resurrection; Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one and only sacrifice of Christ the Redeemer; The Holy or Divine Liturgy, The Sacred Mysteries, The Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, Holy Things, Medicine of Immortality, Viaticum, and Holy Mass, which highlights the missionary aspect.
Understanding the meaning of each term, without the exclusion of the others, is important for a complete catechesis, which is in turn the basis for an informed participation at the liturgy.
Sacrifice, Memorial and Meal
37. The Lineamenta responses indicate a general need to examine thoroughly the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and a hope that this truth of our faith be presented with greater clarity, according to the recent Magisterium of the Church.
The Second Vatican Council has already provided a theological reflection on Jesus’ sacrifice as a complete and totally gratuitous offering of himself to God the Father for the salvation of the world. Though numerous texts mention this aspect of the Sacrament, the reference in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium to the idea of sacrifice in the exercise of the priestly ministry deserves particular attention: “priests...exercise their sacred function in the Eucharistic liturgy or synaxis, where, acting in the Person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they join the offering of the faithful to the sacrifice of their Head. Until the Lord comes again (cf. 1 Cor 11:26), they re-present and apply in the Sacrifice of the Mass the one sacrifice of the New Testament, namely the sacrifice of Christ offering himself once and for all to his Father as a spotless victim (cf. Heb 9:11-28).”57
The Catechism of the Catholic Church58 treats the subject in the subheading: The Sacramental Sacrifice: Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence which indicates that the prevalent name, without prejudice to the others, is the Sacramental Sacrifice, namely, that the sacrificial death of Christ saved us from our sins and that the Sacrament gives each of us the possibility to experience its effects. Thanksgiving is therefore rendered to God through his sacrifice, though recalling his sacrifice, and through the presence of his sacrifice in the Body given up and in the Blood poured out. An act of thanksgiving is made to the Father for creation and for the salvation of humanity and the world.
Considering the Eucharist in this way can lay to rest any opposition between the notions of sacrifice and meal. In fact, if a supper is intended in using the second term, the notion of sacrifice would be included, since it would denote the Supper of the Lamb who was slain. Employing the second term as a synonym for communion would also manifest the end or summit of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, in treating the Eucharist as sacrifice,59 also teaches that the Church re-presents Christ’s sacrifice as an act of intercession, namely, the Son offers himself in his flesh and thereby becomes the mediator between humanity and the Father. The Church of Christ is united in this offering through the Anaphora or Eucharistic Prayer. This offering is not new; rather it is the one and same offering accomplished on the Cross, though in an unbloody manner. This understanding is helpful in reading the following reference from the Encyclical: “The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it.”60 Recounting what comes about as a result of the sacrificial love of the Lord is simply to repeat the Encyclical’s contents.
38. Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension and Pentecost are real happenings; they help us to know that the Lord’s enduring, substantial presence in the Sacrament is not a mere type or metaphor. Doubts that God’s power can work in matter account for the fact that some see the Sacrament only as a symbol of Christ’s presence. In the context of the other ways in which Christ is present in the Church, the paschal mystery allows us to understand the nature of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist resulting from the change of the elements or transubstantiation. The bread becomes the Body given up and broken for our salvation: Corpus Christi salva me; the wine becomes the Blood poured out and the overflowing of divine delight: Sanguis Christi inebria me.61 Because the Eucharist is the real and substantial presence of Christ in the “poverty” of the sacramental elements, the Sacrament can sow the seeds of a new history in the world.62 The paschal mystery confirms the condescension of God and the kenosis of the Son, without any compromise to the absolute transcendence of the Trinity.
Jesus’ words “take and eat” primarily mean the gift of himself to us which in turn leads to the fellowship of the table, the unity of the Church community and the commitment to share bread with the needy. All this gives rise to adoration, namely, the ongoing worship of the Lord, who accompanies the People of God on its pilgrimage.
Transubstantiation takes place in the consecration of the bread and wine. The responses recommend that the theology of the act of consecration be explained by drawing from the ecclesial traditions of both East and West. In particular, the consecration should be seen as the faithful imitation of what the Lord did and commanded at the Last Supper and as the result of the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the epiclesis. A clearer theology on the act of consecration would be very useful in ecumenical dialogue with the Eastern Churches which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. Likewise, it would help eliminate some shadows mentioned in the Lineamenta responses, for example, the use of hosts with leaven or other ingredients; the celebration of Mass with ordinary bread; improvisation during the Eucharistic Prayer; the recitation of certain parts of the Eucharistic Prayer by the people at the insistence of the celebrant and the fractio panis at the moment of consecration.
The Real Presence
39. The Lord willed his presence in the Sacrament so that he could be near humanity, provide himself as nourishment for humanity and continually abide in the Church community. Some responses mention that humanity’s response is faith in Christ’s Real and Substantial Presence, in accordance with the teachings of the Encyclical Letters Ecclesia de Eucharistia and Mysterium fidei. Faith in Christ’s presence in the Sacrament includes other dimensions, that is, a sense of mystery and the various ways to express it, the positioning of the tabernacle and conduct at Mass, not to mention the Sacrament’s eschatological significance as the pledge of future glory. Indeed, the Sacrament is also the anticipation of the ultimate, eternal reality as the Church journeys in pilgrimage towards the house of the heavenly Father. This final dimension is seen, for example, in the lives of persons in the consecrated life who patiently await the Bridegroom.
In the Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, for the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II proposed the following doctrinal synthesis concerning the presence of the living Christ in his Church: “All these dimensions of the Eucharist come together in one aspect which more than any other makes a demand on our faith: the mystery of the ‘real’ presence. With the entire tradition of the Church, we believe that Jesus is truly present under the Eucharistic species. This presence—as Pope Paul VI rightly explained—is called ‘real’ not in an exclusive way, as if to suggest that other forms of Christ's presence are not real, but par excellence, because Christ thereby becomes substantially present, whole and entire, in the reality of his body and blood. Faith demands that we approach the Eucharist fully aware that we are approaching Christ himself. It is precisely his presence which gives the other aspects of the Eucharist—as meal, as memorial of the paschal mystery, as eschatological anticipation—a significance which goes far beyond mere symbolism. The Eucharist is a mystery of presence, the perfect fulfilment of Jesus' promise to remain with us until the end of the world.”63
This citation confirms the teaching called for in various responses to the Lineamenta. The one hidden in the Sacrament is the kingly Mediator between God and humanity, the Eternal High Priest, the Divine Master, the
Judge of the living and the dead, the God-Man, the Word-Made-Flesh and the One who mystically gathers together all the faithful into the great community of the Church. This is the way he presents himself at Mass.
40. Some Lineamenta responses, however, mention that, at times, a certain way of acting indicates that transubstantiation and the Real Presence are understood in a symbolic sense only. Many responses noted that some celebrants at the liturgy seem more like showmen, who must draw people’s attention to themselves, instead of servants of Christ, called to conduct the faithful to union with him.64 Obviously, such a way of acting has negative repercussions on the people who run the risk of being confused in both their faith in and understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament.
True and proper liturgical signs and gestures, aimed at expressing faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, have been used in Church tradition, for example, the attentive purification of sacred vessels after communion, the steps to be taken when the Eucharistic species might accidentally fall to the floor, genuflections before the tabernacle, the use of the communion plate, the regular replacement of consecrated hosts reserved in the tabernacle, the keeping of the tabernacle key in a secure place and the celebrant’s composure and concentration in keeping with the transcendent and divine character of the Sacrament. Omitting or neglecting any of these sacred gestures, which are significantly important externally, would clearly not contribute to preserving a sound faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Sacrament. The responses therefore suggest that the gestures and signs expressing faith in the Real Presence be included in a proper mystagogy and liturgical catechesis.
41. Furthermore, it must not to be forgotten that faith in the Real Presence of the dead and risen Lord in the Blessed Sacrament has a culminating point in Eucharistic adoration, a firmly grounded tradition in the Latin Church. Such a practice—rightly highlighted in many Lineamenta responses—should not be presented as something apart from the Eucharistic celebration but as its natural continuation. The responses also indicate that some particular Churches are experiencing a reawakening in Eucharistic adoration, which, in each case, is to be done in a dignified and solemn manner.
Likewise, the positioning of the tabernacle in an easily seen place is another way of attesting to faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. In this regard, the responses to the Lineamenta request that significant thought be given to the proper location of the tabernacle in Churches, with due attention to canonical norms.65 It is worth considering whether the removal of the tabernacle from the centre of the sanctuary to an obscure, undignified corner or to a separate chapel, or whether to have placed the celebrant’s chair in the centre of the sanctuary or in front of the tabernacle—as was done in many renovations of older churches and in new constructions—has contributed in some way to a decrease in faith in the Real Presence.
The responses also note that instructions in the construction and re-structuring of Churches often insist in a particular way on the positioning of the tabernacle to express an awareness of the Real Presence. When this is done, it results in an increase in faith and adoration. Churches ought to remain places of prayer and adoration and not be transformed into museums. This is also the case for cathedrals and basilicas of great historic and artistic value.
THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
CELEBRATING THE EUCHARIST OF THE LORD
“And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).
“We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence...”66
42. The celebration of Holy Mass begins with an acknowledgment that God is present where two or more are united in his name and that we stand before him in his presence. In participating at Mass, we ought to be aware that we are at the wellspring of grace: “Our hymn of praise adds nothing to your greatness but brings us your saving grace.”67 In the Liturgy, a person looks not at himself but God.
It is not our praise but his action which makes the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the centre of the cosmic liturgy in which the Trinity is present, eternally adored by Mary and the angels who serve God. They offering us a model of service. The Three-in-One-God is also adored by the saints and the just, who enjoy the beatific vision and make intercession for us, and by the souls of the faithful, who are being purified in the sure hope of seeing God. At Mass, the Church is manifested as the Family of God, according to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa.68
The worship given to the Lord and the veneration of the saints have their centre in the paschal mystery: “By celebrating the passage of the saints from earth to heaven...the Church proclaims the paschal mystery as achieved by the saints who have suffered and been gloried with Christ.”69 This liturgy of communion, uniting heaven and earth, is celebrated for the salvation of all, even those who do not believe. Remembering the heavenly liturgy is not a matter of separating it from the earthly liturgy, but of simply taking from the heavenly liturgy its pilgrim and eschatological features.
43. The proper structure and elements of the celebration of the Eucharist are explained in The General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, especially in the Byzantine tradition—the most diffused in the Eastern Catholic Churches—and other traditions. The celebration of the Eucharist calls for a humble obedience to these canonical norms by the priest and ministers.
To foster due respect and reverence for the Eucharist, the sacred ministers should make a proper preparation in prayer before the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in which the Lord makes himself present through their hands. Afterwards, they should make an act of thanksgiving to God.70
Regrettably, some responses indicate that these times of preparation and thanksgiving are not always observed. At the same time, however, it must be acknowledged that there are many members of the clergy—including bishops, priests and deacons—and many lay persons who make these acts of praise and thanksgiving with much spiritual benefit. In this regard, many responses strongly recommend a preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist through silence and prayer, while drawing upon the various venerable traditions of worship.
44. This spirit of prayer can be created not only by the celebrant’s awareness of the great mystery he is to accomplish, but also his use of certain signs, like incense which is a symbol of prayer rising to God. The Psalmist pleas: “Like incense let my prayer rise before you and the raising of my hands like the evening sacrifice” (Ps 140:2).
The laity, through a minimal assistance and collaboration, can also contribute to a dignified celebration of the Sacred Mysteries and to creating a serene climate for the Eucharistic liturgy. At times, while preparing for the celebration of the Eucharist, the celebrant finds himself in the position of directing the ceremonies, cautioning people, giving orders and being occupied with many matters. Instead, the priest should be assisted by lectors, acolytes, ministers and the laity in such a way that he can concentrate on the Sacred Mysteries he is celebrating, and thus communicate a spirit of peace and recollection to the entire assembly, gathered around the Lord’s Table. Many responses therefore propose enlisting the collaboration of adequately trained laity and reviving the service of ostiarius, entrusting this work to well-prepared lay persons who can primarily welcome people to Church, maintain order at the liturgical celebration and ensure that only Catholics approach the altar to receive Holy Communion.
The Introductory Rites
45. The Opening Hymn, the Sign of the Cross, the Greeting and the Gloria, when said, of the Roman rite and the Antiphons, the Litany, the Hymn Unigenito of the Byzantine rite and other rites, like the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic and ancient Eastern rites, make the faithful aware that they are standing in God’s presence, before they listen to his Word and render thanks in the Eucharist. In particular, the Penitential Rite calls upon them to have the sentiments necessary for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries—those of the publican who humbly acknowledges his sinfulness. Though not having the value of a sacrament, the Penitential Rite recalls the inseparable link between penance and the Eucharist, a bond particularly seen in the Eastern Catholic Churches. The substitution of the sprinkling of water for the Penitential Rite is a reminder of Baptism, the font of new life, in which we renounced the Evil One and all his works. At the very beginning of Mass, we are reminded that approaching the Eucharist requires purification by penitence and an absence of dissension and division which stands in contradiction to the sign of unity in the Eucharist. It is important to include these aspects in catechesis and to state clearly that the penitential rite at Mass does not take away grave sins, which require absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.
The Liturgy of the Word
46. Bible readings, the Responsorial Psalm, the Acclamation before the Gospel, the Homily and the Profession of Faith make up the Liturgy of the Word. God spoke to us through his Son, the Word-Made-Flesh. The Divine Word is uniquely one and, since it brings about what is expressed, it is likewise the Bread of Life, the sign which he has accomplished. In recalling the Emmaus account (cf. Lk 24:13-35), Pope John Paul II showed the inseparable connection between the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist.71 Consequently, the Liturgy of the Word together with the Liturgy of the Eucharist constitute a single, inseparable act of worship.
The Liturgy of the Word is associated with God’s revelation in the Old Testament. The exceeding richness of God’s powerful presence, the glory of the Chosen People of Israel, has become a part of the Catholic Liturgy, because of the Word-Made-Flesh, who died and rose for the salvation of all.
Furthermore, the Second Vatican Council teaches that Jesus’ revelation goes beyond the mere codification of the Scriptural texts, which do not express it entirely.72 His word remains alive in the Church, who transmits it through the ages and makes it accessible in the sign of the Sacrament. The proclamation made by Jesus is not separate from his presence in the Sacrament; they create a unity never before seen and never to be repeated again.
His incarnation, passion, death and resurrection are word and event which are to be viewed and contemplated. The word calls one back to the event. The Eucharistic mystery will always exist in the Church’s life as a synthesis of word and event, which leads to contemplation. This is brought to mind in the Roman rite and the Byzantine Little Entrance in the veneration and honour given to the Gospel Book, understood to be the mystical entrance of the Incarnate Word and his presence in the midst of the assembly of believers.
47. In this regard, some have indicated that adequate concern has not always been shown for the proclamation of the Word of God. Lector’s need to improve their skills in their service of transmitting to the faithful the beauty of the content and the form of the Word which God addresses to his people. In some places only two readings are done on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. In this cases, some people express discontent that the New Testament Letters and the Acts of the Apostles remain unknown. Consequently, it is well to remember not to eliminate these readings, since they speak of God’s works in the early community.
After the proclamation of the Bible readings, another important part of the Liturgy of the Word is the homily, which is preached by a sacred minister to help the faithful concentrate on the Word of God, in mind and heart. To achieve this, many recommend mystogogical homilies. Homilies of this kind, based on the proclaimed texts and avoiding any inappropriate or profane references, allow the faithful to grow in their knowledge of the sacred mysteries they are celebrating, so that the light of Jesus Christ might shine on their lives.
With due consideration for passages from Sacred Scripture, thought also needs to be given to thematic homilies which, in the course of the liturgical year, can treat the great tracts of the Christian faith: the Creed, the Our Father, the parts of the Mass, the Ten Commandments and other subjects. In this regard, material could be composed by competent commissions of the episcopal conferences or synods of bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris or other bodies specialized in the pastoral activity. Some Eastern Catholic Churches lament a lack of connection between the homily and the liturgical readings, given that each year the same readings are repeated on the same days.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
48. The Lineamenta responses recommend that the Presentation of the Gifts focus on the gifts of bread and wine, which will become the Body and Blood of the Lord. Priority must be given to the bread and wine before the other gifts brought for worship and charity, since the rite of preparation and presentation at the altar have this intended purpose. Furthermore, the gifts of bread and wine refer to the great Gift of Love, the Eucharist, which spurs charity towards the poorest and all in need.
Concerning this subject, appropriate catechesis is required on the importance of almsgiving during Eucharistic celebrations. These offerings are for the poor and Church needs. In this way, the social dimension of the Eucharist can be created and developed in people’s minds. Such an awareness ought to be put into action, especially in countries where the Church as an institution cannot freely exercise her works of charity. The faithful ought to be encouraged to help those in need.
49. The Presentation of the Gifts is followed by the Eucharistic Prayer, which, in various formulations in the East and West, perceives the Church in light of the Trinity, with her beginning in creation, her summit in the paschal mystery and her end in bringing together in unity, at the end of time, of all things in Christ. Consequently, the Eucharistic Prayer begins with the celebrant’s calling upon the faithful to lift up their hearts to the Lord. The word “Anaphora” means to raise the gifts and ourselves on high to the Father through the Son, the source of salvation.
In the epiclesis, the Church begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, with his mighty power, upon the gifts. The epiclesis, which takes place after the consecration in the Eastern liturgy, emphasizes the bond between the Eucharist and the mystery of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit on the assembled community. “We ask you, Lord, as you sent your Holy Spirit on your holy disciples and apostles, in the same way, pour out your Holy Spirit to sanctify our soul, our body and our spirit.”73 The Spirit is invoked on those who are to receive Holy Communion for the grace to give themselves to others and live a life in accordance with the Sacrament they celebrate.
At the centre of the Eucharistic Prayer are the Lord’s words of institution over the bread and wine. This is the consecration, the solemn moment when the Risen Lord becomes really present under the elements of bread and wine. The consecration guarantees the continuity of the Eucharist through time, from Christ to the Apostles and their successors and collaborators—the bishops and priests—who, in their hierarchical ministry, act in the name of the Lord for the benefit of the Church.
This continuity is particularly expressed in the intercessory prayer: “Lord, remember your Church throughout the world.“74 At this moment in the celebration of the Eucharist is the Church expresses, in a particularly intimate way, her universal character, before any distinction on the particular or local level.
The Eucharistic assembly, conscious that it is on pilgrimage in this world, enters into the Communion of Saints through the intercessions and is spurred towards the kingdom to come, fully aware of how to live on earth. Consequently, the invocations are mindful of the difficulties the Church encounters and the persecutions she endures; they take into account temporal disasters and wars and make an appeal primarily for the gifts of unity and peace.
The Holy Spirit interiorly directs the Eucharistic Prayer towards the Lord Jesus in asking that the offering “be taken to your altar in heaven”75 and praise be given to the Trinity “per Ipsum, cum Ipso et in Ipso.” The People of God gives its assent by proclaiming, “Amen.”
50. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal recommends that “the faithful who are properly disposed”76 receive Holy Communion. The proper disposition comes from discerning that the Body of the Lord is not ordinary bread but the Bread of Life for those who are reconciled to the Father. Just as sharing an ordinary meal presupposes good relations, so the Eucharist is the Sacrament of those reconciled. The Eucharist is the end of a journey of reconciliation with God and the Church through the Sacrament of Penance. In this way, Christ’s compassion is manifested in the saving of souls, the supreme law of the Church. After reconciliation through the Sacrament of Penance and the return to the state of grace, the Communion Rite is the immediate preparation for Holy Communion. More emphasis should be given to the importance of the grace of the Sacrament as a good never to be denied to anyone who is properly disposed.77 The necessary conditions are amply set forth in the canonical and liturgical norms; there is no need to add others.
Preparation for Holy Communion is necessary because approaching the Lord requires a pure heart. Indeed, we ought to examine ourselves to see if we have the proper dispositions. In this regard, an appropriate catechesis should emphasize the power of the Eucharist to pardon venial sins. Indeed, receiving Holy Communion with a contrite heart brings the grace of the Holy Spirit which can be of assistance in overcoming temptations and in bearing witness in the Christian life, oftentimes in unfavourable circumstances. The Our Father prayer is also helpful, since in it we ask to be purified of sin and delivered from the Evil One. The Kiss of Peace permits the faithful to share ecclesial communion and love with each other,78 and, at the same time, serves to authenticate a general willingness to pardon others, a primary factor in approaching the altar for Holy Communion. In fact, the Kiss of Peace in the Eastern Liturgies and the Ambrosian Rite is done before the Presentation of the Gifts to accentuate the idea of total reconciliation with others (cf. Mt 5:23-24). In many places, the exchange of a sign of peace is optional. This moment at Mass should never overshadow the important action which follows, the fractio panis, which denotes the Body of Christ broken for us.
Some responses mention that priests, while distributing Holy Communion, give a blessing to children or catechumens—both duly pointed out—who approach the altar and have not made their First Communion. In some Churches, a blessing is imparted to non-Catholics who approach the altar at Communion time. In this regard, some responses from Asia suggest finding some gesture at Communion time towards non-Christians to make them feel more a part of the liturgical community.
The Concluding Rite
51. After Holy Communion, prayer is needed to obtain the fruits of the mystery celebrated. One of the first fruits of celebration is that it serves as an antidote to daily falls and mortal sins.79 Above all, we should pray that our faith and communion with Christ might help us bring his Gospel to the world and to every place where we live, bearing witness through good works, so that others might believe and give glory to the Father.
The dismissal at Mass is an invitation to mission. Supported by the Eucharist and relying on the example and intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Church brings to fulfilment the mission of evangelizing today’s world. The Eucharist has the goal of making us grow in the love of Christ and his desire to bring the Gospel to everyone.
52. Attention should be given to the subject of ars celebrandi, so the faithful may be lead to true worship, reverence and adoration. The priest’s outstretched hands are a lowly, humble appeal; “we humbly pray,” is said in all the Eucharistic Prayers.80 For the priest, humility in word and disposition is consonant with Christ who is meek and humble of heart. He ought to increase and we decrease. If the celebration of the Eucharist is truly to express the Catholic faith, people urge that the priest-celebrant of the Mass possess humility. Only in this way will the celebration be a mystagogy and contribute to evangelization. The liturgical prayers do not speak of “I” but “we.” In those cases where the first person singular is used in the administration of the sacraments, the minister speaks in the Person of Christ, and not in his own name.
Some responses to the Lineamenta refer to the topic of mystagogy, intending it to mean a person’s entering into the mystery of the Lord’s presence. Focussing on this subject reveals a contemporary need to put people in greater contact with God, because increasingly they live in places where the sense of mystery is denied. The approach to be taken is that of the Lord himself: “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15). The Lord wants us to draw near to him so that he can reveal to us the mystery of his divine life.
The person of the bishop, the primary mystagogue in relation to the Eucharist, immediately comes to mind. Based on the fact that the Lord entrusted the Eucharist to the Apostles and that the Church transmits the same faith in the Eucharist, the bishop has a particular responsibility for the Eucharist and the duty to ensure that the faithful’s participation at the Eucharist be “full, conscious and active.”81 Every Eucharistic celebration in a particular diocese takes place in communion with the bishop and depends on his authority.82 He is watchful that the faithful have the opportunity to participate at Mass and that the Sacrament be celebrated in a dignified, becoming manner, without any abuses. In liturgical celebration, the sensus ecclesiæ transcends specific situations, groups and cultures. As primus mysteriorum Dei dispensator, the bishop, on a regular basis, celebrates Holy Mass in the Cathedral, the Mother-Church and heart of the diocese. This Eucharistic liturgy ought to be an example for the entire diocese.
53. The obligation of a diocesan Bishop and pastors of parishes to celebrate Masses pro populo, “for the living and the dead,” remains unchanged.83 Furthermore, a sound spirituality and theological formation calls for priests to celebrate the Sacred Eucharist each day. It is particularly important to celebrate Masses for the Souls in Purgatory, who are awaiting the blessed day when they will see God face to face. Praying for the dead is a debt owed them in charity.
As for Mass intentions, various responses indicate some abuses, the most common being the pooling of Mass intentions in a so-called “multi-intentioned Mass.” Some recommend that the subject of Mass intentions be clearly presented. In the meantime, the practice in some countries has greatly declined and, in certain cases, entirely disappeared. In many countries, Mass intentions represent the traditional means—oftentimes the only means—of support for a priest. Some countries complain of a lack of Mass intentions, which, in the past, were provided by other countries as a valid expression of ecclesial communion and concrete participation in missionary activity.
From a pastoral point of view, instructing the faithful on the meaning of applying Masses for Dead is equally important. Through the merits of Christ’s redemption and the prayers of the whole Church, the dead can be quickly admitted to the banquet of eternal life. In this way, Mass intentions for the dead also become an expression of faith in the resurrection of the dead, a truth solemnly professed in the Creed.
The Word and the Bread of Life
54. Many Lineamenta responses speak of the relation between Holy Mass and the Liturgy of the Word, mentioning that, in some cases, the faithful are running the risk of gradually losing a sense of the difference between Eucharistic celebrations and other kinds of celebrations. This pastoral problem arises, for example, in places where deacons or extraordinary ministers frequently preside over communion liturgies. The same is true in some places where the faithful prefer to participate in a Liturgy of the Word rather than travel to a neighbouring parish to participate at Mass.
At the same time, some responses acknowledge the priceless service of a well-prepared laity in celebrations of the Word, with or without the distribution of the Eucharist. Some of these communities, awaiting the assignment of a priest, cannot, for the time-being, have Sunday Mass celebrated. In these cases, it is possible, under the guidance of the diocesan bishop and priests and through the collaboration of the laity, to meet the pastoral needs of many communities hungering for the Word and the Bread of Life. When this takes place in accord with the directives of the Magisterium,84 the results can be comforting and lead to priestly vocations in families engaged in these services. The same can also happen in communities which truly appreciate the invaluable service of a priest, the ordinary minister of the Eucharist.
55. In this matter, the question arises as to the excessive number of Liturgies of the Word, in place of Holy Mass, which risks reducing Christian worship to a service of the assembly. Instead, catechesis would be useful in mission stations which are awaiting the assignment of a priest to celebrate the Eucharist. In fact, in this case, it would be better to speak of “liturgies awaiting a priest” instead of “priest-less liturgies.” To indicate this, in some places, a stole is placed on the altar or on the celebrant’s chair. Prayers for vocations keep alive the desire for a permanent celebrant of the Eucharist. The lack of priests, which in some areas is a source of concern, should awaken missionary activity and an exchange of gifts among the particular Churches.
Various responses to the Lineamenta suggest that extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist participate in special study-sessions to learn more about the Eucharist and liturgical norms. These sessions should also be a part of the ongoing formation of catechists.
The same responses also mention the need to explain clearly the threefold office of priest, prophet and king, when speaking of the difference between the ordained and non-ordained ministry. In this way, the priest- minister of the sacred mysteries will also be identified as communicator, mystagogue and witness of these sacred mysteries. Finally, to overcome a certain confusion in the Church on the ordained ministry, the recommendation was made, among others, to promote the appropriate documents of the Magisterium, such as the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis on the priest, sign of Christ the Head, Bridegroom and Shepherd.
56. Particular gratitude is owed to the lay faithful, above all, catechists, who are engaged in leading others to prayer and communion, especially in those cases where the lack of clergy makes the faithful’s participation at Mass impossible. However, many Lineamenta responses allude to certain practices which tend to obscure the faithful’s distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood. For example, some pastoral assistants effectively take over the supervision of some parishes and practically preside at the Eucharist, leaving a minimal involvement to the priest to guarantee validity; the laity sometimes preach the homily at Holy Mass; oftentimes extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist distribute Holy Communion, while the ordinary ministers, above all the priest-celebrant and the concelebrants, remain seated; some extraordinary ministers keep the Blessed Sacrament in their homes before bringing the Eucharist to the sick; and pastors sometimes authorize someone caring for the sick to bring Viaticum. The guidelines in the Instruction Ecclesia de Mysterio, together with the canonical norms in the matter,85 should be considered in properly instructing those responsible and ensuring a celebration of the Eucharist which is truly ecclesial.
The Meaning of Norms
57. In speaking of the instauratio of the liturgy, the Lineamenta responses returned again to the new Ordo Miss and The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which treat the elements of the liturgy of the universal Church.
Liturgical norms can be considered guides for entering into mystery. The Sub-Apostolic Fathers were the first ones to set down liturgical norms and canons in the Constitutiones and Didascaliæ, which had in some ways to proclaim the mystery revealed in Jesus and in others combat the pagan conceptions of mystery, allegory and esotericism.
Norms show the apostolic character of the Eucharist. These same norms are also a basic requirement of the Sacrament’s sacred character. The Blessed Sacrament must always be approached with the utmost reverence. For this reason, priests are said to be consecrated, as the bishop’s instruction before priestly ordination recalls: “Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ's sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.”86 Some responses noted that the fundamental norm for bishop and priest is assisting the faithful to enter into the mystery of the Lord’s presence.
58. Many responses to the Lineamenta cite various causes for the neglect of these norms: an insufficient knowledge of the history and theological meaning of the rites; a wish to be novel; and a distrust that ritual signs are capable of speaking to people. Some responses maintain that norms are not observed because of shortcomings in The General Instruction on the Roman Missal. For example, inadequate translations of liturgical texts and the lack of precision in the rubrics leave the celebrant at liberty to improvise certain parts. Some responses make specific reference to the need to take great care in translating liturgical texts by entrusting this challenging work to specialists, under the bishops’ supervision and with the approval of the competent congregation of the Holy See.
In teaching about norms or issuing them, a basic principle must be borne in mind: just as an over-estimation of the faithful’s formation could have contributed to practical difficulties in introducing liturgical reform, one must not under-estimate popular sentiment or the faithful’s capacity to accept an appeal to return to basic truths.
An Urgent Pastoral Program
59. Generally speaking, the Lineamenta responses provide a picture of the shadows existent in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Where some liturgical rubrics are treated with mistrust, others seem to be adopted to provoke changes inspired by ideologies or theological misconceptions, not a few of which come from movements and groups seeking changes in the liturgy.
Oftentimes the universal norms, commonly maintained by the Church as an expression of her catholicity, stand in contrast to certain liturgical celebrations of some ecclesial movements. Competent Church authorities are called upon to offer major clarity in this matter, so as to avoid confusion. In using the vernacular, the rite’s structure needs to be respected. This is the only way to emphasize, in a visible fashion, the unity of the Catholic Church of the western tradition. The faithful show a particular sensitivity to arbitrary changes in the rite.
In some cases, too much inventiveness leads to a manipulation of the Mass and the use of extraneous texts in place of the ones specified. Such an attitude often creates conflict between the clergy and the laity and even within the presbyterate itself.
60. To dispel these shadows, the same responses to the Lineamenta make a few recommendations.
The ongoing formation of the clergy needs to rekindle a spirit of communal prayer to strengthen a disposition of humbly adhering to the spirit and letter of liturgical norms. In this way, they can render true service to the People of God, which is called in the Divine Liturgy to give thanks and to raise supplication to its Lord in the Holy Spirit.
Existing principles for integrating elements of local culture in the liturgical celebrations need to be studied in-depth. New instructions, which are clearer and more precise, could be published, particularly in light of the recent revision of The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, the Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum and Varietates legitimæ of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The implications of faith in the Eucharist need to be explained to the faithful. In the Eucharist, the faithful are nourished with the Body of the Risen Christ. In each Eucharistic celebration throughout the world, the Risen Lord, conqueror of sin and death, goes beyond the limits of time and space and is really present under the elements of bread and wine. Therefore, it is the Body of the Glorified Lord, which is changed into the Bread of Angels and is destined as food for a humanity that is called to share the beatific vision, in the Communion of Saints, in eternal adoration of the Three-in-One God.
A proper catechesis can do away with misconceptions which might perceive the Eucharist in a magical, superstitious or spiritualistic manner. Such catechesis is very appropriate at Masses for healing which take place in some countries.
Precautionary measures should be taken to prevent any sacrilege to consecrated hosts, which occurs in Satanic rites and so-called “Black Masses.”
61. The People of God, gathered in the Lord’s House, give thanks and praise through speaking, listening, singing and moments of silence.
Various responses to the Lineamenta recommend that singing at Mass and Eucharistic Adoration be done in a dignified manner. The faithful need to know the standard Gregorian chants, which have been composed to meet the needs of people of all times and places, in virtue of their simplicity, refinement and agility in form and rhythm. As a result, the songs and hymns presently in use need to be reconsidered.87 To enter into sacred or religious usage, instrumental or vocal music is to have a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty. This requires an integrity of form, expressing true artistry, corresponding to the various rites and capable of adaptation to the legitimate demands of inculturation. This is to be done without detracting from the idea of universality. Gregorian chant fulfills these needs and can therefore serve as a model, according to Pope John Paul II.88 Musicians and poets should be encouraged to compose new hymns, according to liturgical standards, which contain authentic catechetical teaching on the paschal mystery, Sunday and the Eucharist.
62. Some responses particularly mentioned the use of musical instruments, referring to the general guidelines contained in the Constitution Sacrosanctum concilium.89 In this regard, a certain appreciation was often voiced in the Latin tradition for the organ, whose majestic sound adds solemnity to worship and is conducive to contemplation. Some responses also made reference to experiences associated with the use of other musical instruments in the liturgy. Positive results in this area were achieved with the consensus of competent ecclesiastical authority, who judged these instruments proper for sacred use, in keeping with the dignity of the place and the edification of the faithful.
In other responses some lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.
In keeping with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium,90 the suggestion was made that, at international gatherings, the liturgy be in Latin, at least the Eucharistic Prayer, to facilitate a proper participation of the concelebrants and those who are not familiar with the local vernacular language.
A certain satisfaction is drawn from the fact that some countries have a sound tradition of religious songs and hymns for special times in the liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. These songs, known and sung by the people, promote recollection and assist the faithful to live in a particularly spiritual way the celebrations of the mystery of faith in each liturgical season. Many hope that this positive experience might spread to other nations and provide a certain tone to these significant seasons in the liturgical year, thereby allowing the faithful to perceive the season’s message through music and lyrics.
The Dignity of the Sacred Space
63. The Lineamenta made reference to the role of art. The dignity of what pertains to the celebration of the Eucharist expresses faith in the sacred mysteries and effectively contributes to nourishing the faith of both the sacred ministers and the faithful. This attitude is seen in the proper arrangement of the sacred space, in an appropriate placement of the tabernacle and chair and also in the special care given to particulars, such as cleaning, furniture and fresh flowers. Indeed, the faithful’s formation in Eucharistic doctrine greatly depends not only on what they hear, but also on what they see. Neglecting these points is a sign of a weak faith.
Based on the Bible, the Church has traditionally set aside an area reserved for the sacred ministers, as a powerful sign that the Lord is the one who choses his ministers and brings them into his service. This distinction has been maintained in the Eastern Churches, through the delineation of the sanctuary, and in the West, through the presbytery. The liturgy manifests that the People of God is hierarchically ordered and geared to active participation. The altar is the most holy part of the Church building and is elevated to indicate that God’s work is far superior to all human works. The linens which cover it are symbolic of the purity which is necessary to encounter the divine. Like the Church building, the altar is dedicated to the Lord only, and cannot be used for any other purpose.
64. The responses raise the concern that oftentimes the Church building is used for profane events, such as concerts and theatrical events which are not always religious in nature. The liturgy of the dedication of a Church recalls that the community offers the Church building entirely to the Lord. Therefore, it cannot be used for any other purpose apart from its consecration.
Some responses reported other occurrences, opposed to afore-mentioned Church tradition, which obscure the sense of the sacred and the transcendent character of the sacred mysteries. For example, many new Churches—not to mention older ones after renovation—are built on the fundamental architectural plan of bringing the faithful into close proximity to the altar to ensure visual contact and communication between the celebrant and the assembly. Likewise, the tendency to turn the altar around to face the people—in practice eliminating the presbytery—is based on the same idea. In doing so, what might be gained in communication might not sufficiently safeguard a sense of the sacred, which is also an essential part of liturgical celebrations.
Some responses are very encouraging, however. Based on the guidelines set down in The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, diverse initiatives have been undertaken to ensure that sacred spaces in already existent Churches and those under construction be true places of prayer and adoration, where art and iconography become instruments to serve liturgical needs. For example, in some Churches, kneelers have returned along with the practice of the faithful kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer. Tabernacles, previously not clearly visible, have again been placed in the sanctuary or in a prominent place. The planning of new Churches is providing greater prominence to art, decoration, vestments and sacred vessels. This seeks to bring into harmony the nearness of the celebrant to the people and the sacred nature of the divine mysteries which are, at one and the same time, immanent and transcendent.
ADORING THE LORD IN MYSTERY
“But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone
who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pt 3:15).
From Celebration to Adoration
65. Adoration should be foremost in the minds of the celebrant and the liturgical assembly in the presence of an Almighty God who makes himself really present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Oftentimes in the Catholic Church, this act of adoration continues after Holy Mass in various ways.
God goes in search of the person and the person longs to see God. “You have said: ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’ Hide not your face from me” (Ps 26:8-9). Christianity is a religion of not only hearing but seeing. Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). God assumes a human nature to share our life. The Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians opens with a reflection on this mystery, summed up in the term kenosis, that is, the Son’s emptying himself of the glory he had as God and taking on a human nature: “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with him a thing to be grasped...” (Phil 2:5-8). In a certain sense, this kenosis continues in the Eucharist; but now, he is present in his risen and glorified body. The paradox is that Jesus of Nazareth, in the fullness of his humanity, reveals God. Jesus told the Jews, “he who sees me sees him who sent me” (Jn 12:45), thus summarizing in one phrase the profound truth of the Christian faith. The God who makes himself man seeks an intellectual response through seeing, touching, hearing and contemplating (cf. 1 Jn 1:1-2). In a word, the revelation of Jesus brings into being a relation which involves the senses as the means of knowledge. Seeing and hearing are two essential elements of the Christian religion. Jesus of Nazareth cannot be heard only; he must also be seen.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15). The term eikon has an historic sense, because it does not simply stand for what is represented. In Hellenic culture, eikon was generally seen as a portrait. To be true and authentic, a portrait had faithfully to portray the very features of a face of someone who had actually lived.
We return to this idea of a face, namely, to how a person expresses himself, as the best manner of knowing his identity. The face of Jesus, which permits God to be seen, also becomes the icon of a redeemed and saved humanity, because he “in every respect was tempted as we are...” (Heb 4:15). For this reason Christianity cannot simply be listed among the religions of the Book.
The Eucharist is a complete act of worship, at one and the same time a sacrifice, memorial and banquet, which is to be contemplated. Such an understanding surmounts the psychological difficulty which erroneously holds that adoration and reverence is an anomalous form of the liturgy and which questions acts of worship of the Eucharist, such as exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Benediction.
Sentiments of Adoration
66. Some of the more serious problems in many western countries and some countries on other continents are: a crisis in prayer and reducing the celebration of the Eucharist to mere precept or to a simple celebration of the community. Oftentimes these ideas are imported as a result of pastoral workers.
The Lineamenta responses want to see a complete and entire renewal in prayer, specifically as gift, covenant and communion,91 and its many forms—blessing, adoration, praise, thanksgiving, supplication, expiation and intercession. Without a timely catechesis in this regard, the faithful will be unable to reap the benefits of the liturgy which is the regula fidei in holy signs.
The responses consistently ask for greater times and spaces dedicated to adoration and meditation. Indeed, because of the frenetic pace of life today, people need to stop, think and pray. Various religions, for the most part in the East, propose meditation according to their particular religious traditions. In light of this challenge, Christians are called upon to rediscover the beauty of adoration, of personal and communal prayer, of silence and of meditation. Christianity teaches that these are a personal encounter with the Blessed Trinity, in Jesus Christ, risen and present in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of God the Father.
Also requested is a re-presentation of the theological and spiritual basis for adoration as a due preparation for Holy Mass, as a proper disposition in celebrating the sacred mysteries and as a thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist. In this regard, some proposed the reestablishing confraternities of the Most Blessed Sacrament, adapting them to the expectations and the needs of people today in their search for God. Eucharistic adoration for the clergy was also encouraged. The suggestion was made to have parishes coordinate days of solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so that in dioceses—especially larger ones—the People of God might have occasion to adore the Eucharistic Lord in various parishes each week. Restoring the practice of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in those places where it has been abandoned, above all on Sunday afternoons, could lead to an increase in Eucharistic devotion. Vespers or Lauds could be recited before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. An hour of adoration between Masses could be introduced in parishes having many scheduled Masses, for example, afternoon Masses in certain city parishes.
Moreover, other forms of Eucharistic devotion need to be encouraged, such as adoration on Holy Thursday, processions with the Blessed Sacrament, above all on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, Eucharistic visits, Forty Hours Devotion and communal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. According to the Magisterium, these actions lead to prayer for forgiveness by the faithful, especially for offenses to the Blessed Sacrament.92 Expressions of popular piety connected with the Eucharist, such as songs, floral displays and decorations need to be justly appreciated.
67. Prayer begins in a silence which leads to an awareness of being in the Lord’s presence, where he speaks to the heart and prompts a response in the great prayer of the liturgy or in Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass. This dialogue takes place through visible, religious gestures: the sign of the cross, hand movements, genuflections, bows, standing and sitting, processions and other external actions.93 Many Lineamentaresponses call for catechesis concerning these visible gestures which are made authentic by a proper inner disposition.
Priests and the faithful manifest their faith and adoration through bodily postures which are set down in the liturgical books or based on custom. Provisions exist for the adaptation of certain gestures from a given culture to express the people’s reverence and love towards the mystery of the Eucharist.
Awaiting the Lord
68. The Risen Christ is “the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18). These words of the Apostle Paul express the revealed truth that, for the Christian, death is not the end of everything, but, on the contrary, the entrance into a new and mysterious life, characterized by an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord who gives happiness beyond every expectation.
Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind that certain cultural factors tend to obliterate every prospect of life beyond death. The individual’s claim of total ethical autonomy renders unacceptable, or at least irrelevant, any idea of reward or punishment after death for our moral behaviour.
Various responses point out that the eschatological truth of the Eucharist is missing in catechesis today. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes reference to this in the subheading: “The Eucharist, Pledge of Future Glory.”94 It also speaks of the Eucharist as the foretaste of the banquet in the Kingdom of God and the manifestation of the Communion of Saints. Of course, awaiting these events is not foreign to living an earthly life, as seen in the following prayer: “Lord, bring to perfection within us the communion we share in this sacrament. May our celebration have an effect in our lives.”95
69. The eschatological tension between the present and future can be explained by the coming, at the Liturgy each day, of the One who is, who was and who is to come. He, the Risen and Living One, is always present. Consequently, the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the presence of he who said: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Some responses to the Lineamenta lament that this aspect is treated only in the Latin liturgy, in funeral Masses, in Masses on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day or in some prayers of intercession for the dead.
Many are aware that the Eucharist is the source of communion with the dear departed and the saints, but not the foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Therefore, even though the Communion of Saints is celebrated throughout the liturgical year, thought might be given to dedicating the entire month of November to celebrating this mystery with intercessory prayers for the dead.
As for mentioning the name of the deceased during Mass, despite the existence of specific norms in the matter, many responses speak of abuses which range from refusing to make any mention to an excessive repetition.
These responses also indicate, however, that emphasis on the eschatological aspect of the Eucharistic mystery is increasing, as witnessed in praying a Oriente, when possible, and in properly presenting the bond between Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration, at which time we pray, in words of the Anaphora, “when he comes again” and “looking forward to his coming in glory,” that we may come into the fullness of his presence and that he may seat us at the eschatological banquet at the end of time.96 The Eucharist is the medicine of immortality, because it is an antidote to sin and takes away venial sins. The Sacrament increases the power of grace which sanctifies and prepares the soul for eternal life, the soul which calls out to the Lord who comes: “Maranà tha” (1 Cor 16:22; cf. Rev 22:20).
70. The responses ask that greater attention be given to the celebration of the Eucharist on the Dies Domini, a Holyday of Obligation in the Church for the community of faith and every believer. In this context, emphasis is placed on the importance of the community coming together to celebrate that the Lord is coming into its midst. Without faith, however, we cannot even speak of the Lord’s Day, let alone live it. Sundays provide an opportunity to view the world in light of the Eucharist. The Mass is Christ’s sacrifice which changes the world and calls upon the Church to become an offering, extending herself to all.
The Eucharist is also the source of a culture of pardon, difficult for many today. During the Eucharistic celebration the request is often made for forgiveness and a life renewed. Pope John Paul II called upon us to see as “a significant consequence of the eschatological tension inherent in the Eucharist,”97 the planting of seeds of a lively hope in daily life and creating new signs in the world, so that the Eucharist can be said to be truly lived.
The Lord’s Day is also the day of solidarity and sharing with the poor, in so much as the Eucharist is the bond of fellowship and the source of communion. Indeed, “from the Sunday Mass there flows a tide of charity destined to spread into the whole life of the faithful, beginning by inspiring the very way in which they live the rest of Sunday.”98
71. Without Sunday Mass and an encounter with the Lord, faith remains without nourishment; God’s Word receives no hearing nor is the communal dimension of the Church lived. For many, the only contact with the Church is Sunday Mass; their faith depends on this moment in their lives. Missing Sunday Mass gradually leads to missing Christ in life. All members of the People of God, especially the clergy, those in the consecrated life, catechists and members of ecclesial movements, ought to be involved in promoting respect for the Lord’s Day. Coming together in synodal assembly should lead to a rediscovery of the profound theological and spiritual significance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and its proper celebration, which in turn will have very positive effects in the faithful, their families and entire communities.
Indeed, dedicating time to the Lord each Sunday and Holyday of Obligation, the individual, as a person and member of a family, rediscovers the hierarchy of values which are to shape his existence. Likewise, he takes advantage of his free time, in union with God, his Creator and Redeemer, to exercise his human and Christian capabilities for the good of society. To achieve this, it is important to safeguard Sunday as a day of rest, particularly in countries with Christian roots.
Various Lineamenta responses ask for pastoral initiatives which will lead to a greater attendance of the faithful at Mass, particularly on Sundays. In celebrating the Lord’s Day, the faithful, who are oftentimes vexed by various personal, family and social problems, receive acceptance in a welcoming community and can draw from the Eucharist, the font of life, the gifts of peace and spiritual comfort and the power necessary to conform their lives and the world to the plan of God the Father in Jesus Christ.
In today’s world, the celebration of the Mass needs to be guaranteed to the greatest possible number of the faithful. Emphasis should be given to the essential dispositions for worthily receiving the Eucharist, that is, the state of grace and fasting. Those who live in a moral state which does not allow them to participate in the Eucharist sacramentally also need pastoral care.
With regard to the preceding, the proposal was made to present in a general way the doctrine of spiritual communion or communion of desire, which rests on the privileges conferred at Baptism and is the only form of Holy Communion available to some people who, because of their objective and personal state, cannot receive Communion sacramentally. Spiritual communion, for example, is always possible for elderly persons and the sick who cannot go to Church. In manifesting their love for the Eucharist, they participate in the Communion of Saints with great spiritual benefit for themselves and the Church. By offering their sufferings to God, the Church is enriched. In this way, they complete what is lacking in the passion of Jesus Christ for the sake of his body, the Church (cf. Col 1:24). They also proclaim the “Gospel of Suffering,”99 which the Master gave to the disciples in his sacrifice and left as a memorial in the Eucharist.
One of the most challenging aspects of the Church’s pastoral program today is helping others rediscover the joy of celebrating the Eucharist on Sundays, because the world increasingly tends to see the day as simply a time of relaxation and not one of profound communion and celebration. Equally challenging is attempting to encourage entire families to participate at Holy Mass. In this way, the “domestic church”—the family—broadens its Christian horizons and, in communion with other families—other “domestic churches”—rediscovers that it is a living part of the great Family of God, the Catholic Church.
Finally, Sunday observance by Catholics becomes a distinctive sign, particularly in countries where Catholics are in the minority. Praying together and then transforming this act into works of charity contributes to the betterment of society, above all in nations where an individualistic idea traditionally prevails in relation of the human to the divine.
THE EUCHARIST IN THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the vine cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (Jn 15:4).
The Eucharist: Font of Christian Morality
72. The metaphor of the vine and the branches in St. John’s Gospel, occurring during the Last Supper discourse, has not only an ecclesial but a moral significance. The life of grace received through the Eucharist is the guarantee of authentic ecclesial communion and the source of the moral life, characterized by good works. The Eucharist is the basis of righteous behaviour for the person who has this vital union with Christ.
Many responses to the Lineamenta insist on the relation of the personal and ecclesial aspects of the Eucharist to the moral life, holiness and one’s mission in the world. The ongoing presence and action of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Lord received through Holy Communion, is the source of dynamism in the spiritual life, in the pursuit of holiness and in the faithful’s vocation to witness to Christ.
Consequently, the Eucharist and the moral life are inseparable, not only because nourishment by the Blessed Sacrament leads to interior transformation but also because those reborn in Baptism to life according to the Spirit—to the new moral life, not according to the flesh—are by nature drawn to Jesus in the Eucharist. Indeed, the Eucharist fortifies the Christian sense of living; its celebration is service to God and others as well as a witness in the world to the values contained in the Gospel. In this way, the three dimensions of the Christian life—liturgia, martyria and diakonia— demonstrate a continuity between the Sacrament celebrated and the Sacrament adored and between the commitment to bear witness to Christ in the temporal order and the communion which is built up through service in charity, especially to the poor.
73. Various responses have insisted on the relationship between the Eucharist and the moral life, pointing to a significant awareness of the importance of the moral duty flowing from the reception of Holy Communion. Many refer to the fact that too many receive the Sacrament without having sufficiently reflected on their moral state in life.100 Some receive Communion while denying the teachings of the Church or publicly supporting immoral choices in life, such as abortion, without thinking that they are committing an act of grave personal dishonesty and causing scandal. Some Catholics do not understand why it might be a sin to support a political candidate who is openly in favour of abortion or other serious acts against life, justice and peace. Such attitudes lead to, among other things, a crisis in the meaning of belonging to the Church and in a clouding of the distinction between venial and mortal sin.
Many responses note that some Catholics don’t always act in a way which distinguishes them from other persons; they succumb to the temptation to corruption in various situations and levels of society.
Oftentimes, the specific demands of the moral life are not looked upon as connected to the role of the Church as Teacher. Some feel that her teachings need to be re-assessed by each individual conscience. In other areas, bishops are committing themselves to clearly pointing out the contradiction of invoking freedom of conscience or religious freedom as the criteria for dismissing Church teaching. The responses insist on the faithful’s duty to seek the truth and correctly form their conscience.
Positively speaking, many are attempting to make the Eucharist a part of their lives and consider the Sacrament a source of strength in conquering sin. This happens particularly in parishes where various ministers, charitable organizations, prayer groups and lay associations are strongly active.
74. The Lineamenta responses offer some suggestions in dispelling the dichotomy between Church teachings and the moral stance of the faithful. Firstly, increasing emphasis needs to be given to the necessity of sanctification and personal conversion and to the unity between Church teaching and the moral life. Furthermore, the faithful should be continually encouraged to see the Eucharist as the source of moral strength, holiness and spiritual advancement. Finally, fundamental importance needs to be given in catechesis to the bond between the Eucharist and the construction of a just society through each one’s personal responsibility actively to participate in the Church’s mission in the world. In this sense, Catholics who occupy significant positions in political life and various social activity have a particular obligation.
The Church has great hope in her young people who are increasingly being drawn to the Eucharist as a precious treasure, an inexhaustible source of renewal in the Church’s life and the seed of hope for the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the topic chosen for World Youth Day, in Cologne, 16 - 21 August 2005, “We Have Come to Worship Him” (Mt 2:2), has a profound Eucharistic significance. The valuable contribution of this important event deserves attention in synodal discussion. For the occasion, Pope John Paul II said: “I would like the young people to gather around the Eucharist as the vital source which nourishes their faith and enthusiasm.”101 Consequently, it is rightly suggested that Catholic schools give greater importance to teaching the faith, particularly Eucharistic spirituality, to the younger generations.
The Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Risen Lord, leads to perfection and holiness in the Christian life. Reaching such a goal requires the grace of God, the believer’s good dispositions and an ongoing catechesis for persons of every kind.
Eucharistic Persons and Communities
75. The Eucharist demonstrates its efficacy in the fruits of a new life in the world, in the fruits of holiness and becoming more God-like, that is, in the fruits of eternal life. In this sense, the Eucharist is seen as the Sacrament of Intense Spirituality.
Many responses speak of a positive development in Eucharistic spirituality. In fact, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has recently been reestablished in many places. In this regard, Eucharistic devotion in parish and non-parish Churches is said to be increasing, as witnessed in time dedicated to Eucharistic adoration and the institution of special chapels for this purpose. The procession of Corpus Christi is taking place more and more and the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours before the Blessed Sacrament exposed is being promoted. These devotions are receiving important attention by the new movements. In places of true catechetical and liturgical formation, the faithful clearly perceive the difference between Mass and other liturgical celebrations and devotional practices; they devoutly participate in all Eucharistic initiatives proposed by their pastors. Generally speaking, it can be said that Eucharistic devotion is nourished by all these practices, a devotion which can be viewed as a total gift of self to the Lord in spirit, soul and body.
Some responses, however, are less encouraging. They speak of the abandonment of the practice of Eucharistic benediction; the closing of Churches for a greater part of the day—albeit for fear of theft—making private adoration of the Eucharist by the faithful almost impossible; the placing of the tabernacle in a separate or little-noticed place, which a good part of the faithful, upon entering the Church, cannot easily find, thus making them unaware of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and keeping them from praying; the decrease in the custom of visiting the Blessed Sacrament for personal prayer and meditation; the lack of a catechesis which teaches the distinction between Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations or devotional practices; and an overly individualistic idea of Mass which obstructs a just appreciation of the communal aspect of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
76. Various response to the Lineamenta call for a significant emphasis on the ecclesial aspect of the Eucharist to overcome every form of individualism and a renewal in Eucharistic spirituality which, integrating a devotion to the Risen Christ, presents the Sacrament as the beginning of the redemption of the world.
Inspired by the words of Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia,102 some desire promoting the lives of the saints and blesseds who have been models of spirituality and the Eucharistic life. These saintly people teach us how to make the Eucharist the centre of the Christian life, how to adore the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament and how to nourish ourselves with the Bread of Life to sustain us in our pilgrimage to the heavenly fatherland. Where the Eucharist is the centre and pivotal point of the spiritual life for all the saints, many saints have developed a spirituality which is distinctly Eucharistic, from St. Ignatius of Antioch to St. Tarcisius, from St. John Chrysostom to St. Augustine, from St. Anthony Abbot to St. Benedict, from St. Francis of Assisi to St. Thomas Aquinas, from St. Catherine of Siena to St. Clare of Assisi, from St. Paschal Baylon to St. Peter Julian Eymard, from St. Alphonsus Liguori to the Venerable Charles de Foucauld, from St. John Mary Vianney to Blessed Józef Bilczewski, from Blessed Ivan Mertz to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, to cite only some examples from a seemingly endless list.103
Mary, Woman of the Eucharist
77. The Most Holy Virgin Mary stands out among all the saints as a model of holiness and Eucharistic spirituality. According to Church Tradition, she is commemorated with veneration in all the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass and in a particularly significant way in the Eastern Catholic Churches. Various responses call for a clearer explanation of the role of the Virgin Mary in the Eucharistic liturgy.
Mary is so intimately bound to the Eucharistic mystery that she is rightly called “Woman of the Eucharist” in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia.104 The life of Mary of Nazareth manifests in a sublime way the exclusive relationship between the Mother and the Son of God, who took his Body and Blood from her body and blood. In the same way, her life shows the intimate relationship uniting the Church to the Eucharist, since the Most Holy Virgin is the model and figure of the Church, whose life and mission have their source and summit in the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mary’s association with the Eucharist comes more from the interior disposition which characterized her whole life than from her active participation at the moment of the institution of the Sacrament. Her life, which has a profound ecclesial significance, also has a Eucharistic character. By offering her virginal womb in the incarnation of the Word of God, Mary lived the spirit of the Eucharist even before the Sacrament was instituted. For nine months she was the living tabernacle of God. She then acted in a Eucharistic and ecclesial way, when she presented the Child Jesus to the shepherds, the Magi and the High Priest in the Temple. She offered the blessed fruit of her womb to the People of God and the Gentiles, so that they might adore him and acknowledge him as Messiah. Analogously, this is also true in her presence as well as her concern and intercession at Cana, when the Son worked his first sign in which he made an offering of himself through a miracle. The Virgin Mary made a similar gesture under the cross, as she participated in the sufferings of her Son. Afterwards, she received Christ’s body into her arms and placed it in the tomb as the secret seed of resurrection and new life for the salvation of the world. She again made an offering—Eucharistic and ecclesial in nature—by her presence at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the first gift of the Risen Lord to the Church at her beginning.
The Virgin Mary was conscious of having conceived Christ for the salvation of all humanity. Her awareness became more evident in her participation in the paschal mystery, when her Son entrusted all the faithful to her in the person of the Apostle John, with the words “Woman, behold your Son” (Jn 19:26). Like the Virgin Mary, the Church also makes the Lord Jesus present through the celebration of the Eucharist and gives him to all, so that they might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).
THE EUCHARIST AND THE MISSION OF EVANGELIZATION
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).
A Eucharistic Attitude
78. The sending of missionaries to evangelize all peoples, entrusted by Christ to his disciples, is founded on Baptism, the Sacrament which opens the way to a new life marked by the indelible character of the children of God. The work of evangelization includes the formation of conscience in accord with a style of evangelical life centred on both the proclamation of the Good News and the new commandment of love, of which the Eucharist is the summit and inexhaustible source.
The Lineamenta responses recount that the times call for a renewed commitment to evangelization. Though the number of adult-baptisms and membership in the Church is growing, there are many people who must come to know Christ and his Gospel, and still others who, while knowing him, are in need of a new evangelization. Pope John Paul II was the first to use this phrase and explain its meaning. He intended to say that evangelization should be “new in its ardour, new in its methods, new in its expression.”105 While this definition referred to a renewed sense of joyous witness in evangelizers, it reconfirmed the perennial and unchangeable content of the Good News of Jesus Christ, presented anew in terms understandable by people today. This renewed impetus in evangelization, also applicable in the initial proclamation of the Gospel, is nourished by the Eucharist, which, in history’s fleeting events, remains the perennial source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.
The Eucharist has always empowered the choices and the ethical and moral behaviour of believers, effecting philosophy, art, literature and even civil and legal institutions, thereby contributing to fashioning the features of an entire civilization, in personal and family life as well as in cultural, political and social life. The Eucharist moves Christians to a commitment for justice in the today’s world: “The Eucharist not only provides the interior strength needed for this mission, but is also —in some sense—its plan. For the Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian, through whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture.... Incarnating the Eucharistic ‘plan’ in daily life, wherever people live and work—in families, schools, the workplace, in all of life's settings—means bearing witness that human reality cannot be justified without reference to the Creator: ‘Without the Creator the creature would disappear’.”106 Pope John Paul II defined all this as a “Eucharistic attitude” which ought to spur Christians to bear witness more forcefully to God’s presence in the world, to not be afraid to speak about God and proudly to bear the signs of our faith in witness and dialogue with all. Consequently, promoting and spreading the “culture of the Eucharist” is a special task of the Year of the Eucharist.107
Social Implications of the Eucharist
79. An essential effect of Eucharistic communion is a charity which ought to permeate social life. The Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI spoke of the many ways in which Christ is present in his Church.108 Christians need help in seeing the faith-implications of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and his presence in their brothers and sisters, especially in the poor and those on the periphery of society.
Love for the poor and those on the periphery of society was not simply the subject of Jesus’ preaching; it gave meaning to his entire life. The solution to humanity’s great and small problems is not a weak or rhetorical love, but a love which Christ in the Eucharist taught us, that is, a self-giving love, diffused and sacrificed. We need to pray that Christ conquers our human resistence and makes each of us a credible witness to his love.
The topic of the 48th International Eucharistic Congress, The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium, intends to assert that Christ, the Light of the World, is to enlighten the world in the new millennium with the power of a life renewed according to the logic of the Gospel. In today’s so-called “globalized” world, lacking in solidarity, conditioned by an increasingly sophisticated technology and marked by international terrorism and other forms of violence and exploitation, the Eucharist maintains its timeless message, which is necessary in constructing a society where communion, solidarity, freedom, respect for the person, hope and trust in God prevail.
The Eucharist and Inculturation
80. Faith takes form in culture and a culture is also the result of faith. All know the priceless cultural treasure accrued over the ages in the liturgy of East and West: prayers, the richness of many rites and works of architecture, plastic arts and sacred music. This shows how religion is connected to culture, a complex of what humanity creates of the good and meaningful. Culture furnishes the faith with the instruments needed to express the truth revealed by God and proclaimed in the liturgy.
Inculturation is a process which has been at work in the Church from the beginning. Many excellent examples of inculturation could be cited. The Eastern Catholic Churches, for example, bear witness to this process. In this regard, the work of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavic peoples, deserves mentioning.109 The process of inculturation still remains active today in Church communities. To enact it properly requires an awareness of the purely gratuitous nature of the redemptive act of God and the manner in which it is adequately understood and embraced by a person, as a fully responsible being in life’s personal and communal aspects, and reflected in human life and culture.
General principles of inculturation are clearly expressed in the conciliar decree Ad gentes,110 in the Instruction Varietates legitimae on the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation,111 and in numerous other related pronouncements of the Magisterium.112 The topic of inculturation was also treated in various special continental synod assemblies and their related post-synodal apostolic exhortations.113
Nevertheless, difficulties abound when attempts are made to put these principles into action. Two major risks are falling into archaism or seeking modernity at all costs. What is necessary in the process is never to forget the goal of the Church’s mission, namely, the evangelization of all peoples in their cultural settings. Inculturation, then, is not simply adaptation but a dynamic encounter between the culture of a certain place and the culture which comes from the Gospel. Consequently, before deciding to incorporate certain elements of a local culture into the liturgy, the Gospel should be proclaimed and a great effort made to instruct people in the faith, namely, catechesis and formation at all levels which will result in a new, evangelized culture. Therefore, episcopal conferences and other competent bodies should judge if introducing elements from the people’s customs into the liturgy, as a living part of their culture, can enrich the liturgical action without causing adverse effects to the faith and the piety of the faithful.
81. The responses to the Lineamenta indicate that inculturation in various parts of the western world is usually found in working with groups of immigrants and in ethnic parishes, where many efforts in this area are taking place. The matter is increasingly becoming a pastoral priority in other geographic regions.
In every instance, the process of liturgical inculturation needs to respect the norms of the Church’s official documents, which offer timely pastoral directives. One must always be mindful that “preserving the deposit of faith unchanged, even though prayers and rites differ so greatly,”114 requires great fidelity to the Holy Spirit. For this very reason, a careful balance must exist between Tradition which expresses an unchangeable faith in the Eucharist and adaptation to new conditions.
Various responses mention certain problems in attempts at liturgical inculturation. Though done in good faith, some can cause shadows in relation to the Eucharist. For example, local elements, such as songs, dance and attire, do not sufficiently undergo a process of purification, ensuring that only what is suitable for Eucharistic worship is incorporated into the celebration of the liturgy. Many cases of liturgical adaptation, promoted in good faith but without an adequate knowledge of local culture, are causing scandal among the faithful, who remain confused at the Eucharist by seeing inappropriate meanings attributed to familiar actions in some of their rites.
Other Lineamenta responses report positive results in the area of inculturation, primarily in the field of sacred music. In each case, it is recommended that inculturation be done under the auspices of a diocesan ordinary, with the supervision of the episcopal conference and the recognitio of the Holy See. At the same time, the process requires a faithful application of the norms in the areas of inculturation and innovation, all the while avoiding any inappropriate changes which might be done in the name of inculturation.
Certain responses ask for the use of Latin, particularly at international celebrations, to express the unity and catholicity of the rite of the Mother Church of Rome. In this case, it is desirable that Christians everywhere know how to pray and chant some basic texts of the Latin liturgy, such as the Gloria, Credo and the Our Father.
The Eucharist and Peace
82. Before distributing Holy Communion, the bishop or priest addresses his prayer to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, who said to his disciples “peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The celebrant calls upon the Lord Jesus to give to his Church “peace and unity...for ever and ever.”115
The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Peace, realized after our celebration of the Sacrament of Penance which reconciles us to God and our neighbour. This Sacrament makes real the grace conveyed in the Risen Lord’s greeting, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19). The Sacrament of the Eucharist also provides believers with the grace needed to put the spirit of the Beatitudes into practice, particularly the beatitude proclaimed by Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). Through the sacrifice of the Cross Christ has conquered sin, death and every kind of division and hatred. Risen from the dead, Our Lord spreads his peace to those near and far. (cf. Eph 2:17).
For families, communities and the entire Church, peace of heart is the gift of the Risen Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Whoever approaches the Sacrament ought already to possess God’s peace, which sin impairs. Venial sins are pardoned in the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass; but mortal sins require absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. The Eucharist fortifies the gift of peace and provides to all those who receive it the grace of becoming themselves peacemakers wherever they are.
83. The faithful ought to rediscover the Eucharist as the dynamic force of reconciliation and peace with God and others. In today’s world, with its many divisions and differences—in some cases legitimate—Christians would do well, in gathering around the Table of the Lord, to rediscover their common roots, which are found in him. Assisted by the Word of God and the homily of the celebrant, the faithful will grow in faith, hope and charity and receive comfort through prayer, reflection and adoration. In this way, they can greater commit themselves to their duty of building a better world, increasingly more just and peaceful. They are to consider well the various choices made in political and social areas, so that their life does not contradict the basic norms of the Gospel, which underlie the Church’s social teaching.
This aspect of the Eucharist is not always understood, thereby creating conflicting attitudes which become a source of contradiction and scandal between persons and communities. In the reconciliation of her members, the Church celebrates and worships the Eucharist as the Sacrament of Piety, the Sign of Unity and the Bond of Charity.116
84. Entrusting herself to the Eucharist as the inexhaustible source of grace, the Church promotes the cause of peace in a world vexed by conflicts, violence, terrorism and wars which wound the dignity of persons and whole peoples, thereby hindering their development. The Catholic Church never tires of proclaiming the Gospel of Peace (cf. Eph 6:15) and promoting various initiatives to end wars and encourage dialogue and collaboration in bringing peace to the world.
The Eucharist is the memorial of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is “our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). The Sacrament guides the Church in the urgent, difficult mission of peace, opening her to work together in this effort with all people of good will. The Eucharist, Sacrament of those reconciled with God and others (cf. Col 1:22), also provides the incentive to undertake “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18). God’s Word teaches that all have sinned (cf. Rom 3:23) and, as a result, all have need of forgiveness. Consequently, the Church proposes to everyone a break from the vicious circle of violence and hate by finding the power to seek forgiveness and to forgive.
In the name of the Church, the Holy Father and the Holy See continue to be involved actively in the international forum, ardently supporting the cause of peace, fostering dialogue and collaboration with respect to international rights and, among others, working for the reduction of armaments and a ban on arms of mass destruction. In this work which depends on prayer, persuasion and education, Pope John Paul II’s messages for the World Day of Peace have particular importance.
Conscious that true peace can only come from on high (cf. James 1:17; Lk 2:14), the Church implores this great gift from God, while working to create every possibility for the spread of peace in this world, until peace shines fully in eternity, where the God of life promises to peacemakers the gifts of peace, blessing, light and joy (cf. Mt 5:9).
The Eucharist and Unity
85. In the Eucharistic Prayer, the Church also begs Almighty God to bestow his gift of unity. This gift concerns the very nature of the Church, willed by Jesus Christ, whose essential marks are one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
The Lord Jesus, before accepting the sacrifice of the cross, prayed for unity among his disciples: “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). Christians of every age are included in the Lord’s “priestly prayer.” In fact, Jesus Christ prayed for both the unity of the apostles and the unity of those who, through them, would believe in him (cf. Jn 17:20). The unity of the Lord Jesus’ disciples comes from the very nature of the Church. Unity is also one of the reasons which makes her credible: “Even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may all be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21).
Unfortunately, sins against unity have been present in the Church’s life in this world. In addition to the son of perdition (cf. Jn 17:12), the early community had to deal with false prophets (cf. 1 Jn 4:1) and with those who left the community, because, in reality, they never really belonged to it (cf. 1 Jn 2:19). St. Paul had to warn the community to “take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to doctrine” (Rm 16:17). He himself had clearly to intervene in the community at Corinth to save it from divisions (cf. 1 Cor 1:12), caused by worldly people devoid of the Spirit (cf. Jude 19).
Regrettably, the scandal of divisions exists at various levels in the Church today. The Eucharist should be a strong appeal to all to guard the internal unity of families, parish communities, ecclesial movements, religious orders and entire dioceses. The Eucharist also provides the grace to restore unity among all Christians, members of the Body of Christ: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor 10:17).
Jesus Christ’s “priestly prayer” includes those who believe in him (cf. Jn 17:20). Unfortunately, through the course of history, Christianity has experienced painful divisions in various Churches and ecclesial communities. Because of this sin of divisions, which is the source of scandal for the world, prayer and work is necessary to make whole the seamless garment of Christ (cf. Jn 19:23-24). All Christians are called to bring God’s work to completion, each according to his vocation and responsibility. Every one has the duty to pray that Jesus’ words be fulfilled: “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). In response to the Lord’s word, the entire Church prays through the mouth of her Universal Pastor who pleas: “Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!”117
The Eucharist and Ecumenism
86. Without doubt, ecumenism is a gift of the Holy Spirit and a necessary course to be pursued by the Church. After the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, a long, fruitful relationship developed between the Church and ecclesial communities. The process has created bonds of unity, some already existent at various levels, in seeking the day of full communion which will be sealed in the common celebration of the Eucharist. This urgent, inescapable task specially concerns the Eastern Churches which are not yet in full communion with us. Since the Catholic Church acknowledges the validity of their Sacrament of the Eucharist, it is permissible, under certain conditions, for Catholics to receive Holy Communion in these Churches. Likewise, members of these Churches can also be welcomed at the Table of the Lord in the Catholic Church, when they are unable to approach a validly ordained priest of their Church.
A favourable rapport has also developed between the Church and communities from the Reformation. The relation of these communities to the Sacrament of the Eucharist is proving, in good part, to be a delicate yet promising experience, as indicated in canon law118 and the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.119
The responses to the Lineamenta emphasize that the liturgy ought to be respected as part of the Church’s culture and not traded as some social initiative. Pope John Paul II, following the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, declared in his first encyclical: “Although it is true that the Eucharist always was and must continue to be the most profound revelation of the human brotherhood of Christ's disciples and confessors, it cannot be treated merely as an ‘occasion’ for manifesting this brotherhood. When celebrating the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the full magnitude of the divine mystery must be respected, as must the full meaning of this sacramental sign in which Christ is really present and is received, the soul is filled with grace and the pledge of future glory is given.”120 This teaching supports the understanding that the Eucharist presupposes ecclesial communion.121 Saying that the Eucharist is the sign of the unity of the Church, his Body, does not refer to the nature of the Sacrament, but to its effect.122
Ecumenical meetings are a privileged occasion for better understanding the Church’s doctrine on the Eucharist and Christian unity. While painfully accepting the divisions which forestall communal participation at the Table of the Lord, the Church does not cease encouraging people to pray for the return of the days when all believers enjoyed full unity in Christ.123 Some Lineamenta responses, however, mention that at such meetings Catholics sometimes lack clarity in presenting Eucharistic doctrine. In certain cases, these meetings deliberately do not include the Eucharist among the various celebrations; while others include it and invite all, without distinction, to receive Holy Communion. Some also lament problems created by some Protestant communities who seek conversions among immigrants, especially the Hispanic, inviting them to attend religious services which are oftentimes called “Mass.”
Many pastors, however, following the teachings of the Church in the matter, are offering encouraging signs through their efforts, in a spirit of concern and charity, to bring about the ecclesial unity desired, while not overlooking the fact that the Eucharist is the ultimate goal in the ecumenical process aimed at seeking unity in faith. Since the end of ecumenism is unity, the celebration of the Eucharist clearly cannot be the means to bring unification. Until unity in the faith is achieved, that unity cannot be anticipated. Only in light of a unity which presupposes and is confirmed by the Eucharist can the true meaning of “intercommunion” be understood.
The Eucharist and Intercommunion
87. Divisions among Christians is a source of anguish. Working to reestablish communion with our separated brothers and sisters, who do not share our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, is an urgent, necessary task. Precise canonical norms and clear Church teaching exist in the matter. They compel the Church to continue to search for unity and always to state clearly what stands in the way of full communion and what conditions exist for the reception of communion in sacris.124 Many Catholics are aware and appreciate the Church’s directives in this matter, seeing in them a sure reason to pray for our separated sisters and brothers, until full union is achieved.
Some Lineamenta responses also allude to cases of an ill-interpreted egalitarianism which has led to certain errors. Many presume to receive communion in sacris without a proper faith in the Sacrament and full communion with the Church. This attitude is surprising, since it makes no sense not to belong to a Church community and, at the same time, to want to receive the Eucharist, which is a sign of belonging to that community, or not to accept the Pastors and the doctrine of the Church and, at the same time, to want to take part in the sacraments celebrated by them. This way of thinking might come from a lack of clarity on the difference between the unity of the Church and the unity of the human race: the first is the sign and instrument of the second, which has yet to be accomplished.
Furthermore, the responses mention that, when non-Catholics are present at a celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, the celebrant, in some cases, invites them to approach the altar, not to receive Holy Communion but to be given a blessing. The same is done in the distribution of the antidoron in the Byzantine rite. On these occasions the Catholic teaching on Holy Communion is observed and presented without compromise. Ecumenical meetings in various countries celebrate a Liturgy of the Word to avoid any misunderstanding about the Sacrament of the Eucharist. When non-Catholics or non-Christians participate at Holy Mass, a booklet with the essentials of celebration would be very useful, so that they can follow what takes place.
Finally, many responses to the Lineamenta manifest a certainty that a faithful observance of the Church’s directives in the matter of intercommunion can be the occasion to truly express love for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and for those of other Christian confessions as well to bear witness to the truth.125 While most responses seem to agree that a common profession of faith in the Eucharist must precede the reception of Holy Communion at Mass, the manner of presenting the mystery of the Eucharist in ecumenical dialogue still needs clarification, so as to avoid two opposite extremes: complete exclusion beforehand and a relativism. The proper response in ecumenism requires maintaining a sound approach, while preserving the truth about the Sacrament and our Catholic identity.
Ite missa est
88. The words at the end of the celebration of the Eucharist, Ite missa est, bring to mind the missionary mandate of the Risen Lord to his disciples before his Ascension into heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). In fact, the conclusion of every Mass is immediately linked to being sent forth in mission, a task involving all the baptized, each according to his proper vocation in the People of God: bishops, priests, deacons, those in the consecrated life, members of the ecclesial movements and the laity. Bearing witness is essential in fulfilling this mission; it is the first duty of every Christian sent forth into the world. In fact, “Without witnesses there can be no witness, just as without missionaries there can be no missionary activity.”126 This characteristic of missionary activity flows from the very words of Jesus: “from this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). Mission is humanly demanding and requires effort. Where does the power come from, if not the Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of mission, true font of communion and solidarity and real origin of reconciliation and peace?
The ultimate goal of evangelization is a personal encounter of every human being with Jesus Christ who is alive and present in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, which the Church offers as bread for the life of the world. The Eucharistic finality of mission also has its basis in the teaching of Jesus Christ, who calls all people of good will to his Table, without distinction or prejudice (cf. Mt 22:1-13; Lk 14:16-24) and offers his sacrifice for the salvation of all (cf Mt 26:26-29; Lk 22:15-20; Mk 14: 22-25; 1 Cor 11:23-25). The Eucharist, therefore, is the summit towards which all the Church’s missionary activity tends, including the specific mission ad gentes. In fact, what sense would proclaiming the Gospel have, if not to bring everyone to communion with Christ and others? This communion is most fully expressed in a liturgical and sacramental manner at Holy Mass, which is the foretaste of the Eternal Banquet in heaven.
The Eucharist is then the pulsating heart of mission; it is its authentic source and its only end. Many Lineamenta responses, therefore, rightly request promoting a renewal of the missionary task inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist. This comes from looking with apostolic fervour and zeal at the world in the initial years of the Third Millennium and seeing that it stands in need, more than ever, of peace, love and fraternal communion, gifts which can only be found in Jesus Christ.
89. Consequently, Christians ought to witness to the missionary aspect of the Eucharist, which makes them spontaneously proclaim to the world and others the wonders of God-Made-Man, present under the signs of bread and wine, who, in communion, enters their life to bring about a change. This is what concerns Christians who live in a secularized world, where the majority of those distant from God are in continuous spiritual travail in their search for him, though he is never far from them. Such is the zeal of missionaries, who, driven by their love for God, make the initial proclamation of the Good News to persons who have not yet known the Gospel of Jesus Christ or who do not know it sufficiently or fully.
The spirit of dialogue and respect owed to the values inherent in the realities they encounter, impel Christians to propose the missionary aspect of the Sacrament to people of good will, in obedience to the Lord’s command: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15).
This exalted yet arduous task requires total dedication, even to the point of martyrdom. Engaged in this necessary work for the Church, the Lord’s disciples draw their strength from the Eucharist, whose celebration throughout the world is a confirmation of the promise: “Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).
90. The celebration of the XI General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is to conclude the Year of the Eucharist, the entire Church is called to consider the great mystery in which the depths of her vocation and life lie hidden. In fact, “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist;”127 the Eucharist “contains the entire mystery of our salvation.”128 “Thanks to the Eucharist, the Church is reborn ever anew!”129 The Year of the Eucharist, then, cannot come to a close without a collegial gathering of the Successor of Peter, the head of the episcopal college, and the college’s members in the episcopal order. In this manner, they will celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist, nourish themselves with the Bread of Life, adore the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament and reflect on the precious treasure which Christ entrusted to his Church. They will enable the mission of evangelization to advance with renewed apostolic fervour and concrete pastoral guidelines, adapted to the needs of the Christian community and the deepest longing of every person today.
In the Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, the Pastors of the Church were called upon to take initiatives aimed at ensuring that the Eucharist be celebrated with not only greater vitality and fervour, but above all, with “a profound interiority.”130 Love for Eucharistic worship comes from rediscovering, in the prayer of adoration and thanksgiving, the beauty of the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. The devout reception of the Sacrament leads to hope in the promised things which lie beyond the perspective of everyday life, so strongly limited by the cultural effects of materialism and consumerism. Consequently, the Eucharist becomes a transforming force in culture, because the Sacrament is the manifestation of communion and the place of encounter between the People of God and the dead and risen Christ, the source of life and hope. The Eucharist is the seed of a new world and the true school of dialogue, reconciliation, love, solidarity and peace.
91. The shadows of Eucharistic celebration, mentioned in faithfulness to the information contained in the Lineamenta responses, will be dispersed to the extent that synod discussion—and afterwards, Church discussion— again discovers the greatness and beauty of the gift of the Eucharistic mystery and does not veer from the synod’s principal aim. Through the experience of episcopal collegiality, the synod is to consider the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the Church today and see how the Eucharist might truly become the source and summit of her life and mission, namely, of the new evangelization, which the world greatly needs.
Indeed, the Eucharistic mystery—sacrifice, memorial and banquet—provides the Church, in every aspect of her life, with an inexhaustible spring of grace for celebrating the sacramental re-presentation of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, for living the personal encounter with the Lord, for constructing ecclesial communion on the solid foundation of love and for foretasting the glory yet to come of the Wedding of the Lamb. In the life of the entire Church everything reaches its summit in the Eucharistic mystery, the final end of all her activity: from catechesis to the reception of the other sacraments, from popular devotion to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and from meditation on God’s Word to personal and communal prayer. The Eucharist is the heart of ecclesial communion.
If the Church is, in Christ, a kind of Sacrament, she is a sign and instrument of not only intimate union with God but also the unity of the whole human race.131 Consequently, the Eucharist as the Lord’s living presence also becomes the source of the Church’s universal mission. Bishops, priests and deacons receive grace from the Eucharist to proclaim the Gospel with pastoral concern in today’s world. Missionaries draw courage from the Eucharist to bring the good news of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Those in the consecrated life are strengthened in the Eucharist to live the ideal of the Christian life through their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Eucharist provides light and vigour for the laity so that they can transform temporal realities according to the new commandment to love God and one’s neighbour. The Eucharist emboldens those Christians who suffer persecution to bear witness to Christ in the world. The Church’s evangelizing mission has its ultimate goal in the union on earth of all people in Christ, ever-present in the Eucharistic mystery, in anticipation of the definitive union of humanity at the Eternal Banquet in heaven. As a result, the Eucharist is the culminating point of all pastoral work and every missionary endeavour. Likewise, the Sacrament is at the heart of evangelization and human promotion. In fact, those who receive the Bread of Life and proclaim the Eucharistic mystery to the world are also to defend life in all its stages and have a due respect for all creation. The faithful who eat the Bread-Come-Down-From-Heaven feel a duty to contribute to building a more just world, where God’s will is done and each person is assured of “our daily bread.”
In their discussions, the synod fathers will rely on the prayers of the whole Church, including the holy men and women whose lives provide fitting examples of authentic Eucharistic theology and devotion. Encouraged and sustained by their prayerful intercession, we proceed on our pilgrimage through the joys and sorrows of this present age.
Among the saints, the Mother of God has a unique place, since the Son of God was born from her spotless body—Ave, verum corpus, natum de Maria Vergine.As a result, she has for all time a unique relationship to the Eucharistic mystery. In Mary, Woman of the Eucharist par excellence, the Church contemplates the most perfect model of herself. Likewise, she beholds beforehand the realization of the “new heaven” and the “new earth,” eagerly awaited by all creation. In invoking Mary’s patronage with trust and devotion, the Church will rekindle anew her fervent desire to make the Eucharist the source and summit of her entire life and mission, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of all people and the world.132
1 Cf. XLVIII Conventus Eucharisticus Internationalis, 10-17 Octobris 2004: Eucharistia, Lux et Vita Novi Millennii, Memoria, Guadalaiara, Mexicum, 2004.
2 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004), 28: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, IV.
3 Cf. L’Osservatore Romano (31 Ianuarii - 1 Februarii 2005), 6.
4 Cf. Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae2003, tab. 4.
5 Cf. Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 1978/2003, tab. 1.
6 Cf. Ibid, tab. 5.
7 Cf. Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2003, tab. 6.
8 Cf. Ibid, tab. 5.
9 Notitiæ a F.A.O. datæ mense Ianuario 2005.
10 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Redemptoris missio (7 Decembris 1990), 11: AAS 83 (1991) 260.
11Ibid., 36: AAS 83 (1991) 281.
12 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Novo millennio ineunte (6 Ianuarii 2001), 2: AAS 93 (2001) 267.
13 Cf. S. Iustinus, Apologia I, 66,De Eucharistia: Corpus Apologetarum Christianorum I, pars I, Wiesbaden 1969, pp. 180-182.
14 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Fides et ratio (14 Novembris 1998), 81: AAS 91 (1999) 68-69.
15 Missale Romanum, Oratio post Communionem, I Dominica Adventus.
16 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii , Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 4, 8, 13-15, 18, 21, 24-25; Const. dogm. de Divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 10; Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 32; Decr. de œcumenismo Unitatis redintegratio, 2-4, 14-15, 17-19, 22.
17 Cf. II Coetus Extraordinarius Synodi Episcoporum (1985), Relatio Finalis II, C, 1.
18 Cf. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Litt. ad Catholicae Ecclesiae episcopos de aliquibus aspectibus Ecclesiae prout est communio Communionis Notio (28 Maii 1992): AAS 85 (1993) 838-850.
19 Ioannes Paulus ii, Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Pastores gregis (16 Octobris 2003), 57: AAS 96 (2004) 900-901.
20 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 26: AAS 95 (2003) 451.
21 Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004), 20: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, III.
22 Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 21: AAS 95 (2003) 447.
23 Cf. Ibid., 26: AAS 95 (2003) 451.
24Ibid., 35: AAS 95 (2003) 457.
25 Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 9.
26 Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 32: AAS 95 (2003) 455.
27 Cf. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Litt. ad Catholicae Ecclesiae episcopos de aliquibus aspectibus Ecclesiae prout est communio Communionis Notio (28 Maii 1992), 14: AAS 85 (1993) 846-847.
28 Conc. Œcum. Tridentin., Decr. de Sacramentis, Sessio VII (3 Martii 1547), can 6, can 8: DS (1973), 1606 et 1608.
29 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Decr. de presbyterorum ministerio et vita Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5.
30 Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia III,1: PG 3, 424 c.
31 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, “Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way!,” NY: Warner Books, 2004, 103.
32 Ioannes Paulus ii, Angelus (6 Ianuarii 2005): L’Osservatore Romano, (7-8 Ianuarii 2005), 1.
33 Cf. Sacra Congregatio de Disciplina Sacramentorum, Decr. Quam singulari (8 Augusti 1910), 3: AAS 2 (1910) 582.
34 Congregatio de Culto Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Instr. Eucharisticum mysterium (25 Maii 1967), 11: AAS 59 (1967) 548.
35 Cf. Ibid., 43: AAS 59 (1967) 564.
36 Cf. Ibid., 43: AAS 59 (1967) 561.
37 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Adhort. Ap. Post-syn., Reconciliatio et pænitentia (2 Decembris 1984), 27: AAS 77 (1985) 249.
38 S. Cæsarius Arelatensis, Sermo 229 De natale templi, 3: CCL 104, 907.
39 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 36: AAS 95 (2003) 458.
40 Cf. S. Ignatius Antiochenus, Ad Ephesios 20, 2: Patres Apostolici, F.X. Funk ed., Tübingen 1992, 88.
41 Cf. Congregationis pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus, Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (6 Ianuarii 1996), 62.
42 Pseudo-Athanasius, De virginitate, 7: PG 28, 260 A.
43 Cf. S. Basilius Cæsariensis, Epistola 2: PG 32, 228 A.
44 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Motu proprio datæ Misericordia Dei (7 Aprilis 2002), 2: AAS 94 (2002) 455.
45 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 10-11; Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 10-11; Ioannes Paulus ii, Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Christifideles laici (30 Decembris 1988), 9 et 20: AAS 81 (1989) 405-406; 425-427.
46 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 20.
47 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 10: AAS 95 (2003) 439.
48 Cf. Congregatio de Culto Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Instr. Redemptionis sacramentum (23 Aprilis 2004), 172-184: AAS 96 (2004) 597-600.
49 Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 22.
52 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 8: AAS 71 (1979) 270-272.
53Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1327.
54 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 10: AAS 95 (2003) 439.
55 S. Ioannes Chrysostomus, In Epistolam I ad Corinthios, Homilia IV, 4: PG 61, 36.
56 Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1328 et sq.
57 Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 28. Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Decr. de presbyterorum ministerio et vita Presbyterorum ordinis, 5; Const. Dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 3.
58 Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1356 et sq.
59 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 12-13: AAS 95 (2003) 441-442.
60Ibid., 12: AAS 95 (2003) 441.
61 Oratio Anima Christi.
62 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 58: AAS 95 (2003) 472.
63 Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004), 16: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, III.
64 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 26 et 47; Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 899.
65 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 938.
66Missale Romanum, Prex Eucharistica II.
67Ibid., Præfatio communis IV.
68 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 6; Ioannes Paulus ii, Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in Africa, (14 Septembris 1995), 63: AAS 88 (1996) 39-40.
69 Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium,104.
70 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 909; Congregatio de Cultu divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Instr. Inæstimabile donum, (3 Aprilis 1980), 17: AAS 72 (1980) 338.
71 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine, (7 Octobris 2004), 12: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, II.
72 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. dogm. de Divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 9.
73 A. Haggi - I. Pahl, Prex eucharistica. Textus e variis liturgiis antiquioribus selecti, Fribourg, 1968, p. 192.
74Missale Romanum, Prex Eucharistica II.
75Ibid., Canon Romanus.
76Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, (20 Aprilis 2000), 80.
77 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 912.
78 Cf. Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, (20 Aprilis 2000), 82.
79 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Tridentin., Sess.XIII, cap.2: DS 1551.
80Missale Romanum, Preces Eucharisticae II.
81 Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 14.
82 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 899, § 2; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium,can. 699, § 1.
83 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 388, § 1; 429; 534; 543, § 2; 549; 901; Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1369 et 1371.
84 Cf. Congregatio pro Clericis et Aliae , Instr. Ecclesiæ de mysterio, (15 Augusti 1997), 7: AAS 89 (1997) 869-870; Congregatio pro Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Directorium de celebrationibus dominicalibus absente presbytero (2 Iunii 1988): L’Osservatore Romano, (30 Iunii - 1 Iulii 1988) 2-3.
85 Cf. Congregatio pro Clericis et Aliæ, Instr. Ecclesiæ de mysterio, (15 Augusti 1997), 8: AAS 89 (1997) 870-872; Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767, § 1; 910, § 2 e 230, § 2.
86Pontificale Romanum, De Ordinatione episcoporum, presbyterorum et diaconorum, Civitas Vaticana, 1992, 91.
87 Cf. Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Instr. Liturgiam authenticam, (28 Martii 2001), 108: AAS 93 (2001) 719.
88 Cf. Ioannes Paulus ii, Chirografo per il centenario del Motu Proprio di Pio X Tra le sollecitudini (22 Novembris 2003), 12: AAS 96 (2004) 256-265.
89 Cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 120.
90 Cf. Ibid., 54.
91 Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 2559-2565.
92 Cf. Pius xi, Litt. Enc. Miserentissimus redemptor (8 Maii 1928): AAS 20 (1928) 169; Litt. Enc. Haurietis aquas (15 Maii 1956): AAS 48 (1956) 350-352; Paulus vi, Litt. Enc. Mysterium fidei (3 Septembris1965): AAS 57 (1965) 769-770; Sacra Congregatio Rituum, Instr. Eucharisticum mysterium (25 Maii 1967), 58-67: AAS 59 (1967) 569-573.
93 Cf. Romano Guardini, Lo spirito della liturgia. I santi segni, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1930, pp. 133 et sq.
94 Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1402-1405.
95Missale Romanum, Oratio collecta, XXX Dominica per annum.
96Ibid., Preces Eucharisticae III e IV.
97 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 20: AAS 95 (2003) 446.
98 Ioannes Paulus II, Epist. Ap. Dies Domini (31 Maii 1998), 72: AAS 90 (1998) 757-758.
99 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Epist. Ap. Salvifici doloris (11 Februarii 1984), 25-27: AAS 76 (1984) 235-242.
100 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. Ap. Familiaris consortio (22 Novembris 1981), 79-85: AAS 74 (1982) 180-187.
101 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004) 4: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, I.
102 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003) 25 et 62: AAS 95 (2003) 449-450; 474-475.
103 Relatio inter Eucharistiam, sanctitatem et sanctificationem argumentum fuit Symposii cuiusdam, a Congregatione de Causis Sanctorum promoti, cuius inter labores in lucem perductæ sunt divitiæ illius thesauri eucharisticæ spiritualitatis, quæ in vita sanctorum præsens adest. Ad rem cf. Eucaristia: Santità e Santificazione, Atti del simposio celebrato dal 6 al 7 dicembre 1999, in Vaticano, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.
104 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 53: AAS 95 (2003) 469.
105 Ioannes Paulus II, Alloc. In Portu Principis, ad episcopos Consilii episcopalis Latino-Americani sodales (9 Martii 1983), III: AAS 75 (1983) 777-779.
106 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004) 25-26: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, III-IV; cf. Conc. Œcum. Vat., Const. past.de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 36.
107 Cf. Ibid., 26.
108 Cf. Conc.Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. de Sacra Liturgia Sacrosanctum concilium, 7; Paulus VI, Litt. Enc. Mysterium fidei (3 Septembris 1965), 35-39: AAS 57 (1965) 762-764; Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (20 Aprilis 2000), 27.
109 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Slavorum Apostoli (2 Iunii 1985), 21 et 26: AAS 77 (1985) 802-803; 806-807.
110 Cf. Conc.Œcum. Vat. ii, Decr. de activitate missionali Ecclesiæ Ad gentes, 22.
111 Cf. Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Instr. Varietates legitimæ (25 Ianuarii 1994): AAS 87 (1995) 288-314.
112 Cf. Diligenter collecta Acta Magisterii circa argumentum hoc praebuit Pontificium Consilium de Cultura. Ad rem cf. Per una Pastorale della Cultura (23 Maii 1999): L’Osservatore Romano (2 Iunii 1999), Suppl.
113 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in Africa (14 Septembris 1995), III, nn. 55-71: AAS 88 (1996) 34-47; Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in America (22 Ianuarii 1999), 70: AAS 91 (1999) 805-806; Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in Asia (6 Novembris 1999), 21-22: AAS 92 (2000) 482-487; Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in Oceania (22 Novembris 2001), 16: AAS 94 (2002) 382-384; Adhort. Ap. Post-syn. Ecclesia in Europa (28 Iunii 2003), 58-60: AAS 95 (2003) 685-686.
114Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (20 Aprilis 2000), 9.
115 Cf. Missale Romanum, Oratio "Domini Iesu Christe".
116 Cf. S. Augustinus, In Ioannis Evangelium tractatus, XXVI, cap. VI, n. 13: PL 35, 1613.
117 Benedictus XVI, Homilia (24 Aprilis 2005): L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (27 Aprilis), 9.
118 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 844, § 4; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can 671, § 4.
119 Cf. Pontificium Consilium ad Unitatem Christianorum fovendam, Directorium Œcumenicum noviter compositum, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (25 Martii 1993), 129-131: AAS 85 (1993) 1088-1089.
120 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 20: AAS 71 (1979) 312.
121 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 35: AAS 95 (2003) 457.
122 Cf. Paulus VI, Litt. Enc. Mysterium fidei (3 Septembris 1965), 2: AAS 57 (1965), 753.
123 Cf. Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1398-1401.
124 Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can.844; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 671; Catechismus Catholicæ Ecclesiæ, 1399-1401; Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 45: AAS 95 (2003) 462-463.
125 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 46: AAS 95 (2003) 463.
126 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Redemptoris missio (7 Decembris 1990), 61: AAS 83 (1991) 309-310.
127 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 Aprilis 2003), 1: AAS 95 (2003) 433.
128 S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q. 83, a. 4 c.
129 Benedictus XVI, Homilia in Romani Episcopi Cathedrae possessione capienda (7 Maii 2005), L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (11 Maii 2005), 4.
130 Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004), 29: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, IV.
131 Cf. Conc.Œcum. Vat. ii, Const. dogmat. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 1.
132 Cf. Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Ap. Mane nobiscum Domine (7 Octobris 2004), 31: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English (13 Octobris 2004), Supplement, IV.
Weekly Edition in English
20 July 2005, page 3
L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Weekly Edition in English is published for the US by:
The Cathedral Foundation
L'Osservatore Romano English Edition
320 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Subscriptions: (410) 547-5315
Fax: (410) 332-1069