Skip to comments.The Year of the Eucharist by Bishop Donald Wuerl
Posted on 11/10/2004 10:04:49 PM PST by Coleus
The Year of the Eucharist
by Bishop Donald Wuerl
A time, Pope John Paul II says, for 'starting afresh from Christ'
|In this article:|
|A Time for Outreach|
|Nourishing Eucharistic Devotion|
|Goals for the Coming Year|
|Spiritual Nourishment||Back to Top|
The origins of the Eucharist are found in the Last Supper, when Jesus pledged his love and promised never to leave his people. He made us sharers in his Passover by instituting the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and resurrection and commanded the Apostles to celebrate it until he returned. In the Last Supper Jesus instituted the new memorial sacrifice. The true Lamb of God (John 1:29) was about to be slain. By his cross and resurrection he would free not just one nation from the bondage of human slavery but all humanity from the more bitter slavery of sin.
The one great sacrifice was accomplished by Jesus the Priest and Victim, who offered himself on the altar of the cross for our redemption. This sacrifice need not and cannot be repeated; however, it can be re-presented so that we today in our moment in history are able sacramentally and spiritually to enter the paschal mystery and draw from it spiritual nourishment.
The celebration of the Eucharist is the principal act of worship and spiritual nourishment for members of the Church throughout the world. Sunday Mass is an expression not only of our membership in the body of Christ; it is our participation in the very mystery of our redemption. Thus the Church speaks of the relationship of the Eucharist to the body of Christ, the Church. Since priesthood is essential to the celebration of the Eucharist, all three Eucharist, Church and priesthood are intimately united.
Our celebration of the Year of the Eucharist is an occasion to reflect on the nature of the Church and on priestly ordination as a sacrament in service to the Church. In his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church), the pope reminds us that the Eucharist builds the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. The profound relationship between the two is reflective of the apostolic origin of both. "The Eucharist too has its foundation in the Apostles, not in the sense that it did not originate in Christ himself, but because it was entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and has been handed down to us by them and by their successors" (27). Focusing on the place of the priesthood, the pope writes, "This minister [priest] is a gift which the assembly receives through episcopal succession going back to the Apostles" (29).
Apostolic succession and the Churchs pastoral mission necessarily entail the sacrament of holy orders. Just as there is no Church without the Eucharist, so there is no Eucharist without a valid ministerial priesthood.
The Church's teaching on the relationship between the priesthood and the Eucharist underscores the profound differences between Catholics and non-Catholics in their understanding of the nature of the Church, the Eucharist and holy orders. It is a sad fact that the divisions that arose among Christians in the West from the 16th century onward have led to the pastoral reality that those outside the Catholic Church cannot receive Communion. The pope reminds us: "It would therefore be a great contradiction if the sacrament par excellence of the Churchs unity were celebrated without true communion with the bishop" (39).
Another pastoral implication is the "promotion of priestly vocations" (31). All are obliged to pray and work for an increase in priestly vocations. The pope says that when a community lacks a priest and a non-ordained religious or layperson leads the faithful in prayer, as praiseworthy as this exercise is, "such solutions must be considered merely temporary, while the community awaits a priest" (32).
The role of the Eucharist in forming the Church also highlights our obligation to pray for both the bishop and the pope. "The ecclesial communion of the eucharistic assembly is a communion with its own bishop and with the Roman Pontiff" (39). This is a particularly significant pastoral point today.
|A Time for Outreach||Back to Top|
Participation in Sunday Eucharist is not incidental to the life of a Catholic. It is not just the manifestation of our identity but the source of our unity with Christ and his Church. The pope states that "the faithful have the obligation to attend Mass, unless they are seriously impeded, and that pastors have the corresponding duty to see that it is practical and possible for all to fulfill this precept" (41).
In this Year of the Eucharist we should not only be attentive to our own devout participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, but also make this year an occasion of evangelization and a time of outreach. There are many people we know who should be with us at Sunday Mass. Perhaps all that these family members, neighbors, acquaintances or co-workers need is a reminder from us that the Lord awaits them at his eucharistic table.
The real presence of Christ endures after the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy. Following the distribution of Communion the remaining consecrated hosts are placed in the tabernacle. Devotion to the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is a hallmark of the Catholic faithful. The hosts placed in the tabernacle provide viaticum (literally "food for the journey"), Communion for those who turn to the Church in their final hour. They also provide a focal point for prayer and worship of Christ in his real presence. The tabernacle calls us to find the time prayerfully and quietly to come before Jesus.
|Nourishing Eucharistic Devotion||Back to Top|
With the passage of time reverent reflection led the Church to enrich its eucharistic devotion. Faith in the real presence led believers to worship Christ dwelling in the sacrament. Wherever the consecrated host is, there is Christ, our Lord and our God. Hence, he is ever to be worshipped in this mystery. Such worship is expressed in many ways: in genuflection, in adoration of the Eucharist and in the many forms of eucharistic devotion that faith has nourished.
By announcing the Year of the Eucharist in the context of Mass and the eucharistic procession for the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in Rome, the pope gave testimony to the popularity of this feast, which is marked by joyful hymns and public processions that encourage further development of eucharistic devotions.
At times the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle in which it is ordinarily kept and placed upon the altar for adoration. These periods of exposition are sometimes extended into holy hours. Popular parish traditions include a day of eucharistic adoration and the 40 Hours devotion, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a homily calling particular attention to this glorious, divine gift.
In whatever devotional format we worship the Lord in the Eucharist we recognize that our devotion is inseparable from the celebration of the Mass. At Mass we come to know the nourishing aspect of the Eucharist as food as we partake in the sacred banquet of communion with the Lords body and blood. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed towards the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through Communion. To receive Communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself to us" (1382).
|Goals for the Coming Year||Back to Top|
In this Year of the Eucharist each of us can set personal and ecclesial goals. First should be our own renewed appreciation for the extraordinary gift of the re-presentation of Jesus' death and resurrection spiritually and sacramentally for us in the Eucharist. In meditating on this reality we renew our faith in the enduring presence of Christ in Communion and, therefore, in the tabernacle. At the same time, it is a challenge for us to see the implications for our faith in our daily life.
All around us the secular world increasingly marginalizes the idea of transcendent truth, absolute values and a spiritual dimension to life. We are called to counter this trend by proclaiming the reality of God, the Incarnation of Christ, who came among us as God-with-us, and by giving witness to his enduring presence in the Eucharist.
In his Sunday Angelus address immediately following the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome, John Paul said, "The Year of the Eucharist fits into the context of the pastoral project that I pointed out in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which I invited the faithful to 'start afresh from Christ'" (Angelus, June 13).
This Year of the Eucharist is a time for renewed fervor, devotion, commitment and faith involving Jesus in the Eucharist. It is also a time to let the energizing spirit of the Eucharist, holy Communion, so fill us that we become evangelists, as were the first disciples of Jesus people intent on sharing the Good News with others.
Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh is a member of Duquesne Council 264.
The Year of the Eucharist by Bishop Donald Wuerl
Columbia ^ | November 2004 | Bishop Donald Wuerl
Is that Columbia, SC, well $uck you Palistine, glad your leader is gone, you will be better off with some decent Represenative of a decent country
In unity there is strenght.
BTTT on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.