Archbishop's column

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

'Before The Cross' by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Archbishop Carlson is the ninth Archbishop of Saint Louis. Listed below are the most recent columns written by Archbishop Carlson; click on the title to read the column. The Archdiocesan website has more information about Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

‘This is My Body, which will be given for you’: Mission Sunday

Introduction

One of the major celebrations of each Church Year is World Mission Sunday.This year, we will observe World Mission Sunday on the weekend of Oct. 15-16.

World Mission Sunday is so important to our life in the Church because Christ calls us to be one with Him as He gives Himself for the salvation of the world.In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the source of our life in Christ and its highest expression, Christ unites us to Himself.His words at the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, "This is My Body which will be given up for you," identify who we are in Christ and His mission which is our mission.Even as He offers Himself for the life of the world, so, too, we are called to offer ourselves for the life of the world, according to our vocation in life, our special gifts and our work.At the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Bishops declared:

"Then, when He had by His death and His resurrection completed once for all in Himself the mysteries of our salvation and the renewal of all things, the Lord, having now received all power in heaven and on earth (cf. Matthew 28:18), before He was taken up into Heaven (cf. Acts 1:11), founded His Church as the sacrament of salvation and sent His apostles into all the world just as He Himself had been sent by His Father (cf. John 20:21), commanding them: "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" (Matthew 28:19ff)."Go into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature.He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe, shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15ff). Whence the duty that lies on the Church of spreading the faith and the salvation of Christ, not only in virtue of the express command which was inherited from the apostles by the order of bishops, assisted by the priests, together with the Successor of St. Peter and supreme shepherd, but also in virtue of that life which flows from Christ into his members: "From Him the whole body, being closely joined and knit together through every joint of the system, according to the functioning in due measure of each single part, derives its increase to the building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).The mission of the Church, therefore, is fulfilled by that activity which makes her, obeying the command of Christ and influenced by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit, fully present to all men or nations, in order that by the example of her life and by her preaching, by the sacraments and other means of grace, she may lead them to the faith, the freedom and the peace of Christ, that thus there may lie open before them a firm and free road to full participation in the mystery of Christ (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, decree "Ad gentes divinitus [On the Church’s Missionary Activity]," Dec. 7, 1965, n. 5a).

It is Christ, alive within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who inspires in all of us a strong and effective commitment to and engagement in the Church’s world missions.

While it is true that few of us are called to travel to the various parts of the world to evangelize directly our brothers and sisters, all of us are called to be one with the missionaries who do so, for we desire to share our greatest gift, the grace of Christ, with all of our brothers and sisters in every part of the world.We are called to be one with missionaries in prayer and sacrifice, and one with them by our material support of their missionary work.

St. Thrse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, affectionately called "The Little Flower," is our great example in living out our missionary calling.Although she never left her cloistered Carmelite monastery in Lisieux, France, she was heroic in her dedication to the missions, praying ceaselessly and offering her support, especially through her letters, to missionaries.She longed to live out her contemplative vocation in one of the missionary lands, but God called her, instead, to be a most ardent missionary without leaving her homeland.In 1927, Pope Pius XI declared St. Thrse of Lisieux, together with St. Francis Xavier, patron saints of the Church’s missions.

Message of Pope John Paul II

Because of the importance of World Mission Sunday, the Holy Father, as Vicar of Christ on earth, always issues a special message to all the faithful several months in advance of the celebration, in order to help them to prepare fittingly. On Feb. 22 of this year, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II published his "Message for World Mission Sunday 2005."He gave it the title: "Mission: Bread broken for the life of the world."If you wish to read the entire text of the message, it can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages.

In the message, Pope John Paul II places this year’s celebration of World Mission Sunday within the context of the Year of the Eucharist.He shows us how World Mission Sunday "helps us to better understand the ‘eucharistic sense of our life’" (n. 1a).Participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we are called and strengthened to offer ourselves for the salvation of the whole world.World Mission Sunday underlines for us the universal nature of the Eucharist: Christ offers Himself for the salvation of the world.The Holy Father observes: "In this way, while the Eucharist helps us to understand more fully the significance of mission; it leads every individual believer, the missionary in particular, to be ‘bread, broken for the life of the world’" (n. 1b).

The world, "shaken by tragic events and shattered by catastrophic natural disasters," is hungry for Christ who offers Himself as the Living Bread come down from Heaven in the Holy Eucharist.Even as He became man, out of His immeasurable divine love for us, so He calls us to bring Him in the Holy Eucharist to all our brothers and sisters, in order that they may have eternal life (n. 2).

"We who nourish ourselves with the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord, cannot keep this ‘gift’ to ourselves; on the contrary we must share it."Participation in the Holy Eucharist means a steadfast commitment "to building a more just and fraternal world" (n. 3).Pope John Paul II refers us to his apostolic letter announcing the Year of the Eucharist, in which he wrote:

We cannot delude ourselves: By our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ (cf. John 13:35; Matthew 25:31-46).This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our eucharistic celebrations is judged (Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter Mane nobiscum Domine [For the Year of the Eucharist, October 2004-October 2005]," Oct. 7, 2004, n. 28b).

Certainly, our response to the missionary appeal of the universal Church is a hallmark of the sincerity and fruitfulness of our participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

The Holy Father then discusses our missionary vocation to become "bread broken" for our brothers and sisters in all parts of the world, who have not yet had the Gospel preached to them in its integrity and have not yet received the gift of faith and life in the Church.Some missionaries have given their lives for their brothers and sisters in martyrdom, suffering death for the sake of fidelity to Christ and His call in their lives.He prays that their example will inspire many young men and women to follow in their footsteps."The Church has need of men and women willing to consecrate themselves wholly to the great cause of the Gospel" (n. 4b). In our daily prayer for those called to the consecrated life and the priesthood, let us not fail to pray for those called to be missionaries, that they will have the courage and generosity to respond to God’s call.

May the annual celebration of World Mission Sunday be the occasion for us to renew our prayers for the priests of the archdiocese serving the Church’s world missions in the Archdiocese of La Paz and the Vicariate Apostolic of Pando in Bolivia, and in the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan in Belize.Fathers Patrick T. Hayden, Father Robert J. Menner, Father James R. Michler and Msgr. David A. Ratermann are serving at the Parroquia Maria Reina in La Paz. Bishop Morgan A. Casey serves the Apostolic Vicariate of the Pando.Father Anthony G. Siebert and Father Kevin F. Hederman are serving in the Diocese of Belize-Belmopan.

The Holy Father invites us "to increase our awareness of the urgent necessity to participate in the evangelizing mission undertaken by the local communities and many Church organization, in particular the Pontifical Mission Societies and the missionary institutes."He asks us to be generous in our "spiritual and material cooperation" with them (n. 4c).

Finally, the Holy Father calls upon the intercession of the Mother of God, so that each of our parishes may become authentically Catholic, that is, communities marked by a spiritual life which is eucharistic and, therefore, missionary.He prays that all the faithful and missionaries, in particular, will not "hesitate to offer themselves as ‘bread, broken for the life of the world’" (n. 4d).

50th Anniversary of Daily Worldmissionaries

Our annual celebration of World Mission Sunday in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is marked with special significance this year.The Archdiocese of St. Louis is known throughout the United States for the generosity of our faithful in prayer, sacrifice and material support of the Church’s missions.Integral to the generosity of the entire archdiocese is the prayer and work of a distinguished group of faithful called the Daily Worldmissionaries.There are currently 5,015 members of the organization.

The organization traces its origins to the World Mission Exhibition which was held at the Keil Auditorium in May 1953.A generous group of the laity worked with the archdiocesan director and assistant director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in organizing the exhibition.They were so inspired that they expressed the desire to continue working, in a special way, for the world missions.They found the model for their organization in a mission aid program developed by Pauline Mary Jaricot (1799-1862), the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Lyon, France.The program comprises daily prayer, daily sacrifice and daily material support of the work of missionaries, among whom was Pauline Jaricot’s brother, a missionary priest in Indochina.Interestingly enough for the archdiocese, Bishop William DuBourg, who had the pastoral care of our territory as Bishop of New Orleans and lived in our see city, sought help for his missionary work here from Pauline Jaricot.

The Daily Worldmissionaries pray three times each day for the world missions, offering an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the invocation of the two patrons of the missions: St. Francis Xavier, pray for us, and St. Thrse, pray for us. They also sacrifice some luxury each day, so that they can set aside daily 25 cents, at least, in material support of the missions.

A special "mite box" is provided for the Daily Worldmissionaries, in which they place their daily sacrifice.At the end of each month, the Daily Worldmissionaries give their offerings to the group leader or send it directly to the Daily Worldmissionary Office, 20 Archbishop May Drive, St. Louis, MO 63119.

The membership of the Daily Worldmissionaries is aging.God bless those faithful members who have sustained so wonderful a missionary apostolate over the years.I call upon all of the faithful of the archdiocese, and especially our younger faithful, to consider membership in the Daily Worldmissionaries.There are no meetings to attend.Your work will be hidden but most efficacious: daily prayer, daily sacrifice and daily monetary support of the world missions.You may join by telephoning the archdiocesan Mission Office: (314) 792-7660.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, I will celebrate the Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, at 10 a.m. for World Mission Sunday and the 50th anniversary of the Daily Worldmissionaries.You are invited to participate in the Holy Mass, praying for the needs of the Church’s missions throughout the world.It would be wonderful to announce on the joyous occasion of the 50th anniversary Mass that many more faithful of the archdiocese have chosen to join the Daily Worldmissionaries.

Conclusion

The World Mission Sunday collection will be taken up in your parish on the weekend of Oct. 22-23.Please be generous, so that missionaries throughout the world may continue to receive the support of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who recognize their call to give of themselves for the life of the world.

May your participation in the Holy Eucharist increase your identification with our Eucharistic Lord Who gives His life for us always in the Church.Your heart, one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, will overflow with a generous love of all your brothers and sisters, especially those who have not yet had the Gospel preached to them and have not yet received the gift of faith.

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — VII

Introduction

Having completed the discussion of the Church’s discipline surrounding the celebration of the Holy Mass, the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" takes up, in Chapter 6, the discussion of the reservation of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic worship outside of the Mass.Clearly, the reservation of the Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle is directly related to the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar of sacrifice at the Mass.The custody and care of the eucharistic species during the Holy Mass is, therefore, also reflected in the custody and care of the reserved Blessed Sacrament.

The reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist
It may be asked why the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle after the distribution of Holy Communion during the Mass.Would it not be logical to consume all of the Sacred Hosts until the Holy Mass can be celebrated again?

The Church has understood that Christ makes Him present in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, as spiritual food not only for those who are able to participate in the Holy Mass but also for those who are not able to participate, especially the homebound and the infirm.He desires, in a most special way, to come to those who carry a burden of suffering, so that they may unite their sufferings to His own Redemptive Sacrifice.

What is more, the Real Presence naturally inspires in the faithful the desire to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and to worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament.As a result, there have rightly developed in the Church many practices, both private and public, by which we worship the Most Holy Eucharist (n. 129).Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II repeatedly urged to worship the Holy Eucharist outside of Mass and was an outstanding example of devoted love of our Eucharistic Lord.In his last encyclical letter to us, he wrote:

"The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church.This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass — a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and wine remain — derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed toward communion, both sacramental and spiritual.It is the responsibility of pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the eucharistic species" (Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia [On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church]," April 17, 2003, n. 25a).

The Holy Father makes reference to the repeated promotion of eucharistic worship outside of Mass by the Roman pontiffs and to the many examples of eucharistic devotion in the lives of the saints.He quotes St. Alphonsus Liguori, who declared that worship of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest among all devotions and the devotion which is most helpful to us.

The tabernacle and its placement

The Holy Eucharist is reserved in a tabernacle which is immovable, that is, securely fixed so that it cannot be carried away.It is to be made of solid and opaque material, and is to have a closure (lock) which protects the Blessed Sacrament, as much as possible, from any profanation (Code of Canon Law, canon 938, paragraph 3). The key to the tabernacle is to be most diligently kept in a safe place.It is not to be left in the door of the tabernacle (canon 938,paragraph 5).

The tabernacle is to be located "in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner."The location is also to be "suitable for prayer," that is a place of quiet in which there is sufficient space for the faithful to kneel and sit in prayer (n. 130).Because of the direct connection between the Real Presence of Christ on the altar of sacrifice from the moment of the consecration at Mass and the abiding Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle, it is most fitting that the tabernacle be placed as near to the altar of sacrifice as possible.The reality of the Real Presence is visually represented when the tabernacle is placed directly behind the altar of sacrifice with the crucifix above.

The location of the tabernacle must be under the clear authority of the diocesan bishop.In other words, it is not permitted to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a place other than those mentioned in universal Church law, unless permission has first been received from the diocesan bishop (canon 934, paragraphs 1-2).It is never permitted to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a place in which there is a danger that it may be violated.The instruction makes clear that, if the diocesan bishop is aware of the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in an unfitting place, he is to revoke immediately the permission for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament (n. 121).

It is not permitted to take the Blessed Sacrament to one’s home or any other place, except for the purpose of bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.The instruction warns that taking the Sacred Host for a sacrilegious purpose or throwing away the sacred species are most serious crimes, "the absolution of which is reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" (n. 132).

When one is taking the Blessed Sacrament to the sick, he or she is to go directly from the tabernacle to the sick person’s home "leaving aside any profane business so that any danger of profanation may be avoided and the greatest reverence for the Body of Christ may be ensured."The instruction also reminds us that the Rite for the Administration of Holy Communion to the Sick, as found in the Roman Ritual, is to followed in all such cases.

Forms of worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside Mass

The instruction begins the presentation on the private and public forms of worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside Mass by reminding us that such devotion "should be vigorously promoted, for by means of it the faithful give adoration to Christ, truly and real present."The instruction also reminds us that the Holy Father, the bishops and priests have the responsibility to foster, also by their own example, eucharistic devotion.It mentions, in particular, the responsibility of pastors of souls to provide for exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, so that the faithful may worship our Eucharistic Lord (n. 134).

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament should be a regular part of our lives.Because we believe that our Lord is really present in the tabernacle, we go before the tabernacle in prayer to have spiritual communion with him.Prayer offered in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord is particularly efficacious.When a young person is struggling to know his or her vocation in life, I always recommend frequent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.Many young men and women have told me how they came to know God’s will and received the courage to do His will through prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.It makes sense that the special communion with our Lord, which we have in His presence, unites us to Him in doing all that the Father asks of us.The instruction describes the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in these words:"For the contemplation of Jesus present in the Most Holy Sacrament, as a communion of desire, powerfully joins the faithful to Christ, as is splendidly evident in the example of so many saints."

One of the difficulties today is the need to keep churches locked for a good part of the day because of the danger of the violation of the sacred space by thieves and vandals, and even by those who are engaged in the evil world of the occult.As is possible, there should be certain hours in the day when the parish church or chapel is sufficiently supervised, so that the faithful may come to make a visit to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (n. 135).

Eucharistic adoration

The instruction reminds diocesan bishops and other ordinaries, for example, vicars general and major superiors of religious orders of men, that they have the responsibility to "foster eucharistic adoration, whether brief or prolonged or almost continuous, with the participation of the people."One of the great blessings which I have discovered in coming to serve the Archdiocese of St. Louis is the widespread practice of eucharistic exposition in most parishes for varied periods of time during each week.There are also a number of parishes in which there is continuous exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.Wherever there is exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, countless graces are received by the parishioners and by those who are remembered in prayer before the Sacred Host.It is my hope that soon every parish will have exposition for, at least, some hours each week.

Through the Archbishop’s Committee on Eucharistic Renewal, founded by Cardinal Justin Rigali, when he was archbishop, the practice of eucharistic adoration in parishes has been promoted throughout the archdiocese.I have recently renamed the committee to express more directly its purpose.It is now known as the Archbishop’s Committee on Eucharistic Adoration.The committee has been and remains under the direction of Father Joseph M. Simon, pastor of Queen of All Saints Parish.

The Church provides in her liturgical books the norms for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.The prayer offered before the Sacred Host exposed in the monstrance should center around the mystery of the redemptive incarnation, the mystery of Christ’s life and of His abiding presence with us in the Church.The praying of the holy rosary is most fitting.Also, reading and meditation upon the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels, is especially fitting (n. 137).

When there is exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, there must be the constant presence of the faithful.It is never permitted to have the Sacred Host exposed in the monstrance without someone present to worship.The instruction reminds us: "Still, the Most Holy Sacrament, when exposed, must never be left unattended even for the briefest space of time" (n. 138).In parishes in which there is eucharistic exposition, members of the faithful, under the direction of their parish priest, make sure that there are adorers before the Blessed Sacrament at all times.Diocesan bishops are reminded that "the faithful have a right to visit the Most Holy Sacrament of the eucharist frequently for adoration, and to take part in adoration before the Most Holy Eucharist exposed at least at some time in the course of any given year" (n. 139).

The instruction highly recommends the practice of continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in cities and larger towns in a church or chapel designated for that purpose by the diocesan bishop.In a chapel or church, in which there is continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, it is recommended that Mass be celebrated daily.While Mass is celebrated, the eucharistic adoration is interrupted.The instruction also calls to mind the fittingness of consecrating the Sacred Host for continuous adoration at the Mass "immediately preceding the time of adoration" (n. 140).

Lastly, regarding eucharistic adoration, the instruction reminds diocesan bishops that they are to recognize and promote groups of the faithful who "form guilds or associations for the carrying out of adoration."If the guild or association is international, it must be established by the Holy Father’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (n. 141).At present, the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, headquartered in Chicago, is seeking international recognition.If you are interested in its excellent work to promote eucharistic adoration, please consult its website: http://www.therealpresence.org.We are blessed in the archdiocese to have a number of churches and chapels with continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.If you wish to know the churches and chapels with Eucharistic adoration in the Archdiocese, please consult: http://archstl.org/eucharist/adoration.html.

Eucharistic Congresses and eucharistic processions

The instruction also discusses the practice of eucharistic congresses and eucharistic processions.The diocesan bishop is responsible to promote and regulate eucharistic processions (n. 142).It is especially fitting in the parishes of the archdiocese to have a procession with the Most Blessed Sacrament on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and at the time of the Forty Hours Devotion.The eucharistic procession is a most effective means of giving public witness to the great Mystery of the Faith, which is the Holy Eucharist.It is also powerful for the increase of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament on the part of all the faithful (n. 143).

If there is difficulty in holding a eucharistic procession, the instruction urges that the practice not be completely lost."Instead, new ways should be sought of holding them in today’s conditions: for example, at shrines, or in public gardens if the civil authority agrees" (n. 144).

Eucharistic congresses require a great deal of preparation but, when well prepared, are a wonderful public sign of faith in the Holy Eucharist and the cause of growth in faith and understanding of the eucharistic mystery.The archdiocese held its last eucharistic congress on June 15-16, 2001, marking the centennial of the National Eucharistic Congress held in St. Louis in 1901.I have heard many wonderful reports about it.The instruction asks that eucharistic congresses be carefully organized "so that Christ’s faithful may have the occasion to worship the sacred mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Son of God in a worthy manner, and that they may continually experience within themselves the fruits of the redemption" (n. 145). Given the amount of preparation which must precede a eucharistic congress, it would be good in the archdiocese to establish the date for our next eucharistic congress.

Conclusion

Private and public forms of eucharistic adoration and worship are at the heart of our Catholic faith.The beauty of the monstrances used over the centuries for the exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is a sign of the profound religious meaning of eucharistic adoration.I think, for instance, of the monstrance in the magnificent painting of Raphael, "The Dispute of the Sacrament," found in the Vatican.

May the conclusion of the Year of the Eucharist be the occasion for us to renew our practice of eucharistic adoration.Through eucharistic adoration, we will strengthen our participation in the Holy Mass and our living in the company of our Eucharistic Lord throughout each day.

Finally, I ask you to pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and the bishops who will be meeting in synod at the Vatican, beginning on Sunday, Oct. 2 next, to promote faith in and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — V

Introduction
Chapter 4 of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to complement the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, treats the liturgical norms pertaining to Holy Communion. Christ makes ever new His Sacrifice on Calvary, in order that we may be united with Him through Holy Communion, the reception of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the eucharistic species.
In the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," Pope John Paul II reminded us:

"The saving efficacy of the Sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord’s Body and Blood are received in Communion.The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through Communion: We receive the very One who offered Himself for us, we receive His Body which He gave up for us on the Cross and His Blood which He "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28)(Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia [On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church]," April 17, 2003, n. 16).

The words of our Holy Father remind us of the reverence and deep love with which we must approach Holy Communion.Through Holy Communion, Christ nourishes the life of the Holy Spirit within us, which we have first received through the Sacrament of Baptism and which has been strengthened and increased within us through the Sacrament of Confirmation.Holy Communion is truly the Heavenly Bread which sustains us spiritually along the way of our earthly pilgrimage home to God the Father.

Right disposition for Holy Communion

The instruction reminds us, first of all, that participation in the Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion frees us from daily faults and preserves us from mortal sin.If, however, we have committed mortal sin, we must confess the sin and receive sacramental absolution, in order to be rightly disposed to receive Holy Communion.

It is true that, at the beginning of the celebration of the Holy Mass, through the Penitential Rite, we prepare ourselves to enter into the Eucharistic Sacrifice and to receive Holy Communion by asking God to pardon our sins.The prayer of the Penitential Rite, however, "cannot be regarded as a substitute for the Sacrament of Penance in remission of graver sins."The instruction asks priests to be diligent in teaching the faithful about the need to confess mortal sin in the Sacrament of Penance before approaching to receive Holy Communion (n. 80).

St. Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that we should examine our consciences carefully regarding our right disposition before approaching to receive the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).If there is a "grave reason" why a person should receive Holy Communion and there is no possibility of making a good confession beforehand, he or she may approach to receive the Body of Christ only if he or she has first made an act of perfect contrition, "which includes the intention to confess as soon as possible" (n. 81).

Participation in the Holy Mass is clearly directed to the reception of Holy Communion.The Church, in fact, directs her liturgical discipline to the "frequent and fruitful access of the faithful" to Holy Communion.At the same time, her discipline must set forth "the objective conditions under which Communion may not be given" (n. 82).Otherwise, the proper love of our Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament will not be fostered and will, in fact, be betrayed.

Today, as the instruction notes, it can happen that we approach the altar to receive Holy Communion "as a group indiscriminately" (n. 83). One of the strong impressions made upon me as a boy was the fact that not everyone went to Holy Communion at Sunday Mass.I remember asking my parents why some people did not receive and receiving the explanation that, for whatever reason, they must not have been prepared to receive Holy Communion.The explanation made me think how important it was for me to be properly prepared.

Often, I have heard it observed that today the expectation is that everyone will receive Holy Communion.In such a situation, it becomes difficult for anyone to refrain from approaching to receive the Body of Christ.At the same time, such an expectation can easily dull the consciousness of the need to examine ourselves, in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.In our time, it is, therefore, all the more necessary to underline the Church’s teaching on the right disposition for reception of Holy Communion.

NonCatholics and nonChristians and reception of Holy Communion

Not infrequently, nonCatholics and nonChristians are present for the celebration of the Holy Mass, especially at wedding Masses or at Masses celebrated on other special cases. Unless the right disposition for the reception of Holy Communion is explained to them, they may simply approach to receive Holy Communion with the rest of the congregation, without knowing the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding the Holy Eucharist."It is the duty of pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed" (n. 84).The Eucharist is our greatest spiritual treasure in the Church.Those who are not in the full communion of the Catholic Church should naturally understand why we take care to explain the Church’s teaching on the Holy Eucharist and the corollary disciplinary norms.The U.S. Conference of Bishops has published an excellent summary of the Church’s discipline and of the doctrinal reasons for it, which it would be good to print in programs for special celebrations of the Mass or to read aloud at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion.

"Catholic ministers licitly administer the sacraments only to the Catholic faithful, who likewise receive them licitly only from Catholic ministers, except for those situations for which provision is made in canon 844, paragraph 2, 3 and 4, and canon 861, paragraph 2" (n. 85; cf. can. 844, paragraph 1). Can. 861, paragraph 2, permits that any person "with the right intention," in "a case of necessity" licitly administers the Sacrament of Baptism. By right intention is meant that the person who administers the Sacrament intends to do what the Church does when she baptizes.

Under the following conditions, a Catholic may receive "the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from nonCatholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid": 1) "necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it," that is, there is a true spiritual need, not just a personal desire; 2) the reception of the sacrament or sacraments will not be the cause of error or religious indifference; and 3) the impossibility of approaching a Catholic minister exists (can. 844, paragraph 2).The churches in which the sacraments are valid are those whose ministers are validly ordained, principally the Eastern churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church.

Catholic ministers are permitted to administer the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick "to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed" (can. 844, paragraph 3). The discipline is also valid "for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches" (can. 844, paragraph 3).There are two conditions under which the sacraments can be administered licitly in such a case: 1)the person must seek the sacraments "on their own," that is, not at the urging of the Catholic minister; and 2) the person must be properly disposed, that is, be coherent with the Catholic teaching regarding the sacraments.

Canon 844, paragraph 4, provides for the administration of the same three sacraments "to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church," under certain conditions.The conditions are: 1) there is danger of death or, "in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops,"there is a grave need; 2) the person does not have access to a minister of his or her own community; 3) the person requests the sacrament on his or her "own accord," that is, not at the urging of the Catholic minister; 4) the person gives the signs of Catholic faith in the sacrament; and 5) the person is properly disposed.Regarding the "grave need," the instruction of the Secretariat for Christian Unity of the Apostolic See, dated Jan. 6, 1972, gives, as examples, imprisonment or persecution.Regarding the discipline of can. 844, paragraph 4, the conditions "cannot be separated; thus, it is necessary that all of these conditions be present together" (n. 85).

Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion

The Sacrament of Penance has an essential relationship to the Holy Eucharist.It is the sacrament by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is restored when it has been lost through mortal sin and by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is renewed when it has been weakened through venial sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1448, 1484, 1493 and 1863).A person who desires to receive our Lord in Holy Communion will also have regular access to the Sacrament of Penance, in order that he or she be properly disposed.In every parish, there is to be a stable schedule of times for the Sacrament of Penance to foster worthy and frequent reception of Holy Communion.When we receive Holy Communion "often or daily," it is important that we regularly confess our sins and receive sacramental absolution, lest in any way we lose a sense of awe and of our own unworthiness before the Blessed Sacrament (n. 86).

Because of the essential relationship between the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, children who are to make their First Holy Communion are prepared "by sacramental confession and absolution" (n. 87).It is important that children, from their very first instruction on the Holy Eucharist, understand the relationship of the sacramental confession and absolution of our sins to the right disposition for reception of Holy Communion.In this regard, it is important that parents make a point to take their children with them at the scheduled times for confession.Otherwise, the children will not develop a habit of regular confession.

First Holy Communion

In addition to the prior First Confession, the instruction provides several norms for the celebration of First Holy Communion.First Holy Communion "should always be administered by a priest and never outside of Mass."Since the priest is the ordinary minister of Holy Communion and has the pastoral responsibility for the worthy celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is only proper that he administer First Holy Communion.

Unless there is an exceptional case, First Holy Communion is not administered at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.The instruction suggests that First Holy Communion be given on Sunday, "the day of the Eucharist," and recommends the Sundays from the Second to the Sixth Sundays of Easter, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi, or "the Sundays of Ordinary Time."

For the reception of First Holy Communion, the child must have reached the age of reason and the parish priest must have determined that the child is sufficiently prepared.The instruction makes provision for the exception of the reception of First Holy Communion by a child who has not reached the age of reason but is "exceptionally mature for his age," if the parish priest judges the child to be sufficiently prepared (n. 87).

Distribution of Holy Communion

The reception of Holy Communion by the faithful immediately follows the reception of Holy Communion by the priest or priests celebrating the Mass.The priest who celebrates the Mass has the responsibility to distribute Holy Communion, in accord with his sacramental character.If the congregation is large, he may be assisted by other priests or deacons.When necessary, he may also be assisted by extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (n. 88).

In the same line, if possible, the communicants should receive hosts consecrated at the Mass in which they are participating (n. 89). Large congregations make it impossible to follow this norm strictly.For the most part, however, the faithful should receive hosts which the priest celebrant has consecrated and is distributing.

The proper posture for the reception of Holy Communion in the United States of America is standing.Because the communicant is not receiving the Sacred Host kneeling, he or she should bow reverently before receiving Holy Communion (n. 90).The Holy Eucharist may not be denied to a person who wishes to receive in the kneeling posture, if he or she is otherwise properly disposed and not prevented from receiving Holy Communion by the Church’s discipline (n. 91).

Holy Communion may be received on the tongue or in the hand in the United States. If the Sacred Host is received in the hand, it is to be consumed immediately in the presence of the minister of the Holy Eucharist. No one is permitted to receive Holy Communion in the hand and to walk away from the eucharistic minister without consuming the Host (n. 92).During the distribution of Holy Communion, the Mass server should hold the paten under the chin or hand of the person receiving, in order to prevent that any particle or fragment fall to the ground (n. 93).

It is not permitted to take the Host from the priest or other ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.Holy Communion is to be received, not taken.Also, it is not permitted for the faithful to pass the Sacred Hosts or the chalice with the Precious Blood from one to another."Moreover, in this regard, the abuse is to be set aside whereby spouses administer Holy Communion to each other at a nuptial Mass" (n. 94).

Holy Communion may be received twice in the same day, as long as the second reception of Holy Communion takes place within the celebration of the Holy Mass in which the person receiving participates (n. 95).In danger of death, a person is "strongly urged to receive Communion again," even if he or she has already received Holy Communion on the same day (can. 921, paragraph 2).

"The practice is reprobated whereby either unconsecrated hosts or other edible or inedible things are distributed during the celebration of Holy Mass or beforehand after the manner of Communion, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books," lest confusion or error regarding the incomparable reality of the Holy Eucharist be caused.The custom of blessing bread after Mass for distribution can be retained, if it already exists.The faithful, however, are to be duly catechized about the meaning of the blessing of bread in clear distinction from the Holy Eucharist."In fact, no other similar practices should be introduced, nor should unconsecrated hosts ever be used for this purpose" (n. 96).

Communion of the priest or priests

"A priest must communicate at the altar at the moment laid down by the Missal each time he celebrates Holy Mass, and the concelebrants must communicate before they proceed with the distribution of Holy Communion."It is not permitted for the priest celebrant or the concelebrants to receive Holy Communion only after they have completed the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful (n. 97).

The priest celebrant and concelebrants must receive a Sacred Host consecrated at the Mass they are celebrating.Also, they must receive Holy Communion under both species.Holy Communion is distributed to concelebrants by the bishop, a priest or a deacon in silence, without announcing "The Body of Christ" and "The Blood of Christ" (n. 98).If a priest is present for Holy Mass and is unable to concelebrate, he may always receive Holy Communion under both species (n. 99).

Communion under both species

Communion is distributed to the faithful under both species, in order to provide for the fuller sign of the Eucharistic Banquet.It is, however, not always permitted or possible.It is important, therefore, that all of the faithful understand that they receive the whole Christ under each of the sacred species (n. 100).

In making the decision to distribute Holy Communion under both species, the circumstances must be carefully assessed, in accord with any instruction given by the diocesan bishop."It is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned" (n. 101).

The following circumstances exclude the distribution of Holy Communion under the species of the consecrated wine: 1) the congregation is so large that it is "difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist," risking an unreasonable amount of the Precious Blood remaining to be consumed after the distribution of Holy Communion; 2) it is difficult to bring the chalice to the faithful; 3) the amount of wine required would make it difficult to be sure about "its certain provenance and quality"; 4) there is a lack of a sufficient number of ordinary and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; and 5) "a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated" (n. 102).

The Precious Blood may be received by drinking from the chalice or by intinction, the dipping of the Host into the Precious Blood. If intinction is employed, the following conditions must be observed: 1) the Hosts must be sufficiently thick and large; 2) Holy Communion may only be received on the tongue; 3) the communicant may not "intinct the Host himself in the chalice"; and 4) the Host used for intinction must be valid matter and must have been consecrated (nn. 103-104).

When a single chalice is not sufficient for the distribution of the Precious Blood, several chalices are to be used."It is praiseworthy, by reason of the sign value, to use a main chalice of large dimensions, together with smaller chalices"(n. 105).

The Precious Blood may not be poured from one vessel to another, in order to avoid the risk of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament.Although a flagon or similar vessel may be used to bring the wine to the altar at the Preparation of the Gifts, it may not be used as a container of the Precious Blood (n. 106).The wine to be consecrated should be poured into the chalices beforehand or at the time of the Preparation of the Gifts.

Conclusion

Chapter 4 concludes by reminding us of the severe penalty of automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See, which is imposed upon a person "who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose."A cleric who commits such an act can be further punished, "not excluding dismissal from the clerical state" (can. 1367).The instruction further reminds us that the discipline is to be understood to apply to "any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species."The instruction makes it clear that anyone violating the norms regarding the care of the Body and Blood of Christ "incurs the penalties laid down" by canon law.It gives, as an example of such violation, "casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground."

Finally, the instruction reminds us that, once the distribution of Holy Communion has been completed, whatever remains of the Precious Blood "must be entirely and immediately consumed by the priest or another minister."Any remaining Sacred Hosts "are to be consumed by the priest at the altar" or reposed immediately in the tabernacle (n. 107).

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — V

Introduction
Chapter 4 of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to complement the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, treats the liturgical norms pertaining to Holy Communion. Christ makes ever new His Sacrifice on Calvary, in order that we may be united with Him through Holy Communion, the reception of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the eucharistic species.
In the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," Pope John Paul II reminded us:

"The saving efficacy of the Sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord’s Body and Blood are received in Communion.The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through Communion: We receive the very One who offered Himself for us, we receive His Body which He gave up for us on the Cross and His Blood which He "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28)(Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia [On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church]," April 17, 2003, n. 16).

The words of our Holy Father remind us of the reverence and deep love with which we must approach Holy Communion.Through Holy Communion, Christ nourishes the life of the Holy Spirit within us, which we have first received through the Sacrament of Baptism and which has been strengthened and increased within us through the Sacrament of Confirmation.Holy Communion is truly the Heavenly Bread which sustains us spiritually along the way of our earthly pilgrimage home to God the Father.

Right disposition for Holy Communion

The instruction reminds us, first of all, that participation in the Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion frees us from daily faults and preserves us from mortal sin.If, however, we have committed mortal sin, we must confess the sin and receive sacramental absolution, in order to be rightly disposed to receive Holy Communion.

It is true that, at the beginning of the celebration of the Holy Mass, through the Penitential Rite, we prepare ourselves to enter into the Eucharistic Sacrifice and to receive Holy Communion by asking God to pardon our sins.The prayer of the Penitential Rite, however, "cannot be regarded as a substitute for the Sacrament of Penance in remission of graver sins."The instruction asks priests to be diligent in teaching the faithful about the need to confess mortal sin in the Sacrament of Penance before approaching to receive Holy Communion (n. 80).

St. Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that we should examine our consciences carefully regarding our right disposition before approaching to receive the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).If there is a "grave reason" why a person should receive Holy Communion and there is no possibility of making a good confession beforehand, he or she may approach to receive the Body of Christ only if he or she has first made an act of perfect contrition, "which includes the intention to confess as soon as possible" (n. 81).

Participation in the Holy Mass is clearly directed to the reception of Holy Communion.The Church, in fact, directs her liturgical discipline to the "frequent and fruitful access of the faithful" to Holy Communion.At the same time, her discipline must set forth "the objective conditions under which Communion may not be given" (n. 82).Otherwise, the proper love of our Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament will not be fostered and will, in fact, be betrayed.

Today, as the instruction notes, it can happen that we approach the altar to receive Holy Communion "as a group indiscriminately" (n. 83). One of the strong impressions made upon me as a boy was the fact that not everyone went to Holy Communion at Sunday Mass.I remember asking my parents why some people did not receive and receiving the explanation that, for whatever reason, they must not have been prepared to receive Holy Communion.The explanation made me think how important it was for me to be properly prepared.

Often, I have heard it observed that today the expectation is that everyone will receive Holy Communion.In such a situation, it becomes difficult for anyone to refrain from approaching to receive the Body of Christ.At the same time, such an expectation can easily dull the consciousness of the need to examine ourselves, in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.In our time, it is, therefore, all the more necessary to underline the Church’s teaching on the right disposition for reception of Holy Communion.

NonCatholics and nonChristians and reception of Holy Communion

Not infrequently, nonCatholics and nonChristians are present for the celebration of the Holy Mass, especially at wedding Masses or at Masses celebrated on other special cases. Unless the right disposition for the reception of Holy Communion is explained to them, they may simply approach to receive Holy Communion with the rest of the congregation, without knowing the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding the Holy Eucharist."It is the duty of pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed" (n. 84).The Eucharist is our greatest spiritual treasure in the Church.Those who are not in the full communion of the Catholic Church should naturally understand why we take care to explain the Church’s teaching on the Holy Eucharist and the corollary disciplinary norms.The U.S. Conference of Bishops has published an excellent summary of the Church’s discipline and of the doctrinal reasons for it, which it would be good to print in programs for special celebrations of the Mass or to read aloud at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion.

"Catholic ministers licitly administer the sacraments only to the Catholic faithful, who likewise receive them licitly only from Catholic ministers, except for those situations for which provision is made in canon 844, paragraph 2, 3 and 4, and canon 861, paragraph 2" (n. 85; cf. can. 844, paragraph 1). Can. 861, paragraph 2, permits that any person "with the right intention," in "a case of necessity" licitly administers the Sacrament of Baptism. By right intention is meant that the person who administers the Sacrament intends to do what the Church does when she baptizes.

Under the following conditions, a Catholic may receive "the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from nonCatholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid": 1) "necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it," that is, there is a true spiritual need, not just a personal desire; 2) the reception of the sacrament or sacraments will not be the cause of error or religious indifference; and 3) the impossibility of approaching a Catholic minister exists (can. 844, paragraph 2).The churches in which the sacraments are valid are those whose ministers are validly ordained, principally the Eastern churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church.

Catholic ministers are permitted to administer the Sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick "to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed" (can. 844, paragraph 3). The discipline is also valid "for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches" (can. 844, paragraph 3).There are two conditions under which the sacraments can be administered licitly in such a case: 1)the person must seek the sacraments "on their own," that is, not at the urging of the Catholic minister; and 2) the person must be properly disposed, that is, be coherent with the Catholic teaching regarding the sacraments.

Canon 844, paragraph 4, provides for the administration of the same three sacraments "to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church," under certain conditions.The conditions are: 1) there is danger of death or, "in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops,"there is a grave need; 2) the person does not have access to a minister of his or her own community; 3) the person requests the sacrament on his or her "own accord," that is, not at the urging of the Catholic minister; 4) the person gives the signs of Catholic faith in the sacrament; and 5) the person is properly disposed.Regarding the "grave need," the instruction of the Secretariat for Christian Unity of the Apostolic See, dated Jan. 6, 1972, gives, as examples, imprisonment or persecution.Regarding the discipline of can. 844, paragraph 4, the conditions "cannot be separated; thus, it is necessary that all of these conditions be present together" (n. 85).

Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion

The Sacrament of Penance has an essential relationship to the Holy Eucharist.It is the sacrament by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is restored when it has been lost through mortal sin and by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is renewed when it has been weakened through venial sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1448, 1484, 1493 and 1863).A person who desires to receive our Lord in Holy Communion will also have regular access to the Sacrament of Penance, in order that he or she be properly disposed.In every parish, there is to be a stable schedule of times for the Sacrament of Penance to foster worthy and frequent reception of Holy Communion.When we receive Holy Communion "often or daily," it is important that we regularly confess our sins and receive sacramental absolution, lest in any way we lose a sense of awe and of our own unworthiness before the Blessed Sacrament (n. 86).

Because of the essential relationship between the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, children who are to make their First Holy Communion are prepared "by sacramental confession and absolution" (n. 87).It is important that children, from their very first instruction on the Holy Eucharist, understand the relationship of the sacramental confession and absolution of our sins to the right disposition for reception of Holy Communion.In this regard, it is important that parents make a point to take their children with them at the scheduled times for confession.Otherwise, the children will not develop a habit of regular confession.

First Holy Communion

In addition to the prior First Confession, the instruction provides several norms for the celebration of First Holy Communion.First Holy Communion "should always be administered by a priest and never outside of Mass."Since the priest is the ordinary minister of Holy Communion and has the pastoral responsibility for the worthy celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is only proper that he administer First Holy Communion.

Unless there is an exceptional case, First Holy Communion is not administered at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.The instruction suggests that First Holy Communion be given on Sunday, "the day of the Eucharist," and recommends the Sundays from the Second to the Sixth Sundays of Easter, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi, or "the Sundays of Ordinary Time."

For the reception of First Holy Communion, the child must have reached the age of reason and the parish priest must have determined that the child is sufficiently prepared.The instruction makes provision for the exception of the reception of First Holy Communion by a child who has not reached the age of reason but is "exceptionally mature for his age," if the parish priest judges the child to be sufficiently prepared (n. 87).

Distribution of Holy Communion

The reception of Holy Communion by the faithful immediately follows the reception of Holy Communion by the priest or priests celebrating the Mass.The priest who celebrates the Mass has the responsibility to distribute Holy Communion, in accord with his sacramental character.If the congregation is large, he may be assisted by other priests or deacons.When necessary, he may also be assisted by extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (n. 88).

In the same line, if possible, the communicants should receive hosts consecrated at the Mass in which they are participating (n. 89). Large congregations make it impossible to follow this norm strictly.For the most part, however, the faithful should receive hosts which the priest celebrant has consecrated and is distributing.

The proper posture for the reception of Holy Communion in the United States of America is standing.Because the communicant is not receiving the Sacred Host kneeling, he or she should bow reverently before receiving Holy Communion (n. 90).The Holy Eucharist may not be denied to a person who wishes to receive in the kneeling posture, if he or she is otherwise properly disposed and not prevented from receiving Holy Communion by the Church’s discipline (n. 91).

Holy Communion may be received on the tongue or in the hand in the United States. If the Sacred Host is received in the hand, it is to be consumed immediately in the presence of the minister of the Holy Eucharist. No one is permitted to receive Holy Communion in the hand and to walk away from the eucharistic minister without consuming the Host (n. 92).During the distribution of Holy Communion, the Mass server should hold the paten under the chin or hand of the person receiving, in order to prevent that any particle or fragment fall to the ground (n. 93).

It is not permitted to take the Host from the priest or other ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.Holy Communion is to be received, not taken.Also, it is not permitted for the faithful to pass the Sacred Hosts or the chalice with the Precious Blood from one to another."Moreover, in this regard, the abuse is to be set aside whereby spouses administer Holy Communion to each other at a nuptial Mass" (n. 94).

Holy Communion may be received twice in the same day, as long as the second reception of Holy Communion takes place within the celebration of the Holy Mass in which the person receiving participates (n. 95).In danger of death, a person is "strongly urged to receive Communion again," even if he or she has already received Holy Communion on the same day (can. 921, paragraph 2).

"The practice is reprobated whereby either unconsecrated hosts or other edible or inedible things are distributed during the celebration of Holy Mass or beforehand after the manner of Communion, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books," lest confusion or error regarding the incomparable reality of the Holy Eucharist be caused.The custom of blessing bread after Mass for distribution can be retained, if it already exists.The faithful, however, are to be duly catechized about the meaning of the blessing of bread in clear distinction from the Holy Eucharist."In fact, no other similar practices should be introduced, nor should unconsecrated hosts ever be used for this purpose" (n. 96).

Communion of the priest or priests

"A priest must communicate at the altar at the moment laid down by the Missal each time he celebrates Holy Mass, and the concelebrants must communicate before they proceed with the distribution of Holy Communion."It is not permitted for the priest celebrant or the concelebrants to receive Holy Communion only after they have completed the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful (n. 97).

The priest celebrant and concelebrants must receive a Sacred Host consecrated at the Mass they are celebrating.Also, they must receive Holy Communion under both species.Holy Communion is distributed to concelebrants by the bishop, a priest or a deacon in silence, without announcing "The Body of Christ" and "The Blood of Christ" (n. 98).If a priest is present for Holy Mass and is unable to concelebrate, he may always receive Holy Communion under both species (n. 99).

Communion under both species

Communion is distributed to the faithful under both species, in order to provide for the fuller sign of the Eucharistic Banquet.It is, however, not always permitted or possible.It is important, therefore, that all of the faithful understand that they receive the whole Christ under each of the sacred species (n. 100).

In making the decision to distribute Holy Communion under both species, the circumstances must be carefully assessed, in accord with any instruction given by the diocesan bishop."It is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned" (n. 101).

The following circumstances exclude the distribution of Holy Communion under the species of the consecrated wine: 1) the congregation is so large that it is "difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist," risking an unreasonable amount of the Precious Blood remaining to be consumed after the distribution of Holy Communion; 2) it is difficult to bring the chalice to the faithful; 3) the amount of wine required would make it difficult to be sure about "its certain provenance and quality"; 4) there is a lack of a sufficient number of ordinary and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; and 5) "a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated" (n. 102).

The Precious Blood may be received by drinking from the chalice or by intinction, the dipping of the Host into the Precious Blood. If intinction is employed, the following conditions must be observed: 1) the Hosts must be sufficiently thick and large; 2) Holy Communion may only be received on the tongue; 3) the communicant may not "intinct the Host himself in the chalice"; and 4) the Host used for intinction must be valid matter and must have been consecrated (nn. 103-104).

When a single chalice is not sufficient for the distribution of the Precious Blood, several chalices are to be used."It is praiseworthy, by reason of the sign value, to use a main chalice of large dimensions, together with smaller chalices"(n. 105).

The Precious Blood may not be poured from one vessel to another, in order to avoid the risk of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament.Although a flagon or similar vessel may be used to bring the wine to the altar at the Preparation of the Gifts, it may not be used as a container of the Precious Blood (n. 106).The wine to be consecrated should be poured into the chalices beforehand or at the time of the Preparation of the Gifts.

Conclusion

Chapter 4 concludes by reminding us of the severe penalty of automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See, which is imposed upon a person "who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose."A cleric who commits such an act can be further punished, "not excluding dismissal from the clerical state" (can. 1367).The instruction further reminds us that the discipline is to be understood to apply to "any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species."The instruction makes it clear that anyone violating the norms regarding the care of the Body and Blood of Christ "incurs the penalties laid down" by canon law.It gives, as an example of such violation, "casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground."

Finally, the instruction reminds us that, once the distribution of Holy Communion has been completed, whatever remains of the Precious Blood "must be entirely and immediately consumed by the priest or another minister."Any remaining Sacred Hosts "are to be consumed by the priest at the altar" or reposed immediately in the tabernacle (n. 107).

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — VI

Introduction

Chapter Five of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to complement the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, is titled "Certain other matters concerning the Eucharist."As the title indicates, it treats the aspects of the celebration of the Holy Mass that have not yet been treated in the instruction.It completes the presentation of the norms which pertain directly to the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Place of the celebration

The Holy Mass is to be celebrated in a sacred place, that is, a place set apart especially for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Parish churches, churches, oratories and chapels of communities of the faithful, institutes of the consecrated life or Catholic institutions like healthcare facilities and schools, and private chapels established with the permission of the local ordinary, usually the diocesan bishop, are the places in which the Mass may be offered.

In particular situations in which it is too difficult to transport a large group of the faithful to an adequate church or chapel, or if Mass is to be celebrated for a seriously ill or dying person at his or her bedside, the Holy Mass may be celebrated in "a decent place" (Code of Canon Law, canon 932, paragraph 1).The instruction makes it clear that it is the diocesan bishop who is to judge, "on a case-by-case basis," regarding the necessity of a celebration of the Holy Mass in a place other than a church, oratory or chapel (n. 108).If a large meeting of Catholics, during which the Holy Mass is to be celebrated, is to be held in a hotel or other conference center, and the transportation of the faithful to a sacred place is too burdensome, the request to have the Mass in "a decent place" at the hotel or conference center should be made to the diocesan bishop well in advance of the meeting.

While canonical discipline provides for the extraordinary situation of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist "in the place of worship of some church or ecclesial community which does not have full communion with the Catholic Church as long as there is no scandal" (canon 933), the instruction provides a new norm regarding the use of a temple or sacred place of a non-Christian religion: "It is never lawful for a priest to celebrate in a temple or sacred place of any non-Christian religion" (n. 109).

Duty of the priest to celebrate Mass

The principal daily work of the priest is the offering of the Holy Mass for the salvation of the world.The offering of the Mass is the principal reason for the ordination of priests.When we recall that the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice makes present the Sacrifice of Calvary in every time and place, then we understand why the priest is to offer Mass daily.Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, underlining the importance of the daily celebration of the Mass "for the spiritual life of the priest, as well as for the good of the Church," recalled the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council that the priest should offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice daily, even if it is not possible for any of the faithful to be present.Pope John Paul II commented:

"In this way priests will be able to counteract the daily tensions which lead to a lack of focus and they will find in the Eucharistic Sacrifice — the true center of their lives and ministry — the spiritual strength needed to deal with their different pastoral responsibilities.Their daily activity will thus become truly eucharistic" (Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, [On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church], April, 17, 2003, n. 31b).

The identity of the priestly vocation and mission is found in the Holy Eucharist.The priest, therefore, finds his deepest joy and strength in offering the Holy Mass.The Holy Eucharist is truly his life.

Regarding the situation in which there are no faithful present for the celebration of the Holy Mass, it is important to remember that the Holy Mass is never offered alone.The Eucharistic Sacrifice is always the action of Christ, united with His Mystical Body, both on earth and in Heaven.At every celebration of the Eucharist, the company of the angels and saints participate.When we celebrate the Holy Mass, "we are united to the heavenly ‘liturgy’ and become part of that great multitude which cries out: "‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb’" (Revelation 7:10) (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 20c).The Holy Mass truly unites earth and Heaven (n. 110).

Because of the principal duty of the priest to offer Mass daily, the instruction calls to mind the norm by which a priest is always to be permitted "to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist."If a priest is traveling to a place in which he is unknown, then he carries with him a document from the Holy See, his bishop or religious superior.It is called a celebret and testifies that he is a priest in good standing.The literal meaning of the Latin word, celebret, is "let him celebrate" or "he may celebrate."In some places, priests have been discouraged or actually prevented from celebrating or concelebrating the Mass.The instruction indicates how gravely wrong such a practice is.Regarding the norm that a priest is to be allowed to celebrate or concelebrate the Mass, the instruction states: "Let the bishops take measures to put a stop to any contrary practice" (n. 111).

Language of the Mass

The Mass is celebrated in Latin, which is the universal language of our rite, or in a vernacular language for which there are properly approved texts.Although the Latin language has been greatly neglected over the past several decades and some Catholics believe that it has somehow been banned from our liturgical celebrations, it, in fact, remains the first language of the Sacred Liturgy.All translations of the Mass texts are made from the Latin edition of the Roman Missal.Also, it is always permitted to celebrate the Mass in Latin (n. 112).

Here it should be noted that the celebration of Mass in Latin is not equivalent to the celebration of the Mass according to the rite in force before the reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, that is the Rite of the Mass in the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum. The latter celebration is, of course, in Latin, with the Greek "Kyrie eleison."The celebration of the Mass in Latin refers to the Order of the Mass promulgated after the reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in its standard Latin version.

If a number of priests are concelebrating the Mass, a language (for which there are approved liturgical texts) should be chosen, which is known to all the priests who are concelebrating and to the faithful who are participating in the Mass.If Mass is celebrated in a language unknown to a priest, he should not attempt to concelebrate but, rather, be present at the Mass in choir dress, that is the cassock and surplice.When, for example, Bishop Ryszard Karpinski, delegate of the Polish Conference of Bishops for Polish immigrants, celebrated Mass in Polish at St. Agatha Parish, I could not concelebrate, because I do not know the Polish language, but I attended in the choir dress of a bishop, that is, the cassock, the rochet and mozzetta.

Scheduling of the Mass

The instruction comments on the situation of "different groups, movements, associations and even the smaller religious communities," which may be present for Sunday Mass in the parish.It indicates that, while it is permitted to have the Mass celebrated especially for a particular group, "these groups are not exempt from the faithful observance of the liturgical norms" (n. 114)

The instruction refers to a practice which has been introduced in some places, namely the observance of a so-called "fast from the Eucharist" by cancellation of the celebration of the Holy Mass in a parish for a certain number of days. Mass should always be celebrated on all Sundays and weekdays, as long as there is a priest available (n. 115).

The instruction also cautions against the unnecessary multiplication of celebrations of the Mass.Here, it is good to recall the norm of the Code of Canon Law regarding the number of Masses which a priest may say on a given day (cf. can. 905, paragraphs 1-2).Also, the instruction recalls to the priest’s mind the norms of the law regarding the acceptance of Mass offerings and their application to individual celebration of the Holy Mass (n. 116).

Sacred vessels

The vessels which are to contain the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Christ must be made in accord with the norms set down in the Church’s discipline.The norm for the material is precious metal, usually silver or gold. The conference of bishops, with the review of the Apostolic See, may establish another material for the sacred vessels, but it must be solid, unbreakable and "truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, so that honor will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided."In the United States, it is permitted to use another solid material which, in the common estimation, is precious, is apt for sacred use and is not given to breaking or deterioration.It is forbidden to use vessels which are everyday ware:

"Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials which break easily.This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate" (n. 117).

The material used for the sacred vessels is an important sign of our faith in the Real Presence.

The sacred vessels are blessed before they are used in the celebration of the Holy Mass.The rite of the blessing of the chalice and paten, for example, is found in the Roman Missal.The instruction commends the practice by which the diocesan bishop blesses the sacred vessels, while also judging "whether the vessels are worthy of the use to which they are destined" (n. 118).

Purification of vessels and sacred linens

The instruction indicates the proper method of purifying the sacred vessels, namely the chalice or chalices, the paten and the ciborium or ciboria, after the distribution of Holy Communion.The priest, the deacon assisting the priest, or a "duly instituted acolyte" purifies the sacred vessels.The purification takes place at either the altar or the credence table.

The paten or ciboria are purified over the chalice.Any particles of the Sacred Host which remain on the paten or in the ciboria are carefully placed in the chalice.The chalice is then purified with water consumed by the priest or deacon.The chalice is wiped dry with the purificator.

If there are many sacred vessels to be purified, it is permitted to place them on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table and to cover them. Immediately after the Mass, the priest or deacon or "duly instituted acolyte" is to purify them in the usual manner.The sacred vessels are not to be left unpurified for any length of time (n. 119).

Regarding the sacred linens, they are to be of worthy material and to be kept properly cleaned.The purificator and corporal, which touch directly the Body and Blood of Christ, are washed first by hand in water which is deposited directly into the sacrarium or "into the ground in a suitable place."After the first washing, a second washing by machine can be done.It is not at all fitting that the water from the first washing should go into the regular drain, for it may well contain some particle or remains of the sacred species (n. 120).

Sacred vestments

The vestments worn by the sacred ministers at the Mass are different according to the office which the minister fulfills.For example, the vestment of the priest is the chasuble, and the vestment of the deacon is the dalmatic.Under the chasuble is worn the alb (with amice and cincture) and the priest’s stole, and under the dalmatic is worn the alb (with amice and cincture) and the deacon’s stole.It is not permitted to wear the chasuble without the stole underneath.The different colors of the vestments give "effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian’s life passage through the course of the liturgical year."

Clearly, the vestments should be of a quality and beauty worthy of the Sacred Liturgy.Care should be taken to wear the correct color for the season or feast, as indicated in the Order for the Celebration of the Mass and the Divine Office (nn. 121-123).

If there are a large number of concelebrants and an insufficient number of chasubles of the prescribed color, it is permitted for the concelebrants to omit wearing the chasuble and to wear the stole over the alb.The principal concelebrant is always to wear the chasuble. Also, as much as possible, provision should be made to provide chasubles for all concelebrants.Moreover, if there are not sufficient chasubles of the color of the day, it is permitted to have the other concelebrants wear a white chasuble (n. 124).

The instruction underlines the importance of the proper vestment of the deacon, namely the dalmatic."In order that the beautiful tradition of the Church may be preserved, it is praiseworthy to refrain from exercising the option of omitting the dalmatic" (n. 125).

The instruction also addresses a practice which has developed in some places, by which sacred ministers do not wear any vestment or simply place a stole over street clothing or, in the case of monks or religious priests, over a religious habit.The instruction reprobates the practice, "even when there is only one minister participating."It further instructs diocesan bishops and religious superiors to take care "that in all churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms" (n. 126).

Lastly, the instruction addresses the faculty given for the use of "sacred vestments that are festive or more noble on more solemn occasions, even if they are not of the color of the day."The faculty remains in the liturgical books, but it applies to "vestments made many years ago, with a view to preserving the Church’s patrimony."It may not be understood to allow "innovations by which forms and colors are adopted according to the inclination of private individuals, with disregard for traditional practice, while the real sense of this norm is lost to the detriment of the tradition."

On feast days, sacred vestments of gold or silver "can be substituted as appropriate for others of various colors."They, however, may not be substituted for purple or black vestments (n. 127).

Manner of presence of priests at Mass

The last matter to be addressed in Chapter 5 is the manner of the presence of a priest at the celebration of the Mass.At any liturgical celebration, the hierarchical ordering of the Church should be manifested, so that the proper office of the ordained priest and of the faithful who share in the royal priesthood of the baptized is respected.The richness and beauty of the different offices in the Church should be visible, above all, at the Eucharistic Sacrifice.When a priest is present at the celebration of the Holy Mass, he should take part as a concelebrant, unless he is excused from doing so for a good reason, for example, the lack of knowledge of the language in which the Mass is being celebrated.By concelebrating, the priest exercises his proper office on behalf of the faithful.

If the priest is not to concelebrate, then he wears what is called "choir dress," namely, the surplice worn over the cassock. "It is not fitting, except in rare and exceptional cases and with reasonable cause, for (priests) to participate at Mass, as regards to externals, in the manner of the lay faithful" (n. 128).

Conclusion

Chapter 5 concludes the presentation of liturgical norms which apply to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.The careful observance of the discipline presented in Chapter 5 will contribute to the respect of the priests and all the faithful for the most sacred action of the Mass.Each of the details treated, in its own way, points to the action of Christ Himself in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and His Real Presence, the great fruit of the Sacrifice.

Whenever we are preparing to do or actually doing something that is very important to us, we take time to attend to details and we use the very best means available to us.In the whole history of the Church, the habits of great care and of employing our best gifts has surrounded the preparation and the celebration of the Holy Mass.The instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" calls us to renew those habits to the glory of God and for our salvation.

Annual Stewardship Awareness Sunday

Introduction

This coming weekend, Sept. 17-18, our archdiocese will observe its fifth annual Stewardship Awareness Sunday.Stewardship Awareness Sunday provides us the occasion to celebrate both the abundant goodness of God to us and our responsibility to share the same good gifts with one another.In parishes throughout the archdiocese, the faithful will be encouraged to think upon the particular ways in which they can live out the Gospel mandate of stewardship.The sacred Scriptures consistently remind us that God has given His abundant good gifts to us as stewards.His gifts, therefore, are not ours to hoard but rather to share with all and for the good of all.

Stewardship is about faith. Catholic giving is about the recognition of the source of all our blessings in God and of our need to use God’s many gifts for His glory and the good of all.The theme of this year’s celebration of stewardship is "One Church — Faithful and Generous."It reminds us that stewardship is not just a matter of giving some money to the Church but, rather, a matter of giving of ourselves, including our material goods, in faithful and generous love of all our brothers and sisters in the Church which is one throughout the whole world.

Stewardship of time, talent and treasure

When we speak about stewardship, we customarily refer to the variety of God’s good gifts to us under three categories, namely, "time, talent and treasure."Sharing the gift of time begins with prayer.Good stewards give time, first of all, to prayer; to devotion to our Lord, our Blessed Mother and the saints; to spiritual reflection; to regular confession; and to participation in Mass on Sunday and more often, if possible.Our Lord Jesus is our model of the good steward; it is He who teaches us the proper destiny of the many gifts with which God has endowed us.We imitate His example by going apart with Him daily, to pray to God the Father and to be united with the Father in Christ.

When we give time to grow in our love of Christ through prayer, we see ever more clearly how good and generous God is to us.Prayer opens our eyes to see the hand of God in every aspect of our lives. The union of our hearts with the Heart of Jesus who never ceases to pour out His life for love of us leads us to open our hearts in generous love of others, giving freely and gladly of our time for the sake of others.

We share our talent when we permit ourselves to be involved in the lives of others, of our parish and of the wider Church in the archdiocese and throughout the world.Each of us has natural gifts and skills which we have developed. Good stewardship means putting our gifts and skills at the service of others, whether it is visiting the sick or working on parish landscaping or the whole host of activities by which we care for each other and for our whole community.When each parishioner, as a good steward, places his or her talents and skills at the service of the whole parish, the mission of Christ is carried out in a remarkable way.

Sharing our treasure means that we place our material goods at the service of Christ and His Church.If we are to have the personnel needed in our parish and in the wider Church, and the facilities which make possible the apostolic work of our parish and of the wider Church, then each of us must share from his or her substance for the good of all.The sharing of our material goods provides salaries and benefits for our priests and parish staff, maintains our parish facilities in a fitting condition for the important works which they serve and supports the material needs of the universal Church.Once we understand and cultivate our union with Christ in carrying out His saving mission, then we unite our material goods to our prayer and our sharing of talents and skills.

The Church is God’s gift

A Christian steward recognizes that absolutely everything we have is a gift from God.Our health, our education, our work, our home, our investments, our family, our very life, all that we are and have is God’s gift to us.

Our life in the Church is God’s greatest gift to us.When Jesus returned to the Father in glory, He entrusted the Church into our care, so that He might remain with us always.In the Church, we are all one body with Christ.We are the Mystical Body of Christ.Our parish church, our cathedral basilica and the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican symbolize the gift of our oneness in Christ.We gather in our parish church and in our cathedral as members of the one Body of Christ; the church building reminds us that we all make up the Church, we are all individual stones united to Christ, the capstone, to form the Church (cf. Ephesians 2:20).The church building is indeed our second home, for we all belong to each other and are committed to each other in Christlike love.

The Church does not exist to serve us, but we are called to serve the Lord and one another in the Church.In the Church, Christ provides us the teaching, the grace and the discipline we require to carry out His work in the world.

The universal Church is divided into dioceses, and dioceses are divided into parishes, in order that Christ’s teaching, His sacraments and His pastoral direction may reach us all in our homes.We remain, however, one Body of Christ throughout the whole world, and our service to the Church in our parish must, by definition, also be service of the wider Church in the archdiocese and throughout the world.St. Paul reminded us of our commitment to all our brothers and sisters, without boundary, when he wrote:

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ.For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jew or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit ...If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 26).

So it is that, in the present time, we have been suffering with our brothers and sisters affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and, in December of 2004, we suffered with our brothers and sisters affected by the tsunami in India and Sri Lanka.

Belonging to the one Body

At our baptism, we were all made members of the Church, the one Body of Christ.During the Rite of Baptism, the crown of the head is anointed with Sacred Chrism as these words are pronounced: "As Christ was anointed prophet, priest and king, so may you always live as a member of His household" (Rituale Romanum, "Ordo Baptismi Parvulorum," Aug. 29, 1973, n. 98).We are brought to the parish church for baptism, for it symbolizes our oneness with Christ and, in Christ, with all the baptized.With the baptized throughout the world, we form the one household of Christ.

Being members of Christ’s Body, the Church, is full engagement in the mission of Christ.Christ lives within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our souls, and the Holy Spirit inspires in us every work for the good of all in the Church and in the world.St. Peter, reflecting upon the grace of the Holy Spirit in each member of the Church, exhorted us:

"As each one has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:10-11).

To the degree that we are obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we become more Christlike and, therefore, more generous in giving of ourselves and of our goods in service to others.God is glorified in our becoming more like Christ.

Every member of the one Body of Christ has gifts to share.The first gift we share is our faith and its expression in prayer and sacrifice.We also have various other gifts to share.Perhaps it is teaching or singing or planning or organizing or building or repairing or listening or caring or cleaning or writing or keeping books and records.The list of talents and skills is almost endless.

As good and faithful stewards, we care deeply about the Body of Christ.We engage ourselves in building up the Church by employing whatever gifts God has given us for her sake.We unite ourselves to Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice and live out our communion with Christ in prayer and work on behalf of our parish, the archdiocese and the universal Church.

Making our commitment

Being actively engaged in the Church is not a simple matter in our time.We live in a culture which is thoroughly materialistic, leading us to become ever more involved in a whole variety of activities which may be good in themselves but which in the end make our lives so busy that there is little or no time to reflect and pray.The materialism leads to consumerism, convincing us that we never have enough of the world’s goods and that the goods which we have are not good enough.We work longer and longer hours to acquire more and better things, and, in the end, we are not satisfied.We are left interiorly empty and isolated from one another.So it is that we live in a society which has never enjoyed more material goods but which, at the same time, fails to feed the hungry and to give shelter to the homeless.

To commit ourselves to a life of good stewardship, we must first make time to be silent before God and to reflect upon His manifold blessings.We then will understand the truth about the goods of our world and employ them in such a way to serve our own good and the good of all.We will then understand that the poor and the needy are part of the one household of faith and that God has equipped us to care for them as true brothers and sisters.

Certainly, the commitment would be too great for any one individual, but we make the commitment with the host of those reborn in Christ through Baptism.Together in the Church and with the help of God’s grace, we are able to accomplish great miracles of care and love on behalf of our brothers and sisters in most need.At the same time, we are able to provide for the life of the Church, which leads us to a deeper knowledge of Christ and a more ardent love of Him.

In the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the early Church and about how all the members of the Church "had all things in common" (Acts 2:44).In the very first years of the Church, St. Paul conducted a collection among all of the particular churches on behalf of the Church at Jerusalem, whose members were in great need (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; and 2 Corinthians 9:1-14).Regarding the nature of the collection, as an expression of stewardship, St. Paul reminded the Christians at Corinth:

"The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6-9).

When we sacrifice from our substance to supply for the needs of the whole Church, we are confident that God will supply all that we need.To those who sacrifice generously God provides generously, so that they can provide ever more completely for the needs of the one Body of Christ.

Throughout the history of the Church, the Church in one part of the world has provided for the needs of the Church in another part of the world, in which she was struggling for whatever reason.During the first decades of the life of the Church in our nation, the charity of the Church in France, Germany and Italy, for example, provided essential goods, in order that parish churches could be built, the priests and religious sisters could have the necessary sustenance, and the most needy could have essential social benefits. In the last period, too, the Church in various parts of the world, including our own, has been taking up a collection each year to help the Church in Eastern Europe, which had suffered so much under the regime of atheistic communism, to rebuild its necessary churches, schools and institutions for the care of the sick and the needy.

Stewardship is indeed a way of life for the whole Church and, therefore, for her individual members.It is through stewardship that we permit Christ to act through us in pouring out His life for the salvation of all mankind.Christ dwelling within us and acting through us as good stewards brings us deep and abiding joy and peace.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I urge each member of the faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to open his or her heart to the Word of God and so to become ever more faithful and generous stewards of God’s manifold gifts entrusted into your hands.Let stewardship become the way of your life so that, following Christ ever more faithfully, you will give yourself ever more generously to His mission.I recall the words of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the Pastoral Letter "Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response":

"Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime. At every step forward, one is challenged to go further in accepting and loving God’s will.Being a disciple is not just something else to do, alongside many other things suitable for Christians; it is a total way of life and requires continuing conversion" (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, Dec. 21, 1992, p. 14).

Stewardship is not just a matter of an annual weekend event in the Church.It is a way of life by which we give of ourselves and our goods daily to do God’s will and to serve our neighbor.We are all indeed "One Church — Faithful and Generous."

Please take time this weekend to reflect upon your way of stewardship to be sure it is totally Christ’s way.This weekend and in the time to come reflect upon your stewardship of God’s gifts before Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.Through your participation in the Holy Mass and your prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, you will find the inspiration and the strength to be a good steward of God’s gifts to you.Please reflect upon how you may employ your time, talent and treasure more fully in the service of the whole Church in your parish, in the archdiocese and throughout the world.Be confident that God will accomplish always more with your sacrificial gifts, thus building up the whole Church in unity and love.

Finally, I take the occasion of the fifth annual Stewardship Awareness Sunday, to thank you for your good stewardship of God’s gifts to you.To those who truly have been one with Christ, faithful and generous, I express my heartfelt esteem and gratitude.I invite all of the faithful of the archdiocese to become ever more "One Church — Faithful and Generous."

I close with the prayer which was developed by our Archdiocesan Stewardship Education Council, which I invite you to pray especially during the coming weekend.

Prayer for Faithful and Generous Stewardship

Heavenly Father, you have blessed me with abundant gifts.

Teach me to be grateful.

Help me to trust that You will always give me all that I need.

Send your Spirit down upon me to guide me.

Give me the wisdom to see what is truly most important in this life.

Give me the courage to share my time, talent and treasure where they are most needed.

Give me the joy that comes when I serve You and Your people.

Help me to follow the call of your Son, Jesus Christ, who tells each of us: "Whoever believes in me will do the work that I do" (John 20:21).

Help me to be faithful to your Church and generous with your gifts.

Show me the way to unite my humble offerings with others in this community so that together in the one Church we may accomplish wonderful work for your kingdom.

I ask this in endless gratitude for all the blessings that you have bestowed upon me.

Amen.

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