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.

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.

Relief for hurricane victims; God’s work and human work; new seminarians

Relief for Hurricane Victims

Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi who are suffering so greatly in these days from natural disaster.The people of Florida have also been affected and, as the storm moves northward, people of other states will suffer.

Many lives have been lost and the goods upon which life and livelihood depend have been destroyed.Many of our brothers and sisters are stranded without a place to rest, without food and water, without medicine and without the other necessities of life.All of the people of the devastated region look for a sign of God’s merciful love in the midst of their most intense suffering.Let all of our prayers in these days include the many intentions of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I ask every member of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to make some sacrifice from your means to assist the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.Each parish of the archdiocese will take up a collection for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.Please make your contribution as soon as possible, so that our help may reach the desperate people of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi as soon as possible.If you wish to make your contribution to the archdiocese directly, please forward it to me, marked clearly: Relief for Hurricane Victims.

Our collection will be sent to Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, Va., which, from long experience and professional preparation, will make certain that our contributions accomplish the greatest possible good for the suffering people.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked that a collection be taken throughout the nation for hurricane relief.Our effort will be a significant part of the work of all Catholics in the United States to come to the aid of those most in need.

The faithful of the archdiocese have responded generously to the needs of the wider Church.I count upon you to show the same generous compassion now toward our brothers and sisters in the greatest need of relief.I thank you, in advance, for your response to our collection.May God bless you.

God’s work and human work

This coming weekend, our nation observes Labor Day.It is a time to be with family and friends, and to celebrate our work.It also marks the end of the summer vacation and the beginning of the work of study for our children and young people.

The celebration of work may seem a bit strange to our ears.The popular image of work is somewhat negative, an activity undertaken out of duty or necessity, which we would not otherwise do.I remember a somewhat silly weekly television program in the 㥄s, the name of which escapes me, in which the main character, a young man, always said the word "work" in the most unpleasant tone.

If we reflect a bit, however, we realize that work is not only a major part of our daily activity and is sometimes burdensome, but it also is one of principal means by which we express ourselves and give ourselves to others in service.The celebration of Labor Day is, after all, not the exaltation of drudgery in our lives but the recognition of the importance of our work in our personal lives and for the life of the world.

Stewards of creation

If we wish to have a proper understanding of the importance of our work, we are greatly helped by the two biblical accounts of the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-24).In both accounts, we see God at work, bringing the world into being and sustaining it.In both accounts, the summit of God’s work is the creation of man — male and female — whom He makes in His own image and likeness, in order than man may be His co-worker in the care of world.We are the image and likeness of God in our work, also.

In the second account of the Creation, we read: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15).In both accounts, it is clear that man — male and female — is created to be a co-worker with God in the stewardship of the goods of Creation. It is also clear that work is inherent to the dignity of man made in God’s own image and likeness.

In the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," we read:

"Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.Hence work is a duty: ‘If any one will not work, let him not eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10).Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him" (no. 2427).

We know that our Lord God counts upon us to work, in order that the goods of creation may be shared by all in equity.No matter what our work may be, it provides some service to others and to the world.When our work — no matter how humble it may be in the eyes of others — is carried out well, it makes us better persons and renders our world healthier and more secure for all.

When any part of the work of the world — be it also the most humble of services — is not done with care and devotion, all suffer.When each worker gives his best with devotion to neighbor, all are the beneficiaries.

Sadly, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were not content to be the stewards of Creation but, tempted by Satan, pretended to take the place of the Creator.They rebelled against the order which God had placed among His creatures in bringing the world into being and sustaining it.They disobeyed God and introduced disorder into the world.

With the sin of Adam and Eve, man’s heart became disordered and he no longer saw work as an expression of his likeness to God but as drudgery, a punishment imposed upon him by God because of his sin.The Lord God knew the effect of sin upon man’s work.In expelling Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, He declared: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).

The disorder which entered man’s heart through sin led him into rebellion, so that he no longer received work as stewardship of God’s gifts, carried out in obedience to God’s plan for us and our world.At the same time, too, man no longer treasured work as a way to serve others but rather resented the hardship of work, for the sacrifice which it demanded.

Work and the Holy Eucharist

Our Lord Jesus Christ has restored man to his original dignity, cleansing us of the stain of original sin and bringing us to life in the Holy Spirit.Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we overcome the effects of original sin and are inspired to undertake our work in union with Christ who was pleased to be called the son of a carpenter, who labored tirelessly throughout His public ministry and who accomplished the great work of our salvation by dying on the cross for us and rising from the dead.The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" tells us:

"By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in His redemptive work.He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ" (no. 2427).

In the Holy Eucharist, Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary is ever new for us.Through the Holy Eucharist, we unite the sacrifices of our work to the Sacrifice of Christ, making our work an expression of our love of God and of neighbor.

Through our participation in the Holy Eucharist, we come to understand how work is an essential and irreplaceable expression of our inviolable human dignity.United with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we recognize that work is not a burden imposed upon us but, rather, a gift from God for our own good and the good of others. We read in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church":

"In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature.The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary.Work is for man, not man for work" (no. 2428).

The Holy Eucharist inspires in us a proper understanding of work in our own lives and in the lives of our neighbor. As it inspires every work of justice and gives us the spiritual strength to be just, so, too, the Holy Eucharist leads us to reflect on justice in the place of work and to be strong in putting it into practice.

Justice in the place of work

As the Word of God in the Book of Genesis teaches us, work is God’s gift to us, so that we may have the goods we need for ourselves and an abundance for the needs of others.Therefore, the worker "should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2428).The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" summarizes the many aspects of the just treatment of the worker (cf. nn. 2429-2436).

Central to justice in the workplace is the just wage which is the fruit of any work.Throughout the Holy Scriptures, we hear the condemnation of the man who takes the fruits of another’s labor and does not compensate him justly.The fruit of our labor provides for our the necessities of our livelihood, physical and spiritual (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2434).

Because the compensation of labor involves various parties and interests, disagreements about what is just may arise.In order that such conflicts be resolved justly, it is important that there be the means for all parties to speak with another and to reconcile differences.The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" teaches us:

"Efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts by negotiation that respects the rights and duties of each social partner: those responsible for business enterprises, representatives of wage-earners (for example, trade unions), and public authorities when appropriate" (no. 2430).

It is essential to the work of justice that employers and the work force maintain a steady level of communication to insure that the work of the world be done to the best of our ability and with the full respect for the dignity of each worker.

On Labor Day, we recall with gratitude the service of labor unions in working for the communication necessary to establish a just wage and to maintain just working conditions.We pray for the leaders of our labor unions that they will always be inspired by what is for the greatest good of all.

We also recall with gratitude the service of other bodies which dedicate themselves to justice in the work place.I am especially pleased to express publicly my gratitude to the Parish Teacher Committee which serves the whole archdiocese in providing a just wage and just working conditions for the teachers in our Catholic elementary schools.

Rest to honor work

May your celebration of Labor Day be restful.If possible, plan to take part in Holy Mass, in order to pray in thanksgiving for your work and in petition for the needs of workers throughout the world.

May Labor Day provide the occasion to reflect, with gratitude to God, for whatever work has been entrusted into your care.May it also provide the occasion to spend time with family and others whom you serve through your work.

New seminarians

On a personal note, Labor Day brings back happy memories of the minor seminary I attended, Holy Cross Seminary in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.Since all of the seminarians boarded, Labor Day, a day when most parents from throughout a sprawling rural diocese were free from work to bring their sons to the seminary, was always the first day of the new academic year. It was always an exciting time, full of joy to be together with other young men sharing the same spiritual inspiration and full of hope for what would be accomplished during the new academic year.

On Aug. 30, I had the great happiness to clothe in the cassock and surplice our new seminarians for the archdiocese.It was a joyous celebration for all of our seminarians who number 20 in the college seminary, and 26 in pre-theology and the theologate.We have two more college seminarians who have received the Basselin Scholarship and are undertaking their studies at The Catholic University of America.We also have one seminarian doing his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and receiving his seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College.

I was deeply edified by the piety of the new seminarians who are so grateful to hear God’s call in their lives and who have devoted themselves to knowing and doing His will by entering the seminary and engaging themselves fully in the program of priestly formation.Through the outstanding work of Father Michael T. Butler, director of the Office of Vocations, I have already been able to get to know many of the new seminarians and have great hope for their perseverance.I know that they will give their all to becoming good shepherds for you and your families.

I am deeply proud of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and of our seminarians.You should be proud, also.Often, I say that the seminary is the heart of the archdiocese.By that I mean that it is the place in which the future shepherds of God’s flock in the archdiocese are giving themselves to the preparation necessary to be the good and faithful shepherds upon which the whole Church in the archdiocese depends.

Please take any occasion possible to get to know Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and our seminarians.The seminary, for its part, will always welcome you and will make every appropriate effort to have our seminarians visit your parish.

Please keep the intentions of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and our seminarians in your daily prayers.May God bless our seminary and all of our seminarians.

World Youth Day 2005

Introduction

It was a blessing to take part in World Youth Day 2005 at Cologne in Germany with some 300 of our youth — together with their priests and youth leaders — from the archdiocese.The universal Church owes a deep depth of gratitude to Cardinal Joachim Meisner and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Cologne who gave themselves so wholeheartedly and generously to the preparation and celebration of World Youth Day.I renew my expressions of gratitude to Sister Consolata Crews, FSGM, director of the Office of Youth Ministry, her staff and the many priests and youth leaders who assisted our young people to take part in these days of grace.

Given the structure of the activities of World Youth Day, I was not able to have much direct contact with our youth.However, thanks to the excellent planning of the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, I was able to offer the Mass for the entire group on Aug. 20 at the Monastery of the Friars Minor in Dsseldorf, before the young people began to make their way to Marienfeld, the place of their meeting with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on that evening, their vigil of prayer with him and their participation in the closing Mass of World Youth Day, celebrated by our Holy Father on Aug. 21. Through the homily at the Mass for the pilgrims from the archdiocese, I reflected with our youth on the meaning of their pilgrimage to Cologne for World Youth Day and expressed my hope that their participation in the pilgrimage would bring forth an abundance of good fruit in their lives.

As a way of communicating with you all that World Youth Day meant for me and for the youth of our archdiocese, I now offer you the text of my homily.It is my hope that the homily will help you to understand more completely the irreplaceable experience of participation in World Youth Day.

The meaning of pilgrimage

To the world it may seem strange that we from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois should meet each other in Cologne, far away from our homes.We, like the Magi whose relics are venerated in the Cathedral of Cologne, have come with so many other young people — together with their bishops, priests and youth leaders — from near and far, to worship our Lord Jesus Christ.At the invitation of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II and his successor, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we have come on pilgrimage to meet our Lord, to know Him more fully and to love Him more ardently.We have come to meet our Lord, in a special way, with His vicar on earth, Pope Benedict XVI, who is here to teach, to sanctify and to guide us.

The example of holy Ruth

You who are young in age have received the invitation of the Holy Father to spend these days with him and with young people from throughout the world, in order that you may understand the future which is yours and embrace it, filled with hope.You are not unlike the young Ruth who, after her husband had died prematurely, embraced her future with complete trust in God’s love by devoting herself to her mother-in-law Naomi.She was of another people than her husband and his family, and was very much tempted to return to her own people, but she knew that her mother-in-law, also a widow, needed her care.

Trusting in God’s providence, Ruth remained with Naomi and gleaned grain for their food in the fields of Boaz.God gave her Boaz in marriage and blessed their union with the birth of a son, Obed, the grandfather of David from whose house was born the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.In the womb of the Virgin Mary, under her Immaculate Heart, God-the-Son was made man, was conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

Ruth trusted in God’s will.She made her will one with the will of God.God blessed her abundantly and made her a blessing for her family and for us all (Reading 1).Because of her loving obedience in doing God’s will, Ruth has a bond with us, for she cooperated with God’s plan to send His only-begotten Son into the world as our Savior.

Youth, the future of the Church

Our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have understood the importance of your future for you personally and for our world. Pope John Paul II so frequently reminded us all that you, our young people, are the future of the Church (cf. Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter Hoc omine, "To the Youth of the World on the Occasion of International Youth Year," March 31, 1985, nn. 1b, 10k, and 16a; and Pope John Paul II, Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XVII World Youth Day, July 25, 2001, n. 3b and 3f).He and now Pope Benedict XVI have invited you to come on pilgrimage to Cologne, to leave your home and familiar surroundings for some days, in order to reflect upon the pilgrimage of your life in Christ, which you began at the moment of your baptism, for which you have been strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation, and along which you are healed of sin through the Sacrament of Penance and most wonderfully sustained with the Holy Eucharist, the Heavenly Bread which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Going on pilgrimage, you come to know more deeply Christ who is the Way of your life and to desire to live ever more closely united to Him, especially through your love of Him in the Holy Eucharist.

For you, following Christ into the future demands your trust in Him Who will never fail you in love.For you, no less than for Ruth, doing God’s will demands humble trust in His providence.

Suffering and trust in divine providence

With Christ, you have already come to understand that your life pilgrimage is the Way of the Cross, which leads to eternal life, to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Revelations 19:9; Pope John Paul II, Message to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XX World Youth Day, Aug. 6, 2004, n. 36).Perhaps, you have experienced sickness and even death in your family or among your friends.Perhaps, you have known division in your own family or betrayal by a friend.We have all known the deep sadness of our betrayal of Christ by our sins.The future, then, can cause us fear and can tempt us to abandon Christ, our Way.The way of the world, the way of life, centered upon ourselves, our possessions and our comfort, can seem so inviting.We can be so easily beguiled by the world which urges us to avoid sacrifice and suffering, and to keep open all our options, lest we lose any opportunity for our own advancement and pleasure.

But Christ has called us here, through the invitation of His vicar on earth, to trust in Him who is alone our Master, to trust in His promise that, humbling ourselves to do what God asks of us, as Ruth did, will bring us lasting joy and peace and will make us great in our own lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters (Gospel).As Christ called the Magi to Himself at His Birth to offer Him their riches, their lives, so He calls us. Let us listen to the words of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II in his message for this 20th World Youth Day:

"My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to Him, in praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha" (Pope John Paul II, Message to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XX World Youth Day, n. 4c).

We must never think that Christ, Who poured out His life for us, will ever fail us.

Seated in eternal glory at the right hand of the Father, Christ continually pours forth His love from His glorious pierced Heart.If we lift our poor and often troubled hearts to Him, we will have a secure and loving haven in every temptation, trial and suffering.In His Most Sacred Heart, we will find lasting joy and peace.In His Heart, our hearts will become great.Especially in the Sacrament of Penance, Christ receives the expression of the sorrow which is ours because of our sins and offers us forgiveness and peace. Then, in the Holy Eucharist, He remains with us always, nourishing our minds with divine truth and our hearts with divine love.

Called to be saints

My dear young people, there are so many sentiments and thoughts which I wish to express to you at this historic meeting with Christ, at the invitation of His vicar on earth.You are indeed the future of the Church and of our world.Giving yourselves completely to Christ, handing over your lives to do God’s will, you will transform your lives, you will transform our world.Pope John Paul II and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI have urged and urge you to be "men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others.The Church needs saints.All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity" (Pope John Paul II, Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XX World Youth Day, Aug. 6, 2004, n. 7a).

Pope John Paul II in his message to the youth for this occasion and Pope Benedict XVI in his address for the welcome ceremony of this past Thursday, have recalled to our memory the great heroes of God, who have lived in this treasured portion of the Church: St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany; St. Ursula; St. Albert the Great; St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Blessed Adolph Kolping.Today, too, we think of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who at the age of 22 entered the Cistercian Order and so heroically lived his vocation as a religious and priest that he attracted many of his contemporaries to respond generously to God’s call.St. Bernard remains our great teacher of discipline of mind and heart, in accord with divine truth and love.May the patron saints of World Youth Day and St. Bernard of Clairvaux be your inspiration and your intercessors in these days and in the days to come, the days of your pilgrimage to seek an ever deeper knowledge of Christ and an ever more fruitful and generous love of Him.

Pilgrimage and vocation

Lastly, I have been praying and will be praying with special fervor today and tomorrow that your pilgrimage to Christ, in imitation of the Magi, will help you to know your vocation in life, God’s special plan for each of you.Our vocation is our way of giving our whole life to God and to our neighbor in marriage, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.I pray also that your pilgrimage here will help you to be clear and courageous in doing whatever it is that God asks of you.In these days of your youth, I pray, above all, that you grow strong in virtue, so that you may be always pure and holy in your love, in responding to your vocation.

Let us all pray, in a special way, for our brothers and sisters whom God is calling to the consecrated life and the priesthood, vocations which, in our time, require a special measure of generosity and courage.How we all need those who are called to say "Yes" today and every day of their lives, so that we may be helped to lead holy lives by those who have given their entire life to a closer following of Christ, the Poor, the Chaste and the Obedient!How we all need those who are called to say "yes" today and every day of their lives, so that we may have good shepherds to teach, to sanctify and to guide us, shepherds after the Heart of Jesus!

It is a special gift from God to have 39 of our seminarians from the Archdiocese of St. Louis with us on pilgrimage.They are preparing to offer their entire lives to Christ, so that they may be your future priests.I am very proud of them.Please pray for them, that they may continue to respond to God’s call with an undivided heart.

Pilgrimage and the Holy Eucharist

My dear young people, let us now come to adore our Lord who offers His life for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, from which He feeds us with His true Body and Blood, the Heavenly Food of our earthly pilgrimage and the pledge of our eternal communion with God, in the company of the angels and all the saints, at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.With the holy Magi let us offer ourselves to Christ.Let us make our hearts one with His Most Sacred Heart.In our Eucharistic Lord, let us discover the way to holiness, the way of our vocation in life.Through participation in the Most Holy Eucharist and prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament, we come to know God’s will in our lives and we receive the strength to follow God’s call with an undivided heart and, thus, to find lasting joy and peace, to attain the greatness for which God made us.

I close with the words which our beloved Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the youth of the world at the conclusion of his homily during the Mass for the beginning of his Petrine Ministry.Referring to the homily of Pope John Paul II at the beginning of his service as Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI urged us all and, in particular, young people, to give ourselves completely to Christ.Let us listen to his words as a preparation for our participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice:

"Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide.Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and He gives you everything.When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return.Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ — and you will find true life" (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily,Mass, with the Imposition of the Pallium and Conferral of the Fisherman’s Ring, for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, April 24, 2005, n.8).

Dear young people, with holy Ruth, trust in God.Trust in Christ Who teaches you:

The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Gospel).

Conclusion

Please pray that World Youth Day 2005 will bear an abundance of good fruit in young men and women dedicated to the work of the new evangelization.The inspiration and the strength of the new evangelization comes from Christ alone in the Holy Eucharist.Even as the three Magi came to worship the Infant Jesus and to offer Him their gifts, so also we come to worship our Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and, with Him, offer to God our Father our humble gifts, the gift of our lives.In his words to the youth of the world, especially at the solemn Mass to conclude World Youth Day, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, urged the young people to meet Christ in the Holy Eucharist and to follow Him in doing whatever it is that God asks of them. Let us pray that the meetings of our young people with our Lord through participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration will lead them to give themselves generously to our Lord and to others.

I ask your prayers, too, for the eternal rest of Frre Roger Schutz, founding member of the ecumenical religious community at Taiz in France. Frre Roger was most dedicated to helping young people to find Christ, to love Him and to serve Him.Often, he participated in World Youth Day from its very beginnings. His death by the violent act of a disturbed woman from Romania during the time of the celebration of the 20th World Youth Day at Cologne is a reminder to us all of the conversion to Christ so sorely needed by our world and of the final end of daily conversion of life to Christ: eternal life with God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — in Heaven. May God grant Frre Roger eternal rest.

Let us thank God for all of the many blessings which He bestowed upon the celebration of the 20th World Youth Day.Let us thank Him especially for the protection of our Holy Father and the participants from any harm.We thank our Blessed Mother and the patrons of World Youth Day for their intercession which brought abundant graces to the participants who called upon their help.

Finally, let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI and for Cardinal George Pell and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Sydney in Australia as they prepare for the celebration of World Youth Day in 2008 in Sydney.

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