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’ — IV

Introduction

The first two chapters 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, treat the responsibilities of pastors (Roman pontiff, diocesan bishop and priests) and deacons for the worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, and the active participation of the lay faithful in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Chapter 3, the subject of the present column, treats several aspects of the worthy celebration of the Holy Mass.

It should be kept in mind that the instruction does not present all of the norms regarding the various aspects of the celebration of the Mass but only those which seem to need emphasis in our time.Also, the instruction presents some new norms to clarify the liturgical discipline already in place or to address any lacunae, or gaps in liturgical discipline.

The matter of the Holy Eucharist

Each sacrament has a defined matter and form by which it is validly celebrated. The matter is the element or sensible thing used in the sacramental rite, for instance, blessed water in baptism, sacred chrism in confirmation, the imposition of hands in sacred orders or the extension of the hand or hands over the head of the penitent in penance.The form is the words, inseparably joined to the element, for example, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit," the prayer of consecration after the imposition of hands in the Rite of Ordination or the words of absolution in confession.The matter and the form respect as fully as possible the intention of Christ who acts in every sacrament.The matter and form must be united in the same minister.If either the matter or the form is missing or altered, the sacrament is not validly celebrated.

The matter of the Holy Eucharist is bread and wine.The bread "must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition."In recent times, it has been suggested that a different kind of bread, even leavened bread, may be used for the celebration of the Holy Mass.The instruction makes it clear that any other kind of bread or wheat bread mixed with a substance other than wheat is not "valid matter for confecting the sacrifice and the eucharistic sacrament."The introduction of other substances, like honey or molasses or raisins, in the wheat bread renders the celebration of the Holy Eucharist invalid.

With regard to those who make the hosts for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the instruction reminds us that they must be "distinguished by their integrity," "skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools" (n. 48).We are blessed in the archdiocese and in our nation to have many communities of contemplative Sisters who devote themselves to the devout and correct preparation of the eucharistic bread.Their work of making hosts for the celebration of the Mass is carried out within the context of prayer and fervent love of our Eucharistic Lord.They, likewise, have the equipment which has been developed over a long time to make hosts which are dignified and do not easily crumble or decay.

In the past decades, the idea grew up that it would be good to have members of the parish or community, or a special group, like the first communicants, make the hosts for the Sunday Mass or other special Mass.While the idea has a certain attraction to it, it does not take into account the precise reminder which the instruction contains.The making of hosts is a skilled work which should be carried out by those who are well prepared both by their own skill and by the equipment at hand.

Reverence for the Holy Eucharist requires that we take the greatest care in providing the valid elements which will be changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.

The instruction addresses the concern that the Sacred Hosts received in Holy Communion come from the rite of breaking the Host just before the reception of Holy Communion, that is, during the saying or singing of the Agnus Dei.After the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, among some there was the insistence that all of the hosts distributed at Holy Communion had to broken from one large Eucharistic Bread at the time of the Agnus Dei.The instruction indicates that "it is appropriate that at least some part of the Eucharistic Bread coming from the fraction should be distributed to at least some of the faithful in Communion."The instruction, referring to the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal," further indicates that the number of communicants and pastoral needs often necessitate the use of small Hosts which do not need to be further broken.Certainly, in most of our parishes and other institutions, the number of communicants and other pastoral considerations dictate the customary use of the small Hosts prepared by contemplative religious Sisters (n. 49).

The wine for the Holy Mass "must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances."There are a number of wines which have been certified as valid for the celebration of the Mass by the diocesan bishop of the region in which they have been made.These wines are commonly labeled "sacramental" and are available through religious goods stores.Before the offering of the wine during the Mass, a small quantity of water is mixed with it.

Regarding the wine for the Mass, the instruction gives three admonitions.First, the wine must be stored properly so that it does not turn sour.Secondly, the celebrant of the Mass should be certain that the wine meets "the conditions necessary for the validity" of the sacrament.In this regard, it is always best to use only those wines which have been certified for sacramental use and not to place wine of another kind in a bottle marked "sacramental wine." Lastly, it is never permitted to use any other kind of drink for the matter of the sacrament; such drinks "do not constitute valid matter" (n. 50).

The Eucharistic Prayer

The heart of the Holy Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer, during which Christ renews the Sacrifice of Calvary.The Eucharistic Prayer employed at the Mass must be approved by the Apostolic See and must be used "according to the manner and the terms set forth" by the Apostolic See.There are four Eucharistic Prayers approved for general use.The "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" indicates when each is most appropriately used.The Fourth Eucharistic Prayer has a proper preface which may not be changed and, therefore, may be used only at Masses when there is not an assigned Preface.

There are three Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with children, which obviously may only be used at Masses in which the greater part of the participants are children.There are also two Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of reconciliation, which may be used at Masses when there is a special emphasis on reconciliation.

The instruction makes it clear that the priest may not compose his own eucharistic prayer or use a eucharistic prayer composed by another.Also, the priest may not change the texts of the Eucharistic Prayers approved by the Apostolic See (n. 51).

It is the office of the priest, conferred upon him by ordination, to proclaim the Eucharistic Prayer.It is not permitted to have parts of the Eucharistic Prayer recited by the deacon, other minister or member of the faithful, or by the congregation. "The Eucharistic Prayer, then, is to be recited by the priest alone in full" (n. 52).

While the priest is proclaiming the Eucharistic Prayer, it is not permitted to have other prayers offered or to add singing or other musical accompaniment.The approved acclamations by the congregation are the only elements to accompany the priest’s proclamation of the Eucharistic Prayer (n. 53).

The faithful fully and actively participate in the Eucharistic Prayer.Quoting the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal," the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" reminds us that the faithful "silently join themselves with the priest in faith, as well as in their interventions during the course of the Eucharistic Prayer as prescribed, namely in the responses in the Preface dialogue, the Sanctus, the Acclamation after the Consecration, and the Amen after the Final Doxology, and in other acclamations approved by the Conference of Bishops with the recognitio of the Holy See" (n. 54).

The instruction notes that the practice of breaking the large host at the time of the consecration is an abuse, for it "is contrary to the tradition of the Church." If the practice is in place, it is to be corrected "with haste" (n. 55)

Finally, regarding the Eucharistic Prayer, the name of the Holy Father and the diocesan bishop are always to be included, at the proper time, according to the ancient tradition of the Church and as a sign of full communion with the Church.Prayer is always offered for the pope and bishop because eucharistic communion unites us to our shepherd in the particular Church and in the universal Church (n. 56).

Other parts of the Mass

The instruction then takes up a number of particular aspects of the celebration of the Mass, each of which has its importance in the whole celebration.First, the faithful have the right to "true and suitable sacred music" at Mass, especially Sunday Mass.They also have the right that a proper altar be employed in the celebration, and that the sacred vestments and sacred linens be "dignified, proper and clean" (n. 57).

The instruction lists three rights of the faithful in what pertains to the words or liturgical texts. First, the celebration of the Mass must be so prepared that the "Word of God is properly and efficaciously proclaimed and explained."Secondly, the liturgical texts and rites are to be chosen in strict accord with the norms given in the liturgical books.Lastly, the words of the songs used during the Holy Mass must "duly" safeguard and nourish the faith of the congregation.It is important that the priest and others who are assisting the priest in preparing the celebration of the Mass be attentive to the words of the hymns selected in order that the words be fully coherent with the truth of the faith (n. 58).

The practice of changing the texts of the sacred liturgy in some parts is strongly condemned.The instruction declares: "The reprobated practice by which priests, deacons, or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease."The instruction rightly points out that such an abuse makes the Sacred Liturgy seem "unstable" and can distort "the authentic meaning of the liturgy"(n. 59).

It is not permitted to separate the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or to celebrate one in one place or at one time and the other in another place or at a different time.The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist "form one single act of worship." Also, it is not permitted "to carry out the individual parts of Holy Mass at different times of the same day" (n. 60).

Readings from the Sacred Scriptures

Regarding the readings from the Holy Bible, the norms given in the liturgical books must be carefully followed (n. 61).It is never permitted "to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative."It is not permitted to use non-biblical readings in place of the prescribed biblical texts, including the Responsorial Psalm.The text of the Responsorial Psalm, taken from the inspired Word of God, is to be said or sung as it is printed in the liturgical books.It is not permitted to substitute a hymn or other text for the Responsorial Psalm (n. 62).

According to the ancient practice of the Church, only an ordained minister (bishop, priest or deacon) may read the Gospel, which is the culmination of the Liturgy of the Word.The same norm applies to the proclamation of the Gospel during other liturgical rites (n. 63).

The homily

The homily which is part of the Sacred Liturgy is ordinarily to be given by the bishop or priest who is offering the Mass, although he "may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a deacon."In certain cases, the homily may be given by a bishop or a priest "who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate."A layperson may not give the homily (n. 64).The instruction abrogates "any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily" during the celebration of the Holy Mass.The instruction makes it clear that the practice of the nonordained giving the homily "cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom" (n. 65).No exception to the just-mentioned norm may be made for "seminarians, students of theological disciplines," and lay faithful who have some special function in the parish or institution.There is no exception for any "group, or community, or association" (n. 66).

The content of the homily is to be "firmly based upon the mysteries of salvation, expounding the mysteries of the faith and the norms of Christian life from the biblical readings and liturgical texts throughout the course of the liturgical year and providing commentary on the texts of the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass, or of some other rite of the Church."Everything in the homily is to point to Christ, who is the fullness of the revelation of God.Through the homily, Christ illumines the events of our daily living.The homily, however, may never treat only politics or other secular topics, and may never draw upon "notions derived from contemporary pseudo-religious currents as a source" (n. 67).

The diocesan bishop has special responsibility to oversee the preaching of the homily.As appropriate, he is to give norms and guidelines, and provide help to the ordained ministers charged with the responsibility of the homily.Such tools and sessions are to assist the ordained minister to identify more precisely "the nature of the homily" and are to help him in the preparation of the homily (n. 68).

Other norms

It is not permitted to introduce a Creed or Profession of Faith other than the one found in the liturgical books (n. 69).

Regarding the offerings presented at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, they may include, in addition to the elements of bread and wine, "gifts given by the faithful in the form of money or other things for the sake of charity toward the poor."Whatever other gifts are brought forward, they should be a sign of the charity of Christ at work in the faithful, in accord with the mandate of Christ given at the Last Supper, when He washed the feet of His disciples.Such other gifts are to be fittingly presented and "should be placed in an appropriate place which should be away from the eucharistic table."Other offerings are to be made outside of the celebration of the Mass (n. 70).

The Sign of Peace is to be given just before Holy Communion.In the Roman Rite, it is not given as a sign of "reconciliation or of a remission of sins, but instead signifies peace, communion and charity before the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist."The instruction reminds us that the Penitential Rite, at the beginning of the Mass, is for reconciliation among the faithful (n. 71).The Sign of Peace is to be given only to those "who are nearest and in a sober manner."The priest gives the Sign of Peace to the ministers near the altar.He is not to leave the sanctuary to give the Sign of Peace because it is disruptive to the celebration of the Mass (n. 72).

The breaking of the Eucharistic Bread is to be done only by the priest celebrant who may be helped by the deacon or a concelebrant.The fraction rite comes after the exchange of the Sign of Peace and while the Agnus Dei is being said or sung.The breaking of the Hosts must be done reverently and should not take a long time.The instruction tells us: "The abuse that has prevailed in some places, by which this rite is unnecessarily prolonged and given undue emphasis, with laypersons also helping in contradiction to the norms, should be corrected with all haste"(n. 73).

Any necessary instruction or testimony to be given by a member of the lay faithful should take place either outside of Mass or, "for serious reasons," after the priest has prayed the Prayer after Communion.Such instruction or testimony should be only occasional in occurrence and may never substitute for the homily, nor should it be confused with the homily (n. 74).

Joining other rites to the Mass

The liturgical books sometimes "prescribe or permit" the celebration of the Mass "to be joined with another rite, especially one of those pertaining to the sacraments."It is not permitted to do so otherwise (n. 75).It is never permitted to unite the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance to the Holy Mass, "in such a way that they become a single liturgical celebration."It is, however, possible for priests other than those offering the Mass to hear confessions during Mass (n. 76).

Holy Mass may never be offered "in the setting of a common meal" or joined directly to the eating of a banquet.In the same vein, without grave necessity, the Mass cannot be celebrated on a dinner table or in a dining room or banquet hall or "in a room where food is present or the participants during the celebration itself are seated at tables."The instruction teaches us: "If out of grave necessity Mass must be celebrated in the same place where eating will later take place, there is to be a clear interval of time between the conclusion of the Mass and the beginning of the meal, and ordinary food is not be set before the faithful during the celebration of the Mass" (n. 77).

The offering of the Holy Mass may not be connected with "political or secular events" or "situations that are not fully consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church."Also, the Mass may not be offered as a dramatic show or in the manner of other ceremonies, lest its true nature be obscured (n. 78).

Finally, the instruction reminds us that it is a most grievous abuse "to introduce into the celebration of the Holy Mass elements that are contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books and taken from the rites of other religions" (n. 79).

Conclusion

May our study of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" lead us to an ever greater reverence for the Holy Eucharist, in all of its aspects, and, therefore, to an ever more fervent love of our Eucharistic Lord.May it also lead us to root out whatever is foreign in our celebration of the Holy Mass and to exercise ever greater vigilance over and care for the Holy Eucharist, in all of its aspects, for it contains our whole spiritual good.

World Youth Day 2005 at Cologne

Introduction

On Aug. 10, 178 faithful from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Bethalto, Ill., including eight priests and 39 seminarians from the archdiocese, left from Lambert St. Louis International Airport on pilgrimage to World Youth Day which, this year, is being held in Cologne, Germany.They are part of the pilgrimage organized by the Office of Youth Ministry of the archdiocese, under the direction of Sister M. Consolata Crews, FSGM. There are a number of other faithful from the archdiocese who will be participating in World Youth Day, but they are traveling apart from the official archdiocesan pilgrimage.I will be leaving on Monday, Aug. 15, to join them in the celebration of World Youth Day.

World Youth Day, one of the most wonderful legacies of our late and most beloved Holy Father Pope John Paul II, is a time for the universal Church to celebrate youth.As Pope John Paul II desired, World Youth Day is held in different nations, but, at the Holy Father’s invitation, young people from throughout the world are invited to participate.Dioceses are urged to assist young people to take part in the rich religious experience of World Youth Day, including a meeting with the Holy Father, the Stations of the Cross led by the Holy Father, and a solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Holy Father.

Pope John Paul II had providentially decided that World Youth Day 2005 would be held in Germany, specifically in the city of Cologne.I say providentially because, in the meantime, he has completed his service as Successor of St. Peter and gone home to God the Father, and a new Vicar of Christ has been chosen from Germany.World Youth Day 2005 will mark the first visit of Pope Benedict XVI as Successor of St. Peter to his homeland, and his first meeting with Catholic youth from throughout the world.

What is World Youth Day?

I was present at the precursor of World Youth Day, which was held on Palm Sunday in Rome in 1984.At the time, Pope John Paul II invited young people from around the world to take part in the International Jubilee of Youth on Palm Sunday.More than 300,000 youth responded to the Holy Father's invitation.I had just completed the public presentation of my doctoral dissertation in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University and was preparing to return to my assignment of moderator of the curia in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.I remember observing the young people in procession to St. Peter’s Square on the Saturday before Palm Sunday and thinking about how much it meant to them at the moment and would mean to them in the future to be called to Rome to meet and pray with the Vicar of Christ on earth.In addition to their meeting with the Holy Father, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was present with them for the celebration.

At his meeting with the youth on the eve of Palm Sunday, Pope John Paul II entrusted to them a very large wooden cross which, ever since, on Palm Sunday, has been handed on to the young people of the nation in which the next World Youth Day will be celebrated.On Palm Sunday of 2003, the young people of Canada, in which World Youth Day 2002 had been celebrated, brought the cross to St. Peter’s Square in Rome and handed it on to the young people of Germany, in which World Youth Day is being celebrated this year.From Palm Sunday 2003 through Palm Sunday 2004, the cross has been brought to 26 nations of Europe.Throughout 2004, it has been brought to the various places of Germany as a sign of the forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, which Christ brings to us through His Cross and which is celebrated for youth during World Youth Day.

The United Nations designated 1985 the International Year of Youth.Pope John Paul II, therefore, decided to invite the youth to meet him once again on Palm Sunday.More than 250,000 young people joined the Holy Father for the event.On that occasion, the Holy Father issued his apostolic letter to youth "Hoc omine (On the Occasion of the International Year of Youth)."After the gathering in 1985, our late and most beloved Holy Father announced the regular celebration of World Youth Day.

In accord with the mind of Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day is a pilgrimage made by youth from every part of the Church to encounter Christ by meeting with and praying with His vicar on earth.The goal of the encounter is the engagement of youth in the new evangelization of our personal lives and our world, by which we will live our Catholic faith with new enthusiasm and new energy.Through the pilgrimage of World Youth Day, the young people come to discover more fully how Christ is alive for them in the Church, bringing them peace, reconciliation and joy.They also come to welcome Him into their lives, setting aside fears and giving themselves to Christ in love.

In a most special way, World Youth Day is a graced occasion for young people to hear the call of Christ in their lives, that is, to discern their vocation in life.Many young people have heard the call to the consecrated life and to the priesthood more clearly during the pilgrimage to World Youth Day.At every celebration of World Youth Day, many helps for vocational discernment are provided to the youth who participate.

Places of the celebration

The first full World Youth Day was celebrated on Palm Sunday in 1986.The second was also held in Rome in 1987.Following the 1987 World Youth Day, the decision was made to hold the celebration every two years in a different part of the universal Church.Also, although Palm Sunday continues to be observed as a special day for youth in Rome and in the dioceses throughout the world, World Youth Day now takes place during the month of August, around the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.In 1987, World Youth Day was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina; in 1989, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and in 1991, in Czestochowa, Poland.

In 1993, World Youth Day was held in Denver. More than a half million young people participated in the activities, during which the Holy Father called the young people to form strong and clear consciences, according to the teaching of Christ handed on to them in the Church.In 1995, World Youth Day, held in Manila, the Philippines, became the biggest gathering of people for all times.More than four million young people came to meet the Holy Father.On that occasion, the Holy Father urged the young people to give of themselves in compassion toward others.

The 1997 World Youth Day took place in Paris. For the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, World Youth Day was celebrated once again in Rome, and more than two million youth took part.In 2002, it was held in Toronto, and I was blessed to participate with many youth from the Diocese of LaCrosse, which I was then serving as bishop. In that event, 800,000 youth took part, including some 3,000 young people from Germany.As is customary, at the end of each World Youth Day celebration, the Holy Father announced the place of the next world celebration.I can still hear him speaking about the relics of the Three Wise Men in the Cathedral at Cologne and announcing that he would be waiting for the young people at Cologne in 2005.The Holy Father also announced the theme of his meeting with youth in 2005, "We have come to worship him," the words of the Three Wise Men to Herod at the Birth of our Lord (Matthew 2:2).

Activities of World Youth Day

The activities of World Youth Day are centered around catechesis, prayer and worship, and social events for the young people.The catechesis is provided by bishops from throughout the world and culminates in the opportunity to go to confession, an essential part of every pilgrimage.The various groups of youth observe a discipline of daily prayers, participate in the Holy Mass every day and have the opportunity for daily eucharistic adoration.I will celebrate a special Mass for all the youth from the Archdiocese of St. Louis on Saturday morning.

As we are observing the Year of the Eucharist, the catechesis given by the bishops will center on the Holy Eucharist, the great Mystery of Faith.During the time of catechesis, the young people will have the opportunity to ask questions and to discuss with one another, in order to deepen their faith.There will be approximately 400 different places in which the daily catechesis will take place, always with the opportunity of going to confession.The cities of Bonn and Dsseldorf, very near to Cologne, will help the city of Cologne in providing places for the youth to meet and participate in the catechesis, prayer, the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Three events with the Holy Father mark the highlight of World Youth Day. On Friday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m., Pope Benedict XVI will lead all of the participants in the Way of the Cross.Also, on Friday afternoon, prior to the Stations of the Cross, the Holy Father will meet with the seminarians taking part in World Youth Day, including the 39 seminarians from our archdiocese.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, at 8:30 p.m., he will meet with the young people to speak with them and to pray with them in preparation for the solemn celebration of the Mass on the following day.Finally, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, the Holy Father will celebrate the Solemn Mass for World Youth Day.Clearly, the heart of World Youth Day is a response to the invitation of the Holy Father to come on pilgrimage to meet him.Through these three events, the Holy Father will meet the young people and fulfill in a direct and privileged way, on their behalf, his office of Shepherd of the Universal Church.

Days in the Diocese of Roermond

Prior to the beginning of World Youth Day, the youth from the Archdiocese of St. Louis will meet with, pray with and socialize with youth from the Diocese of Roermond in the Netherlands, which is very near to the Archdiocese of Cologne.They will travel to the Diocese of Roermond at the invitation of Bishop Everardus Johannes de Jong, auxiliary bishop, who has a special care for the young people of his diocese, who face so many challenges in living the Catholic faith in a totally secularized society.Bishop de Jong had learned about the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its youth ministry program through Sister Mary Joseph Heisler, DCJ, the superior of the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus at St. Agnes Convent and Home in Kirkwood.The motherhouse of the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus is at Sittard in the Diocese of Roermond.Sister Mary Joseph had spent some years in Holland, working especially with the youth.

In August 2004, the Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry hosted 19 young people and chaperons from the Diocese of Roermond.The young people from the Netherlands came to learn more about youth ministry.I had the pleasure to meet with them and was impressed by their desire to learn as much as possible about an effective ministry on behalf of youth.I am sure that our young people will give much inspiration and encouragement to the youth of the Netherlands, who desire to follow Christ more closely in their lives.The friendship of the youth of the Diocese of Roermond and the youth of the archdiocese is wonderful example of the universality of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI and youth

World Youth Day 2005 will be the first meeting of our new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, with the youth of the universal Church. He has already shown, in a striking way, his pastoral affection and care for our young people. At the conclusion of his homily at the Mass, on this past April 24, for the beginning of his pontificate, the Holy Father directed his attention to the youth.

Pope Benedict XVI recalled the words of Pope John Paul II, in the homily at the Mass on Oct. 22, 1978, for the beginning of his pontificate: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!"With these words, Pope John Paul II invited us all to set aside our fear of living totally in Christ and, instead, to welcome Him into our lives, taking up the cross with Him and, thereby, finding our true freedom.As Pope Benedict XVI observed, the words of our late and most beloved Holy Father apply to all of us, for we have the tendency to keep some part or another of our lives for ourselves, refusing to submit it to the reign of Christ because we are afraid that we will lose something in the process.What really happens is that we end up a slave to sin in that dimension of our lives, not knowing the true and lasting freedom which following Christ always brings.

Pope Benedict XVI, then, addressed the message of Pope John Paul II, with particular affection and care, to youth. He declared:

"The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young.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.Amen" (Pope Benedict XVI, A Service to God’s Joy, L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, April 27, 2005, p. 9).

Our Holy Father’s profound understanding of youth and his deep love of them is clearly evident in these words with which he concluded his homily on the historic occasion of beginning his service as Vicar of Christ on earth.World Youth Day 2005 will give him the occasion to continue to teach, encourage and sanctify our young people.

Conclusion

Please pray for all of the participants in World Youth Day 2005, especially the participants from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.Pray, in a special way, that, through participation in World Youth Day, our young people will come to a deeper knowledge of Christ, a firmer trust in His Word, and a deeper love of Him, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist.Pray that they will receive many graces to know their vocation in life and to respond with an undivided heart.

I ask you on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Aug. 15, to entrust to our Blessed Mother’s loving care all of the young people who are on pilgrimage to meet the Vicar of Christ and to receive Christ from His vicar.Let us all, with our youth, in the footsteps of the Three Wise Men, go to Christ, and to adore and worship Him alone.

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — III

Introduction

Having set forth the responsibilities of the pastors (Roman pontiff, bishops and priests) and deacons of the Church for the correct and worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" next treats the participation of the lay faithful in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Chapter Two of the instruction is titled "The Participation of the Lay Christian Faithful in the Eucharistic Celebration."

The instruction begins by drawing our attention once again to a fundamental reality of the Christian life."The celebration of the Mass, as the action of Christ and of the Church, is the center of the whole Christian life for the universal as well as the particular Church, and also for the individual faithful."In fact, it is through participation in the Holy Mass that each of us discovers anew our true identity in Christ and also the richness of our life in Christ in the Church.At the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in a most eloquent way, we see both the distinctness of the common priesthood of the faithful and "the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood" and their essential relationship to each other (n. 36).

Common priesthood of the faithful

By virtue of the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism, which is strengthened and increased by the Sacrament of Confirmation, all of usare called to offer worship to God, especially through the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Worship of God, that is, participation in the Holy Mass, is, in fact, the greatest service we give in the Church.By our participation in the Holy Eucharist, we unite ourselves to Christ in His Sacrifice, pouring out our lives, with Him, in love of God and our neighbor.

From our union with Christ in the Holy Eucharist, there flows the exercise of our royal priesthood in service of others, especially our brothers and sisters most in need.The royal dignity of Christ is expressed in service to others.For those who are alive in Christ, "to serve is to reign."We know that to serve as Christ serves requires the most noble, regal human qualities.Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II described our royal priesthood in a most striking way in his very first encyclical letter (Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter "Redemptor hominis [At the Beginning of His Papal Ministry]," March 4, 1979, n. 21).

Given the essential relationship between participation in the Sacred Liturgy and the service of God and neighbor, "the participation of the lay faithful too in the Eucharist and in the other celebrations of the Church’s rites cannot be equated with mere presence, and still less with a passive one, but is rather to be regarded as a true exercise of faith and of baptismal dignity" (n. 37).By our participation in the Holy Mass, we truly place ourselves on the paten and in the chalice, with the bread and wine, in order that we share as fully as possible with Christ in His redemptive sacrifice.

The teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist as Sacrifice indicates to us the deepest sense of participation in the Holy Mass and in the other sacred rites.The truth that the Holy Mass is a sacrifice involves, on our part, the greatest possible engagement.The Eucharist is also a banquet, but it is the banquet at which we are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ, offered up for us.Therefore, our participation in the Holy Mass can never be understood as just a sharing, even passively, in a common meal (n. 38).

Fostering active participation

To underline and foster the active participation of all the faithful in the liturgical rites, the reform of the liturgical books after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council provided "acclamations for the people, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and canticles, as well as actions or movements and gestures, and called for sacred silence to be maintained at the proper times, while providing rubrics for the parts of the faithful as well."Too often, in speaking about the active participation of the faithful in the Sacred Liturgy, we fail to reflect upon all of the just-listed ways by which the conciliar reform of the liturgy helps us to be actively engaged liturgically. The lack of attention to the proper times of silence during the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is especially detrimental to the development of active participation.

The instruction reminds us, too, that space is given for "appropriate creativity aimed at allowing each celebration to be adapted to the needs of the participants, their comprehension, their interior preparation and their gifts," always, of course, through faithful observance of the liturgical norms.The choice of songs and of prayers and readings, the homily of the ordained minister, the General Intercessions, "occasional explanatory remarks" and the seasonal decorations of the church all help to draw out the richness of the worship of God and assist the participants to enter more completely into the liturgical action.

Having mentioned the elements which may be subject to some change, the instruction very wisely points out:
"Still, it should be remembered that the power of the liturgical celebrations does not consist in frequently altering the rites, but in probing more deeply the word of God and the mystery being celebrated" (n. 39).

Any changes, legitimately introduced into the celebration of the Mass, should help the faithful to address more completely the Word of God to their daily living and, therefore, to unite themselves more purely and fully to Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Liturgical adaptations which draw attention to themselves, instead of drawing attention to the action of Christ, are unworthy.

Active participation and activity

A common misconception following the reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council equated active participation with everyone having some action to perform during the Sacred Liturgy.There developed almost the sense that anyone who did not have some specific "liturgical ministry" to perform was somehow not meeting the conciliar standard of active participation.

The instruction addresses the misconception by insisting that catechesis "should strive diligently to correct those widespread superficial notions and practices often seen in recent years in this regard, and ever to instill anew in all of Christ’s faithful that sense of deep wonder before the greatness of the mystery of faith that is the Eucharist, in whose celebration the Church is forever passing from what is obsolete into newness of life: ‘in novitatem a vestustate.’"

I recall from my experience as a young priest how the effort was made to have the children perform some special service during the Mass at which they made their First Holy Communion.Sometimes, the multiplication of special "ministries" became truly exaggerated. Often, I have thought that the pressure on the children to carry out some special service during the Mass must have distracted them from the real meaning of their active participation, communion with Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice.Surely, it was not the catechesis which the instruction commends, for it gave the children the idea that, unless they were carrying out some special action or gesture during the Mass, then they were not fully participating.

The Instruction reminds us that our active participation in the Holy Mass is constituted principally by adoration of our Lord in the mystery of faith, in the mystery of His passion, death and resurrection.Our active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, as the nourishment and strength of our life in Christ, is a deeply interior reality which is expressed by the exclamation of St. Thomas the Apostle before the Risen Christ: "My Lord and my God!" (n. 40).

Active participation and devotions

That we grow in awareness of the profoundly interior nature of our active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the instruction recommends our greater participation in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the public prayer for the Church throughout the day for the salvation of the world.It also recommends the use of sacramentals and the practice of popular devotions.

While the Liturgy of the Hours is part of the Sacred Liturgy or public worship of the Church, popular devotions are not.When properly understood, however, they contribute greatly to our more attentive and full-hearted participation in the Holy Mass.The rosary has been especially praised by the Church for its effectiveness in drawing us to participation in the Sacred Liturgy and in extending the fruits of our liturgical participation to the whole of our activities.Through the rosary and other popular devotions, we reflect upon the mystery of faith, in all of its richness, and come to understand more fully our share in the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially through participation in the Holy Mass.The devotional life leads us to reflect upon the lives of the saints, who are our models of active liturgical participation and its expression in everyday Christian living (n. 41).

Called to the Sacred Liturgy

In the Holy Eucharist and in all celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy, it is God who calls us to worship in Christ through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.The Sacred Liturgy is Christ acting in our midst, drawing us to God the Father in obedience to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

The instruction, therefore, cautions us once again to respect the distinctness of the participation of the community in the celebration and the celebration by the ordained priest.The nature of the Sacred Liturgy as gift is evident to us in the irreplaceable service of the ordained priest.The priest, acting in the person of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the flock, celebrates the Holy Mass in which the community is called to participate.The celebration is not possible without the gift of the ordained priest.The community on its own can neither celebrate the Sacred Liturgy nor provide its own priest for the celebration.

To avoid confusion in the matter, the instruction cautions us to be attentive to the words which we use to describe the celebration of the Holy Mass.Terminology like "celebrating community" is to be avoided or to be used with careful attention to note the absolute requirement of a priest to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice (n. 42).

Ministries of the laity

In accord with the long tradition of the Church, lay faithful sometimes carry out a special service in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.The instruction commends and praises the traditional practice (n. 43).

What are the special services entrusted to the lay faithful in the Church?The two with which we are most acquainted, I suspect, are the ministries of lector (reader) and acolyte (altar server).There are also cantors and sacristans, for example.The instruction mentions "the functions of preparing the hosts, washing the liturgical linens, and the like."Other official ministries can be established by the Church.

It is possible to be permanently instituted in the ministries of lector and acolyte.Seminarians responding to the vocation to the priesthood, in fact, are instituted as lectors and acolytes before ordination to the transitional diaconate and priesthood.Permanent deacons also are instituted as lectors and acolytes before ordination to the diaconate.

Apart from institution into one of these ministries, it is possible to be assigned to one of them for a period of time.One thinks of those called to serve as lectors at Mass or extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.Although individuals may carry out one or another of these services for years, they are not instituted in them as a permanent ministry.

The instruction rightly points out that those who are prepared to carry out a certain ministry should carry it out in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, while respecting the distinct service of others.The manner of their service should contribute to the dignity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (n. 44).

In this regard, the instruction cautions us about confusing the service of the ordained minister with the service of lay faithful in the Sacred Liturgy.Respect for one’s proper vocation will prevent the confusion of services, with the laity assuming services which properly belong to the priest or deacon, and the priest or deacon assuming roles proper to the lay faithful (n. 45).

Preparation for service at the Sacred Liturgy

That the lay faithful may provide fitting service during the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, they must be educated about the profound meaning of the liturgical celebrations and prepared in a practical way.What is more, because they handle the most sacred realities of the Church, they must be of good moral character and fully coherent with all the teachings of the Church. The instruction reminds us of the need to avoid scandal in the temporary deputation of a member of the faithful to a ministry (n. 46).

Altar servers

Chapter Two concludes with a discussion of "the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed servers, provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechesis regarding their function during the sacred celebration. The instruction notes that girls or women "may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan bishop and in observance of the established norms."

The instruction reminds us that many priests were inspired to their vocation by serving the priest at the altar.Serving Mass as a boy had a profound effect on my hearing the call to the priesthood and being inspired to follow the call.Those who are privileged to be altar servers should be encouraged to pray daily to know their vocation in life, asking God in a special way whether He wishes them to give their lives in service at the altar or in the consecrated life.

It is good to form associations for the altar servers and to support those that already exist (n. 47). It is commendable, too, to have an annual special day of recognition for the Mass servers, consisting of the celebration of the Holy Mass and time for eucharistic adoration, and some recreational activities.We should never underestimate the effect on the spiritual attitudes of our youth, which such organizations and activities inspire.

Conclusion

May our study of the "Redemptionis Sacramentum" and our observance of the Year of the Eucharist lead each of us to a more active participation in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, especially the celebration of the Mass.May our participation in the Sacred Liturgy be true adoration of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, in the mystery of faith, in the mystery of His suffering, dying and rising from the dead.Through our engagement in the Sacred Liturgy, may we recognize our true identity in Christ and receive from Christ the strength to live in Him always.

God the Father calls us in Christ to worship Him in truth and love, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.Let us respond to Him with all our hearts in the prayers and acclamations, in the psalm responses and canticles, in the gestures and movements and in the silence of communion with our Lord Jesus Christ.

The instruction 'Redemptionis Sacramentum'-II

Introduction

Frequently, I am asked who is in charge of the discipline of the celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy. Usually, the question is raised in terms of some unusual or unexpected change in the celebration of the Mass or other sacred rite.The question is most important, for the Sacred Liturgy is a divine gift to the Church, which is owed our greatest care and highest respect.The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, therefore, must be marked by careful and thorough discipline.

The first chapter of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum (On Certain Matters To Be Observed or To Be Avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist)," responds to the question about the "regulation of the Sacred Liturgy."It establishes the fundamental principle upon which the whole discipline of the Sacred Liturgy rests:

"The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the bishop" (n. 14, quoting the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy], n. 22, paragraph 1; and can. 838, paragraph 1).

To follow the right discipline of the Sacred Liturgy, it is essential to know the norms which have been given by the Apostolic See, the Holy Father or his office which helps him in all matters pertaining to the Sacred Liturgy, namely the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It is also necessary to know any particular liturgical norms which the diocesan bishop may have issued, as they are required or permitted by universal Church law.

The Apostolic See

Our Holy Father, who has pastoral authority over the Church throughout the world, enjoys "full, immediate, and universal ordinary power" in the regulation of the Sacred Liturgy.He exercises freely his power for the good of the whole Church in what pertains to the most sacred and treasured aspect of her life, the worship of God.Because of the importance of the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Father also exercises his power by means of direct communication with those who share in his pastoral authority, that is, the bishops and priests, and with the faithful in their care (n. 15).An excellent example of such communication was the publication of the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia (On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church)," and the complementary norms found in the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," which we are presently studying.

What are the concrete means by which the Holy Father disciplines the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy?One of the most important means is the publication of the liturgical books.This includes the mandatory review (recognitio) of the translation of the liturgical books into the various languages.What is more, the Holy Father must "ensure that the liturgical regulations" are observed fully in every part of the world. The most important liturgical regulations pertain to the celebration of the Holy Mass (n. 16).

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which is the arm of the Holy Father for the fulfillment of his responsibilities for the Sacred Liturgy, "attends to those matters that pertain to the apostolic see as regards the regulation and promotion of the Sacred Liturgy, and especially the sacraments."Given the strict connection between the "law of praying" (lex orandi) and the "law of believing" (lex credendi), the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments must always respect the fundamental competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in all doctrinal questions.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "fosters and enforces sacramental discipline," so that the celebration of the sacraments is valid and, furthermore, respects fully the liturgical laws of the Church.The congregation has the responsibility to address and eliminate liturgical abuses."In this regard, according to the tradition of the universal Church, pre-eminent solicitude is accorded to the celebration of the Holy Mass, and also to the worship that is given to the Holy Eucharist even outside Mass" (n. 17).The congregation, for instance, has been most solicitous to help the Church throughout the world to carry out an efficacious observance of the Year of the Eucharist (October 2004 to October 2005). For example, on Oct. 15, 2004, the Congregation published a booklet containing the text of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine (For the Year of the Eucharist)," and its own "suggestions and proposals" for the observance of the Year of the Eucharist.
The instruction concludes the section on the responsibility of the Apostolic See for the discipline of the Sacred Liturgy in the universal Church by reminding us all of the right of the faithful that "ecclesiastical authority should fully and efficaciously regulate the Sacred Liturgy."If the right of the faithful to the observance of liturgical discipline is not honored, then the Sacred Liturgy falsely appears to be our possession, "private property," instead of God’s greatest gift to us in the Church (n. 18).

The diocesan bishop

The diocesan bishop has the first responsibility for the care of the Sacred Liturgy in the particular portion of the Church entrusted to his care.He is "the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life."The responsibility of the diocesan bishop flows from the grace of the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which he receives through episcopal ordination.As high priest in the particular Church, he is responsible to offer the Holy Mass and to provide that the Holy Mass be offered through the ministry of ordained priests for all in his pastoral care. He bears the same responsibility in what regards the other sacraments and the sacramentals (n. 19).The liturgical responsibility of the diocesan bishop is most weighty.His faithful care of priests and of seminarians responding to the call to the ordained priesthood is a fundamental way in which He cares for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy which is the heart of the life of the Church and of the individual members of the Church.

The instruction reminds us that the "pre-eminent manifestation of the Church" is the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.The fullness of that manifestation is found in the celebration of the Mass in the cathedral church, when all of the faithful are united in worship of God at the principal altar of sacrifice in the diocese, with the bishop presiding, "surrounded by his presbyterate with the deacons and ministers." Often, faithful who participate in the Holy Mass at the cathedral basilica, for example, the Chrism Mass or the Mass for the Ordination of Deacons or Priests, comment to me on how they are deeply inspired with love of the Church.It is most understandable, for they have an extraordinary experience of the great gift of the Church in the solemn celebration of the Sacred Liturgy for the whole archdiocese at the head and mother church of the archdiocese.

The bishop is also responsible for every celebration of the Holy Mass throughout the diocese.He must provide that the faithful offer fitting worship to God, in accord with divine law and the laws of the Church (n. 20).He is to issue norms, as universal Church discipline indicates, and is to assist the priests and faithful to exercise the freedom to make legitimate adaptations "in such a way that the universal sacred rite is truly accommodated to human understanding" (n. 21). The bishop has the sacred duty, accepted through episcopal ordination, to shepherd the flock entrusted to his care, so that all members of the flock grow in holiness of life.To that end, he is to help all of the faithful to grow in their understanding of the sacred rites and in the love of the Sacred Liturgy, which should mark their whole Christian life.By so doing, he will help all — priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the lay faithful — to grow ever more fully in the unity of faith and worship (n. 22).

Diocesan bishops and the faithful

Even as the diocesan bishop has the solemn duty to discipline the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, so the faithful have the responsibility to obey their bishop, above all in what pertains to the most sacred action of the liturgical rites. The diocesan bishop’s responsibility for the discipline of the Sacred Liturgy extends to all churches, chapels and oratories, also those founded by or belonging to institutes of the consecrated life or associations of the faithful (n. 23).

Once again, as it did for the section on the authority of the Apostolic See, the instruction reminds us that the faithful have the right "that their diocesan bishop should take care to prevent the occurrence of abuses in ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God, and devotion to the saints" (n. 24).Rightly, then, the faithful who have a question regarding the right conduct of the Sacred Liturgy have recourse to the diocesan bishop. In chapter eight, the instruction gives explicit norms for seeking remedy in the case of liturgical abuses.

Commissions, councils and committees, which the bishop has established to promote the Sacred Liturgy, sacred music and sacred art and architecture, must always carry out their work with total respect for the authority of the Apostolic See and the diocesan bishop.The instruction indicates that there is a long-standing need for bishops to evaluate the effectiveness of these bodies and to make changes to improve their service of the Church.The instruction also reminds us that the members who serve on these bodies must be known for the soundness of their Catholic faith and practice, as well as their knowledge of the particular cultural situation (n. 25).

Conference of bishops

Each conference of bishops, the body of bishops in a particular nation or region, is to establish a commission for the Sacred Liturgy, made up of bishops or, if there are too few bishops, a liturgical committee headed by a bishop (n. 26).The liturgical commission or committee helps the conference of bishops to fulfill certain responsibilities regarding the Sacred Liturgy assigned to it by universal Church law.

The instruction reminds us that the Apostolic See, both in 1970 and again in 1988, ordered the cessation of all liturgical experimentation which had begun after the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.No liturgical experimentation may now be undertaken without the explicit and written permission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, upon the request which can only be made by the Conference of Bishops and not by individual bishops. Such permission will not be granted, except for "serious reason."The instruction also calls to mind the norms which have already been established to direct the work of inculturation of the Sacred Liturgy (n. 27).

Finally, liturgical norms adopted by the conference of bishops lack all force, if they have not received the official review (recognitio) of the Apostolic See.Such review, at the level of the universal Church, is necessary, if the unity of the Church in faith and worship is to be safeguarded and promoted (n. 28).

Priests

Priests make the diocesan bishop present in every community of the faithful in the particular Church.They are bound in strictest unity to the bishop whose one priesthood — the priesthood of Jesus Christ — they share (n. 29).The greatest responsibility of the priests is the worthy celebration of the Holy Mass, in which they place their whole being at the disposition of Christ, in order that he may offer the one sacrifice of Calvary in every time and place.Christ, through the priest, effects the communion of the faithful with Himself and with all the members of the Church throughout the world.In offering the Holy Mass, the priest is deeply conscious that this most sacred work is Christ’s and is carried out by Christ in the whole world through the priestly ministry.The priest must be attentive not to introduce abuses into the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, which has happened in the decades since the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, "as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation" (n. 30).

The instruction calls to mind the solemn promise, made by priests at our ordination and renewed each year on the occasion of the celebration of the Chrism Mass, to celebrate the mysteries of Christ for the salvation of the faithful, especially through the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance. Priests are to be attentive not to "detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission or through arbitrary additions" (n. 31).

Parish priests are to do all within their power to make the celebration of the Holy Mass the center of the lives of the faithful entrusted to their care.They are to provide for the devout celebration of the sacraments for all the faithful, so that they may receive the gift of faith and of growth in faith and holiness of life. In this regard, priests are to devote themselves, in particular, to the encouragement of the faithful to have frequent access to the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance.They are also to help homes and families to make prayer the center of the life in the home and to draw the inspiration for prayer in the home from participation in the Holy Mass.Although others may assist the priest in carrying out his responsibilities for the Sacred Liturgy, the instruction reminds priests that they must not confide to others the responsibilities which are proper to his priestly office (n. 32).

If the priest is to fulfill his most serious responsibilities for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, he must continue to study the Sacred Liturgy, especially the liturgical books.Also, he will seek to fill himself "with that wonder and amazement that the Paschal Mystery, in being celebrated, instills in the hearts of the faithful" (n. 33). Unless he, first, is filled with wonder at the Mystery of Faith, he will find it difficult to communicate the same wonder to the faithful who look to him as their shepherd and priest.

Deacons

Finally, the instruction treats the responsibilities of deacons for the worthy celebration of the sacred rites.Deacons carry out their responsibilities in the Church by serving in strictest communion with the diocesan bishop and the priests serving in the diocese.They assist the bishop and priests, in a special way, through the ministry of the Word of God and of the altar of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (n. 34).From their service of the Word and of the altar flows the deacon’s distinctive service of charity, in caring for those in most need, at the direction of the bishop and priests.

Because of the closeness of the deacon’s service to the sacred rites of the Church, it is important that deacons nurture a profound knowledge and love of the Sacred Liturgy.Their knowledge and love of Christ who acts on our behalf through the Sacred Liturgy will inspire the faithful to a more active and conscious participation in the Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations.Regarding deacons, the instruction concludes:

"Let all deacons, then, do their part so that the sacred liturgy will be celebrated according to the norms of the duly approved liturgical books" (n. 35).

It is my responsibility as archbishop to provide regular occasions for deacons to grow in the knowledge and love of the Sacred Liturgy.The Office of the Permanent Diaconate assists me in carrying out my responsibility to assist deacons in their ongoing liturgical formation.

Conclusion

Before addressing particular liturgical norms, the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" sets forth the responsibilities which belong to the Apostolic See, bishops, conferences of bishops, priests and deacons for the right ordering of liturgical celebrations.Through the exercise of those responsibilities, the unity of faith and worship in the universal Church is safeguarded and fostered.

The exercise of the pastoral office on the part of the Roman Pontiff and his Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the bishops and the priests in communion with the bishops includes necessarily vigilance over the greatest and most sacred treasure of the Church, the Sacred Liturgy.A shepherd who does not fulfill his responsibilities for the right ordering of liturgical celebrations fails his flock in what is at the heart of their faith and its practice.

Clearly, our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II had a keen sense of his responsibility in the matter, which was manifested throughout his more than 26 years of service as Bishop of the Universal Church and especially in the last years of his service through his encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" and the declaration of the Year of the Eucharist through the apostolic letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine."

Studying the responsibilities of our pastors in the Church for the regulation of the Sacred Liturgy, we become keenly aware of our right to such pastoral vigilance and direction, so that our minds and hearts will be truly lifted up to God in prayer and worship, and, thereby, more perfectly conformed to His will. Thus, too, we will never fail to respond in obedience to our pastors, especially in their direction regarding the Sacred Liturgy.

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week

Introduction

The Catholic bishops of the United States have designated July 24-30 for our annual Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. As in the past, the celebration takes place during the time of the anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical letter "Human Vit (On the Rightly Ordered Propagation of Human Offspring)," of July 25, 1968.The annual observance is a time for all of us to grow in understanding and appreciation of the great treasure which is the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, especially in what pertains to the procreation of new human life.

Thirty-seven years have passed since Pope Paul VI addressed the teaching of Christ to what must be called a universal crisis of marriage life and love, namely the widespread acceptance of the use of artificial contraception within the conjugal union.Faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church, the Holy Father called married couples to respect the inseparable life-giving and love-giving dimensions of the conjugal union.He rightly observed that their adherence to the moral norm determines the future of married life and, therefore, of the life of the Church and all of society.

At the same time, the Holy Father cautioned about the breakdown of respect between a man and woman in marriage which is caused by the use of artificial contraception.He expressed especially his fear about the loss of the due respect for women which would result.He also noted the negative effect of the breakdown of observance of the moral law, especially among the young who are more easily tempted in such matters.What is more, he cautioned about the use of artificial contraception by political powers as a solution to what they view as national or international difficulties (n. 17).

We are the witnesses today of the truth of the concerns of Pope Paul VI and of the wisdom of the Church’s constant teaching regarding the regulation of the propagation of offspring.Promiscuity, especially among the young, is encouraged by the widespread acceptance of artificial contraception.Sadly, parents sometimes provide artificial contraceptives to their teenage children, presuming that they will be engaging in the marital act outside of marriage.

Divorce is commonplace in our society and is often traced to the loss of communication and mutual respect among couples who have regularly employed artificial contraception.The use of artificial contraception, which is predicated upon a failure in communication, is often associated with domestic violence and the neglect of children.Some governments have required citizens to employ artificial contraception in order to receive social benefits, and some nations have required other nations to enforce a program of artificial contraception upon their citizens in order to receive international aid.

There can be no question of the importance of our annual observance of Natural Family Planning
Awareness Week for the Church and for society, in general.The teaching of the Catholic Church on family planning is prophetic.It provides an irreplaceable help to society in addressing the persistent and most frightening erosion of marriage and family life.

Discipline and the married life

All of us know that discipline is required in every aspect of our life.When we discipline ourselves, we respect God’s plan for us and our world, and we attain profound joy and peace.Popular culture, with its roots in the philosophy of the Enlightenment Era, has the pretense of defining for itself the reality of human life and marital love.It has grown indifferent to the Word of God and hostile to the teaching of the Church.To speak about obedience to God’s law for us is certainly not politically correct.For that reason, it is more important than ever that the Church offer insistently and in a variety of forms the treasure of her teaching on marriage and the conjugal union.

Regarding the essential part of discipline and self-mastery in marriage, especially in what pertains to the conjugal union, Pope Paul VI wrote:

"Truly, discipline of this sort — from which conjugal chastity shines forth — cannot be an obstacle to love.Rather, discipline imbues love with a deeper human meaning.Although (such control) requires continuous effort, it also helps the spouses become strong in virtue and makes them rich with spiritual goods.And this (virtue) fosters the fruits of tranquility and peace in the home and helps in the solving of difficulties of other kinds.It aids spouses in becoming more tender with each other and more attentive to each other.It assists them in dispelling that inordinate self-love that is opposed to true charity.It strengthens in them an awareness of their responsibilities to be fulfilled.And finally it provides parents with a sure and efficacious authority for educating their children.As (their) children advance through life they will come to a correct appreciation of the true goods of man and employ peacefully and properly the powers of their mind and senses" (n. 21).

The discipline required by the moral law in the exercise of the conjugal act helps a couple to express, in all aspects of their life, the meaning of the conjugal act: their communion with one another and their inherent cooperation with God in the procreation and education of new human life.

‘Theology of the Body’

Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II reflected, with great depth, upon the Church’s constant teaching as expressed in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter "Human Vit."During the first years of his pontificate, he dedicated his addresses at his weekly Wednesday audience to what has become popularly known as the "Theology of the Body" (129 addresses given at the Wednesday audiences from Sept. 5, 1979, to Nov. 28, 1984).There can be no doubt about the importance which Pope John Paul II gave to the Church’s teaching on marital love and the procreation of new human life.

Pope John Paul II set forth the natural law which is written in our human nature and its implications for the marital union and the procreation of offspring.He invited all Christians and all people of good will to respect the conjugal meaning of the human body, understanding that the body of a man and the body of a woman, in their sexual dimension, are created for union in marriage and that any other sexual activity betrays the truth about the human body and leads to unhappiness and harm.On the other hand, when we look upon our own body and the body of the other with respect for the conjugal meaning of the body, we grow in the virtues of purity and chastity.

A number of contemporary Catholic authors have been inspired by Pope John Paul II’s presentation of the Church’s teaching on the human body and human sexuality, including our local authors, Heather Gallagher and Peter Vlahutin, in their book "A Case for Chastity: The Way to Real Love and True Freedom for Catholic Teens," published by Liguori in 2003.The lay theologian Christopher West has spoken and published widely on the subject.I recommend his book, "Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching,"
published by Servant Publications in 2000.

"Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception," by Sam and Bethany Torode, published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. in 2002, is a testimonial to the universal nature of the Church’s teaching.For an in-depth understanding of the universal nature of the teaching which Pope Paul VI presented in his encyclical letter, I refer you to two books by Janet E. Smith, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit: "Human Vit: A Generation Later," published by The Catholic University of America Press in 1991, and "Why Human Vit Was Right: A Reader," published by Ignatius Press in 1993.

Summary of the Church’s teaching

According to God’s plan, the conjugal union has two inseparable meanings.On the one hand, through the conjugal union, the married couple express the full gift of themselves to each other for the good of the other.Engagement in the conjugal union while not giving oneself completely to the spouse betrays the meaning of the act and leads to the breakdown of mutual respect and trust.On the other hand, through the conjugal act, the couple share with God Himself in the procreation of offspring made in God’s own image and likeness and redeemed by the outpouring of Christ’s life on Calvary.Even though every conjugal act does not, in fact, result in the procreation of new human life, the act contains in itself the expression of the procreativity or fertility of both spouses.To deny or to frustrate the life-giving dimension of the conjugal act is to distort the act, at its foundation,leading to the breakdown of mutual respect and trust between the couple.

One of the great gifts of Natural Family Planning is the help it provides couples in coming to understand the means which God has placed in nature to space the generation of new human life in the family.Such understanding brings great joy and peace to both husband and wife, for it helps them to appreciate how they cooperate with God, in a most wonderful way, in the procreation of new human life.They also appreciate how God, in His all-providential love, has provided in their very nature the means of exercising parenthood responsibly.What is more, if for some reason a couple has been unable to conceive a child, Natural Family Planning helps them in their efforts to conceive a child and, in the case that conception does not occur, to express their procreativity through adoption or other means of care for the unborn and babies, and, in particular, children with special needs.

A concise summary of the Church’s teaching on the love of marriage and responsible parenthood is found in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," nos. 2360-2379.

Natural Family Planning in the archdiocese

We are blessed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to have a rich program of teaching of Natural Family Planning and of help to couples who are experiencing any difficulty regarding the conjugal union and the procreation of offspring.The archdiocesan program of Natural Family Planning is offered in 13 different locations.The program draws upon all of the most recent developments in Natural Family Planning,
offering help in following the Billings Ovulation Method (Web site: http://boma-usa.org), the Creighton Model Fertility Care Services (Web site: http://creightonmodel.com), the Sympto Thermal Method of the Couple to Couple League (Web site: http://ccli.org)and the Marquette Model (Web site: http://nursing.slu.edu/ncfe).

For all information regarding Natural Family Planning in the archdiocese please contact K. Diane Daly, RN, CFCE, the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning, 11700 Studt Road, Suite C, St. Louis, MO 63141; telephone: (314) 997-7576; fax: (314) 692-8097; e-mail: dalydk@stlo.mercy.net; Web site: http://stlouisnfp.org.

You may also contact the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 Fourth St., NE, Washington, DC, 20017; telephone: (202) 541-3240/3070; fax: (202) 541-3054; e-mail: nfp@usccb.org; Web site: www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/nfpweek/index.htm.

I take the occasion to express my heartfelt gratitude to Diane Daly for her outstanding leadership in a most critical service to families, to the Church and to all of society.In thanking her, I thank also all of the teaching couples who are working in the various areas of the archdiocese to introduce couples to Natural Family Planning, in accord with the Church’s teaching on human life and love, on marriage and the family, and to assist them to grow in marital love which finds its crown in the procreation of new human life.

Conclusion

Please take the occasion of our annual observance of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week to learn more about the Church’s teaching on the procreation of new human life and to share that teaching with others, especially young couples who seek the truth in the matter.Let us pray that through our observance of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week we will all grow in our understanding of God’s plan for the generation and education of new human life through the love of a man and woman in marriage.Let us all pray daily for those whom God has called to the married life, that they will be good, faithful and generous in carrying out the high mission of their vocation of life and love.

The instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’

Introduction

The conclusion of the pontificate of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II was marked by a singular attention to the Holy Eucharist.His last encyclical letter was on the Holy Eucharist: "Ecclesia de Eucharistia (On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church)," issued on April 17, Holy Thursday, 2003.In my columns during March, April and May of this year, I reflected upon the Holy Father’s teaching in "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," which he viewed as critical to the life of the Church in a totally secularized society and to her mission of the transformation of individual lives and of society through the new evangelization.

In the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," Pope John Paul II announced a complementary document which would provide the disciplinary norms necessary for the proper care and respect for the Most Blessed Sacrament.That document was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on March 25, 2004, and is titled "Redemptionis Sacramentum (On Certain Matters To Be Observed or To Be Avoided Regarding the Most Holy Eucharist)."The instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" is most important for us to study, so that we may show the proper care and reverence before the greatest gift which God gives to us in the Church, the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Later in 2004, on Oct. 7, Pope John Paul II published his apostolic letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine (For the Year of the Eucharist)," in which he announced the Church’s dedication of the entire year from October 2004 to October 2005 to growth in knowledge and love of the Most Holy Eucharist. Behind all of the attention of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Eucharist, at the conclusion of his service as Vicar of Christ,is the truth that the Blessed Sacrament is the source and summit of our life in Christ.The instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" reminds us, at its very beginning, that, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Church "with steadfast faith acknowledges the sacrament of redemption, joyfully takes it to herself, celebrates it and reveres it in adoration, proclaiming the death of Christ Jesus and confessing His resurrection until He comes in glory to hand over, as unconquered Lord and Ruler, eternal Priest and King of the Universe, a kingdom of truth and life to the immense majesty of the Almighty Father" (n. 1).In her teaching regarding the Holy Eucharist, "the whole spiritual wealth of the Church is contained — namely Christ, our Paschal Lamb" (n. 2).

Purpose of ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’

Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II, with concern to foster and safeguard in our time the great mystery of the faith, the Holy Eucharist, commissioned the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to work together with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in preparing an instruction "treating of certain matters pertaining to the discipline of the Sacrament of the Eucharist" (n. 2b).

The instruction does not provide a compendium of all the norms regarding the Holy Eucharist.The instruction notes that it should be read together with the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" and must be used in conjunction with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and other documents containing liturgical law.

The purpose of the instruction is: 1) to "assure a deeper appreciation" of liturgical norms which are already in force; 2) to "establish certain norms by which those earlier ones are explained and complemented"; and 3) to "set forth for bishops, as well as for priests, deacons and all the lay Christian faithful, how each should carry them out in accordance with his own responsibilities and the means at his disposal" (n. 2c).The norms given in the instruction pertain to the liturgy of the Roman Rite and also, as applicable, to the liturgy of the other rites of the Latin Church (n. 3).

Reality of liturgical abuses

While the instruction repeats the words of the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" regarding the great contribution of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council "to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation" in the Mass by all the faithful, it also acknowledges the reality of abuses "against the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as well as the tradition and authority of the Church."It notes that such abuses "plague liturgical celebrations" in some parts of the Church and have, in some cases, become "almost habitual" (n. 4).

Acknowledging the reality of liturgical abuses, the instruction points out that the observance of liturgical norms "requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart" (n. 5).Our attention to liturgical norms is not just some legalism or empty formalism, but, rather, an expression of our Catholic faith and of divine charity.

Through the Sacred Liturgy, Christ desires to gather all of His faithful into one.To make liturgical rites a cause of division is, therefore, to contradict their very nature.That is why the careful attention of all in observing liturgical discipline is essential to the unity of the Church and integral to the life of charity.To the degree that we understand the nature of the liturgical norms, to that degree we will observe those norms assiduously as an expression of the depth of our Catholic faith, of our love of God and neighbor.The instruction reminds us that our obedience to liturgical norms lifts our minds and hearts in obedience to God’s will in our lives: "The liturgical words and rites, moreover, are a faithful expression, matured over the centuries, of the understanding of Christ, and they teach us to think as He Himself does; by conforming our minds to these words, we raise our hearts to the Lord" (n. 5).

Abuses, on the other hand, cause confusion and error.As the instruction states, they hinder the experience which the disciples on the road to Emmaus enjoyed and which should be ours at every celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice: the opening of our eyes to the presence of the glorious Christ in our midst (n. 6).What must always be kept in mind is that the Sacred Liturgy, above all the Eucharistic Sacrifice, is not our action but, by God’s gift, the action of Christ in our midst.Only by the discipline of our mind and will, through respect for the integrity of the liturgical rites, are our eyes opened to see Christ alive and at work in our midst.

Source of liturgical abuses

The instruction examines the various sources of liturgical abuses.The first source is a false notion of freedom, which infects our culture and leads us to treat the Holy Eucharist in a familiar way, as if it were our possession, and blinds our eyes to its transcendent reality.The instruction correctly reminds us that freedom is not for doing what we want but for doing what is right and proper, and, therefore, all of us "should conform to the ordinances set forth by legitimate ecclesiastical authority" (n. 7).

Sometimes, too, liturgical abuses develop through misguided ecumenical initiatives. It is misguided to think that camouflaging or altering the reality of the Sacred Liturgy could ever produce the unity for which our Lord prayed, gathered with His disciples for the First Eucharist, before His Passion and Death (John 17:21).Here it must always be kept in mind that the Holy Eucharist is God’s greatest gift to us in the Church.It is the source of our life in Christ and our oneness in Christ.For that reason, Church discipline does not permit the individual diocesan bishop or parish priest to introduce changes in the sacred rites, on his own authority.The instruction quotes the words of Pope John Paul II in "Ecclesia de Eucharistia": "The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation."In commissioning the writing of the instruction, Pope John Paul II had the intention of purifying the Church of the shadows created by liturgical abuses, so that "the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery" (n. 8).Only when our respect for and care of the Holy Eucharist permits its "radiant mystery" to be somehow visible will it be able to accomplish more fully the unity of all in the life of the Trinity.

The source of liturgical abuses often seems to be the lack of an understanding of the deeper meaning of elements which are altered or rejected.The instruction points out that the prayers and songs of the liturgical rites are inspired by the Sacred Scriptures, reminding us that is from the inspiration of the Word of God that "the actions and signs receive their meaning."The instruction further calls to mind that the signs used in the sacred liturgy "have been chosen by Christ or the Church," in order "to signify the invisible divine realities."In that regard, we are reminded that "the structures and forms of the sacred celebrations according to each of the rites of both East and West are in harmony with the practice of the universal Church also as regards practices received universally from apostolic and unbroken tradition, which it is the Church’s task to transmit faithfully and carefully to future generations" (n. 9).Reflecting on the rich tradition of the actions and forms of the Sacred Liturgy, having their source in the time of the Apostles and developing organically down the Christian centuries, we understand the wisdom of the liturgical norms which safeguard it.

Authority over the Sacred Liturgy

Given the origin of the liturgical rites in apostolic times and the most sacred realities which they signify and contain, the "Church herself has not power over those things which were established by Christ himself and which constitute an unchangeable part of the liturgy."It is important to recall a fundamental principle of the life of faith, which declares the strict connection between the "law of praying (lex orandi)" and the "law of believing (lex credendi)."The words and actions of the Sacred Liturgy as they have come to us from the time of Christ and the Apostles express the faith which saves us. When we, on our own, change or eliminate or make up the words and actions of the Sacred Liturgy, we also weaken or confuse our understanding of the doctrine of the faith.The instruction reminds us: "For the sacred liturgy is quite intimately connected with principles of doctrine, so that the use of unapproved texts and rites necessarily leads either to the attenuation or to the disappearance of that necessary link between the lex orandi and the lex credendi" (n. 10).

Sometimes, it is said that experimentation with the celebration of the Holy Mass or the breach of the norms for the celebration are inspired by pastoral care.The instruction rightly points out that liturgical abuses can never serve the pastoral good of the people or the renewal of participation in the Sacred Liturgy, for "they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and heritage."In truth, when we engage in liturgical abuses, we inflict a wound upon "the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved," and we are "responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today."True pastoral practice and faithful liturgical renewal strive always to honor "the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline" (n. 11).

The lack of respect for the integrity of the liturgical rites is the source of scandal and division in the community of the faithful.The instruction points out, in a particularly sensitive way, how such confusion and error sadden the Christian faithful who already face the "hard test" of living the Catholic faith in a completely secularized society ( n. 11).When a casual or inattentive approach is taken toward the Sacred Liturgy in our time, secular elements hostile to the Catholic faith and discipline are easily introduced into liturgical celebrations.

Liturgical rights of the faithful

The preamble of the instruction concludes by indicating the rights of individual members of the faithful and of the whole community of the faithful in what pertains to the Sacred Liturgy.The first right demands that the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Holy Mass, be celebrated "as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms."In other words, the rites of the Sacred Liturgy are to be conducted in communion with the whole Church and not as local or idiosyncratic rites.

The faithful also have the right "that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium." The Holy Eucharist contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely the Body and Blood of Christ, and, therefore, must be celebrated with the greatest possible attention to the prescribed words and actions.

Lastly, the whole community of the faithful has a right to the celebration of the Holy Mass in a such a way "that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church" (n. 11).No one, not even the bishop or priest, therefore, is, on his own authority, to add, eliminate or change anything in the Sacred Liturgy (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium]," Dec. 4, 1963, n. 22, paragraph 3).

Conclusion

The preamble of the instruction concludes by noting that the various liturgical laws and practices which it is setting forth "are connected, albeit in various ways, with the mission of the Church, whose task it is to be vigilant concerning the correct and worthy celebration of so great a mystery."The instruction further notes that its final chapter takes up the question of "the varying degrees to which the individual norms are bound up with the supreme norm of all ecclesiastical law, namely concern for the salvation of souls" (n. 13).

In the coming weeks, except for occasional interruptions to address other timely matters, I will present the entire content of the instruction, in order that the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist may reap the greatest possible spiritual fruits in our daily lives, according to the mind of our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.Also, after the completion of my commentary on the instruction, I will provide a brief analysis of the apostolic letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine, (For the Year of the Eucharist)."

Let us pray that our reflection upon the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" will inspire in us an ever greater knowledge and love of our Eucharistic Lord.May it help us to be instruments of the universal love of God, which we receive in abundance in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

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