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.

‘Be not afraid!’


Pope Benedict XVI concludes Part Two, titled "The Eucharist, A Mystery To Be Celebrated," of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis" by taking up two topics: 1) the deeply interior dispositions required for a fruitful participation in the Holy Eucharist; and 2) eucharistic adoration and devotions. Both topics address what is required for a personal eucharistic piety, which is deep and constant.Both topics have suffered from some neglect during the first decades of the liturgical reforms that followed upon the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

Eucharistic participation and interior dispositions

Clearly, the whole meaning of participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is union with Christ in the outpouring of His life for love of God and of our brothers and sisters."The Church’s great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one’s life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world" (n. 64).Otherwise, participation in the Holy Mass becomes a mere matter of words and gestures which are not related to the everyday living of the faithful.

To cultivate union with Christ in the Holy Eucharist, one must be carefully instructed in eucharistic faith and that instruction must be kept fresh. How is such instruction imparted and consistently deepened?Following upon the recommendations formulated at the Synod of Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI indicates "a mystagogical approach to catechesis" as the most fitting method of formation in eucharistic faith.Mystagogy refers to the instruction given to the newly baptized, that they may deepen their understanding of the faith in which they have been baptized.Without mystagogy, there is a great danger that the newly baptized will cease to grow in the faith and its practice, and may even drift from the faith so recently received.The mystagogical approach helps the faithful to continue, throughout a lifetime, deepening their understanding of the reality and action of the Holy Mass (n. 64).

Our Holy Father reminds us again of "the close relationship between the ars celebrandi (the art of celebrating) and an actuosa participatio (active participation)."It follows then that the manner of the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is key to the deepening of interior participation.Pope Benedict XVI observes: "By its nature, the liturgy can be pedagogically effective in helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery being celebrated."In accord with the long tradition of the Church, the preparation for Baptism or reception into the full communion of the Church involves a gradual introduction into the rites of the Sacred Liturgy. The instruction in the doctrine of the faith is necessarily accompanied by the experience of the doctrine alive in the Sacred Liturgy and in the witness of those who have come to life in Christ through the sacraments (n. 64).

Three elements of the mystagogical approach

In the ongoing instruction in eucharistic faith, there are three elements which must be respected.The first is the interpretation of the rites of the Sacred Liturgy in terms of the story of our salvation.Christ is the fullness of all revelation.In Him, everything revealed in the Old Testament finds its fulfillment.In the Holy Eucharist, His consummation of God’s plan for our salvation on Calvary is always present for us.The great reality of Christ’s Real Presence with us in the Holy Eucharist is more deeply understood in the light of all of the Holy Scriptures."From the beginning, the Christian community has interpreted the events of Jesus’ life, and the Paschal Mystery in particular, in relation to the entire history of the Old Testament" (n. 64a).

Secondly, the mystagogical approach is always attentive to teaching the meaning of the various signs employed in the Sacred Liturgy.Pope Benedict XVI points out the particular importance of teaching the meaning of liturgical signs in a highly technological culture which is weakened in its ability to interpret these signs."More than simply conveying information, a mystagogical catechesis should be capable of making the faithful more sensitive to the language of signs and gestures which, together with the word, make up the rite" (n. 64b).

Thirdly, a mystagogical catechesis always draws out the meaning of the liturgical rites for our daily Christian living in all of its aspects.Pope Benedict XVI draws particular attention to the missionary meaning of our participation in the Holy Eucharist. "Part of the mystagogical process is to demonstrate how the mysteries celebrated in the rite are linked to the missionary responsibility of all the faithful."Through the mystagogical approach, the participant in the Holy Eucharist becomes ever more aware of how the Rite of the Mass must transform us more and more into effective witnesses of Christ in the world (n. 64c).

Finally, our Holy Father reminds us that such high quality of catechesis requires teachers and mentors who are fittingly prepared.The bishops at the synod also "called for greater involvement by communities of consecrated life, movements and groups which, by their special charisms, can give new impetus to Christian formation." Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the Holy Spirit is most generous in bestowing His sevenfold gift for "the apostolic mission of the Church, which is charged with spreading the faith and bringing it to maturity" (n. 64).

Reverence for the Holy Eucharist

If eucharistic faith is cultivated and deepened, the sign will be a greater reverence before the whole action of the Mass.Such reverence will be manifest in the outward signs which those who are accompanying the new Christians or new members of the Church teach them.The Holy Father comments: "I am thinking in general of the importance of gestures and posture, such as kneeling during the central moments of the Eucharistic Prayer."Every gesture and posture, every outward sign, should point to the reality that God Himself comes to us on earth "in the lowliness of the sacramental signs" (n. 65).

Celebration and adoration

Pope Benedict XVI describes, as one of the most moving moments of the Synod of Bishops, the gathering of the bishops, together with a large number of faithful, for eucharistic adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica.The fact that eucharistic adoration is essentially related to participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice explains its great attraction for us (n. 66).

Our Holy Father comments on a certain loss of understanding and appreciation of eucharistic adoration in the years following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.He recalls an argument used to discourage eucharistic adoration, namely, the argument that the Sacred Host was given to us "not to be looked at, but to be eaten." He also notes how the Church’s long tradition points up the fallacy of such an argument.St. Augustine, for instance, teaches us that we would sin by not adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Christ (n. 66).

Eucharistic adoration "is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration."Eucharistic adoration is truly an extension of the highest adoration which we give during the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice."The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration" (n. 66).The failure to participate in eucharistic adoration is a sign of the loss of eucharistic faith.It should not surprise us that the fruit of the abandonment of eucharistic adoration in many parts of the Church, in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, has resulted in a loss of eucharistic faith.Today, we are told that a significant number of those who call themselves Catholic do not believe that the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Eucharistic Sacrifice and remain the Body of Christ reposed in the tabernacle.

Eucharistic adoration

Pope Benedict XVI, therefore, urges "the practice of eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community."He reminds us that, if eucharistic adoration is to be fruitfully practiced, then its profound significance, especially in the relationship to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, must be taught."Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully."

The Holy Father then gives two concrete recommendations for the fostering of the development of eucharistic adoration.First, he specifically recommends the establishment of perpetual or continuous adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in "specific churches or oratories," especially in "densely populated areas."Secondly, he recommends that children who are preparing to receive First Holy Communion "be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before His presence in the Eucharist" (n. 67).With the many eucharistic chapels established throughout the archdiocese, every child preparing for First Holy Communion can be effectively introduced to eucharistic adoration in practice.Certainly, children and young people should be invited to join the whole community in keeping the hours of eucharistic adoration.

In the context of promoting continuous or perpetual eucharistic adoration, Pope Benedict XVI expresses his deepest gratitude to "all those institutes of consecrated life whose members dedicate a significant amount of time to eucharistic adoration" and to "associations of the faithful and confraternities specifically devoted to eucharistic adoration."The Holy Father observes that "they serve as a leaven of contemplation for the whole Church and a summons to individuals and communities to place Christ at the center of their lives" (n. 67).We are greatly blessed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis with religious communities that practice continuous adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Forms of eucharistic adoration

Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ always leads us back to His Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament and, in Him, to all our brothers and sisters for whom He gave His life.Rightly then, the Church urges the corporate adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. "For this reason, besides encouraging individual believers to make time for personal prayer before the Sacrament of the Altar, I feel obliged to urge parishes and other Church groups to set aside times for collective adoration" (n. 68).

The Holy Father also mentions other forms of eucharistic adoration. Processions with the Blessed Sacrament are an important way to deepen and promote eucharistic faith.Pope Benedict XVI notes that "already existing forms of eucharistic piety retain their full value." He mentions, in particular, the annual procession on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, parish Forty Hours devotions, and "local, national and international eucharistic congresses, and other similar initiatives" (n. 68). From June 15-22, 2008, the 49th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Qubec City, Canada.The opportunity will be offered for faithful of the archdiocese to participate in the International Eucharistic Congress which has as its theme: "The Eucharist: God’s Gift for the Life of the World."

Placement of the Tabernacle

Pope Benedict XVI concludes Part Two by discussing "the proper placement of the tabernacle in our churches." He observes that the "correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament."He notes that "the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church" (n. 69).

The architecture of the church, therefore, will help us to determine the proper location of the tabernacle, so that it will be central and immediately visible to all who enter the church.With regard to already existing churches, Pope Benedict XVI notes that, "where the high altar with its tabernacle is still in place, it is appropriate to continue to use this structure for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist, taking care not to place the celebrant’s chair in front of it."With regard to new churches, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, if there is one, should be "close to the sanctuary." If there is no Blessed Sacrament Chapel, "it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the center of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous."

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the care which is to be given to the artistic beauty of the tabernacle. He also reminds us that "final judgment on these matters belongs to the diocesan bishop" (n. 69).

‘Be not afraid!’


Continuing his treatment of the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery in "Sacramentum Caritatis," Pope Benedict XVI takes up the discussion of the qualities of the participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.He reminds us of the call of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council for "active, full and fruitful participation."He notes that "considerable progress" has been made in responding to the Council’s desire regarding the liturgical participation of the faithful (n. 52).

The Holy Father also notes a certain failure to understand accurately what the Council intended by participation.The misunderstanding centers around the meaning of the Latin word "actuosa," an adjective used to describe the desired participation of the faithful.The Latin word is usually translated by the English word "active," but it does not mean "mere external activity during the celebration."It means, rather, a deeply interiorized participation, that is, participation in the sacred action of the Mass with awareness of its profound significance for our daily living.In other words, when we participate in the Holy Mass, we are not onlookers.We are engaged in the action of Christ and are conscious of what our engagement means in terms of a life poured out in love of God and neighbor (n. 52).

The Holy Father lists some of the aspects of the participation of the faithful in Holy Mass, as they are set forth by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.The aspects include instruction through the proclamation and exposition of the Word of God, reception of the Body of Christ, the act of thanksgiving to God, and union with the priest in offering ourselves, with Christ, to God the Father, "not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him" (n. 52).

Participation and the service of the priest, deacon and liturgical ministers

Active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is fostered by a good understanding of the distinct functions of the faithful in the Sacred Liturgy.In particular, the distinct service of the priest must be understood.The priest "alone, and no other, as the tradition of the Church attests, presides over the entire Eucharistic celebration, from the initial greeting to the final blessing" (n. 53).Configured to the person of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the flock, the priest most fully expresses his identity when he gives his whole being to Christ for the offering of the Mass.The ordained priest acts in the person of Christ in offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or, in other words, Christ acts.

The Holy Father reminds us that every celebration of the Holy Mass is offered by the bishop, chief shepherd of the flock, either by the bishop himself or by a priest, a co-worker of the bishop.The unity of the Church throughout the world is experienced at every offering of the Mass through the one ministry of the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, in communion with the Apostle Peter, head of the Apostles, and his successor, the Roman pontiff (n. 53).

The deacon also carries out a distinctive service during the Eucharistic Liturgy, which should not be confused with the other liturgical ministries.The deacon "prepares the altar, assists the priest, proclaims the Gospel, preaches the homily from time to time, reads the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, and distributes the Eucharist to the faithful" (n. 53).

The Holy Father also makes reference to the liturgical ministries "which can be carried out in a praiseworthy manner by religious and properly trained laity." In a footnote, Pope Benedict XVI quotes one of the conclusions of the Synod of Bishops, which recalls to our minds that such ministries "must be introduced in accordance with the real needs of the celebrating community"; that those appointed to the ministries must be "chosen with care, well prepared, and provided with ongoing formation"; that their appointment is for a defined time; and, finally, that they "must be known to the community and be gratefully acknowledged by the community" (footnote 162).Some examples of liturgical ministers are lectors (readers), cantors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.


Pope Benedict XVI next takes up the discussion of "adaptations appropriate to different contexts and cultures," which promote participation in the Sacred Liturgy.The legitimate introduction of such adaptations is called inculturation.While the Holy Father acknowledges that "certain abuses have occurred" in carrying out inculturation, he stresses that the "clear principle" of inculturation "must be upheld in accordance with the real needs of the Church as she lives and celebrates the mystery of Christ in a variety of cultural situations."God became man, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity took our human flesh, in order to fulfill His desire "to encounter us in our own concrete situation" (n. 54).Inculturation must always be understood and carried out in the light of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Pope Benedict XVI notes that the "possibilities" of inculturation are defined in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, in the directives of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and in Pope John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic exhortations for Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. It is the Conference of Bishops which has the responsibility for inculturation, always with the review of the Apostolic See, so that the unity of the Church is not wounded in its highest and most perfect manifestation, the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

Personal conditions for eucharistic participation

What is required for my own "fruitful participation" in the Sacred Liturgy?First of all, there must be conversion of life to Christ."Active participation in the Eucharistic Liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life."The Holy Father mentions three specific means by which the conversion of life necessary for participation in the Holy Mass is cultivated: "Recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the liturgy," the eucharistic fast and sacramental Confession.Active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice necessarily means active participation "in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ’s love into the life of society" (n. 55).

We participate most fully in the Holy Mass when we personally receive our Lord in Holy Communion.Presence at the Holy Mass, however, does not confer "a right or even an obligation to approach the table of the Eucharist."If a person cannot receive Holy Communion, for whatever reason, he is still required to participate in the Holy Mass.His participation "remains necessary, important, meaningful and fruitful." Pope Benedict XVI urges the faithful, who find themselves in a situation in which they cannot receive Holy Communion,"to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual communion, praised by Pope John Paul II and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life" (n. 55).

Participation by nonCatholic Christians

May "Christians belonging to churches and ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church" participate in the Holy Mass?First of all, Pope Benedict XVI observes that the "intrinsic link between the Eucharist and the Church’s unity inspires us to long for the day when we will be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together with all believers in Christ."But we must remember that the Holy Eucharist signifies full communion with the Church.The Holy Eucharist cannot, therefore, become our means of trying to achieve a unity which does not exist. "We hold that Eucharistic Communion and ecclesial communion are so linked as to make it generally impossible for nonCatholic Christians to receive the former without enjoying the latter" (n. 56).

In the same way, concelebration with ministers who are not in full communion with the Church contradicts the meaning of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.Once again, such concelebration signifies full communion with the Church, which is not verified in the case of the ministers in question.

In individual cases, however, for the sake of the salvation of souls, nonCatholic Christians may receive Holy Communion, the absolution of their sins in the Sacrament of Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, but specific conditions must be present.Those conditions are clearly stated in the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Participation through the communications media

With regard to the televised celebration of the Holy Mass, Pope Benedict XVI underlines the grave responsibility to make the celebration an example of the correct and reverent offering of the Holy Mass.The Holy Father mentions also the importance of paying careful attention to the fittingness of the place in which the televised Mass is celebrated (n. 57).

Participation in the Holy Mass by way of television does not fulfill the Sunday and Holy Day obligation to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The televised Mass represents the celebration of the Mass but does not make it present.It is clear, too, that watching the Sunday Mass does not "dispense (us) from going to church and sharing in the Eucharistic assembly in the living Church" (n. 57).

Participation by the sick

Our Holy Father addresses with special concern a concern that he notes was often expressed during the sessions of the Synod of Bishops, the pastoral care of the sick, whether they are at home or in the hospital.He states directly: "These brothers and sisters of ours should have the opportunity to receive sacramental Communion frequently." He reminds us that sacramental Communion will unite them more fully to Christ in their suffering and help them to carry out their mission in the Church "by the offering of their sufferings in union with our Lord’s sacrifice" (n. 58).

Regarding persons with special needs, the parish should provide for their participation in the Holy Mass, if their situation makes it possible.The church building should be provided with those structures which make it accessible to persons with special needs (n. 58).

Regarding the mentally impaired, Eucharistic Communion should be given to them, "if they are baptized and confirmed." The Holy Father reminds us that the mentally handicapped "receive the Eucharist in the faith also of the family or the community that accompanies them" (n. 58).

Prisoners and the reception of Holy Communion

Pope Benedict XVI recalls the Gospel injunction to visit prisoners, found in our Lord’s Parable of the Last Judgment and its fitting inclusion in the corporal works of mercy.He observes that those in prison "have a particular need to be visited personally by the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist" (n. 59).

In the isolation of imprisonment, the closeness of our Lord and of the Church through the reception of Holy Communion assists the prisoner greatly in keeping a Christian mind and heart, and in working toward "full social rehabilitation."The Holy Father declares: "Taking up the recommendation of the Synod, I ask dioceses to do whatever is possible to ensure that sufficient pastoral resources are invested in the spiritual care of prisoners" (n. 59).

Migrants and eucharistic participation

A particular pastoral care must be exercised on behalf of migrants.Pope Benedict XVI expresses a special concern for migrants who belong to the Eastern Catholic Churches, for "in addition to being far from home, they also encounter the difficulty of not being able to participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy in their own rite" (n. 60). He asks that they be served by priests of their proper rites.

In this regard, the Holy Father reminds us of the great spiritual enrichment which comes to us through our communication with persons of the other rites in the Church. He notes the particular enrichment which comes to priests and deacons from knowing different liturgical rites.In a footnote, the Holy Father recommends that seminarians "be introduced to these traditions" (footnote 180).

Large-scale concelebration and the use of Latin

The Holy Father addresses briefly the situation of a very large celebration of the Holy Mass with both a numerous congregation and a large number of concelebrating priests.He underlines the importance of such celebrations "when the bishop himself celebrates, surrounded by his presbyterate and by the deacons" (n. 61).It is clear that such celebrations requires very careful planning, so that the distinct manner of participation of priests and of the other members of the faithful is reflected.

Within the discussion of large-scale celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI addresses the question of the use of the Latin language at large-scale international gatherings.The Holy Father, making his own a proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, declares that, "with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin."The practice of celebrating the Mass in Latin would "express more clearly the unity and the universality of the Church."In addition, he mandates that "the better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian Chant should be sung" (n. 62).

In order to further the appropriate use of Latin in the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Father asks that seminarians be educated "to understand and to celebrate the Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian Chant" (n. 62).It should also be observed that, if the faithful are to be able to participate more fully in large international liturgical celebrations, in which the Latin language and Gregorian Chant are appropriately employed, they will need to be introduced to both the prayers in Latin and the Gregorian Chant in their parish churches.

Small-group celebrations

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the benefit of a small-group celebration of the Holy Mass, especially for formation in an active and fruitful participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.He cautions, however, that such a celebration be coherent "with the overall pastoral activity of the diocese." Clearly, they cannot be seen, in any way, to be "in competition with, or parallel to, the life of the particular Church" (n. 63).

The Holy Father sets forth "necessary criteria" for small-group celebrations.First, they must serve the unity of the local community and not contribute to its fragmentation.Second, the benefits reaped "ought to be clearly evident."And, lastly, the fruitful participation of the whole assembly should be fostered, and "the unity of the liturgical life of individual families" should be safeguarded (n. 63).

‘Be not afraid!’

Editor’s note: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke’s column this week is the text of his homily for the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated on June 17. At that time, the Shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica was blessed, the mosaic image of the Sacred Heart was enthroned and the Archdiocese of St. Louis was consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. See story, Page one.

Introduction: God’s covenant of love with us

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.
We celebrate with greatest joy today the covenant of love which God our Father has made with us by sending His only-begotten Son in our human flesh to be our shepherd always in the Church. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, our Lord God expressed the great mystery of His love. He Who has no need whatsoever of our love has chosen us as His own adopted sons and daughters in His only-begotten Son. He has chosen to love us with a human heart unconditionally, totally and forever. Out of faithful and enduring love of us, He Himself has come to shepherd us, to rescue us from our sins and from every evil, and to provide for us an earthly home in the Church and our lasting home with Him in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Let us listen to His Word to us, spoken through the Prophet Ezekiel:

"I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend My sheep" (Reading I: Ezechiel 34:11-16).

Alive in Jesus Christ, we are the immeasurably blessed heirs of the ever faithful and enduring love of God.

Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Pierced Heart of Jesus

Our Lord Jesus, God the Son made man, our Divine Shepherd, assures us that God the Father will not permit any one of His chosen sons and daughters to be lost from the fold. He tells us of the unquenchable thirst of God for our love, leading Him to search us out, when we have strayed, so that He may bring us back to the safe haven of His Church. He concludes the Parable of the Lost Sheep with words which assure us that the love of God for us is, indeed, unconditional, total and forever:

"I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance" (Gospel: Luke 15:3-7).

No matter how grievous our sin, no matter how far we have wandered from the fold, our Lord never ceases to look for us, longing to welcome us home in His Church.

What our Lord taught in the Parable of the Lost Sheep He accomplished through His suffering and dying on the Cross. When He was dying on the Cross, He entrusted His disciples to the care of His Mother, the Virgin Mary, so that she, with a mother’s vigilant love, might lead them to Him. He, then, expressed His great thirst for souls, for our love. Finally, when He had died on the Cross, He ordained that the Roman soldier’s spear should pierce His Most Sacred Heart, in order that looking upon His pierced Heart, all men would understand the immeasurable love of God for them and would, in return, lift up their hearts to Him in love (cf. John 17:26, 28, and 31-37). Having risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, our Lord has never ceased to pour out, in abundance, the grace of the Holy Spirit upon us in the Church. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical letter "On Christian Love," reflects upon the story of God’s love of us, which reaches its fullness in our Lord Jesus alive for us in the Church:

"In the love-story recounted by the Bible, He comes toward us, He seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of His Heart on the Cross, to His appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the apostles, He guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: He encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect His presence, in His Word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist (Pope Benedict XVI, encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est [On Christian Love,] Dec. 25, 2005, n. 17).

St. Paul expresses the great truth of our Christian life: "The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Reading II: Romans 5:5-11).

Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Union of hearts

Today, we celebrate our covenant of love with God, which is the union of our hearts with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. When we look upon the image of the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, our Lord Jesus also looks upon us. We see in His Sacred Heart the sign of His thirst for our love, and we place our poor hearts into His glorious pierced Heart, trusting in God’s forgiveness of our sins and in His abundant grace which produces in us the works of His mercy and love.
We celebrate the union of our hearts with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the most perfect way possible by uniting ourselves to Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, by which He makes always new for us the great act of His love on Calvary, pouring out, from His Sacred Heart, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity for our life and salvation.After we have experienced anew the unconditional love of God for us in the Holy Eucharist, we will bless and enthrone the image of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to be a lasting reminder of God’s unceasing love of us, and we will consecrate our hearts to His Most Sacred Heart, responding to God’s immeasurable love with the pledge to love Him, in return, with all our being.

The Act of Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus expresses the deepest reality of our lives.We belong totally to Christ.Christ alone is our life and salvation; He saves us from our sins and give us strength to live in Him always. As St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, great apostle of the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, expressed in her Act of Consecration, which we will make our own tonight, our hearts which are beset with doubt, confusion and fear because of our weakness and our sins are made confident because of the mystery of God’s love for us, revealed in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.Before the great challenges to our life in Christ, we, with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, ask one only thing, that is, that our hearts rest always in the pierced Heart of Jesus, our Good Shepherd (cf. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Little Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in John Croiset, The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Paul: The Radio Replies Press Society, 1959, p. 255).

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: Mary, our Star

Our Blessed Mother inspires us and accompanies us in the renewal of our covenant of love with our Lord.Given to us as our Mother by her Divine Son, the ever-Virgin Mary draws us with maternal love to her Immaculate Heart, under which God the Son took a human heart. She leads us to place our hearts, with her Immaculate Heart, totally into His Sacred Heart. She guides us to trust in God’s never-failing mercy, to trust, as she trusted, that God’s promises to us will be fulfilled (cf. Luke 1:45). We place our Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus into her loving hands. We ask our Blessed Mother to lead us to her Son by the Act of Consecration to His Sacred Heart. Consecrating our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we consecrate them, at the same time, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whom our Lord entrusted us as He died on the cross to save us. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary is expressed in a most effective way when we pray the holy Rosary. Meditating upon the mysteries of our salvation, as we pray the Hail Mary, our hearts are drawn to the Heart of Jesus, opened up for us in the Holy Eucharist.

Reigning with Christ through serving

Placing our hearts, with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, into the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, we are filled with the divine mercy and love which is our mission in the world.Our devoted love of our Lord Jesus, expressed in our devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, is not some static state or feeling. It is, rather, a relationship with God the Son made man, in which we take up with Him the mission given to Him by the Father, so that all men may be saved and our world may be prepared to welcome our Lord at His coming on the Last Day. Placing our hearts into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are necessarily engaged in His kingly mission, in which reigning is serving, especially, serving our brothers and sisters in most need (Pope John Paul II, encyclical letter Redemptor hominis [At the Beginning of His Papal Ministry], March 4, 1979, n. 21).

Enthronement in our hearts and homes

As we enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our cathedral, the mother church of our archdiocese, let us also enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our hearts, in our homes and in our places of work and our other activity, if we have not already done so.If we have already enthroned the image of the Sacred Heart, let us renew the enthronement, striving to be ever more attentive to the presence of our Lord in our midst, above all, in our homes.So may Christ the King reign in every aspect of our lives, and His Kingdom of mercy and love be extended throughout the whole world.

Consecration to the Sacred Heart and New Evangelization

Truly, the enthronement of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the act of consecration lead us to the sources of the new enthusiasm and new energy needed for the New Evangelization, for the teaching and living of our Catholic faith, which transforms our lives and our world. In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we find the sources of the enthusiasm and energy which we need to live in Him always, until one day we are finally and fully with Him in glory in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we discover, in a most special way, the great gift of God’s love in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.Through the Morning Offering, through the First Friday devotion, and the Holy Hour of love and reparation on the Thursday before each First Friday, we contemplate the mystery of God’s love for us, poured out for us from the Heart of Jesus, especially in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance, and we unite our hearts more and more to the Sacred Heart in selfless love.

Conclusion: Lifting up our hearts

Let us now lift up our hearts to the Lord, placing our poor and sinful hearts, through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, into the glorious Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through the Holy Eucharist we now celebrate, may God bless abundantly our Shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.May He bless our act of consecration and make it ever more fruitful in pure and selfless service of Him and of our neighbor, especially our neighbor who is in most need.

Heart of Jesus, of Whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.

St. Louis of France, pray for us.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.

‘Be not afraid!’


Having treated in "Sacramentum Caritatis" the essential elements of the art of celebrating (ars celebrandi) the Holy Eucharist, Pope Benedict XVI next takes up the discussion of the structure of the celebration of the Holy Mass, in the particular light of the implementation of the reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.He reminds us of the importance of a faithful implementation of the reforms set forth by the Council, which are set within the "great ecclesial tradition" (n. 43).

The offering of the Holy Mass remains always the same in the living tradition of the Church, while reforms in the Rite of the Holy Mass may be made from time to time.Whatever those reforms may be, they must always relate to the celebration of the Holy Mass as the Church has faithfully handed it down in obedience to the mandate of our Lord at the Last Supper: "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

The Rite of the Mass is divided into two principal parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.Before entering into the discussion of each part, our Holy Father reminds us that the two parts are inherently related to each other in the one Rite of the Mass.Both the treatment of the Holy Mass in the teaching of the faith and the actual celebration of the Holy Mass must "avoid giving the impression that the two parts of the Rite are merely juxtaposed" (n. 44).Together with the introductory and concluding rites, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist constitute our integral and, in fact, highest act of worship of God.

It is through the hearing of the proclamation of the Word of God that our faith is informed for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.At the same time, hearing the Word of God stirs up in us the desire to be united with Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Eucharist. If we are to receive our Lord with faith and love in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, then we must nourish our minds and hearts by listening attentively to the Word of God as it is proclaimed and expounded for us in the Liturgy of the Word. Our Holy Father counsels us to keep in mind "that the Word of God, read and proclaimed by the Church in the liturgy, leads to the Eucharist as to its own connatural end" (n. 44).

The Liturgy of the Word

In taking up the discussion of the Liturgy of the Word, Pope Benedict XVI tells us that the Synod of Bishops wished to underline the importance of its careful preparation and celebration.The Holy Father, for his part, immediately urges "that every effort be made to ensure that the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God is entrusted to well-prepared readers" (n. 45). Regarding the proclamation of the readings and the Gospel, it is important that we keep in mind that God Himself speaks to us through the divinely-inspired words of the Holy Scriptures.With what care and reverence, therefore, lectors or readers should carry out their service within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy!In a most special way, Christ speaks to us in the Gospel, which, therefore, may only be proclaimed by an ordained minister, that is, deacon, priest or bishop.

At the same time, the Word of God "must be listened to and accepted in a spirit of communion with the Church and with a clear awareness of its unity with the Sacrament of the Eucharist."To aid in the reception of the Word of God, the Holy Father notes that some introduction can be made to the readings, "in order to focus the attention of the faithful" (n. 45).In any case, the hearer of the Word of God must always remember that all of the Holy Scriptures only find their full meaning in the person of Christ Who remains always present for us in the Holy Eucharist.As a result, the more we hear the Word of God proclaimed and enter into a deeper understanding of the Holy Scriptures, the more we will comprehend and love the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

To foster the more efficacious hearing of the Word of God proclaimed in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, our Holy Father encourages other celebrations centered upon the proclamation and exposition of the Holy Scriptures, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures "in the context of prayer (lectio divina)."To the same end, he encourages the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours and the keeping of vigils by the faithful."By praying the Psalms, the Scripture readings and the readings from the great tradition which are included in the Divine Office, we can come to a deeper experience of the Christ-event and the economy of salvation, which in turn can enrich our understanding and participation in the celebration of the Eucharist" (n. 45).

The homily

Fittingly, our Holy Father gives special attention to the homily within the Liturgy of the Word.He begins with the declaration: "Given the importance of the Word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved" (n. 46).The homily is integral to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, for it helps the faithful to apply the Word of God to their daily living.

In order that the homily achieve its important purpose within the Sacred Liturgy and for the daily life of the faithful, the Holy Father asks those who preach to apply the proclaimed Word "to the sacramental celebration and the life of the community, so that the Word of God truly becomes the Church’s vital nourishment and support" (n.46).The homily should be catechetical and exhortative.

In order that the homilies, over a certain period of time, present the complete content of the Catholic faith and urge the faithful to put the complete faith into practice, Pope Benedict XVI suggests the fittingness of planning homilies, with attention to the readings and Gospel of each Sunday, so that all of the "great themes of the Christian faith" are treated within a certain period of time.He suggests as a guide in planning homilies what are called the four "pillars" of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ and Christian prayer" (n. 46).

Presentation of the Gifts

The Presentation of the Gifts expresses symbolically the offering of the whole of creation for transformation, that is, salvation, by our Lord Jesus Christ.The simple elements of bread and wine, representing all of created reality, are presented so that the order which God the Father intended from the beginning of Creation might be restored by the Sacrifice of Christ.Since the coming of God the Son in our human flesh and His great work of salvation, all of creation awaits the day of Christ’s Second Coming, when He will restore all things to the Father.

At the Presentation of the Gifts, we offer to our Lord all our sorrows and sufferings and those of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.Our Holy Father observes how the gesture involved points to the redemptive meaning of human suffering when it is united to the sufferings of Christ.

The significance of the Presentation of the Gifts "can be expressed without the need for undue emphasis or complexity" (n. 47).The simplicity and directness of the action draws our attention to the call which God gives to each of us to participate in His only-begotten Son’s saving work by uniting all we have and are, and, in a special way, our sorrows and sufferings to the Passion and Death of Christ.Through the Presentation of the Gifts, we are reminded of the dignity of our human labors, when we carry them out in Christ and with the help of His grace.

The Eucharistic Prayer

Quoting the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, our Holy Father enunciates the central and most elevated place of the Eucharistic Prayer in the whole structure of the celebration of the Holy Mass:

"The Eucharistic Prayer is ‘the center and summit of the entire celebration.’ Its importance deserves to be adequately emphasized’ (n.48).

The variety of Eucharistic Prayers reflects the great richness of the Church’s Tradition as it hands down, from generation to generation, the Church’s greatest treasure, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Once again, drawing upon the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Pope Benedict XVI lists eight "basic elements of every Eucharistic Prayer: thanksgiving, acclamation, epiclesis, institution narrative and consecration, anamnesis, offering, intercessions and final doxology" (n. 48).The epiclesis is the priest’s calling down of the Holy Spirit for the consecration of the bread and wine.It takes place right before the institution narrative containing the words of the Consecration.

In an earlier part of "Sacramentum Caritatis," our Holy Father noted the particular enrichment to our spiritual life, which comes from a deeper appreciation of the relationship of the calling-down of the Holy Spirit in the epiclesis and the words of Christ by which the bread and wine are changed into His Body and Blood (n.13).Once again, our Holy Father draws our attention to "the profound unity between the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the institution narrative" (n. 48).At the epiclesis, the Church prays for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in order that the elements of bread and wine may be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and the faithful who receive the Body and Blood of Christ may be transformed more and more into Christ’s likeness.

The Sign of Peace

Our Holy Father comments on the Eucharistic Sacrifice as the source of our peace and on the deep feeling surrounding this aspect of the Holy Eucharist in a world "fraught with fear and conflict."Here, it is important to remember the Church’s grave responsibility "to pray insistently for the gift of peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family" (n. 49).The Sign of Peace has great significance within the Rite of the Mass, a significance which is understood with special intensity in our time.

The difficulty with the Sign of Peace, which the Synod of Bishops confronted, is the exaggeration of the manner of its exchange to the point of distracting seriously from the sacred moment of Holy Communion, the culmination of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.In a footnote, Pope Benedict XVI informs us that he has "asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the Sign of Peace to another place, such as before the Presentation of the Gifts at the altar" (fn. 150).He comments that having the Sign of Peace just before the Presentation of the Gifts would remind us of the Lord’s teaching that we should first be reconciled to our brothers and sisters before approaching the altar (Matthew 5:23).

In any case, the Sign of Peace should be exchanged with profound respect for its deepest significance.The Sign of Peace is neither for visiting with one’s neighbors nor for offering overly demonstrative signs of affection."It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the Sign of Peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbors" (n. 49).

Distribution and reception of Holy Communion

The distribution and reception of Holy Communion mark the high point of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the moment when the Consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ attains its proper end, that is, the Sacred Host and Precious Blood are reverently received and consumed by the faithful.Holy Communion is the most deeply personal moment of meeting our Lord on this earth.Given the singular importance of Holy Communion, Pope Benedict XVI issues an appeal regarding the distribution of Holy Communion: "I ask everyone, especially ordained ministers and those who, after adequate preparation and in cases of genuine need, are authorized to exercise the ministry of distributing the Eucharist, to make every effort to ensure that this simple act preserves its importance as a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus in the Sacrament."In specific, Pope Benedict XVI has asked that the recently issued norms and directives in the matter be carefully followed."All Christian communities are to observe the current norms faithfully, seeing in them an expression of the faith and love with which we all must regard this sublime sacrament" (n. 50).

Our Holy Father also asks that a time of silence be observed after Holy Communion, so that the communicant can offer thanksgiving to God for the greatest gift which He gives to us in the Church.The singing of a hymn during the Communion Rite is certainly appropriate, but respect must also be shown for the need of silence and silent prayer before the great mystery of God’s love experienced in Holy Communion.

Our Holy Father addresses a "frequently encountered" pastoral difficulty, namely, "the fact that on certain occasions — for example, wedding Masses, funerals and the like — in addition to practicing Catholics there may be others present who have long since ceased to attend Mass or are living in a situation which does not permit them to receive the sacraments."He also mentions the situation of "members of other Christian confessions and even other religions" who may be present at the Holy Eucharist. Pope Benedict XVI asks that we find "a brief and clear way to remind those present of the meaning of sacramental Communion and the conditions required for its reception" (n.50).In a totally secularized and secularizing world, there is a great need for all to pay careful attention to the reality of the Holy Eucharist, as St. Paul had already urged the faithful at Corinth in the early years of the Church’s life (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29).Receiving Holy Communion is not some merely fraternal action of all present at Mass or a right which comes with presence at the Holy Mass.It is, rather, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, for which one must be properly disposed.

Finally, our Holy Father reminds us that, if the circumstances of a situation "make it impossible to ensure that the meaning of the Eucharist is duly appreciated," then we should appropriately replace "the celebration of the Mass with a celebration of the Word of God" (n. 50).

Conclusion: Ite, ‘missa est’

Pope Benedict XVI concludes his treatment of the structure of the Rite of the Mass by reminding us of the significance which the words of the dismissal have for our daily living.While the Latin word, "missa," has a sense of dismissal, in the Church, at the conclusion of the Mass, it has come to refer to the mission of bringing Christ to the world.Our Holy Father asks that the faithful "be helped to understand more clearly this essential dimension of the Church’s life, taking the dismissal as a starting-point" (n. 51).He also asks that the texts of the Prayer over the People and the Final Blessing be enriched to make clear the essential connection between participation in the Holy Eucharist and active engagement in the mission of the Church.

‘Be not afraid!’


On this coming Sunday, June 17, I will bless the new Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in our Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.At the same time, I will enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica while leading the prayer of consecration of the entire archdiocese to our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart.The blessing and consecration will take place at the conclusion of the celebration of the Holy Mass in the cathedral basilica at 5 p.m. June 17.Although we will have already celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 15, the liturgical norms of the Church permit us to celebrate a solemn Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on June 17.

The blessing and consecration have been scheduled on a Sunday afternoon rather than on the actual Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in order to permit the greatest possible participation of the priests and the faithful in this most important event for all of us in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.Following the sacred rites, there will be a reception in Boland Hall, next door to the cathedral basilica, so that all who have taken part in the Holy Mass, with the Blessing of the Shrine and Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may visit with one another while enjoying some refreshments.

I invite you to participate in the solemn Mass with the dedication of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the consecration of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the cathedral basilica on June 17 at 5 p.m.Each pastor of the archdiocese has received an invitation for him to concelebrate the Mass and for parishioners to participate in the sacred rites.If you wish to participate, please let your pastor know, so that he may submit your name to those who are planning both the celebration of the Mass and the reception which follows.I hope that you will be able to join me and representatives of the entire archdiocese at the cathedral basilica on June17.

The shrine itself

The Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in the west transept of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, directly opposite the baptistery and ambry (repository of the Sacred Chrism and Holy Oils), which are located in the east transept. It occupies a space which was open in the cathedral basilica and has been designed to be harmonious with all of the beautiful art and furnishings in the cathedral basilica.

The architect who designed the shrine is Duncan G. Stroik of the School of Architecture at Notre Dame University.Stroik is one of the foremost church architects in our time.His architectural work is known especially for drawing upon the rich beauty of church architecture down the Christian centuries and for its inspiration drawn from the Eucharistic Mystery.If you wish to learn more about the important work of Duncan G. Stroik, you may consult the journal Sacred Architecture, P.O Box 556, Notre Dame, IN 46556; e-mail editor@sacred, of which he is the editor.The website of Sacred Architecture is www.sacred

Stroik has made a thorough study of the cathedral basilica, including the original architectural drawings.Like all of us, he is always discovering some new and most beautiful expression of our Catholic faith in the architecture and artistic adornment of the cathedral basilica.

Given the renowned richness of mosaics in the cathedral basilica, it was decided that the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be enthroned in the cathedral basilica should also be done in mosaic.The Vatican Mosaic Studio, which has the care of all of the mosaics in the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican, accepted the commission to create the mosaic image, using for a model a painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that hangs in the dining room of the Archbishop’s Residence.Although the archdiocese has not been able to identify the author of the painting, it is a most striking representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, inspiring meditation on the great mystery of God’s love for us and, at the same time, a response of love of God, on our part.

The mosaic arrived at the cathedral basilica some weeks ago and has been placed in the shrine.It is, however, covered from view, until the rite of blessing and of the consecration, at which time it will be unveiled and properly enthroned.

The shrine itself is made of various types of marble from Italy and other parts of the world, all of which have been coordinated with the variety of marble in the cathedral basilica.The marble work was done in Pietrasanta, Italy, and expertly installed by Chad Meyer of Stone Renaissance, a local firm.

The focus of the shrine is clearly the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The other symbols that appear in the various elements of the shrine all point to the mystery of God’s love, which is most perfectly revealed in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus.

Other symbols in the shrine

On the bronze gates to the shrine, the figure of the pelican feeding her young from her own flesh reminds us that our Lord Jesus feeds us with His own Body and Blood flowing from His glorious pierced Heart.The marble on the floor of the shrine represents the Star of David, reminding us that God the Son took our human flesh by becoming the Son of Mary of the House of David.

Directly above the mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a symbol which incorporates the scourge, the crown of thorns and the three nails of our Lord’s Passion.It reminds us of the immeasurable depth of God’s love of us in Jesus Christ, upon which we meditate when we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or make the Stations of the Cross.All that our Lord suffered for love of us reached its fullness when the Roman soldier pierced His side with a spear after His death on the Cross.The blood and water which poured forth from His open side, from His pierced Heart, represent the continuous and superabundant outpouring of His grace upon us in the Church.

At the crown of the shrine is a most ancient symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is found on a keystone of the vault of the Chapter House at the Grand Chartreuse in France.It dates to around 1375.It consists of the monogram of our Lord Jesus, that is, the first three letters of His name in Greek: IHS. A spear runs through the letter "S" to remind us of the pierced side of our Lord.The symbol expresses the unity of the mysteries of the Incarnation and redemption.Our Lord became incarnate, received the name of Jesus, in order that He might offer His life for our eternal salvation, that is, in order that His Sacred Heart might be pierced in death.The Servant of God Pope John Paul II liked to refer to the two mysteries together as the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation.

On the back of the shrine, the coat-of-arms of the archdiocese, united to my coat-of-arms, is placed to mark the time of the creation of the shrine.It is customary in the Church to express the time of the creation of sacred art and sacred architecture by placing the coat-of-arms of the Roman pontiff or diocesan bishop of the time in some fitting place on the work of art or architecture.

Rite of blessing of the shrine and the enthronement
At the conclusion of the offering of the Holy Mass on June 17, we will go in procession to the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the procession, we will all pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.Having arrived at the shrine, I will invite all present to make an act of faith and of reparation for our sins by praying together the Apostles’ Creed. After the praying of the Apostles’ Creed, the shrine and, most especially, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be blessed, asking that all who come to the shrine and venerate the image be given the grace of growing in likeness of Christ.The blessing of the image constitutes the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the cathedral basilica and in the whole archdiocese.

The enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the cathedral basilica is done in union with all the faithful who have enthroned or will enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their homes and places of business and other important places of their daily lives.More deeply, it represents the enthronement of Christ in our hearts by the placing of our hearts into His glorious pierced Heart in faith, in reparation for our sins and in love of Him Who loves us immeasurably and without end.

It is my hope that the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the cathedral basilica will be the occasion for all who have already enthroned the Sacred Heart to renew their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and will inspire those who have not yet enthroned the Sacred Heart to do so.The booklet for the preparation and celebration of the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home, in parishes, schools and other institutions is available through the Office of Sacred Worship.Any questions regarding the enthronement and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus may be referred to Father Thomas G. Keller, who is the priest responsible for promoting the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the archdiocese.

Act of consecration

The act of consecration will be made by all present.Representatives of families, of priests and deacons, of consecrated persons, of the lay faithful and of young people will pronounce a part of the prayer of consecration.Then, all present will join in the personal act of consecration according to the formula of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whom our Lord favored with private revelations of His Sacred Heart and through whom the devotion to the Sacred Heart has been greatly enriched and promoted in the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI, who frequently makes reference to the pierced side of Jesus and the pierced Heart of Jesus in his homilies and writings, wrote a letter on the Sacred Heart of Jesus to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the issuing of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical letter "Haurietis Aquas." In the letter, directed to the prepositor general of the Society of Jesus, our Holy Father declared:

"By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the encyclical ‘Haurietis Aquas’ exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of His love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it.After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome Him ever better into their lives" (Pope Benedict XVI, "For the 50th Anniversary of ‘Haurietis Aquas’: Sacred Heart devotion builds our faith and love," L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, June 24, 2006, p. 4).

May the blessing of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and the consecration of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the Sacred Heart of Jesus deepen our relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in order that our faith may have new life, and we may welcome our Lord Jesus ever more perfectly into our lives.

The act of consecration is made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.It is made in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model and our first intercessor in placing our hearts totally into the Heart of Jesus.Her Heart was preserved from all sin from the moment of her conception, so that it might be always perfectly in the Heart of Jesus, which was formed by the Holy Spirit under her Immaculate Heart.When we make the act of consecration to the Heart of Jesus, we also consecrate our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.We unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that she may lead us to place our hearts in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, the source of all grace, the source of all our joy and peace.


Once again, I invite you to participate in the Holy Mass at which the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the cathedral basilica will be blessed, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be enthroned, and the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be consecrated anew to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.I ask you also to pray that the blessing of the shrine and the act of consecration of the archdiocese will bear abundant fruits in the daily lives of us all, the fruits of renewed faith, renewed hope and renewed love.

Lastly, if you wish to help with the costs of the preparation and installation of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, please contact Msgr. Joseph D. Pins, rector of the cathedral basilica, at 4431 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108; telephone: (314) 373-8200.Your help is needed and most deeply appreciated.

Through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may our hearts be one with the Heart of Jesus in pure and selfless love!

‘Be not afraid!’


Part Two of "Sacramentum Caritatis," which is titled "The Eucharist, A Mystery To Be Celebrated," examines the many aspects of the celebration of the Mystery of Faith, especially as they relate to the truth of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Father begins Part Two by treating the essential relationship between the law of praying and worshiping (lex orandi) and the law of believing (lex credendi). Clearly, the law of praying and worshiping holds always the first place in the life of faith, for it is directed to the very experience of the Mystery of Faith; it is the personal participation in the saving action of the glorious Christ seated at the right hand of the Father.

Pope Benedict XVI makes two points regarding the relationship of worship and faith, which must always be kept in mind.First of all, "(t)heological reflection in this area can never prescind from the sacramental order instituted by Christ Himself."Secondly, "the liturgical action can never be considered generically, prescinding from the mystery of faith."Without attention to the primary place of the liturgical action, the doctrine of the faith would be unnaturally divorced from the personal, sacramental encounter with Christ that is the source of Catholic faith and its highest expression.At the same time, if the liturgical action is not understood through the eyes of Catholic faith, it risks being seen as a merely human ritual and, thereby, emptied of its deepest significance.Pope Benedict XVI declares: "Our faith and the eucharistic liturgy both have their source in the same event: Christ’s gift of Himself in the Paschal Mystery" (n. 34).

The Sacred Liturgy and beauty

The relationship of faith and worship is seen, in a particular way, in the beauty which is characteristic of both the Catholic faith and Catholic worship.There can be nothing more beautiful, more splendid, than the encounter with God the Son Incarnate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, for the Holy Eucharist is the fullest expression of God’s love of us.The encounter, as all things truly beautiful, attracts us and frees us from the enslavements which keep us from following faithfully our vocation of pure and selfless love.The encounter frees us from all that would mar our beauty as true sons and daughters of God in God the Son.When we meet our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we meet "beauty and splendor at their source" (n. 35).

The Holy Father reflects on how God’s beauty was first revealed by Him in the created world, and then in the wonderful deeds which He accomplished on behalf of His people in the Old Testament.The fullness of divine beauty was revealed in the coming of God the Son into the world in our human flesh."Christ is the full manifestation of the glory of God" (n. 35).

The beauty of God is seen in Christ, not simply in his natural attractiveness but ultimately in His loss of all earthly attractiveness by His cruel Passion and Death.The glory of the Resurrection, the eternal splendor of the Risen Christ, comes by way of His Crucifixion and Death.Christ’s glorious wounds are the fullest manifestation of His unsurpassable beauty, the beauty of unconditional love poured out "to the end" (John 13:1)."Here the splendor of God’s glory surpasses all worldly beauty.The truest beauty is the love of God, Who definitively revealed Himself to us in the Paschal Mystery" (n. 35).

The Sacred Liturgy which makes always present for us the Paschal Mystery is, therefore, a most privileged expression of divine beauty.It is "a glimpse of heaven on earth."The beauty of the Sacred Liturgy is the glorious Christ pouring out His life for our eternal salvation. Our attention to the fittingness and beauty of the various aspects of the Sacred Liturgy is directed to the great manifestation of God Himself in our Lord Jesus Christ, giving Himself to us with unconditional love.

Regarding the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI concludes: "These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendor" (n. 35).In preparing for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and in the celebration itself, we must avoid anything careless, routine, improvised or stingy.In this regard, I am frequently struck by the great sacrifices which our ancestors who first came to this country made in order to build truly beautiful churches and chapels.They had far less materially than we have today, but they understood the beauty which must be employed in everything pertaining to the Sacred Liturgy.

The Sacred Liturgy, the Work of Christ

Christ Himself is at work in the Sacred Liturgy and, therefore, the celebration of the liturgy is beautiful in itself.The whole Christ is at work in the Sacred Liturgy, that is, Christ, the Head of His Mystical Body, and Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church.Regarding the "profound unity between ourselves and the Lord Jesus" in the Holy Eucharist, Pope Benedict quotes a passage from one of his favorite theologians, St. Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine, in a sermon preached to the newly baptized on Easter Sunday in the year 414 or 415, declares:

"The bread you see on the altar, sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ.The chalice, or rather, what the chalice contains, sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.In these signs, Christ the Lord willed to entrust to us His Body and the Blood which He shed for the forgiveness of our sins.If you have received them properly, you yourselves are what you have received" (n. 36).

Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Christ makes ever present the offering of His life for us and makes us one with Him in offering our lives for our brothers and sisters.

The Holy Eucharist is the action of God, "which draws us into Christ through the Holy Spirit" (n.37).The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in its essential elements, remains always the same. It is not subject to changes which we wish to introduce or which are dictated by "the latest trends."Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the words of St. Paul regarding the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.St. Paul makes it clear that he is handing on, not his own creation or invention, but what he received from the Apostles who received it from our Lord Himself.

The Church celebrates the Holy Mass in virtue of our Lord’s command at the Last Supper.The Apostles came to understand the command as they met our Risen Lord in the 40 days after His Resurrection and before His Ascension, and as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the Church on Pentecost Sunday.The Lord’s command is fulfilled, above all, at Sunday Mass. "Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, is also the first day of the week, the day which the Old Testament tradition saw as the beginning of God’s work of creation. The day of creation has now become the day of the "new creation," the day of our liberation, when we commemorate Christ Who died and rose again" (n. 37).

The art of proper celebration

Pope Benedict XVI points out that the bishops at the Synod had frequently insisted upon the relationship between the proper celebration of the Holy Eucharist and "the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful."The Holy Father declares: "The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself."What is the art of celebration?It "is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness, indeed, for 2,000 years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (n. 38).

The art of celebrating necessarily depends upon the discipline of the bishop, priests and deacons who, according to their individual order, celebrate the Sacred Liturgy "as their principal duty" (n.39).The diocesan bishop has the first and most weighty responsibility for the right celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.The diocesan bishop has the responsibility for the correct ordering of the liturgical celebrations in every part of his diocese.

Only those liturgies celebrated in communion with the diocesan bishop are lawful in the diocese.In order to carry out his responsibility for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the diocesan bishop must take care to deepen the understanding of the Holy Eucharist among all of the faithful, so that they may "thereby be led to an active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist."Given the responsibility of the diocesan bishop, Pope Benedict XVI asks "that every effort be made to ensure that the liturgies which the bishop celebrates in his cathedral" respect fully the liturgical norms, "so that they can be considered an example for the entire diocese" (n. 39).

Liturgical norms, and sacred architecture and art
The harmony in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is fostered and safeguarded by the liturgical norms which all are obliged to observe.These norms which pertain to the rite itself, to the liturgical vestments, vessels and linens, and to the church and its furnishings all serve the beauty of the rite which points to Christ Who is the all-beautiful One acting in the rite.

Pope Benedict XVI also indicates the importance of careful attention "to the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colors of the vestments."The creativity required by the art of celebrating has nothing to do with ad hoc innovations or with the totally false notion of making the Sacred Liturgy interesting, as if it were not in itself totally attractive.It is, rather, the attention to the rite itself and to the integrity of the individual elements of the rite, all of which point to the great gift of the Holy Eucharist and all of which invite the minister of the Holy Eucharist to have "a docile openness to receiving this ineffable gift" (n. 40).

The innate beauty of the Sacred Liturgy demands special attention to the works of art, which serve the act of worship.The architecture of the church or chapel, in which the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated, "should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo and the celebrant’s chair."The architecture of a church or chapel must be truly sacred, that is, "a fitting space for the celebration of the mysteries of the faith, especially the Eucharist."Sacred architecture should assist the faithful gathered for worship to recognize their own identity as the "living stones of the Church (cf.1 Peter 2:5)" (n. 41).

The sacred art employed in the Church should be directed to a deeper understanding of the sacraments as the privileged means by which Christ pours forth the grace of the Holy Spirit into our souls.Since priests have the responsibility for the choice and disposition of sacred art in our churches and chapels, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that "it is essential that the education of seminarians and priests include the study of art history, with special reference to sacred buildings and the corresponding liturgical norms."Everything which is at the service of the Eucharistic Sacrifice "should be marked by beauty." Closely connected to the beauty of the sacred art, the paintings and sculptures and stained glass, is the beauty of the vestments, the vessels and the furniture, which should "foster awe for the mystery of God, manifest the unity of faith and strengthen devotion" (n. 41).

Sacred music

Sacred music has always had a most important part to play in the Church’s worship. Pope Benedict XVI, once again, quotes St. Augustine who rightly observes that "the new man sings a new song," the song of God’s immeasurable love of us in Jesus Christ and our love of God, in return.Down the Christian centuries, the Church has developed a rich patrimony of music composed for the Sacred Liturgy, composed to lift up our minds and hearts to the great Mystery of Faith."This heritage must not be lost" (n. 42).

Regarding the music employed in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, our Holy Father notes that "one song is not as good as another." Care must be taken so that the music, both in its form and content, respects the sublime reality of the Sacred Liturgy.Sacred music must be at the service of the liturgical celebration and, therefore, must be "well integrated into the overall celebration.""Consequently, everything — texts, music, execution — ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons" (n. 42).

Finally, an altogether special esteem must be shown toward Gregorian Chant, which is the form of music composed exclusively for sacred worship.Gregorian Chant is sacred music par excellence.Pope Benedict XVI notes that, "while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions," he, "in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers," desires "that Gregorian Chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy" (n.42).


Part Two of "Sacramentum Caritatis" continues with a consideration of four more aspects of the Holy Eucharist as "a mystery to be celebrated," namely, 1) the structure of the Eucharistic celebration; 2) active, full and fruitful participation; 3) interior participation in the celebration; and 4) adoration and Eucharistic devotion.Next week’s column will study the first of these aspects: the structure of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

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