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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Synod: excerpts from thirteenth and fourteenth sessions
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 On Monday afternoon, the Twelfth General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist was held in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of 242 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, and the Pope attended for the free discussions at the end of the gathering. Excerpts from some of the speeches follow CARDINAL IVAN DIAS, ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY, INDIA. "In the Synod sessions, among the many shadows in our Church today, the decreasing numbers of churchgoers, the waning interest in sacramental Confession, and the lack of catechesis has been mentioned. These problems have been in the Church always, albeit in different ways. On the other hand, the Church has also had persons who have tackled such situations in ways which can inspire us even today. Everyone knows of the saintly Cure of Ars and great apostle of the confessional, John Mary Vianney, and of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the brilliant speaker who reached millions of people through his television and radio broadcasts, The secret of their resounding success was the many hours they spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. They could well be role models for priests and bishops today. There is a Chinese proverb which says: instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle. As we are immersed in the darkness of spiritual and moral ills all around us, would it not be wonderful if bishops and priests all over the world would spend an hour in praise and worship before the Blessed Sacrament everyday interceding for themselves, for the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care and for the needs of the whole Church? Their flocks would certainly be edified and encouraged at seeing their shepherds practising what they preach on devotion to the Blessed Eucharist." CARDINAL JULIAN HERRANZ, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR LEGISLATIVE TEXTS. "Humanity has no right before God to receive the Eucharist, precisely because this is an act of infinite generosity and mercy. But once God has given the sacraments to the Church for the good of His people, all the faithful enjoy the following right formulated by ... canon 912: 'Any baptised person who is not forbidden by law may and must be admitted to Holy Communion.' ... We are dealing here with a fundamental right but not, as some think, an absolute one. There are, in fact, personal requirements limiting that right. The need of a state of grace to receive Holy Communion, which the people concerned must judge for themselves, also has certain external manifestations that make demands on Pastors. There are cases where ... outward conduct is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, and impedes access to Eucharistic communion. The norm concerns many irregular situations; all of them, however, are to be handled with loving patience and pastoral solicitude, in order to regularise them and prevent any of the faithful distancing themselves from the Church - or even considering themselves excommunicated - by the simple fact of not being able to receive communion. ... Perhaps we should be more sensitive to the reasonable requests of the faithful who express their 'hunger for the Eucharist.' In fact, many of them complain of the difficulty of finding a confessor, even where priests are not lacking in the parish; they point out liturgical abuses and trivialising desecration of Eucharistic celebrations; they suffer because, contrary to canonical norms on public worship, churches are always closed except during community celebrations, and people cannot remain in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, etc. Since justice consists in giving each their rights ('unicuique suum tribuere'), we ask our Lady - 'Speculum Iustitiae' - to help us guarantee our lay brothers and sisters the exercise of their rights: for the good of their souls, but also for the apostolic vigour of the entire People of God." BISHOP JOHANNES GERARDUS MARIA VON BURGSTEDEN S.S.S., AUXILIARY OF HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS. "To bring the Eucharistic celebration nearer to modern man, I feel that, at the least, the following three points are important. Firstly, catechesis continues around the centre and summit of our faith, and thus, catechesis has to be a Eucharistic catechesis. A Eucharistic catechesis is, by its very nature, a Christocentric catechesis. He Himself is the heart and the summit of our faith. ... Secondly, the dignified celebration of the Eucharist deserves our attention. Here, both celebrants and the faithful have a great responsibility. By a dignified celebration I mean one that faithfully follows the rules and regulations. This aside, it must be affirmed that real dignity resides, in the final instance, in the interior disposition of both the faithful and the celebrants. ... Thirdly and finally, I would like to mention adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament. I believe - and it is certainly the case in my own area - that Eucharistic worship is becoming increasingly limited to Eucharistic celebration. ... Eucharistic fasting, the solemn exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament, but also silent adoration in front of the tabernacle, can be a great help in encouraging our desire to unite ourselves with Christ." FR. JOHN CORRIVEAU O.F.M. Cap., MINISTER GENERAL OF THE FRANCISCAN ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR (CAPUCHINS). "Our age needs to rediscover awe. St. Francis calls us back to awe - to surprise and amazement at how God is constantly taking the initiative in our regard. This is vital for those of us who live in a culture where nothing amazes us any more because everything is the product of human planning and organisation. Humanity appears as the product of its own experimentations, leaving no room for surprise and novelty. ... It is important that the Christian community rediscover the profound link between the Eucharistic mystery and the circumstances of everyday life, starting from fraternal relationships and broadening out to embrace the whole of creation. Thus arises the circular movement inherent in the Christian life: the Eucharist will impel us to form fraternal relationships in the Church, in society and with the whole creation. Work for the promotion of a true brotherhood/sisterhood of peace among people and for the protection of creation will encourage us to recognise in the Eucharist the only adequate foundation for our life and action." BISHOP ALFREDO VICTOR PETIT VERGEL OF SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA HABANA, CUBA. "In spite of the lack of priests, we have enormous esteem for the Eucharist and it is celebrated with great respect for liturgical norms. However, faced with the difficulty and the practical impossibility of constructing new churches, we have what are known as 'prayer houses' or 'mission houses' located in suburbs, in small villages and in country homes where each week, or as often as they can, small groups of faithful, not more than 40, gather together under the guidance of a committed lay person, a religious or a deacon. The priest comes to these houses and Mass is celebrated with great devotion and respect for liturgical norms, care being taken to ensure sacramental Confession for those who ... wish to participate in the Eucharistic bread." BISHOP KARL-HEINZ WIESEMANN, AUXILIARY OF PADERBORN, GERMANY. "In spite of secularism, our times are pervaded by deep and mystical nostalgia. Yet, are we capable of celebrating the Eucharist in such a way that men and women who seek are attracted by its mystery? The highest form of the presence of the Lord, which we can best define by the concepts of real presence and transubstantiation, is revealed for St. Thomas, in his famous hymn 'Adoro te devote, latens deitas,' ... as the highest form of sacramental concealment. There is no reference here to modern scepticism, but to the exact opposite: the opening of a dialectic of 'seeking to find' and of 'finding to seek.' ... This mystical dimension must also be expressed in the way in which we talk about and celebrate the Eucharist. Only in this way can the Eucharist show itself to be effective as the one true answer to the mystical yearning of our times, because it introduces man to a deep loving relationship with Christ, and so to the mystery of the One and Triune God, making him a participant therein. Hence, we must emphasise gestures and liturgical forms that also express what is concealed, perceptible only in silence." On Tuesday morning, in the presence of the Holy Father, the Thirteenth General Congregation of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in the Vatican. There were 241 Synod Fathers present, and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez. Excerpts from some of the speeches follow: CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, SECRETARY OF STATE. "All of the Eucharistic liturgy leads us to reinforcing the bonds of unity between us. For this reason, the prayer for the Pope is important, which is present in every Mass; the prayer for the bishop is important, pastor of the particular church where the Eucharist is celebrated; and the embrace of peace among those present is important, to heal any disunity that may exist in local communities. Yet there are often many divisions between us, the ministers of the Lord, in religious institutes, and in dioceses with different ethnic groups. The Eucharist is always an invitation to the unity of all the disciples of Christ; indeed, it is always an agent of unity, due to the unifying grace it communicates to us. However, a delicate problem is the attitude we must show towards our separated brothers who wish to participate in the Eucharist celebrated in our Holy Church. ... I would like to recall that, to favour unity with our separated brothers, we must not be divided ourselves. And a sure way to avoid division is faithfulness to the existing discipline of the Church. ... Paragraph 45 of the last Encyclical by the late Pope John Paul II 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' recalls: 'While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an inter-communion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established'." BISHOP CZESLAW KOZON OF COPENHAGEN, DENMARK. "The countries of the Northern Episcopal Conference constitute a vast territory of the diaspora, with approximately 200,000 Catholics scattered over different nations, with a greater concentration in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. These countries are prevalently Lutheran, although largely and in differing degrees secularised. One of the main challenges is represented by the great geographical distances. Despite this, in the majority of parishes, celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday is possible, with a participation of about 20 - 30 percent of the faithful. Even if the number of priests is relatively high in relation to the number of believers, this is a minimum requirement, given the large distances. ... Most people have an authentic understanding of the Eucharist, however we must, through catechesis, place a more profound emphasis on the aspect of mystery and the sacrificial nature of Mass. Catholics in northern countries also face the challenge of uniting faith and life, so that participation in the Eucharist may lead them to a life of commitment in the Church and in society. The practice of Confession also leaves much to be desired. Nonetheless, hardly any serious liturgical abuses can be found. ... From an ecumenical point of view, despite a generally positive atmosphere, the Catholic Church has noticed an increase in incomprehension concerning the question of inter-communion. The Catholic point of view on this is considered backward by other Christians, and this opinion is unfortunately also shared by some Catholics. We would also like to recall the painful situation of the many divorced and remarried Catholics who cannot take part in communion." ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN OF DUBLIN, IRELAND. "In a society marked by increased secularisation there is need to give much greater place in our catechesis and in our parishes to formation in faith. In so many of our communities today we can no longer presume faith. The seed of faith needs nourishment, not just in the early years of the life of the Christian in the traditional catechesis of young people, but at every stage in life. The rapidity of social change means that faith formation of adults is more and more urgent to accompany them as they try, day by day and year by year, to live their Christian commitment in a changing world. The lay person imbued with Eucharistic spirit will be present in the realities of the secular world with a capacity to look towards the values that endure and to indicate the foundations of a hope which springs from a recognition of Eucharist as revelation and presence in our midst of God's gratuitous love for us in Jesus Christ who gave Himself up for us." BISHOP EDWARD GABRIEL RISI O.M.I., OF KEIMOES-UPINGTON, SOUTH AFRICA. "In the conference area of Southern Africa we have discovered that the role of the small faith-based community is essential in the preparation for and the celebration of the liturgy, and also the place where the gift of the Spirit is lived out. ... However, because of the shortage of priests, there are many communities who only celebrate Mass once a month, or once every two months. ... We notice that the most sacred part of the liturgy, the Eucharistic prayer, is the least attractive part of the Sunday liturgy. Although it is the central part of the Eucharist, the climax, it has proved to be the anti-climax. The priest does it alone, and the laity move from active to passive participation. We would propose that there be some form of responsorial participation which allows the people to participate more actively than simply by a respectful silence. We are not proposing that the role of the celebrant be diminished but rather that the people be given a role by which they support the celebrant and enhance their participation." BISHOP GABRIEL MBILINGI C.S.Sp., OF LWENA, ANGOLA. "More than five centuries have passed since the Gospel arrived in Angola. The country has a Christian majority. ... With such a high percentage of Christians, and in particular of Catholics, we must ask ourselves why did we experience so many years of civil war? The Masses in which so many Christians participated, what fruit have they brought? Why is the weight not felt of Catholics who occupy important positions in politics and in other social activities? These are legitimate though provocative questions. Insistence must be placed on the personal and ecclesial meaning of the Eucharist with reference to moral life, sanctity and mission in the world. From Eucharistic communion should arise a moral commitment that is a source of life to overcome sin, in the search for truth, rectitude of conscience and the testimony of the evangelical values that were thrown into darkness by the war. During catechesis, we must insist on the link between the Eucharist and the building of a just society, through everyone's personal responsibility to active participation in the Church's mission in the world." BISHOP LEON MALY, AUXILIARY OF LVIV OF THE LATINS, UKRAINE. "We must seek an ever more profound participation in Mass. On this subject, it must be said that Vatican Council II, in the Constitution 'Sacrosanctum Concilium,' also suggested the same thing. Paragraph 55 of that document reads: 'That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is trongly commended.' This is by no means a new suggestion, it was present also at the Council of Trent. ... Forty years after Vatican Council II, it would seem that this indication ... has not yet been fully understood. At times the host is not consecrated for the faithful, but taken from the tabernacle which is kept full of already-consecrated hosts. However, the Conciliar Fathers' suggestion contains a profound sign of the Church, her dimension as People of God, and of Christ's Mystical Body. The People of God are gathered around the altar, whence they receive the Body of Christ." Source: VIS
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