Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Mass, Unconfined (5) - Supporting Texts

In anticipation of the 49th international Eucharistic Congress held in Quebec in 2008, a Basic Theological Document was prepared under the direction of Cardinal Marc Ouellet. During the congress, nearly 400 delegates participated in reflection workshops whose considerations, taken up by a special committee, gave rise to a document entitled Reflection and recommendations. Here are some excerpts from these two documents.

Basic Theological Document

  • The Church, the risen Lord’s partner, lives because of this gift of God and, united to Jesus Christ, the high priest, gives this gift to humanity. The world benefits from the love of Christians and the Church’s worship that glorifies God by interceding for the world. Whether the Church dialogues with God in worship or in her mission to the world, the Church does not live for herself, but for the one who came “that they may have life, and have it abundantly”
  • The Church witnesses among humanity to the gift given for the life of the world. Thus the Eucharist is an ongoing challenge to the quality of life and love that the disciples of Christ experience. What have I done for my brother or sister? What have you done for me? “I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, in prison” (See Matthew 25.31-46). Is what we celebrate compatible with our social, familial, racial and ethnic relationships, with our political and economic life?
  • We consider the paschal mystery as the central event of human history; celebrating its memorial discloses our inconsistency each time we tolerate some form of misery, injustice, violence, exploitation, racism, or lack of freedom.
  • The Eucharist summons Christians to participate in the ongoing restoration of the human condition and the world’s plight; if we do not do this, then we are invited seriously to live the gospel call to conversion, “leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5.23-24).

Reflection and Recommendations

  • The development of a Eucharistic spirituality must be encouraged in all baptized persons. This spirituality links the liturgical action of the Mass – prolonged in Eucharistic worship outside of Mass – to Christian commitment at the heart of the world. It is fully centred on the paschal mystery accomplished once and for all in Jesus and continuously actualized in the Church of all time.
  • True Eucharistic spirituality is present when the celebration of the Mass engages the full participation of all the baptized – internal as well as external participation – and when the desire to give glory to God is combined with a strong awareness of the world he invites us to transform.
  • For our celebrations and our prayer to be real, they must send us on mission to the world by inspiring, nourishing and supporting our Christian commitment at the heart of the world.

The Mass, Unconfined (4) - Supporting Texts

The XIth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome in 2005 under the theme: “The Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church”. Inspired by the reflections and recommendations expressed during the synod, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a post-synodal exhortation entitled "The Sacrament of Charity". Here are some excerpts of his text.

  • The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church's life, but also of her mission: "an authentically eucharistic Church is a missionary Church."… At the Last Supper, Jesus entrusts to his disciples the sacrament which makes present his self-sacrifice for the salvation of us all, in obedience to the Father's will. We cannot approach the eucharistic table without being drawn into the mission which, beginning in the very heart of God, is meant to reach all people. Missionary outreach is thus an essential part of the eucharistic form of the Christian life. (no 84)
  • The wonder we experience at the gift God has made to us in Christ gives new impulse to our lives and commits us to becoming witnesses of his love. We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, Another makes himself present. (no 85)
  • Each celebration of the Eucharist makes sacramentally present the gift that the crucified Lord made of his life, for us and for the whole world. In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God's compassion towards all our brothers and sisters… Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become "bread that is broken" for others, and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world. (no 88)
  • Precisely because of the mystery we celebrate, we must denounce situations contrary to human dignity, since Christ shed his blood for all, and at the same time affirm the inestimable value of each individual person. (no 89)
  • Finally, to develop a profound eucharistic spirituality that is also capable of significantly affecting the fabric of society, the Christian people, in giving thanks to God through the Eucharist, should be conscious that they do so in the name of all creation, aspiring to the sanctification of the world and working intensely to that end. (no 92)