Pages 13 – 15 ……… LETTER DOMINICAE CENAE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II TO ALL THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH ON THE MYSTERY AND WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARIST with implications for Interchurch Families
LETTER DOMINICAE CENAE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II
TO ALL THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH ON THE MYSTERY AND WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARIST
The entire letter can be found at this Vatican Website link:
Excerpts from this document follow:
Eucharist and Church 4. Thanks to the Council we have realized with renewed force the following truth: Just as the Church “makes the Eucharist” so “the Eucharist builds up” the Church(16); …
And carrying out this command of His, they entered for the first time into sacramental communion with the Son of God, a communion that is a pledge of eternal life.
From that moment until the end of time, the Church is being built up through that same communion with the Son of God, a communion which is a pledge of the eternal Passover….
Eucharist and Charity
5. Before proceeding to more detailed observations on the subject of the celebration of the holy Sacrifice, I wish briefly to reaffirm the fact that eucharistic worship constitutes the soul of all Christian life. In fact, Christian life is expressed in the fulfilling of the greatest commandment, that is to say, in the love of God and neighbor, and this love finds its source in the blessed Sacrament, which is commonly called the sacrament of love…..
Eucharist and Neighbor
6. The authentic sense of the Eucharist becomes of itself the school of active love for neighbor. We know that this is the true and full order of love that the Lord has taught us: “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”(25)
The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deeper way; it shows us, in fact, what value each person, our brother or sister, has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers Himself equally to each one, under the species of bread and wine.
If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person. The awareness of that dignity becomes the deepest motive of our relationship with our neighbor.
We must also become particularly sensitive to all human suffering and misery, to all injustice and wrong, and seek the way to redress them effectively.
Let us learn to discover with respect the truth about the inner self that becomes the dwelling place of God present in the Eucharist.
Christ comes into the hearts of our brothers and sisters and visits their consciences.
How the image of each and every one changes, when we become aware of this reality, when we make it the subject of our reflections!
The sense of the Eucharistic Mystery leads us to a love for our neighbor, to a love for every human being.(26)….
Eucharist and Life
7. Since therefore the Eucharist is the source of charity, it has always been at the center of the life of Christ’s disciples.
It has the appearance of bread and wine, that is to say of food and drink; it is therefore as familiar to people, as closely linked to their life, as food and drink.
The veneration of God, who is love, springs, in eucharistic worship, from that kind of intimacy in which He Himself, by analogy with food and drink, fills our spiritual being, ensuring its life, as food and drink do.
A Common Possession of the Church 12. We cannot, even for a moment, forget that the Eucharist is a special possession belonging to the whole Church…. The Eucharist is a common possession of the whole Church as the sacrament of her unity…..
CONCLUSION 13. Permit me, venerable and dear brothers, to end these reflections of mine, which have been restricted to a detailed examination of only a few questions. In undertaking these reflections, I have had before my eyes all the work carried out by the Second Vatican Council, and have kept in mind Paul VI’s Encyclical Mysterium Fidei, promulgated during that Council, and all the documents issued after the same Council for the purpose of implementing the post-conciliar liturgical renewal.
A very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church.
The Church not only acts but also expresses herself in the liturgy, lives by the liturgy and draws from the liturgy the strength for her life. For this reason liturgical renewal carried out correctly in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council is, in a certain sense, the measure and the condition for putting into effect the teaching of that Council which we wish to accept with profound faith, convinced as we are that by means of this Council the Holy Spirit “has spoken to the Church” the truths and given the indications for carrying out her mission among the people of today and tomorrow.
We shall continue in the future to take special care to promote and follow the renewal of the Church according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, in the spirit of an ever living Tradition.
In fact, to the substance of Tradition properly understood belongs also a correct re-reading of the “signs of the times, which require us to draw from the rich treasure of Revelation “things both new and old.”(71)
Acting in this spirit, in accordance with this counsel of the Gospel, the Second Vatican Council carried out a providential effort to renew the face of the Church in the sacred liturgy, most often having recourse to what is “ancient,” what comes from the heritage of the Fathers and is the expression of the faith and doctrine of a Church which has remained united for so many centuries.
In order to be able to continue in the future to put into practice the directives of the Council in the field of liturgy, and in particular in the field of eucharistic worship, close collaboration is necessary between the competent department of the Holy See and each episcopal conference, a collaboration which must be at the same time vigilant and creative.
We must keep our sights fixed on the greatness of the most holy Mystery and at the same time on spiritual movements and social changes, which are so significant for our times, since they not only sometimes create difficulties but also prepare us for a new way of participating in that great Mystery of Faith.
Above all I wish to emphasize that the problems of the liturgy, and in particular of the Eucharistic Liturgy, must not be an occasion of dividing Catholics and for threatening the unity of the Church.
This is demanded by an elementary understanding of that sacrament which Christ has left us as the source of spiritual unity.
And how could the Eucharist, which in the Church is the sacramentum pietatis, signum unitatis, vinculum caritatis,(72) form between us at this time a point or division and a source of distortion of thought and of behavior, instead of being the focal point and constitutive center, which it truly is in its essence, of the unity of the Church herself?
We are all equally indebted to our Redeemer. We should all listen together to that spirit of truth and of love whom He has promised to the Church and who is operative in her. In the name of this truth and of this love, in the name of the crucified Christ and of His Mother, I ask you, and beg you: Let us abandon all opposition and division, and let us all unite in this great mission of salvation which is the price and at the same time the fruit of our redemption.
The Apostolic See will continue to do all that is possible to provide the means of ensuring that unity of which we speak. Let everyone avoid anything in his own way of acting which could “grieve the Holy Spirit.”(73)
In order that this unity and the constant and systematic collaboration which leads to it may be perseveringly continued, I beg on my knees that, through the intercession of Mary, holy spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church, we may all receive the light of the Holy Spirit.
And blessing everyone, with all my heart I once more address myself to you, my venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate, with a fraternal greeting and with full trust. In this collegial unity in which we share, let us do all we can to ensure that the Eucharist may become an ever greater source of life and light for the consciences of all our brothers and sisters of all the communities in the universal unity of Christ’s Church on earth.
In a spirit of fraternal charity, to you and to all our confreres in the priesthood I cordially impart the apostolic blessing.
From the Vatican, February 24, First Sunday of Lent, in the year 1980, the second of the Pontificate, presented in excerpted form here. The complete document can be read in its entirety at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_25031993_principles-and-norms-on-ecumenism_en.html
Implications for Interchurch Families:
You may already be very familiar with all of the Vatican Documents that promoted and encourage all of us to pursue a path toward Christian Unity, together as brothers and sisters united by Christ. I was struck by the call to listen; it states, “ We should all listen together to that spirit of truth and of love whom He has promised to the Church and who is operative in her.” It may serve us well if we all took a few moments to linger over what John Paul II is telling us as we all seek to become one community that nurtures diversity within unity.
We would like to hear from you about how your life has been shaped by the ecumenical dialogues and endeavors that were initially inspired by the first documents coming out of Vatican II and which have been reinforced in subsequent documents?
How does the pursuit of Christian Unity affect the way that you live your life?
Please consider sharing the stories of your lived experience of being an interchurch family with the readers of the ARK. ~ M.J. Glauber