Friday, June 12, 2009

On "Being Eucharist!"

With Corpus Christi coming this weekend for most of the global church and the Vatican's Year of the Priest underway next Friday, the Pope's meditation at yesterday's traditional Roman observance is worth taking in along the way to Sunday's feast:

Even the Church risks “a creeping secularism” that caused by “allowing oneself to be overcome by earthly concerns” and which is seen in “a worship of the Eucharist that is formal and empty, celebrations deprived of any form of heartfelt participation that is expressed in veneration of and respect for the liturgy”.

Marking the feast of Corpus Christi Benedict XVI once again warned of the “risk” that the Church runs today. It is a concern that the current Pope has frequently voiced, going back to when he was cardinal and wrote in his reflections for the 2005 Via Crucis: “Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there!’"....

In the Mass... the Pope commented on the words “this is my body, this is my blood”, pronounced by Christ at the Last Supper. They “resound with singular power evoked today, the solemnity of Corpus Domini. It leads us to the Upper Room, helping us relive the spiritual climate of that night, celebrating Passover with his disciples; the Lord through the mystery anticipated the sacrifice that would be consumed the next day on the cross. The institution of the Eucharist thus opens up to us as a Christ’s acceptance of his death”.

That evening “Jesus moreover, showed that through his death God’s close alliance with his people finally became effective. The ancient covenant sanctioned on Sinai by animal sacrifice with the chosen people, who had been freed from slavery in Egypt, and had promised to follow all the commandments given them by the Lord (ref Ex24, 3). In reality, Israel from the very outset through its creating the golden calf, proved itself incapable of keeping faithful with the divine pact, what’s more it would often transgress, adapting the tablets of the Law that was to teach them of life to their own hearts desires. The Lord however, is never found wanting in his promise”.

On the eve of the Year for the Priest, the Pope’s reflection on Corpus Domini, “the yeast of renewal, the bread “broken” for one and all, above all those who are in uneasy situations of poverty, or suffering spiritually or physically”, but above all his thoughts were for the priests.

“I speak to you in particular, my dear priests, who Christ chose so that together with him you can live your live in sacrifice and praise for the salvation of the world. Only through union with Christ will you be able to draw on a spiritual wealth that generates hope for your pastoral ministry. St. Leo Magnus reminds us that our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ only aims to become what we receive’ (Sermo 12, De Passione 3,7, PL 54). If this is true for every Christian, it is to an even greater degree for us priests. Being Eucharist! This must be our constant desire and duty so that the sacrifice of our existence accompanies our offering of the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar. Every day, from the Body and Blood of the Lord we find that free and pure love that renders us worthy ministers of the Christ and witnesses of its joy. It is this that the faithful expect in a priest: the example of an authentic devotion for the Eucharist; they love to see him spend long moments of silence and adoration in front of Jesus as did Saint Curato d' Ars, who we will particularly remember during the imminent Year for Priests”.

If anyone thought yesterday's festivities in Rome were something, just wait: Sunday night's 5.30 Mass at New York's St Patrick's Cathedral will be followed by a Eucharistic procession in the streets around the nation's best-known house of worship, led by the city's new archbishop.