Friday, July 08, 2005

"Eucharist with dignity"

So says the Synod of Bishop's working document on the Eucharist. CNS has the STORY Among the reports findings:
The document repeatedly called for balance in how the Eucharist is celebrated: times for song, verbal prayer and quiet; adherence to liturgical norms that are the same all over the world and the use of local cultural elements such as songs and gestures; and prayers and readings in the local language and in Latin, especially for international celebrations.

While experience varies around the world, the key problem identified was a decreasing awareness among Catholics of the obligation and benefits of attending the liturgy and receiving the Eucharist every Sunday.

In addition, it said, too many people seem to be unaware of the importance of receiving the Eucharist only when they are in a "state of grace," having received the sacrament of penance after having committed a serious sin.

"Belonging to the church is the basis for admittance to the sacraments," it said. "No one can approach the Eucharist without having first received baptism; no one can return to the Eucharist without first having received the sacrament of penance."
Here's what I found interesting:
The document said bishops around the world felt the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were overwhelmingly positive, although some misunderstandings and abuses have occurred in how the council's teachings were interpreted and put into practice.

Among the concerns, it listed the loss of a sense of the sacred and a diminished understanding of the Eucharist as Christ's sacrifice on the altar, with the result that many people think the community praying together makes Jesus present in the Eucharist rather than acknowledging that in the sacrament Jesus gives himself under the forms of bread and wine.
When we forget the miracle of the Eucharist, we lose our Catholic identity in a practical way. Jesus is truly present in that consecrated host. We become a part of his one sacrifice for all. We receive him. This unique gift represents the fullness of communion that God wants for all of us. How can we let that slip away?

I'm encouraged that the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican address these important issues. I hope that the USCCB in particular responsibly carries the message of the Synod forward and works to see that their reccommendations are put into practice. Now more than ever Catholics must evangelize the cultures in which they live. A complete understanding and appropriate celebration of the Eucharist will more fully unite Catholics to each other and to God. This union serves their discipleship and will serve their evangelization of a drowning world. All of us stand too much to lose should the USCCB fail to make this happen.

Pray that the shepards of America rise to the occasion. Pray that we all do our part to see that take place.