See the Eucharist as real presence and live faith fully, Pope says in exhortation
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY, Mar. 13, 2007 (www.catholic.org) - Catholics must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, celebrate the liturgy with devotion and live in a way that demonstrates their faith, Pope Benedict XVI said.
In a 31,000-word apostolic exhortation, “Sacramentum Caritatis” (“The Sacrament of Charity”), Pope Benedict said “the celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near to God's love and to persevere in that love."
The exhortation, dated Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, serves as the final document of the Oct. 2 – 23, 2005, world Synod of Bishops. The document, was released by the Vatican press office on March 13. It has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish.
When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he did not simply thank God for the ways he had acted throughout history to save people, the pope said. Rather, Jesus revealed that he himself was the sacrifice that would bring salvation to fulfillment, he added.
"The institution of the Eucharist demonstrates how Jesus' death, for all its violence and absurdity, became in him a supreme act of love and mankind's definitive deliverance from evil," Pope Benedict wrote.
Celebrating the Eucharist, he said, "the church is able to celebrate and adore the mystery of Christ" who is present in the bread and wine through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In addition to offering a spiritual reflection on the meaning of the Eucharist, the liturgy and eucharistic adoration, Pope Benedict made several concrete suggestions for further study and for celebrating the Mass in the Latin rite:
- While he encouraged wider knowledge and use of the Mass prayers in Latin and of Gregorian chant, he also repeated the synod's affirmation of the "beneficial influence" of the liturgical changes made by the Second Vatican Council on the life of the church.
However, he also endorsed the synod's suggestion that at Masses with a large, international congregation, the liturgy be celebrated in Latin "with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful."
- He encouraged bishops' conferences, in collaboration with the Vatican, to examine their practices for the order and timing of the sacraments of Christian initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.