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Vol. XI, May 2005

 

“Corpus Domini … celebrated with particular prominence” (Benedict XVI)

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…!” Let us welcome our Holy Father Benedict XVI as the one whom Jesus sent (cf. Jn 13:20), and assure him of our filial love and obedience. Should he not be able to count on our obedience as God counts on that of His angels? And here is his first petition and its explanation:

How very significant it is that my pontificate begins while the Church is living the special Year dedicated to the Eucharist. …The Eucharist, heart of Christian life and source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but constitute the permanent center and the source of the Petrine service that has been entrusted to me. The Eucharist renders the risen Christ constantly present, Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate at the table of His Body and His Blood. From full communion with Him flows every other element of the life of the Church …In this year, therefore, the solemnity of Corpus Domini must be celebrated with particular prominence. …I ask all to intensify over the next months their love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and to express in a courageous and clear way their faith in the Lord’s real presence, above all through the solemnity and correctness of the celebrations. I ask this in a special way of priests, whom I am thinking of at this moment with great affection. The ministerial priesthood was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. “The life of a priest [must] be ‘shaped’ by the Eucharist,” he wrote in his last letter for Holy Thursday (1). To this purpose contributes first of all the devoted daily celebration of the Holy Mass, center of the life and mission of every priest.”                      (Message to the Cardinals, n. 4, April 20, 2005)

1. As the angels in heaven…

Our point in the last reflection was this: As the angels have Jesus present in heaven, so we stand in His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. And consequently, as they honor Him in heaven, so do we want to give Him here on earth in the Holy Eucharist the greatest glory possible. Further, as they in their loving adoration are filled with burning zeal for the “glory of God”, so Eucharistic adoration should inflame in us the fervent zeal for Him, His kingdom, His glorification, and the desire to conquer for Him as many souls as possible.

The holy angels are pure spirits. This easily surpasses our comprehension of them and, consequently, has repercussions on our relationship with them. The holy angels do not just believe in God, but they already enjoy the beatific vision of God! They do not just give God the due respect, but they adore Him which means they give Him the necessary honor and glory. They do not just see God, but also love Him with a supreme, fully actuated love. This total perception of God brings with it that they want all creatures glorify Him and find their beatitude in this union with God.

They know through experience, that all creatures, as they are created by and for God, will not find their fulfillment except “arriving home” in the beatific vision of the Creator! And this knowledge is everything but merely theoretical. It permeates their entire purely spiritual being. They know this and like it, and are therefore moved as far as it depends on them to make Him known to all creatures and to show them their real goal of existence. The angels of God are willing to preach and to awaken the faith in all men and enlighten their minds. We have often seen this confirmed in Divine Revelation (cf. the Circulars since Oct. 2004), so much so, that they are almost exclusively perceived in this function, as messengers, which gave them the name “angels”.

2. The Mother of God, the “Eucharistic Woman”

In Our Lady we find the same reaction which we observed with the holy angels: As His mother she drew so near to her Lord that she “arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39) to bring to her cousin the Lord’s love, not with words alone, but through deeds of love first and then through thanks and praise of God. And how often do we find her, since then, during the entire history of the Church, acting in the same way as the Angel Gabriel did in her life! The Marian sanctuaries are Eucharistic sanctuaries. In Lourdes, many miracles occur during Benediction of her Son, present in the Most Holy Eucharist. Many of her sanctuaries are characterized by Perpetual Adoration, sacramental Confessions and the Eucharist Sacrifice. The Mother, selflessly surrendered in her purity, supports all the prayers of the faithful with her humility and presents them to her Son with her total love of God.

In this way, heaven and earth, angels and Mary are united. John Paul II therefore asked us in his last message to priests again: “Who more than Mary can help us taste the greatness of the Eucharistic mystery?” (Holy Thursday 2005, 8).

“Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it. …Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 53).

3. “Intensify…love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist”

We who are devoted to the holy angels and “serving humbly after the example of MARY” (Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Angels) must not be at peace till we have announced these great things to all who are willing to hear: God is merciful love, the heavenly Father waits for each single one! “We must be enlivened by a holy restlessness” (Card. Ratzinger, Homily, April 19, 2005).

a) “Both private and public devotion toward the Eucharist”  

The Holy Father referred already to concrete occasions of Eucharistic devotion in this year, “the solemnity of Corpus Domini…[which] must be celebrated with particular prominence. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of the World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the theme: ‘The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church’.” The intensification of our “love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist” should find its expression “above all through the solemnity and correctness of the celebrations”, but also through the “Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass” (Roman Ritual). This helps to deepen our faith and love towards Jesus (cf. for the following: The Roman Ritual. Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, 79-112, Cath. Book Publishing, New York, 1976, pp. 64-77). The Holy Mass is the highest act of adoration, thanksgiving, expiation and petition. The Church “strongly encourages devotion outside Mass”, visits and prolonged adoration, Eucharistic processions and Congresses. “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments” (St. Alphonsus cited in EdE, 25; cf. CCC 1378-80). Processions are occasions to “be a witness of Christ in the midst of human society” (Ritual, 81), and Congresses serve “as a special manifestation of Eucharistic worship” (ibid., 109).

b) “…the Solemnity of Corpus Domini…with particular prominence”  

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is at hand. A Eucharistic Congress, even on a parochial level, is a particularly prominent form of its celebration, namely by preparing for it some days before and deepening each of its four dimensions. The Ritual gives concrete instructions about its celebration also on the level of “an individual local church” (109; cf. 109-112). All should be directed toward “the celebration of the Eucharist [as] the true center”. Therefore, there should take place:

—“extended adoration in the presence of the blessed Sacrament exposed” publicly, for example, during the day;

—“catechetical meetings and public conferences” on the Blessed Sacrament to deepen the faith and lead to thanksgiving for such a grace of God; as themes and material the six chapters of the Encyclical on the Eucharist might serve; for homilies, the seven titles in the Catechism (CCC 1322-1420); to treat about liturgy the mentioned Ritual would serve, part one of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy in general, and for the “Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ” particularly the numbers 160-165 and 175-179 of part two; further, the liturgical Instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ (2004) and the third edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2003);

—sufficient opportunity for individual Confession to help us grow in the mystery of expiation of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and

—a common Holy Hour with prayers, readings, litanies and songs, the Rosary or parts thereof (cf. Mane nobiscum Domine, 9 and 18), silence and parts of the Liturgy of the Hours (cf. Ritual 89-90, 95-96; Indulgence for this year) give the faithful opportunity to present to God their manifold petitions, which in the Holy Mass are taken by Jesus to the Father.

These elements can easily fit into a daily program beginning, for example, with the Holy Sacrifice itself, continuing with adoration and Confessions, and concluding in the evening with a Holy Hour and conference. The solemn public Eucharistic Procession with the active participation of the whole parish should conclude such a Eucharistic Triduum or week or novena, even more so if it is right before the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (cf. Ritual, 101-108). This will be a public confession of the entire community of the faithful in the real sacramental presence of Jesus among us in this world.

4. Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

The awareness of the presence of the Eucharistic Jesus with His glorious Body meditated last month draws us in a special way to Him. First we ourselves have to be convinced personally that He is there, but as Our Lord and God, as the Victor over sin and evil and the devil. There, near Him, is the best place for those who have fallen to renew their faith and confidence, to gain the grace of repentance, to reassume the daily struggle with themselves, to look for the priestly representatives of Jesus in order to find peace in His forgiveness. And there, those who love Him, find their most joyful and re-creative time, time with the Beloved. There, with Him, all find His mother; there with Him we find His servants, the holy angels.

“May we be helped above all by the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose whole life incarnated the meaning of the Eucharist. ‘The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy Mystery’… In this Year of grace, sustained by Mary, may the Church discover new enthusiasm for her mission and come to acknowledge ever more fully that the Eucharist is the source and summit of her entire life” (MnD, 31).

Should we priests, with the help of the holy angels, not lead a God-centered life and become Eucharistic Priests? Do we not have every reason to be always in a festive mood because of our life in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, Whom we meet so personally in the daily Holy Mass, the high point of our days, even of our “day off”!

Fr. Titus Kieninger ORC