Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sharing Eucharist

Some time ago, I mentioned a strange terminology which is emerging in liberal liturgical circles. It is the trend to drop "the" off the front of "Eucharist". So after going from "celebrating Mass" to "celebrating the Eucharist", we now find it's "celebrating Eucharist" or "sharing Eucharist". This is incredibly problematic for me. First of all it pushes to completion the error that many people in the Church have today about the Eucharist as primarily a meal. We now have Eucharist in the same way as we have lunch or dinner. We share Eucharist in the same way that we share a meal together. The order of the words similarly pushes this concept as the first emphasis is on sharing, not the Eucharist.

This is serious heresy creeping into our churches, schools and seminaries. A couple of years ago I attended a school Mass for an inner city Catholic School. The order of service was a real shocker in that the Liturgy of the Word was explained as "we sit down and share stories" and the Liturgy of the Eucharist was "we now have a meal together". For one thing, this is not how you explain things to teenage boys, and because of that the Church has a huge credibility gap, and eventually those boys will discard Catholicsm when they leave school. All Catholic schools seem to have these kinds of liturgies (even reading the magazine from the school that I attended), and fool themselves that the boys (and probably girls) are enjoying it. Well from my experience NO.

The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium is very clear on the priorities in the sacred Liturgy:

To accomplish so great a work Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the Cross" (Trent session 22) but especially in the Eucharistic species. By this power he is present in the sacraments so that that when anybody baptises it is really Christ himself who baptises. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised "where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them".

So the priorities according to SC are:

  1. the real presence

  2. the priesthood

  3. the sacraments

  4. the Word

  5. the community.

Now 40 years later these priorities have been inverted totally. If the local Church keeps pushing this path, I believe the Church of Brisbane is doomed to near extinction. This is why proper celebrations like the recent Corpus Christi are important for the church to survive.

The Creed of the People of God

I was impressed that it is coming up to the 40th anniversary of the Motu Proprio by Pope Paul VI on the "Credo of the People of God" or Solemni Hac Liturgia promulgated on 30 June 1968. There is a very good article on Chiesa about how it evolved. The key affirmations on the Eucharist are as follows and succinctly summarises my beliefs.

Sacrifice of Calvary
24. We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.

25. Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.

26. The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.

Maybe, like the Nicene Creed that this is based on, we should recite this in our churches on Sundays?

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