January 31, 2016Download the Bulletin as a PDF
In the Fall we began a series on the Sacred Liturgy. In February of 2007 Pope Benedict XVI published an exhortation following the Synod of Bishops that had taken place in 2006. It is called Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity):
20. The Synod Fathers rightly stated that a love for the Eucharist leads to a growing appreciation of the sacrament of Reconciliation (Cf. Pope St. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 17 April 2003, 36). Given the connection between these sacraments, an authentic catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist must include the call to pursue the path of penance (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin (Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 2 December 1984, 18) and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385). The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God’s love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God’s mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful.
(For example, the Confiteor, or the words of the priest and people before receiving Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Not insignificantly does the liturgy also prescribe certain very beautiful prayers for the priest, handed down by tradition, which speak of the need for forgiveness, as, for example, the one recited quietly before inviting the faithful to sacramental communion: “By the mystery of your body and blood, free me from all my sins and from every evil. Keep me always faithful to your teachings and never let me be parted from you.”)
Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism. For this reason, Reconciliation, as the Fathers of the Church would say, is laboriosus quidam baptismus (a laborious kind of baptism); they thus emphasized that the outcome of the process of conversion is also the restoration of full ecclesial communion, expressed in a return to the Eucharist.
God bless you!
Rev. Christopher J. Pollard