Papal Homily at Opening of Synod
"Lord: Help Us to Be Converted!"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
homily Benedict XVI gave today at the opening Mass of the Synod of
Bishops on the Eucharist, held in St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *
This Sunday's readings, taken from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel,
present us with one of the great images of sacred Scripture: the image
of the vineyard.
In sacred Scripture, bread represents everything man needs for his
daily life. Water gives the earth fertility: It is the fundamental gift
that makes life possible. Wine, on the contrary, expresses the
exquisiteness of creation, it gives us the feast that goes beyond the
limits of daily life: Wine "gladdens the heart."
In this way, wine and with it the vine have also become the image of
the gift of love, in which we can have a certain experience of the
taste of the divine. And so the reading of the prophet, which we just
heard, begins with a canticle of love: God created a vineyard, image of
his history of love with humanity, of his love for Israel which he
The first thought of today's reading is this: God has infused in man,
created in his image, the capacity to love and, consequently, the
capacity to love him, his creator. With the prophet Isaiah's canticle
of love, God wanted to speak to the heart of his people and also to
each one of us.
"I have created you in my image and likeness," he tells us. "I myself
am love and you are my image in the measure that the splendor of love
shines in you, in the measure in which you respond to me with love."
God waits for us. He wants us to love Him: Should not such a call touch
our hearts? Precisely in this hour, in which we celebrate the
Eucharist, in which we open the Synod on the Eucharist, He comes to
meet us, He comes to meet me. Will he find a response? Or will it be
with us as it was with the vineyard, of which God says in Isaiah: "he
looked for it to yield grapes but it yielded wild grapes." Is not our
life often, perhaps, more vinegar than wine? Self-pity, conflict,
In this way, we have come to the second fundamental thought of today's
readings. It speaks above all of the goodness of God's creation and of
the greatness of the election with which he seeks and loves us. But it
also speaks about the history that occurred later, man's failure.
God had planted choice vines and yet they yielded wild grapes. What are
the wild grapes? The good grapes that God expected, says the prophet,
would have consisted in justice and uprightness. Wild grapes on the
contrary are violence, the shedding of blood and oppression, which make
people groan under the yoke of injustice.
In the Gospel, the image changes: The vineyard produces good grapes,
but the tenant winegrowers keep them. They are not willing to give them
to the proprietor. They beat and kill his messengers and kill his son.
Their motivation is simple: They want to become proprietors; they take
what does not belong to them.
In the Old Testament, what appears first of all is the accusation of
the violation of social justice, contempt for man by man. Deep down,
however, one sees that with contempt for the Torah, for the law given
by God, there is contempt for God himself; there is only a desire to
enjoy power itself. This aspect is fully underlined in Jesus' parable:
The tenants do not want to have a master and these tenants serve as a
mirror for us, men, who usurp the creation which has been entrusted to
us to manage.
We want to be the sole owners in the first person. We want to possess
the world and our own life in an unlimited manner. God annoys us or we
make of him a simple devout phrase or deny him altogether, eradicating
him from public life, so that in this way he no longer has any meaning
at all. Tolerance that only admits God as a private opinion, but that
denies him the public domain, the reality of the world and of our life,
is not tolerance but hypocrisy.
Whenever man becomes the only owner of the world and proprietor of
himself there can be no justice. Only the expedient of power and
interests con dominate there. It is true, the son can be expelled from
the vineyard and killed to enjoy selfishly the fruits of the earth. But
then the vineyard soon becomes an uncultivated plot, trampled on by
wild boars, as the responsorial psalm says (cf. Psalm 79:14).
We come to the third element of today's readings. The Lord, in both the
Old and New Testament, announced the judgment of the unfaithful
vineyard. The judgment that Isaiah foresaw has been realized in the
great wars and exiles imposed by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The
judgment, announced by the Lord Jesus, refers above all to the
destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.
But the threat of judgment affects us also, the Church in Europe, the
Church of the West in general. With this Gospel the Lord also cries out
in our ears the words he addressed in Revelation to the Church in
Ephesus: "I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place,
unless you repent" (2:5). The light can also be taken away from us, and
we would do well to allow this warning in all its seriousness to
resonate in our souls, crying out at the same time to the Lord: "Help
us to be converted! Give us the grace of an authentic renewal! Do not
permit the light to be extinguished among us! Reinforce our faith, our
hope and our love so that we can bear good fruit!"
At this point, a question arises: "But, is there not a promise, a word
of consolation in today's reading and evangelical page? Is the threat
the last word?" No! There is a promise and it is the last word, the
essential one. We hear it in the alleluia verse, taken from John's
Gospel: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and
I in him, it is he that bears much fruit" (John 15:5).
With these words of the Lord, John illustrates for us the last, the
authentic end of the history of God's vineyard -- God does not fail. At
the end, he triumphs -- love triumphs. There is already a veiled
allusion to this in the parable of the vineyard proposed by today's
Gospel and in its conclusive words. In it, the son's death is not the
end of history, although it does not say so directly. But Jesus
expresses this death through a new image taken from the Psalm: "The
very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone"
(Matthew 21:42; Psalm 117:22).
From the son's death life arises, a new building is made, a new
vineyard. In Cana, he changed the water into wine, he transformed his
blood into the wine of true love and in this way transforms the wine
into his blood. In the Cenacle he anticipated his death and transformed
in into the gift of himself, in an act of radical love. His blood is
gift, it is love and for this reason it is the true wine that the
creator was expecting. In this way, Christ himself became the vineyard
and that vineyard always bears good fruit -- the presence of his love
for us, which is indestructible.
These words converge in the end in the mystery of the Eucharist, in
which the Lord gives us the bread of life and the wine of his love and
invites us to the feast of eternal love. We celebrate the Eucharist
with the awareness that its price was the son's death, the sacrifice of
his life, which remains present in it. Every time we eat this bread and
drink this chalice, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes,
says St. Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26).
But we also know that from this death life arises, as Jesus transformed
it in a gesture of oblation, into an act of love, transforming it
profoundly: Love has conquered death. In the holy Eucharist, from the
cross he draws all men to himself (John 12:32) and he converts us into
branches of the vine, which is himself. If we remain united to him,
then we will also bear fruit, then we will no longer bear the vinegar
of self-sufficiency, of the discontent of God and of his creation, but
the good wine of God's joy and of love of neighbor.
Let us pray to the Lord to grant us his grace so that in the three
weeks of the synod that we are beginning not only will we say beautiful
things about the Eucharist, but we will live from his strength. Let us
pray for the gift through Mary, dear synodal fathers, whom I greet with
affection, together with the different communities that you come from
and that you here represent, so that being docile to the action of the
Holy Spirit we might be able to help the world to be converted -- in
Christ and with Christ -- into the fruitful vine of God. Amen.
Pope's Meditation at Synod's First
"The Lord Is Close to Each One of Us"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of
Benedict XVI's spontaneous meditation on Monday morning at the Synod of
Bishops, after the reading of the Third Hour of the Liturgy of the
Hours, taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians
* * *
This Third Hour of today implies five imperatives and a promise. Let's
try to understand a bit better what the Apostle intends to tell us
through these words.
The first imperative is very frequent in the Letters of St. Paul;
rather, one could say that it is almost the "cantus firmus" of his
thought: "gaudete." The question stems from here: Is it possible to
almost command joy? Joy, we should say, comes or does not come, but
cannot be imposed as a duty. And here it helps us to think of the
best-known text on joy in the Letters of St. Paul, the one of "Domenica
Gaudete," in the heart of the liturgy of Advent: "Gaudete, iterum dico
gaudete quia Dominus propest."
Here we see the reason why Paul in all his sufferings and tribulations
could not only say to the others "gaudete" but could say so because he
was filled with joy. "Gaudete, Dominus enim prope est."
If the loved one, love, the greatest gift of my life, is close to me,
if I can be convinced that the one who loves me is close to me, even in
situations of suffering, the joy that remains in the depth of my heart
is ever greater than all sufferings.
The Apostle can say "gaudete" because the Lord is close to each one of
us. And so this imperative in reality is an invitation to become aware
of the Lord who is close to us. It is an awareness of the Lord's
presence. The Apostle intends to make us sensitive to this -- hidden
but very real -- presence of Christ in each one of us. The words of the
Apocalypse are true for each one of us: I knock at your door, listen to
me, open up to me.
This is therefore also an invitation to be aware of this presence of
the Lord who knocks at my door. Do not be deaf to him, because the ears
of our hearts are so full of so many noises in the world that we cannot
hear this silent presence that knocks at our doors.
Let's reflect, at the same time, if we are truly ready to open the
doors of our heart; or perhaps this heart is full of so many other
things that there is no room for the Lord and for the time being we
have no time for the Lord. And so, we are insensitive, deaf to his
presence, full of other things, that we do not hear the essential. He
knocks at the door, he is close to us and thus true joy is close, which
is stronger than all the sorrows in the world, and in our life.
Therefore, let us pray within the context of this first imperative:
Lord make us sensitive to your presence, help us to feel, not to be
deaf to you, help us to have a free heart and be open to you.
The second imperative "perfecti estote," as can be read in the Latin
text, seems to coincide with the summary word of the Sermon on the
Mount: "perfecti estote sicut Pater vester caelestis perfectus est."
This word invites us to be what we are: images of God, creatures
created in relation to the Lord, a "mirror" in which the light of the
Lord is reflected. Not to live Christianity according to the letter,
and not to hear the sacred Scripture according to the letter, is often
difficult; it is historically questionable, but to go beyond the
letter, the present reality, toward the Lord who speaks to us and thus
in union with the
However, if we look at the Greek text we find another verb,
"catartizesthe," and this word means to redo, to repair an instrument,
to re-establish something to its full functionality. The most frequent
example for the apostles is to remake a net for the fishermen which is
no longer in the right condition, which has so many holes that it no
longer serves, to remake the net so that it can become a fishing net
again, return to its perfection as an instrument for this work.
Another example: a string musical instrument which has a broken string,
so music cannot be played as it should be. So in this imperative our
soul appears like an apostolic net which nevertheless often does not
work well, because it is torn by our own intentions; or like a musical
instrument where unfortunately some chords are broken, and therefore
the music of God which should sound from the depth of our soul cannot
resound well. To remake this instrument, to know the afflictions,
destructions, negligence, how much has been disregarded, and to try to
see that this instrument is perfect and complete because it serves that
for which it was created by the Lord.
So this imperative can also be an invitation to regularly examine my
conscience, to see the condition of my instrument, to what extent it
has been neglected, no longer works, and to try to return it to its
integrity. This is also an invitation to the sacrament of
reconciliation, where God himself remakes this instrument and gives us
again completeness, perfection, functionality, so that the praise of
God can resound in this soul.
Then comes "exortamini invicem." Fraternal correction is a work of
mercy. None of us can see himself well, see his shortcomings well. So
it is an act of love, to be a complement to one another, to help each
other see one another better, and to correct each other. I think that
one of the functions of collegiality is to help one another, also in
the sense of the previous imperative, to know the shortcomings which we
ourselves do not wish to see -- "ab occultis meis munda me," says the
psalm -- to help each other so that we may become open and can see
Of course, this great work of mercy, helping each other so that each
one can really find his or her own integrity, and functionality as an
instrument of God, demands great humility and love. Only if this comes
from a humble heart, from someone who does not place himself above
another, who does not
consider himself better than the other, but only a humble instrument to
mutually help each other. Only if one feels this deep and true
humility, if one feels that these words come from common love, from the
collegial affection in which we wish to serve God together, can we in
this way help each other with a great act of love.
Also here, the Greek text adds some nuances; the Greek work is
"paracaleisthe"; it is the same root from which the following word
comes from "Paracletos, paraclesis," consoling. Not only correcting,
but also consoling, sharing the sufferings of others, helping them in
difficulty. And this also seems to me to be a great act of true
In so many difficult situations which are evident today in our pastoral
care, some people are really desperate, and do not know how to go
ahead. In that moment they need consolation, they need somebody to be
close by in their inner solitude and carry out the work of the Holy
Spirit, of the Comforter: to give
courage, to bring us together, to support each other, helped by the
Holy Spirit who is the great Paraclete, the Comforter, our Advocate who
Therefore, it is an invitation to make ourselves "ad invicem" the work
of the Paraclete Holy Spirit. "Idem sapite": we can hear behind the
Latin word "sapor," "to have "eundem sapore," to have the same
sensitivity. The Greek text says "froneite," the same thing. That is,
substantially, to have the same thought.
How can we have in substance a common thought which helps us to guide
together the holy Church if we do not share together the faith which is
not invented by any of us, but is it not the faith of the Church, the
common foundation which leads us, and on which we are and on which we
work? Therefore, it is an invitation to place ourselves again in this
common thought, in this faith which precedes us.
"Non respicias peccata nostra sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae": it is the
faith of the Church which the Lord looks for in us and which is also
the forgiveness of sins. To have this common faith, we can and must
live this faith, each one in his own way, but always knowing that this
faith precedes us. And we must communicate with all the others this
This element already leads us on to the last imperative, which grants
profound peace among us. And at this point we can also think of "touto
froneite," of another text of the Letter to the Philippians, at the
beginning of the great hymn on the Lord, where the Apostle tells us:
have the same feelings of Christ,
enter the "fronesis," in the "fronein," in the thought of Christ.
Therefore, we can have the faith of the Church together, because with
this faith we enter in the thoughts and feelings of the Lord. Thinking
together with Christ.
This is the last exhortation of this warning by the Apostle: thinking
with the thought of Christ. And we can do this by reading holy
Scripture where the thoughts of Christ are Words, which speak to us. In
this sense we should follow the "lectio divina," listening in the
Scriptures to the thought of Christ, learning to think with Christ,
thinking the thought of Christ and thus having the same feelings of
Christ, being capable of giving Christ's thought and feelings to others.
Hence, the last imperative "pacem habete et eireneuete" is almost the
summary of the four previous imperatives, being thus in union with God
who is our peace, with Christ who told us: "pacem dabo vobis." We are
in inner peace, because being in the thought of Christ unites our real
being. The difficulties, the contrasts of our soul are united, we are
united to the original, that of which we are the image, with the
thought of Christ. This is how inner peace stems and only if we are
founded on deep inner peace can we be people of peace also in the
world, and for others.
Hence the question, is this promise conditioned by imperatives? That
is, is it only to the extent in which we can achieve these imperatives,
that this God of peace is with us? What is the relationship between
imperative and promise?
I would say it is bilateral, that is, the promise precedes the
imperatives and makes the imperatives achievable and also follows this
implementation of the imperatives. That is, first of all, how much we
do, the God of love and peace has opened up to us, he is with us. In
the Revelation begun in the Old Testament, God came toward us with his
love and his peace.
And finally, in the Incarnation he was made God with us: Emmanuel. This
God of peace is with us who was made flesh with our flesh, blood of our
blood. He is man with us and embraces the whole of mankind. And in
crucifixion and in descending to death, he was made completely one with
us. He precedes us with his love, and he embraces first of all our
actions. And this is our great consolation. God precedes us. He has
already done everything. He has given us peace and forgiveness and
love. He is with us.
And only because he is with us, because we received his grace in
baptism, in confirmation the Holy Spirit, we received his mission in
the sacrament of the order -- we can now cooperate with his presence
which precedes us.
All our actions which are mentioned in the five imperatives imply
cooperating, collaborating with the God of peace who is with us.
However, this is valid, on the other hand, to the extent in which we
really enter this presence which he gave us, in this gift which is
already present in our being. Consequently his presence, and his being
with us, is reinforced.
Let us pray to the Lord to teach us to cooperate with his preceding
grace and that he always be really with us. Amen!
Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist (2005)
Final Message and 50 Propositions
Message of Synod on the Eucharist
"Living Bread for the Peace of the World"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
final message of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, approved Friday
at the concluding general assembly.
* * *
The Eucharist: Living Bread for the Peace of the World
Dear brother bishops,
Dear priests and deacons,
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters
1. "Peace be with you!" In the name of the Lord who appeared in the
Cenacle of Jerusalem on the evening of Easter, we repeat, "Peace be
with you!" (John 20:21). May the mystery of his death and resurrection
bring you consolation and give meaning to the whole of your life! May
he keep you joyful and full of hope! For Christ is living in his
Church, as he promised (see Matthew 28:20). He remains with us always
until the end of the world. He gives himself to us in the Most Holy
Sacrament of the Eucharist, along with the joy of loving as he loved.
He commands us to share his victorious love with our brothers and
sisters of the whole world. This is the joyful message that we proclaim
to you, beloved brothers and sisters, at the end of the Synod of
Bishops on the Eucharist.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has again
gathered us as in the Cenacle, with Mary the Mother of God and our
Mother, to recall the gift par excellence of the Holy Eucharist.
2. Called to Rome by Pope John Paul II, of venerable memory, and
confirmed by His Holiness Benedict XVI, we have come from the five
continents of the world to pray and reflect together on "The Eucharist,
Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." The goal of
the synod was to offer proposals to the Holy Father that might help him
to update and deepen the Eucharistic life of the Church. We have been
able to experience what the Holy Eucharist has been from the very
beginning: one faith and one Church, nourished by one bread of life, in
visible communion with the successor of Peter.
3. The fraternal sharing among the bishops, the auditors, and also the
ecumenical representatives, has renewed our conviction that the Holy
Eucharist animates and transforms the life of the particular Churches
of the East and West, as well as the many human activities in the very
different circumstances in which we live. We have sensed a profound joy
in experiencing the unity of our Eucharistic faith in the midst of the
widespread diversity of rites, cultures and pastoral situations. The
presence of so many brother bishops has allowed us to experience, in a
more direct way, the richness of our different liturgical traditions
that makes the depths of the unique Eucharistic mystery shine forth.
We invite you, dear Christian brothers and sisters of every confession,
to pray more fervently that the day of reconciliation, and the full
visible unity of the Church might come in the celebration of the Holy
Eucharist in conformity with the prayer of Jesus on the eve of his
death: "That all may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you,
that they may be one in us, so that the world will believe that you
sent me" (John 17:21).
4. Profoundly thankful to God for the Pontificate of the Holy Father,
John Paul II, and for his final encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia,"
followed by the apostolic letter that opened the Year of the Eucharist,
"Mane nobiscum Domine," we ask God to multiply the fruits of his
witness and his teaching. We also extend our thanks to all the people
of God, whose presence and solidarity we have felt during these three
weeks of prayer and reflection. The local Churches in China, and their
bishops who were not able to join us in our work, had a special place
in our thoughts and prayers.
To all of you, bishops, priests and deacons, missionaries from all the
world, consecrated men and women, lay faithful, and also to you, men
and women of good will, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in the name of
the Risen Christ!
Listening to the Suffering of the World
5. The meeting of the synod has been an intense time of sharing and
witnessing to the life of the Church in the different continents. We
have been made aware of extreme situations and suffering generated by
wars, hunger, different forms of terrorism and injustice, which touch
the daily life of hundreds of millions of human beings. The explosive
violence in the Middle East and in Africa has reminded us that the
African continent has been forgotten by the public opinion of the
world. Natural disasters, which seem to have multiplied, force us to
look upon nature with greater respect and to strengthen our solidarity
with those suffering peoples.
We have not remained silent before the consequences of secularization,
present above all in the West, that lead to religious indifference and
various expressions of relativism. We have remembered and denounced the
situations of injustice and extreme poverty that are in evidence
everywhere, but especially in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia. All
this suffering cries out to God, and challenges the conscience of
humanity. It challenges us all. What is becoming of the global village
of our earth, the threatened environment that risks being ruined? What
can be done so that, in this era of globalization, solidarity might
triumph over suffering and misery? We also direct our thoughts to those
who govern the nations that they take diligent care to provide access
to the common good for all. We ask that they be promoters of the
dignity of every human being, from conception till natural death. We
ask them enact laws which respect the natural rights of marriage and
the family. For our part, we will continue to participate actively in a
common effort to generate lasting conditions for genuine progress for
the whole human family, where no one is lacking his or her daily bread.
6. We have carried all these sufferings and these questions with us in
our Eucharistic celebration and adoration. In our debates, listening
carefully to one another, we have been moved and shaken by the witness
of the martyrs who are still present today, as throughout the whole
history of the Church, in many areas of the world. The synod fathers
have recalled that the martyrs have always found the strength to
overcome hatred by love and violence by pardon, thanks to the Holy
"Do This in Memory of Me"
7. On the eve of his passion, "Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke
it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, 'Take, eat, this is my body.'
Then he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them
saying, 'Drink of it all of you; for this is my blood, the blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins"
(Matthew 26:25-28). "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19; 1
Corinthians 11:24-25). From its beginnings, the Church has remembered
the death and resurrection of Jesus with the same words and actions of
the Last Supper, asking the Spirit to transform the bread and wine into
the Body and into the Blood of Christ. We firmly believe and we teach
in the constant tradition of the Church that the words of Jesus
pronounced by the priest at the Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit,
effect what they signify. They bring about the real presence of the
risen Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1366). The Church lives
from this gift par excellence that gathers it, purifies it and
transforms it into the one body of Christ, animated by the one Spirit
(see Ephesians 5:29).
The Eucharist is the gift of love, love of the Father who sent his only
Son so that the world might be saved (see John 3:16-17); the love of
Christ who loved us to the end (see John 13:1); the love of God poured
into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5), who cries out in
us "Abba, Father!" (Galatians 4:6). In celebrating the Holy Sacrifice,
therefore, we joyfully announce the salvation of the world in
proclaiming the victorious death of the Lord until he comes. In our
communion with his Body, we receive the "pledge" of our own
8. Forty years after Second Vatican Council we wanted to examine to
what extent the mysteries of the faith are adequately expressed and
celebrated in our liturgical assemblies. The synod reaffirms that the
Second Vatican Council provided the necessary basis for an authentic
liturgical renewal. It is necessary now to cultivate the positive
fruits of this reform, and to correct abuses that have crept into
liturgical practice. We are convinced that respect for the sacred
character of the liturgy is transmitted by genuine fidelity to
liturgical norms of legitimate authority. No one should consider
himself master of the Church's liturgy. Living faith that recognizes
the presence of the Lord is the first condition for beautiful
liturgical celebrations, which give a genuine "Amen" to the glory of
Lights in the Eucharistic life of the Church
9. The work of the synod has proceeded in an atmosphere of fraternal
joy that has been nourished by the open discussion of various problems
and the spontaneous sharing of the fruits of the Year of the Eucharist.
The listening presence and the interventions of our Holy Father
Benedict XVI have been an example for us all and a precious support.
Many of the interventions have reported positive and joyful events, for
example: the renewed consciousness of the importance of the Sunday
Mass; the increase in the number of vocations to the priesthood and to
consecrated life in various places of the world; the powerful
experiences of the World Youth Days, culminating at Cologne in Germany;
the development of numerous initiatives for the adoration of the
Blessed Sacrament almost everywhere in the world; the renewal of the
catechesis on baptism and the Eucharist in the light of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church; the growth of movements and communities who
form missionaries for the new evangelization; the growth in the number
of young altar servers who bring with them the hope of new vocations,
and many other events that cause us to give thanks.
Finally, the synod fathers hope that the Year of the Eucharist might be
a beginning and a point of departure for a new evangelization of our
globalized humanity, that begins with the Eucharist.
10. We wish that "Eucharistic wonder" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 6)
might lead the faithful to an always stronger life of faith. To this
end, the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions celebrate the divine
liturgy, cultivate the prayer of Jesus and the Eucharistic fast, while
the Latin tradition fosters a "Eucharistic spirituality," that
culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist. There is also the
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside Mass, Eucharistic
Benediction, processions with the Blessed Sacrament, and healthy
manifestations of popular piety. Such spirituality will certainly prove
to be a very rich resource in sustaining everyday life, and
strengthening our witness.
11. We thank God that in many countries where priests were not present,
or forced underground, the Church is now freely able to celebrate the
holy mysteries. The freedom to preach the Gospel and witnesses with
their renewed fervor are reawakening the faith little by little, in
areas profoundly de-Christianized. We affectionately greet and
encourage all those who continue to suffer persecution. We also ask
that in those places where Christians are a minority group, they be
allowed to celebrate the day of the Lord in complete freedom.
Challenges for a Eucharistic Renewal
12. The life of our Churches is also marked by shadows and problems
which we have not ignored. In the first place, we think of the loss of
the sense of sin and the persistent crisis in the practice of the
sacrament of penance. It is important to rediscover its deepest
meaning; it is a conversion and a precious remedy given by the risen
Christ for the forgiveness of sins (see John 20:23) and for the growth
of love towards him and our brothers and sisters.
It is interesting to notice, that more and more young people, suitably
catechized, practice confessing their personal sins, so revealing an
awareness of the reconciliation required for the worthy reception of
13. Nevertheless, the lack of priests to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist
worries us a great deal and invites us to pray and more actively
promote priestly vocations. Some priests, undergoing great difficulty,
are forced to celebrate many times and to move from one place to
another to best meet the needs of the faithful. They truly deserve our
deep appreciation and solidarity. Our thanks goes also to those many
missionaries whose enthusiasm for the proclamation of the Good News
enables us to remain faithful today to the commandment of the Lord to
go into the whole world and to baptize in his name (see Matthew 28:19).
14. On the other hand, we are worried because the absence of the priest
makes it impossible to celebrate Mass, to celebrate the day of the
Lord. Various forms of celebration already exist in different
continents that suffer from a lack of priests. Yet, the practice of
"spiritual communion," dear to the Catholic tradition, can and should
be better promoted and explained so that the faithful may be helped
both to communicate sacramentally in a better way and to bring genuine
consolation to those who, for various reasons, cannot receive the body
and blood of Christ in communion. We believe that this practice should
help people who are alone, especially the handicapped, the aged, those
imprisoned and refugees.
15. We know the sadness of those who do not have access to sacramental
communion because of their family situations that do not conform to the
commandment of the Lord (see Matthew 19:3-9). Some divorced and
remarried people sadly accept their inability to take sacramental
communion and they make an offering of it to God. Others are not able
to understand this restriction, and live with an internal frustration.
We reaffirm that, while we do not endorse their choice (cf. Catechism
of the Catholic Church, 2384), they are not excluded from the life of
the Church. We ask that they participate in Sunday Mass and devote
themselves assiduously to listening to the word of God so that it might
nourish their life of faith, of love and of conversion. We wish to tell
them how close we are to them in prayer and pastoral concern. Together,
let us ask the Lord to obey his will faithfully.
16. We have also observed that in certain areas there is a lessening of
the sense of the sacred that affects not only the active and fruitful
participation of the faithful at Mass, but also the manner in which the
celebration takes place and the quality of the witness that Christians
are called to give. We seek to revive, by means of the Holy Eucharist,
the sense and joy of belonging to the Catholic community, as an
increasing number of departures from the Church is evident in certain
countries. The fact of de-Christianization calls for a better formation
to Christian life in families so that sacramental practice is
revitalized and genuinely expresses the content of the faith. We
therefore invite parents, pastors and catechists to work toward
re-establishing a strategy for evangelization and education in the
faith at the beginning of this new millennium.
17. Before the Lord of history and the future of the world, the poor of
every generation and today, the ever-increasing number of victims of
injustice and all the forgotten of this world challenge us. They remind
us of Christ's agony, until the end of the world. These sufferings
cannot remain extraneous to the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery
which summons all of us to work for justice and the transformation of
the world in an active and conscious fashion, on the basis of the
social teaching of the Church that promotes the centrality and the
dignity of the human person.
"We cannot delude ourselves: mutual love and especially the care that
we show for those who are in need will indicate that we will be
recognized as true disciples of Christ (see John 13:35; Matthew
25:31-46). This is the criterion that will attest the authenticity of
our Eucharistic celebrations" ("Mane nobiscum Domine," 28).
You will be my Witnesses
18. "Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them
to the end." St. John reveals the meaning of the institution of the
Holy Eucharist in the narrative of the washing of the feet (see John
13:1-20). Jesus humbles himself to wash the feet of his disciples as a
sign of his love which reaches beyond all limits. This prophetic
gesture proclaims his self-humiliation of the following day, unto death
on the Cross; an action that takes away the sins of the world, and
washes away every sin from our souls. The Holy Eucharist is the gift of
love, an encounter with the God who loves us and a spring welling up to
eternal life. Bishops, priests and deacons, we are the first witnesses
and servants of this love.
19. Dear priests, we have thought of you a great deal over these days.
We recognize your generosity and your challenges. You bear, in
communion with us, the burden of the daily pastoral service of the
people of God. You proclaim the word of God, and you take care to
introduce the faithful to the Eucharistic mystery. What a grace your
ministry is! We pray with you and for you so that, together, we will
remain faithful to the love of the Lord. We ask you to be, with us and
following the example of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, "humble
workers in the vineyard of the Lord," following a consistent priestly
life. May the peace of Christ that you give to repentant sinners and to
the Eucharistic gatherings, flow down upon you and on the communities
that live from your witness!
We remember with gratitude the commitment of the permanent deacons,
catechists, pastoral workers and numerous lay people who work for the
community. May your service always be fruitful and generous, nourished
by a full unity of spirit and action with the pastors of your
20. Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, we are called, in whatever
form of life we find ourselves, to live our baptismal vocation,
clothing ourselves with the sentiments of Christ Jesus (see Philippians
2:2), matching one another in humility, following the example of Christ
Jesus. Our mutual love is not only an imitation of the Lord, it is a
living proof of his life-giving presence among us. We greet and thank
all consecrated people, that chosen portion of the vineyard of the Lord
who freely witness to the Good News of the spouse who is coming (see
Revelations 22:17-20). Your Eucharistic witness in the service of
Christ is a cry of love in the darkness of the world, an echo of the
ancient Marian hymns, the Stabat Mater and of the Magnificat. May the
Woman of the Eucharist par excellence, crowned with stars, and rich in
love, the Virgin of the Assumption and of the Immaculate Conception,
watch over you in your service of God and the poor, in the joy of
Easter, for the hope of the world.
21. Dear young people, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has repeatedly said
that you lose nothing when you give yourselves to Christ. We take up
again his strong and serene words from his inaugural Mass that direct
you toward true happiness, with the greatest respect for your personal
freedom: "Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he
gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a
hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ -- and
you will find true life." We have great trust in your capacity and your
desire to develop the positive values in the world, and to change what
is unjust and violent. Please count upon our support and our prayer so
that we may together accept the challenge to build the future with
Christ. You are the "sentinels of the morning" and the "explorers of
the future." Do not fail to draw from the source of divine energy in
the Holy Eucharist to bring about the changes that are necessary.
To all young seminarians who are preparing for the priestly ministry,
and who share with their generation the same hopes for the future, we
wish to express our hope that their formation will be permeated by an
authentic Eucharistic spirituality.
22. Dear Christian married couples and your families, your vocation to
holiness begins as the domestic Church, is nourished at the holy table
of the Eucharist. Your faith in the sacrament of marriage transforms
your nuptial union into a temple of the Holy Spirit, into a rich source
of new life, generating children, the fruit of your love. We have often
spoken of you at the synod because we are conscious of the fragility
and the uncertainties of the world today. Remain strong in your
struggle to educate your children in the faith. You are the source
where vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are born. Do
not forget that Christ dwells in your union; he blesses it with all the
graces you need to live your vocation in a saintly way. We encourage
you to maintain the practice of participating as a family in the Sunday
Eucharist. In this way, you bring joy to the heart of Jesus, who has
said: "Let the little children come to me" (Mark 10:14).
23. We wish to address a special word to all the suffering, especially
the sick and the handicapped, who are united with Christ's sacrifice
through their suffering (see Romans 12:2). In your suffering of body
and heart, you participate in a special way in the sacrifice of the
Eucharist and you are privileged witnesses of the love which comes from
it. We are certain that in the moment when we experience our own
frailty and limitations, the strength of the Eucharist can be a great
help. United to the paschal mystery of Christ, we find the answer to
the anguish of suffering and death, especially when sickness strikes
innocent children. We are close to you all, and especially close to
those of you who are dying and who receive the Body of Christ as
viaticum for their final journey toward the kingdom.
That All May Be One
24. The Holy Father Benedict XVI has restated the solemn commitment of
the Church to the cause of ecumenism. We are all responsible for this
unity (see John 17:21), as we are all members of the family of God
because of our Baptism, graced by the same fundamental dignity and
sharing in the remarkable sacramental gift of divine life. We all feel
the sadness of separation which prevents the common celebration of the
Eucharist. We wish to intensify the prayer for unity within
communities, the exchange of gifts between the Churches and ecclesial
communities, as well as the respectful and fraternal contact among
everyone, so that we may better know and love one another, respecting
and appreciating our differences and our shared values. The precise
regulations of the Church determine the position we are to take on
sharing the Eucharist with brothers and sisters who are not yet in full
communion with us. A healthy discipline prevents confusion and
imprudent gestures that might further damage true communion.
25. As Christians, we are close to the other descendants of Abraham:
the Jews, who were the first to inherit the covenant, and the Muslims.
In celebrating the Holy Eucharist, we also believe that we are, in the
words of St. Augustine, "a sacrament of humanity" ("De Civitate Dei,"
16), the voice of all the prayers and supplications that rise from the
earth toward God.
Conclusion: The Peace Full of Hope
Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
26. We thank God for this Eleventh Synodal Assembly which, convened
forty years after the Second Vatican Council, has made us go back to
the source of the mystery of the Church. We thus end the Year of the
Eucharist on a high note, confirmed in unity and renewed in apostolic
and missionary enthusiasm.
At the beginning of the fourth century, Christian worship was still
forbidden by the imperial authorities. The Christians of North Africa,
committed to their celebration of the Day of the Lord, defied the
prohibition. They were martyred, because they declared that they could
not live without the Sunday Eucharistic celebration. The 49 martyrs of
Abitene, united with so many saints and blesseds who have made the
Eucharist the center of their life, are praying for us at the beginning
of this new millennium. They teach us faithfulness to the gathering of
the new covenant with the Risen Christ.
At the end of this synod we experience that peace full of hope that the
disciples of Emmaus, with burning hearts, received from the Risen Lord.
They arose and returned in haste to Jerusalem, to share their joy with
their brothers and sisters in the faith. We hope that you will go
joyfully to meet him in the Holy Eucharist, and that you will
experience the truth of his words: "And I am with you until the end of
the world" (Matthew 28:20).
Beloved brothers and sisters, peace be with you!
Propositions of Synod on the
Documents Submitted to the Supreme Pontiff
Submitted to the consideration of the Supreme Pontiff, in addition to
the documents on the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and
mission of the Church, relative to this Synod, namely the "Lineamenta,"
the "Instrumentum laboris," the reports "ante and post disceptationem"
and the texts of the interventions, both those presented in the Hall in
writing, as well as the reports of the minor circles and their
discussions, [are] above all some specific propositions that the
Fathers have regarded of particular importance.
The Synodal Fathers humbly request that the Holy Father take advantage
of the opportunity to publish a document on the sublime mystery of the
Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church.
* * *
The Liturgical Reform of Vatican II
The Synodal Assembly recalled with gratitude the beneficial influence
that the liturgical reform carried out since the Second Vatican Council
has had for the life of the Church. It has highlighted the beauty of
the Eucharistic action that shines in the liturgical rite. Abuses were
verified in the past; they are not even lacking today, although they
have diminished greatly. However, such incidents cannot darken the
goodness and validity of the reform, which still has riches that are
not totally explored; rather, they call for greater care in regard to
the "ars celebrandi," which favors "actuosa participatio."
* * *
The People of God Educated in Faith in the Eucharist
Faith in the Eucharist
The Novelty of the Paschal Mystery
When instituting the Eucharist, Jesus created a radical novelty: He
fulfilled in himself the new and eternal Covenant. Jesus inscribed, in
the context of the Jewish ritual supper -- which concentrates in the
memorial of the past event of deliverance from Egypt, its present
importance and future promise -- his total surrender. The true
immolated Lamb sacrificed himself once and for all in the paschal
mystery and is able to liberate man from sin and the darkness of death
forever. The Lord himself offered us the essential elements of the "new
worship." The Church, inasmuch as Bride and led by the Holy Spirit, is
called to celebrate the redeeming sacrifice of her Bridegroom in
history and makes it present sacramentally in all cultures. This "great
mystery" is celebrated in the liturgical forms that the Church,
illuminated by the Holy Spirit, develops in time and space.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus, substantially present,
introduces us through his Spirit in the Pasch: We pass from death to
life, from slavery to freedom, from sadness to joy. The celebration of
the Eucharist reinforces in us this paschal dynamism and consolidates
our identity. With Christ, we are able to overcome hatred with love,
violence with peace, pride with humility, egoism with generosity,
discord with reconciliation, despair with hope. United to Jesus Christ,
dead and risen, we can carry his cross each day and follow him, in view
of the resurrection of the flesh, following the example of the martyrs
of antiquity and of our days. The Eucharist, as paschal mystery, is
pledge of the future glory and from it is already born the
eschatological transformation of the world. Celebrating the Eucharist,
we anticipate this joy in the great communion of saints.
* * *
The Eucharist is a gift that springs from the love of the Father, from
the filial obedience of Jesus carried to the point of the sacrifice of
the cross, made present for us in the sacrament, of the power of the
Holy Spirit that, called over the gifts by the prayer of the Church,
transforms them into the body and blood of Jesus. In it is revealed
fully the mystery of the love of God for humanity and his plan of
salvation is fulfilled, characterized by absolute gratitude, which
responds solely to his promises, fulfilled beyond all measure.
The Church receives, worships, celebrates this gift with tremulous and
faithful obedience, without arrogating to herself any powers of
availability which are not the ones that Jesus entrusted to her so that
the sacramental rite is realized in history.
Under the cross, the Most Holy Virgin unites herself completely to the
Savior's sacrificial gift. By her immaculate conception and fullness of
grace, Mary inaugurates the participation of the Church in the
The faithful "have the right to receive abundantly from the sacred
pastors the spiritual goods of the Church, above all the aids of the
Word of God and the sacraments" (LG, 37; cf. CCC Canon 213; CCEO Canon
16), when the law does not prohibit it.
To such a right, corresponds the duty of the pastors to do everything
possible so that access to the Eucharist is not hindered in practice,
showing in this regard intelligent care and great generosity. The Synod
appreciates and is grateful to priests who, even at the cost at times
of great and risky sacrifices, assure to Christian communities this
gift of life and educate them to celebrate it in truth and fullness.
* * *
Eucharist and Church
The relationship between the Eucharist and the Church is understood in
the great Christian tradition as constitutive of the being and acting
of the Church herself, to the point that Christian antiquity designated
with the same words, "Corpus Christi," the body born of the Virgin
Mary, the Eucharistic body and the ecclesial body of Christ.
This unity of the body is manifested in the Christian communities and
is renewed in the Eucharistic act that unites and differentiates them
in particular Churches, "in quibus et ex quibus una et unica Ecclesia
catholica existit" (LG, 23). The term "catholic" expresses the
universality stemming from the unity that the Eucharist, celebrated in
each Church, fosters and builds.
Thus, in the Eucharist, the particular Churches have, in the universal
Church, the task of making visible their own unity and diversity. This
bond of fraternal love reveals the Trinitarian communion. The Councils
and Synods express in history this fraternal aspect of the Church. By
this very ecclesial dimension, the Eucharist establishes a strong bond
of unity of the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Churches, which have
preserved the genuine and integral nature of the mystery of the
Eucharist. The ecclesial character of the Eucharist might also be a
privileged point in the dialogue with the communities born with the
* * *
The Synod of Bishops -- recognizing the manifold fruits of Eucharistic
Adoration in the life of the People of God, in a large part of the
world -- forcefully encourages that this form of prayer -- so often
recommended by the venerable Servant of God John Paul II -- be
maintained and promoted, according to the traditions, both in the Latin
Church as well as in the Oriental Churches. It recognizes that this
practice springs from Eucharistic action that, in itself, is the
greatest act of adoration of the Church, which enables the faithful to
participate fully, consciously, actively and fruitfully in the
sacrifice of Christ, according to the desire of the Second Vatican
Council, and refers to the same. Thus conceived, Eucharistic adoration
keeps the faithful in their Christian love and service to others, and
promotes greater personal sanctity as well as that of the Christian
communities. In this connection, the renewal of Eucharistic adoration,
also among young people, is manifested today as a promising
characteristic of many communities. For this reason, in order to foster
visits to the Blessed Sacrament, care must always be taken, insofar as
possible, that churches in which the Blessed Sacrament is present stay
May pastoral programs help communities and movements to know the
appropriate place of Eucharistic adoration in order to cultivate the
attitude of wonder before the great gift of the real presence of
Christ. In this connection, Eucharistic adoration is encouraged also in
the course of preparation for First Communion.
To promote adoration, it is appropriate to recognize especially
institutes of consecrated life and associations of the faithful
dedicated especially to it in different ways, and to help them so that
Eucharistic devotion will be more biblical, liturgical and missionary.
* * *
Eucharist and Sacraments
Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation
Love of the Eucharist leads to ever greater appreciation of the
sacrament of Reconciliation, in which God's merciful goodness makes
possible a new beginning of Christian life and shows an intrinsic
relationship between Baptism, sin and the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Worthy reception of the Eucharist calls for the state of grace.
It is a task of great importance that the Bishop promote in the diocese
a decisive recovery of the pedagogy of conversion that is born of the
Eucharist and that it favor, because of this, frequent individual
confession. Priests, for their part, are to dedicate themselves
generously to the administration of the sacrament of Penance.
The Synod earnestly recommends to Bishops that they not allow in their
dioceses recourse to collective absolutions if it is not in objectively
exceptional situations, established in the "motu proprio" "Misericordia
Dei," of April 7, 2002, of Pope John Paul II. Bishops must see to it,
moreover, that in every church there be suitable places for confessions
(cf. CCC 964, Paragraph 2). It is recommended that the Bishop appoint
In this perspective, it would also be necessary to further the
dimension of reconciliation already present in the Eucharistic
celebration (cf. CCC 1436), specifically in the penitential rite, so
that true moments of reconciliation might be experienced in the same.
Non-sacramental penitential celebrations, mentioned in the ritual of
the sacrament of Penance and of Reconciliation, can awaken the sense of
sin and effect a spirit of penance and communion in Christian
communities, thus preparing hearts for the celebration of the sacrament.
The renewal of Eucharistic spirituality can be an occasion to further
the understanding and practice of indulgences. This Synod reminds that
Bishops and parish priests may request a plenary indulgence of the
Apostolic Penitentiary for different celebrations and anniversaries.
The Synod encourages a renewed catechesis on indulgences.
* * *
Eucharist and Sacrament of Marriage
In the Eucharist, the love of Jesus Christ is expressed, who loves the
Church as his Bride to the point of giving his life for her. The
Eucharist corroborates in an inexhaustible way the indissoluble unity
and love of every Christian marriage.
We want to express our special spiritual closeness to all those who
have based their families on the sacrament of marriage. The Synod
recognizes the singular mission of woman in the family and in the
society and encourages spouses, integrated in their parishes, or in
small communities, movements, ecclesial associations, to undertake
paths of marital spirituality, nourished by the Eucharist.
The sanctification of Sunday is also put into practice in family life.
Because of this, the family, as "domestic Church," must be considered a
primary realm by the Christian community. The family initiates children
in ecclesial faith and the liturgy, above all in the Holy Mass.
* * *
Eucharist and Polygamy
The nature of marriage exacts that man be definitively united to only
one woman and vice versa. In this perspective, the polygamous must be
helped to open to the Christian faith to integrate their human plan in
the novelty and radical nature of Christ's message. In regard to
catechumens, Christ reaches them in their concrete situation and calls
them to the renunciations and ruptures exacted by communion, which one
day they will be able to celebrate through the sacraments, above all,
Meanwhile, the Church supports them with pastoral care full of
gentleness and firmness.
* * *
Modality of Sunday Assemblies Awaiting a Priest
In countries in which the penury of priests and great distances make
participation in the Sunday Eucharist practically impossible, it is
important that Christian communities come together to praise the Lord
and to remember the Day dedicated to him, in communion with the Bishop,
with the whole particular Church and with the universal Church. It is
also very important to specify the nature of the commitment of the
faithful in their participation in these Sunday assemblies.
Care must be taken that the Liturgy of the Word, organized under the
leadership of a deacon or of a leader of the community to whom the
competent authority has regularly entrusted this ministry, is carried
out according to a specific ritual approved for this purpose. So as not
to deprive the faithful for a long time from Eucharistic Communion,
priests must make every effort to visit these communities frequently.
It corresponds to the Ordinaries and to the Episcopal Conferences to
regulate the possibility to distribute Communion.
All confusion must be avoided between celebration of the Holy Mass and
the Sunday assembly awaiting a priest. Therefore, the faithful must be
encouraged to go, whenever possible, where Sunday Mass is celebrated.
The Episcopal Conferences must prepare appropriate materials that
explain the meaning of the celebration of the Word of God with
distribution of Communion and the norms that regulate it.
Scarcity of Priests
The centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church makes the
problem of the serious lack of priests in some parts of the world felt
with acute pain. Many faithful are thus deprived of the Bread of life.
To respond to the Eucharistic hunger of the People of God that often
and for long periods must do without the Eucharistic celebration, it is
necessary to take recourse to effective pastoral initiatives. In this
context, the Synodal Fathers affirmed the importance of the inestimable
gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the praxis of the Latin Church.
Referring to the Magisterium, especially to the Second Vatican Council
and to the Magisterium of the last Popes, the Fathers requested that
the reasons for the relationship between celibacy and priestly
ordination be properly explained to the faithful, in full respect of
the tradition of the Eastern Churches. Some have alluded to the "viri
probati" [priestly ordination of married men of proven virtue], but
this theory has been considered as a path that must not be followed.
Moreover, it must be taken into account that the Christian quality of
the community and its force of attraction have decisive weight when it
comes to offering the Eucharistic gift to all the faithful.
Specifically, it is about:
-- urging pastors to promote priestly vocations; to discover them and
to become their "heralds," beginning with adolescents and paying
attention to acolytes;
-- not being afraid to propose to young people the radical nature of
the following of Christ -- to sensitize families, which in some cases
are indifferent or even opposed;
-- cultivating prayer for vocations in all communities and ecclesial
-- Bishops seeking -- and also involving Religious Families, while
respecting the charism proper to them -- a more equitable distribution
of the clergy and urging the clergy itself to greater willingness to
serve the Church where there is need, even at the cost of sacrifice.
* * *
Vocational Pastoral Program
By way of response to the Church's urgent duty to offer the gift of the
Eucharist to all faithful on a regular basis, and given the scarcity of
priests in different places, we turn to the Lord and ask him
persistently to send laborers to his harvest.
For our part, we intend to reinforce the vocational pastoral program
and the vocational dimension of all pastoral care, especially of youth
and the family. Therefore, we request
-- that groups of altar servers be constituted and that they be given
-- that Eucharistic adoration for vocations be spread in parishes,
schools and ecclesial movements;
-- that parish priests and all priests be encouraged to support young
people spiritually and to form them, inviting them to follow Christ in
the priesthood with their testimony;
-- that a vocational center or minor seminary be organized, according
to possibilities, in [local] Churches.
-- that we, Bishops and priests, be committed in the first person in
this kind of pastoral care, giving example of enthusiasm and piety.
* * *
Catechesis and Mystagogy
The Sequence of Sacraments of Christian Initiation
The close connection between Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist is
not sufficiently perceived. It is opportune, therefore, to explain that
we are baptized and confirmed in function of the Eucharist. A better
insertion must therefore be favored of the relationship between the
three sacraments of Christian initiation in the celebration of each of
these sacraments, regardless of the chronological order or the age of
the celebration of Confirmation and First Communion. In this
connection, an in-depth theological and pastoral study of Confirmation
might be very valuable. All this, moreover, would have a positive value
in ecumenical dialogue.
There could be renewed reflection on the appropriate age for
Confirmation. Thought should also be given if in the Latin Church the
sequence of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion must be observed
only for adults and not for children. The Latin tradition, which is
differentiated from the Eastern tradition by the separation of the
celebration of Confirmation from that of Baptism, has a raison
d'êêtre and a weight. On the other hand, the differences
between the two traditions are not of a dogmatic nature. Both
traditions, in fact, give a different practical answer to the identical
situation of a great number of baptisms of children.
* * *
Eucharist, Catechesis and Formation
The Eucharist, "mysterium fidei," inscribed in God's Covenant with his
People, is the source of inspiration of all proposals of pastoral
formation. The latter must present the profound relationship of the
Eucharist with all the other sacraments, leading men and women of our
time to a new life in Christ. With this objective, well-inculturated
catechumenal endeavors will have to be developed, which include the
presentation of the doctrinal content and introduction to the spiritual
and moral life and to social commitment.
The whole People of God -- bishops and parish priests, according to
their specific responsibility -- must be involved in this permanent
formation promoted in each [local] Church, especially the faithful who
are active in parishes and communities, such as catechists and
Seminarians especially will be given a solid formation in theological,
liturgical and pastoral principles of an authentic Eucharistic
spirituality. They must understand as well as possible the meaning of
each liturgical norm.
Parishes and small communities that are a part of them must be schools
of Eucharistic mystagogy. In this context, the cooperation will be
sought of communities of consecrated life, of movements and of groups
that reappraise, according to their own charisms, Christian formation.
In the framework of the new evangelization, we acknowledge the need to
develop new forms of catechesis appropriate to the different situations
and cultures. In this context, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and
the recent teachings of the Magisterium must be privileged points of
* * *
Family and Sacramental Initiation
It is necessary to associate the Christian family with the sacramental
initiation of children. Access of children to the Eucharistic table
must not be limited without a reason. First Communion, above all, is a
step of great importance for a life committed to the path of holiness,
full of charity, joy and peace. Every family, supported by the parish,
the priests, consecrated persons, lay collaborators and, especially,
Catholic schools, must foster a process of Eucharistic education.
The Church, family of God, grows and is nourished at the table of the
Word of God and of the Body and Blood of Christ. The celebration of the
Eucharist must increasingly promote at all levels the awareness and
realization of a "Church family" through solidarity, family relations
and communion among all the members of the community.
Not neglecting the systematic understanding of the contents of the
faith, the ancient tradition of the Church reminds that the Christian
journey is experience born from the proclamation and deepened in
catechesis, which finds its source and summit in the liturgical
Faith and sacraments are two complementary aspects of the Church's
sanctifying activity. Awakened by the proclamation of the Word of God,
faith is nourished and grows in the encounter of grace with the risen
Lord in the sacraments. Faith is expressed in the rite, and the rite
reinforces and strengthens faith.
Hence the exigency of a mystagogic endeavor lived in the community and
with its help, which is based on three essential elements:
-- Interpretation of the rites in the light of biblical events, in
conformity with the tradition of the Church;
-- Appreciation of the sacramental signs;
-- Meaning of the rites in respect of the Christian commitment in life.
It would be desirable to develop the mystagogic method above all with
children receiving first communion and confirmation.
* * *
Compendium on the Eucharist
The competent departments of the Holy See and/or of the episcopal
conferences should consider a Eucharistic Compendium project, or an
instrument of pastoral aid that brings together, at the same time,
liturgical, doctrinal, catechetical and devotional elements on the
Eucharist, to help develop faith and Eucharistic piety.
This compendium could propose the best of patristic teaching, the
experience of the Latin Church and of the Eastern Churches, and
devotional prayers. It should include an appropriate catechesis on the
nature and structure of Eucharistic prayers.
* * *
Participation of the People of God in the Eucharistic Celebration
Structure of the Eucharistic Celebration
Of the two banquets, that of the Word of God and that of the Body of
Christ, the Church receives and offers to the faithful the Bread of
Life, especially in the sacred liturgy. The Word of God, as the whole
Eucharistic mystery, is only accessible in faith. It is appropriate
therefore that the readings be proclaimed with care, if possible by
The correct weight must be given to the Liturgy of the Word in the
Eucharistic celebration. There is an intrinsic bond between the Word of
God and the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the Word made flesh gives
himself to us as spiritual food. Faith is born from hearing the Word of
God (cf. Romans 10:17).
To appreciate, celebrate and live the Eucharist better, a profound
knowledge of the proclaimed Sacred Scriptures is necessary. "Ignorance
of Scripture is ignorance of Christ" (cf. "Dei Verbum," 25). The
faithful must be helped to appreciate the treasures of the Scripture in
the Lectionary, through the development of the biblical apostolate, the
impulse of parish groups that prepare the Sunday Mass with a prayerful
study of the Readings themselves, and liturgical practices such as
silence or a few introductory words that help for greater understanding.
Moreover, the People of God must be educated through a catechesis based
on the Word of God. To love, read, study, meditate and pray the Word of
God is a precious fruit of the practice of "lectio divina," of groups
of biblical study and prayer in the family and in small ecclesial
Because of the intrinsic relationship between the liturgy of the Word
and the Eucharistic liturgy, the Word of God must be venerated and
honored (cf. "Dei Verbum," 21), especially the Gospels, as sign of the
presence of the Word incarnate in the assembly of the faithful (cf.
"Instrumentum Laboris," 46).
An _expression must be found for the prayer of the faithful that is
related better with the Word of God, with the needs of the assembly and
more broadly with those of the whole of humanity.
* * *
The best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well
celebrated. Because of this ordained ministers are asked to consider
the celebration as their main duty. In particular, they must prepare
the homily with care, basing themselves on an appropriate knowledge of
The homily should put the Word of God, proclaimed in the celebration,
in profound relationship with the sacramental celebration (cf.
"Sacrosanctum Concilium," 52) and with the life of the community, so
that the Word of God is the foundation and life of the Church ("Dei
Verbum," 21) and is transformed in food by prayer and daily life.
The homily molded by the teachings of the Fathers of the Church is a
true mystagogy, that is, a true initiation to the mysteries celebrated
In addition, the possibility was suggested of taking recourse --
stemming from the triennial lectionary -- to "thematic" homilies that,
in the course of the liturgical year, could address the great topics of
the Christian faith: the Creed, the Our Father, the parts of the Mass,
the Ten Commandments and other arguments.
These thematic homilies should correspond to what has again been
authoritatively proposed by the Magisterium of the Church in the four
"pillars" of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the recent
Compendium. With this objective, the elaboration of pastoral material
was proposed, based on the triennial lectionary, which puts the
proclamation of the Scriptures in relationship with the doctrines of
the faith that spring from the same.
* * *
Offering of Human Work
The bread and wine, fruits of the earth and of the work of man, which
we place on the altar as _expression of the offering of the life of the
human family, imply that the whole of creation is assumed by Christ the
Redeemer to be transformed in his recapitulating love, and to be
presented to the Father. It should be ever more underlined that the
dignity of the work of the men and women of the whole world, through
the Eucharistic celebration, is profoundly united to the redeeming
sacrifice of Christ the Lord.
* * *
Inculturation and Celebration
For a more effective participation of the faithful in the Eucharist,
this Synod backs the promotion of greater inculturation in the realm of
the Eucharistic celebration, taking into account the possibilities of
adaptation offered by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the
criteria established by the 4th Instruction of the Congregation for
Divine Worship for an appropriate application of the conciliar
constitutions on the liturgy, of 1994, and the directives contained in
the postsynodal Exhortations "Ecclesia in Africa," "Ecclesia in Asia,"
"Ecclesia in Oceania" and "Ecclesia in America." With this objective,
the Episcopal Conferences must assume full responsibility for
increasing attempts at inculturation, fostering the appropriate balance
between criteria and directives already issued and the new adaptations.
* * *
The Art of the Eucharistic Celebration
Of great importance in the history of the celebration of the Holy Mass
and of Eucharistic adoration is the function of sacred art in its
different expressions, beginning with architecture. The latter
translates the spiritual meaning of the Church's rites in
comprehensible and concrete forms, which enlighten the mind, touch the
heart and form the will. Moreover, the study of the history of
liturgical architecture and of sacred art in general by the laity,
seminarians and above all priests, can illuminate theological
reflection, enrich catechesis and awaken that taste for symbolic
language that facilitates sacramental mystagogy.
Finally, a profound knowledge of the forms that sacred art has been
able to produce through the centuries, can help those who are called to
collaborate with the architects and artists to design appropriately, at
the service of Eucharistic life and of the present communities, both
the areas of celebration as well as the iconography.
In the case of conflict between the artistic and celebratory aspects,
priority must be given to the liturgical needs of the celebration,
according to the reform approved by the Church.
* * *
The Tabernacle and Its Location
In conformity with the Roman Missal's General Instruction (cf. n. 314),
the Synod reminds that the tabernacle for the custody of the Blessed
Sacrament must have a noble place in the church, of consideration, very
visible, looked after under the artistic aspect and appropriate to
prayer. With this objective, consult the Bishop.
* * *
Eucharist and Means of Social Communication
The means of communication, including the Internet, offer a good
service to those who cannot participate in the Mass, for example, for
reasons of health or age. Moreover, they can also reach baptized
persons who have fallen away or even nonbelievers. When the means of
communication are used, it is important to celebrate the Eucharist in
worthy, appropriate and well-prepared places. It must be remembered
that, in normal conditions, to fulfill the obligation, physical
presence is necessary in the celebration of the Eucharist, and that it
is not sufficient to follow the rite through the means of
communication. The language of image is representation and not the
reality in itself.
The liturgy must be devout and invite to prayer because it celebrates
the paschal mystery. The liturgical norms of the Church must always be
observed, value must be given to the sacred signs, attention must be
given to the artistic _expression of the place, objects and liturgical
vestments. It is necessary to ensure that the singing and music
correspond to the mystery celebrated and to the liturgical time.
* * *
As fruit of the Year of the Eucharist, the Synod strongly recommends
that significant efforts be made to give value to and to live the "Dies
Domini" in the whole Church. It is necessary to affirm anew the central
character of Sunday and of the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist in
the different communities of the diocese, especially in the parishes
(cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium" 42). Sunday is truly the day in which one
celebrates with others the risen Christ, sanctified day and consecrated
to the Creator, day of rest and availability. The Sunday Eucharistic
celebration is a humanizing grace for the individual and the family,
because it nourishes the Christian identity with contact with the Risen
One. Therefore, the duty to participle is triple: with God, with
oneself and with the community.
It is intended to help the faithful to consider as paradigmatic the
experience of the primitive community and that of the generations of
the first centuries. Christian must be given the opportunity, through
catechesis and preaching, to meditate on the "Dies Christi" as the day
of the Lord's Resurrection and, therefore, as a feast of deliverance, a
day given to enjoy the goods of the Kingdom of God, day of joy because
of the encounter with the Living, present among us.
We hope therefore that the Day of the Lord will also become the day of
Christians, respected by the whole society with rest from work.
Manifestations proper to the Christian community should be organized
around the Eucharistic celebration, such as friendly get-togethers;
formation of children, young people and adults in the faith;
pilgrimages; works of charity; and different moments of prayer.
Although Saturday afternoon belongs already to Sunday (First Vespers),
and it is permitted to fulfill the Sunday obligation with the
pre-festive Mass, it is necessary to remember that it is the day of
Sunday in itself which must be sanctified so that there is no "void of
* * *
The Word of God in Christian Prayer
The Eucharistic celebration is the central celebration of the Church
but, for the spiritual life of a community, the celebrations of the
Word of God are also of great importance.
Such celebrations offer the community the possibility to further its
reflection on the Word of God. Forms of access to the Word of God may
also be used which have been demonstrated to be valid in the
catechetical and pastoral endeavor, such as dialogue, silence or other
creative elements like gestures and music.
Moreover, the forms of the Liturgy of the Hours, confirmed by
tradition, should be recommended to the communities, especially Lauds,
Vespers and Compline, and also the holding of vigils. The introductions
to the psalms and readings of the Office may lead to a more profound
experience of the event of Christ and of the economy of salvation that,
in turn, can enrich the understanding of the Eucharistic mystery.
It will be decisive that whoever leads such celebrations not only have
a good theological formation but that, stemming from personal spiritual
experience, be able to draw closer to the heart of the Word of God.
* * *
Eucharistic Celebration in Small Groups
Holy Masses celebrated in small groups must foster a more conscious,
active and fruitful participation in the Eucharist. The following
criteria have been suggested:
-- small groups must serve to unite the parish community, not to
-- they must respect the needs of the different types of faithful, so
that they foster the fruitful participation of the whole assembly;
-- they must be guided by clear and precise directives;
-- they must keep in mind that, in the measure possible, the unity of
the family must be preserved.
* * *
The Presbyter and Liturgical Ministries
The tasks of the priest and of other liturgical ministries must be
The true subject who acts in the liturgy is Christ risen and glorified
in the Holy Spirit. Christ however includes the Church in his action
and commitment. The priest is, irreplaceably, the one who presides over
the whole Eucharistic celebration, from the initial greeting to the
final blessing. This is because, in the Eucharistic celebration, he, in
virtue of his priestly ordination, represents Jesus Christ, head of the
Church and also, properly, the Church herself.
The deacon, educating the faithful in the hearing of the Word of God,
in praise and in prayer, can inculcate love of the Eucharist.
The collaboration of the laity in the liturgical service and,
especially, in the celebration of the Eucharist, has always existed.
With the Second Vatican Council (cf. "Apostolicam Actuositatem," 24)
and the consequent liturgical reform, it has subsequently been urged
(cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, published on January 25,
2004, numbers 103-107).
In these ministries, the Church is reflected as unity in the plurality
of forms, and also expressed, in a representative manner, is a form
proper to the "actuosa participatio" of the faithful. These ministries
must be introduced according to their specific mandate and according to
the real needs of the community that celebrates.
The persons in charge of these lay liturgical services must be
carefully chosen, well prepared and supported by permanent formation.
Their appointment must be temporary. These persons must be known by the
community and must receive grateful acknowledgment from the same. The
liturgical norms and regulations serve to give a clear orientation on
the economy of salvation, "communio" and the unity of the Church.
* * *
Reverence for the Holy Eucharist
To be observed before the consecrated Host is the practice of
genuflection or other gestures of worship, according to different
cultures. The importance of kneeling is recommended during significant
moments of the Eucharistic prayer, with a sense of worship and praise
of the Lord present in the Eucharist. Moreover, thanksgiving after
Communion should be promoted, including with a time of silence.
* * *
The Reception of Holy Communion
In our plural and multicultural society, it is appropriate that the
meaning of Holy Communion be explained also to those who are not
baptized or other persons belonging to non-Catholic Churches and
communities, present in the Holy Mass on the occasion, for example, of
Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communion, weddings and funerals.
In many metropolises and cities, especially rich in art, visitors of
other religions and creeds and nonbelievers often attend the Eucharist.
It must be explained to these persons, in a delicate but clear manner,
that non-admission to Holy Communion does not mean a lack of esteem.
Also Catholic faithful that, permanently or occasionally, do not
fulfill the necessary requirements, must be aware that the celebration
of the Holy Mass, even without personal participation in sacramental
Communion, continues to be valid and significant. No one should be
afraid of giving a negative impression if they do not go to Communion.
In some situations, a celebration of the Word of God is recommended
instead of the Holy Mass. Pastors of souls must be concerned to lead
the greatest possible number of men to Christ, who calls all to himself
-- and not only in Holy Communion -- so that they will have eternal
* * *
The Use of Latin in Liturgical Celebrations
To express better the unity and universality of the Church in the
celebration of the Eucharist during international meetings, ever more
frequent today, it is proposed:
-- to suggest that the concelebration of the Mass be in Latin (except
Readings, the homily and the Prayer of the Faithful). So also should be
the prayers of the tradition of the Church, and musical compositions of
Gregorian chant should eventually be sung;
-- to recommend that priests be prepared in the seminary to understand
and celebrate the Mass in Latin, as well as to use Latin prayers and
know how to value Gregorian chant;
-- to not neglect the possibility that the faithful themselves be
educated in this respect.
* * *
The Synodal Fathers recognize the high value of concelebrations,
especially those presided over by the Bishop with his presbytery,
deacons and faithful. The competent bodies are requested, however, to
study better the practice of concelebration, when the number of
celebrants is very high.
* * *
Mission of the People of God Nourished by the Eucharist
Gratitude for Priests, Deacons and Other Liturgical Ministers and
The Synodal Assembly expresses intense gratitude, appreciation and
willingness to encourage priests, especially "fidei donum" priests, and
ministers of the Eucharist, who with competence and generous dedication
ennoble the community with the proclamation of the Word of God and the
Bread of Life.
Priests are strongly recommended to celebrate Holy Mass daily, even
when the faithful do not participate.
The Synod also thanks the permanent deacons who collaborate with the
presbyters in the work of evangelization through the proclamation of
the Word of God and distribution of Holy Communion. It would be
appropriate to promote this ministry, according to conciliar
indications. Likewise, it is important to thank instituted ministers,
consecrated men and women, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion,
catechists and other collaborators, who help to prepare and celebrate
the Eucharist and distribute it with dignity, and especially leaders
who communicate the Work of God and give Communion in community
celebrations awaiting a priest.
The Synodal Fathers very much appreciate the testimony of Christian
faithful who participate frequently in daily Eucharistic celebration,
especially those who face notable difficulties due to age and distances.
* * *
Eucharistic Spirituality and Daily Life
Christian faithful need greater understanding of the relationship
between the Eucharist and daily life. Eucharistic spirituality does not
consist only in participation in the Mass and devotion to the Most
Blessed Sacrament. It comprises the whole of life.
Above all we encourage the lay faithful to continue their search to
give the Eucharist a higher meaning in their lives and to feel hunger
for God. We ask lay theologians to express their experience of living
daily life with a Eucharistic spirit. We especially encourage families
to be inspired by and draw life from the Eucharist. In this way, they
will take part in the transformation of their baptismal vocation which
destines them to take the Good News to their neighbors.
In this context shines the prophetic testimony of consecrated women and
men, who find in the Eucharistic celebration and in Adoration the
strength for a radical following of Christ, obedient, chaste and poor.
Consecrated life has here the source of contemplation, light for
apostolic and missionary action, the ultimate meaning of their own
commitment to the poor and marginalized, and the pledge of the
realities of the Kingdom.
* * *
Divorced Persons Who Have Remarried and the Eucharist
In keeping with numerous pronouncements of the Magisterium of the
Church, and sharing the painful concern expressed by many Fathers, the
Synod of Bishops reaffirms the importance of a pastoral position and
action of care and acceptance of divorced faithful who have remarried.
According to the Tradition of the Catholic Church, they may not be
admitted to Holy Communion, being in a condition of objective contrast
with the Word of the Lord who restored to marriage the original value
of indissolubility (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1640),
attested by his spousal surrender on the cross and communicated to the
baptized through the grace of the sacrament.
Divorced persons who have remarried however belong to the Church, which
receives them and looks after them with special care so that they will
cultivate a Christian style of life through participation in the Holy
Mass -- even if they do not receive Holy Communion -- listening to the
Word of God, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, participation in community
life, confidential dialogue with a priest or a master of the spiritual
life, dedication to lived charity, works of penance, and the commitment
to educate their children.
If subsequently the nullity of the marital bond is not recognized, and
there are objective conditions that in fact make living together
irreversible, the Church encourages them to be committed to live their
relationship according to the exigencies of the law of God,
transforming it into a loyal and solidaristic friendship; so they will
again be able to approach the Eucharistic banquet, with the care
provided by the proven ecclesial practice. The blessing of these
relationships, however, must be avoided so that confusion will not
arise among the faithful on the value of marriage.
At the same time, the Synod hopes that all possible efforts will be
made to ensure the pastoral character, presence and correct and
solicitous activity of the ecclesiastical tribunals in regard to causes
of marital annulment (cf. "Dignitas Connubii"), both furthering
ultimately the essential elements for the validity of marriage, as well
as taking into account the problems arising from the context of
profound anthropological transformation of our time, by which the
faithful themselves run the risk of being conditioned, especially if
they lack a solid Christian formation.
The Synod considers, however, that great care must be taken to ensure
the formation of engaged couples and to prior proof that they share
effectively the convictions and commitments which cannot be given up
for the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It asks Bishops and
parish priests to have the courage to make a serious discernment, in
order to avoid emotional impulses or superficial reasons leading
engaged couples to assume a great responsibility with themselves, with
the Church and with society, to which later they will be unable to
Admission of Non-Catholic Faithful to Communion
Based on the communion of all Christians, which the one Baptism already
keeps active, though not yet in a complete manner, separation before
the Lord's banquet is justly experienced as something painful. Both
within the Catholic Church as well by our non-Catholic brothers and
sisters, there often arises as a consequence the urgent request for the
possibility of Eucharistic Communion between Catholic Christians and
others. It must be clarified that the Eucharist does not only signify
our personal communion with Jesus Christ, but above all the full
communion of the Church.
Therefore, we ask non-Catholic Christians to understand and respect the
fact that for us, according to biblically based tradition, Eucharistic
Communion and ecclesial communion are closely linked; therefore,
Eucharistic Communion with non-Catholic Christians is not generally
possible. Even more does an ecumenical concelebration have to be
excluded. It should also be clarified that, in view of personal
salvation, the admission of non-Catholic Christians to the Eucharist,
to the sacrament of penance and to the anointing of the sick, in
specific individual situations, under precise conditions, is possible
and even recommended ("Unitatis Redintegratio" 8, 15; Ecumenical
Directory 129-131; Code of Canon Law 844, 3-4; Code of the Eastern
Churches 671, 4; encyclical letter "Ut Unum Sint," 46; encyclical
letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 46).
The synod insists that the conditions expressed in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church (1398-1401) and its Compendium (293) be observed.
* * *
The Eucharist for the World
Eucharist and Mission
The faithful are invited to be aware that an authentically Eucharistic
Church is a missionary Church. In fact, the Eucharist is source of
mission. In the Eucharist we become increasingly disciples of Christ,
listening to the Word of God, which leads us to a communal encounter
with the Lord, through the celebration of the memorial of his Death and
Resurrection, and through sacramental communion with him. This
Eucharistic encounter is realized in the Holy Spirit who transforms and
sanctifies us. It awakens in the disciple the determined will to
proclaim to others with boldness what has been heard and lived, to lead
them also to the same encounter with Christ. In this way, the disciple,
sent by the Church, opens to a mission without borders.
At the same time that we thank all active Christian missionaries in the
world, we remind about the need to recognize Christ as the only Savior.
In missionary education, the centrality of the affirmation of unicity
must be manifested in all possible ways. This will prevent the decisive
work of human promotion implicit in evangelization being reduced to a
mere sociological note.
The fathers have underlined the grave difficulties that affect the
mission of those Christian communities that live in conditions of
minority, or even in contexts deprived of religious freedom.
* * *
Eucharistic Spirituality and Sanctification of the World
The Eucharist is at the origin of every form of holiness. To develop a
profound Eucharistic spirituality, it is necessary that the Christian
people, who give thanks through the Eucharist, be aware of doing so in
the name of the whole of creation, aspiring to the sanctification of
the world, and working for the same. Christian life finds its own path
in the Eucharistic celebration. The offering itself, communion, and
solidarity are aspects of the "logike latreia" (Cf. Romans 12:1).
Promotion of daily participation in the celebration of Holy Mass is, in
the Latin rites, an effective means to develop this spirituality,
nucleus of family, professional, social and political life.
The daily offering (taught, for example, in the Apostleship of Prayer,
practiced by millions of Catholics worldwide) can help each one to
become a "Eucharistic figure," following the example of Mary, uniting
one's own life to that of Christ, who offers himself for humanity.
* * *
The Eucharist and the Sick
We consider it of utmost importance to favor Eucharistic celebration
for the sick, through an appropriate catechesis on active participation
in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. A special
significance of the Eucharist, as summit of Christian life, is enclosed
in its reception as Holy Viaticum. Given that it opens paschal fullness
to the sick person, it is recommended that its practice be intensified.
It is especially requested that Eucharistic Communion be provided to
baptized and confirmed mentally disabled persons: The latter receive
Communion in the faith of the family and of the community that support
The impossibility of knowing the effective sensitivity proper to
certain types of sick people is not sufficient reason not to give them
all the sacramental supports of which the Church disposes. It is
important that those who suffer from disability may be recognized as
members of the Church in all aspects, and have their just place in her.
It is desirable, moreover, that the architectural functionality of
churches facilitates their participation in celebrations.
* * *
Eucharist and Migrants
The Synod, thanking all those who work in this field, invites all
Bishops to exercise their pastoral care to migrants.
These faithful must be received as members of the Body of Christ
itself, regardless of their race, status or condition, especially in
the Eucharistic celebration. The charity of Christ urges that other
local Churches and institutes of consecrated life generously help those
dioceses that receive a great number of migrants.
Moreover, in so far as possible, migrants of the Eastern rite must be
able to be assisted by their priests. The "Dies orientalis" must be
established in seminaries so that Eastern liturgies are better known.
* * *
Eucharistic Coherence of Catholic Politicians and Lawmakers
Catholic politicians and lawmakers must feel especially questioned in
their conscience, properly formed, about the grave social
responsibility of introducing and supporting iniquitous laws. There is
no Eucharistic coherence when laws are promoted that go against man's
integral good, against justice and the natural law. Private and public
choice cannot be separated, placing oneself in contradiction with the
law of God and the teaching of the Church, and this must also be
considered in regard to the Eucharistic reality (cf. 1 Corinthians
In applying this guideline, Bishops must exercise the virtues of
fortitude and prudence, taking into account the concrete local
* * *
Eucharist and Ecology
Christians Reinforced by the Sacrament of the Eucharist
Christians, reinforced by the sacrament of the Eucharist, must be more
decidedly committed to witnessing the presence of God in the world. The
Church should promote a change of mentality and heart to facilitate a
harmonious and responsible relationship of the human being with
Contemplation and gratitude for creation, gift of God's love, can be a
means of evangelization for people today, whose ecological concern can
be given a new religious meaning by recognizing God's call to humanity
to exercise a responsible service before his work as Creator,
consistent with Christian hope.
This reflection may also help Christians to relate the doctrine on
creation with that of the "new creation," inaugurated in the
resurrection of Christ, new Adam, who has given the Church the task of
preparing the transformation of creation in the "new heavens and the
* * *
Social Dimension of the Eucharist
Christ's Sacrifice is Mystery of Deliverance that Questions Us
Christ's sacrifice is mystery of deliverance that questions us. In the
commitment to transform unjust structures to restore man's dignity,
created in the image and likeness of God, the Eucharist becomes in life
what it means in the celebration. This dynamic movement opens to the
world: It questions the process of globalization which not infrequently
increases the inequality between rich and poor countries; it denounces
those political and economic powers that deplete the earth's riches;
reminds about the serious exigencies of distributive justice in face of
the inequalities that cry out to heaven; it encourages Christians to
commit themselves and act in political life and social action.
Especially worrying are the HIV/AIDS pandemic, drugs and alcoholism.
Prisoners deserve special pastoral care so that they can take part in
the Eucharist and receive Holy Communion.
Any one who participates in the Eucharist must be committed to building
peace in our world, marked by many forms of violence and wars, and
today in a special way by terrorism, financial corruption and sexual
exploitation. The restoration of justice, reconciliation and
forgiveness are conditions to build a true peace.
To be educated in charity and justice, the faithful should take
advantage of the social Magisterium, which has just been presented in
the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church."
* * *
Eucharist and Reconciliation of Peoples in Conflict
The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion among brothers who accept
to be reconciled in Christ, who has made of Jews and Greeks only one
people, breaking down the wall of hatred that separated them (cf.
Ephesians 2:14). During this Synod, several testimonies reported that
thanks to Eucharistic celebrations, peoples in conflict have been able
to come together around the Word of God, to listen to his prophetic
announcement of reconciliation through free forgiveness and receive the
grace of conversion that allows communion with the same bread and the
same cup. Jesus Christ, who offers himself in the Eucharist, reinforces
communion among brothers and, in particular, urges those who are in
conflict to hasten their reconciliation, through dialogue and justice.
This allows for communing worthily with the Body and Blood of Christ
(cf. Matthew 5:23-24).
* * *
"Verum Corpus Natum de Maria Virgine"
The Church sees in Mary, "Eucharistic Woman," above all at the foot of
the cross, its own figure and contemplates her as irreplaceable model
of Eucharistic life; on the altar, in the presence of the "Verum Corpus
natum de Maria Virgine" [true Body born of Mary Virgin] the Church
venerates through the priest, with special gratitude, the Most Holy
Christians commend to Mary, Mother of the Church, their life and work.
Exerting themselves to have Mary's same sentiments, they help the whole
community to live as a living offering, pleasing to the Father.
Pope's Homily at Close of Year of the Eucharist
"We Must Start Again From the Eucharist"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily Benedict
XVI delivered in Italian, Polish, Ukrainian and Spanish during the Mass
that closed the Synod on the Eucharist and the Year of the Eucharist,
and in which he canonized five new saints.
* * *
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On this 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, our Eucharistic celebration is
enriched for various reasons that impel us to give thanks to God.
Concurrently, the Year of the Eucharist and the Ordinary Assembly of
the Synod of Bishops have come to an end, dedicated to this Eucharistic
mystery in the life and mission of the Church, while, shortly, five
blessed will be proclaimed saints: the Bishop Jozef Bilczewski, the
priests Gaetano Catanoso, Zygmunt Gorazdowski and Alberto Hurtado
Cruchaga, and the religious Capuchin Felice of Nicosia.
Today is also World Mission Sunday, a yearly appointment that reawakens
the impulse for the mission in the ecclesial community. With joy, I
greet all those present, first the synodal fathers, and then the
pilgrims who have come from various nations, together with their
pastors, to celebrate the new saints. Today's liturgy invites us to the
contemplation of the Eucharist as the source of holiness and spiritual
nourishment for our mission in the world: This supreme "gift and
mystery" manifests and communicates the fullness of God's love to us.
The word of the Lord, echoed just now in the Gospel, reminded us that
all of divine law is summarized in love. The dual commandment to love
God and neighbor encloses the two aspects of a sole dynamism of the
heart and of life. Jesus thus achieves the ancient revelation, not in
adding an unedited commandment, but by realizing in himself and in his
own salvific action the living synthesis of the two great words of the
old covenant: "You will love your God the Lord with all your heart ..."
and "you will love your neighbor as yourself" (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5;
In the Eucharist, we contemplate the sacrament of this living synthesis
of the law: Christ gives us, with himself, the full realization of the
love for God and the love for our brothers. And this love of his, he
communicates to us when we are nourished by his Body and his Blood.
This is when what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in today's
reading is achieved: "You broke with the worship of false gods and
became the servants of the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
This conversion is the beginning of the path of holiness that the
Christian is called to achieve in his own existence.
The saint is he who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his
perfect truth to be progressively transformed by it. Because of this
beauty and truth, he is ready to renounce everything, even himself. The
love of God is enough, which he experiences in the humble and
disinterested service to the neighbor, especially to those who cannot
give back in return.
How providential, in this perspective, is the fact that today the
Church points out to all its members five new saints who, nourished by
Christ the living bread, were converted to love and modeled their whole
existence to this! In different situations and with different charisms,
they loved the Lord with all their heart and the neighbor as themselves
to thus become "an example to all believers" (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
St. Jozef Bilczewski was a man of prayer. The holy Mass, the Liturgy of
the Hours, meditation, the rosary and the other pious practices formed
part of his daily life. A particularly long time was dedicated to
Eucharistic adoration. Even St. Zygmunt Gorazdowski became famous for
the devotion founded on the celebration and adoration of the Eucharist.
Living Christ's offering urged him toward the sick, the poor and the
The deep knowledge of theology, faith and Eucharistic devotion of Jozef
Bilczewski made him an example for priests and a witness for all the
faithful. Zygmunt Gorazdowski, in founding the Association of Priests,
the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and other charitable
institutions, always let himself be guided by the spirit of communion,
which is fully revealed in the Eucharist.
"You must love the Lord your God with all your heart. You must love
your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). This was the program of
life of St. Alberto Hurtado, who wished to identify himself with the
Lord and love the poor with his same love. The formation received in
the Society of Jesus, consolidated by prayer and adoration of the
Eucharist, allowed him to be conquered by Christ, being the true
contemplative in action. In love and in the total commitment to God's
will, he found the strength for the apostolate.
He founded The Home of Christ for the most needy and for those without
a roof, offering them a family atmosphere full of human warmth. In his
priestly ministry, he emphasized simplicity and availability toward
others, being the living image of the teacher, "docile and humble of
heart." At the end of his days, amid the strong pains from his illness,
he still had the strength to repeat: "Content, Lord, content," thus
expressing the joy with which he always lived.
St. Gaetano Catanoso was a worshipper and apostle of the Holy Face of
Christ. "The Holy Face," he said, "is my life. He is my strength." With
joyful intuition he fostered this devotion to Eucharistic piety. He
would express himself with these words: "If we wish to adore the Real
Face of Jesus ... we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with
the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the face of our Lord is hidden
under the white veil of the Host."
Daily Mass and frequent adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar were
the soul of his priesthood: With ardent and untiring pastoral charity
he dedicated himself to preaching, to catechesis, to the ministry of
confession, to the poor, to the sick, to the care of priestly
vocations. To the Veronican Sisters of the Holy Face, which he founded,
he transmitted the spirit of charity, of humility and of sacrifice,
which enlivened his entire existence.
St. Felice of Nicosia loved to repeat during all joyous or sad
circumstances: "Be it for the love of God." Thus we can well understand
how intense and concrete in him was the experience of the love of God
revealed to men in Christ. This humble Capuchin Friar, illustrious son
of the land of Sicily, austere and penitent, faithful to the most
genuine expressions of the Franciscan tradition, was gradually modeled
and transformed by the love of God, lived and realized in the love for
the neighbor. Father Felice helps us to discover the value of the
little things that make our lives more precious, and he teaches us to
grasp the meaning of family and of service to the brothers, showing
that true and lasting joy, which every human being's heart desires, is
the fruit of love.
Dear and venerated synodal fathers, for three weeks we lived together
in a climate of renewed Eucharistic fervor. Now I would like, with you
and in the name of the entire episcopacy, to send a fraternal greeting
to the bishops of the Church in China.
With deep sadness we felt the lack of their representatives. I would
like to assure all the Chinese priests that we are close with prayer to
them and to their priests and faithful. The suffering path of the
communities, entrusted to their pastoral care, is present in our
hearts: This will not remain fruitless, because it is a participation
in the paschal mystery, to the glory of the Father.
The synodal work allowed us to deepen the salient aspects of this
mystery, given to the Church from the beginning. Contemplation of the
Eucharist must urge all members of the Church, in the first place the
priests, ministers of the Eucharist, to revive their commitment of
faith. The celibacy that the priests received as a precious gift and
the sign of the undivided love toward God and the neighbor is founded
upon the Eucharistic mystery, celebrated and adored.
Eucharistic spirituality must also be the interior motor of any
activity for the lay persons, and no dichotomy is admissible between
faith and life in their mission of spreading the spirit of Christianity
in the world.
While the Year of the Eucharist is coming to an end, how can we not
give thanks to God for the many gifts given to the Church during this
time? And how can we not take up, once again, the invitation by the
beloved Pope John Paul II to "start again from Christ"? Just as the
disciples of Emmaus who, with hearts warmed by the words of the Risen
One and illuminated by his living presence, recognized in the breaking
of the bread, without pause returned to Jerusalem and proclaimed
Christ's resurrection, we too must take up the path again, animated by
the fervent desire to give witness to the mystery of this love that
gives hope to the world.
In this Eucharistic perspective, today's World Mission Sunday is well
situated, to which the venerated Servant of God John Paul II gave as a
theme for reflection: "Mission: Bread broken for the life of the world."
The ecclesial community, when celebrating the Eucharist, especially on
the Lord's Day, is always more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ
is "for many" (Matthew 26:28) and the Eucharist urges the Christian to
be the "broken bread" for others, to commit oneself for a more just and
more brotherly world. Even today, faced with the crowds, Christ
continues to exhort his disciples: "Give them something to eat
yourselves" (Matthew 14:16) and, in his name, the missionaries proclaim
and witness the Gospel, at times even to the sacrifice of life.
Dear friends, we must start again from the Eucharist. May Mary help us,
a Eucharistic woman, to be in love with it, help us to "remain" in the
love of Christ, to be intimately renewed by him. Docile to the action
of the Spirit and attentive to man's needs, the Church then will be a
greater beacon of light, of true joy and hope, achieving fully her
mission as the "sign and instrument of the unity of the whole human
race" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 1).