The Holy See Search



2-23 October 2005

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church

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Translations are not official.

English Edition


10 - 06.10.2005





At 4:30 p.m. today, Thursday 6 October 2005, with the Prayers for the Success of the Synod, the Seventh General Congregation, for the continuation of the interventions of the Synodal Fathers was held in the Hall on the Synodal topic The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.

The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Card. Francis ARINZE, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


In this Seventh General Congregation the following Fathers intervened:

- H.E. Most. Rev. Lucio Andrice MUANDULA, Bishop of Xai-Xai (MOZAMBIQUE)
- H. Em. Card. Antonio María ROUCO VARELA, Archbishop of Madrid (SPAIN)
- H. B. Emmanuel III DELLY, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church (IRAQ)
- H. Em. Card. Godfried DANNEELS, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, Malines-Bruxelles, President of the Episcopal Conference (BELGIUM)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Louis CHAMNIERN SANTISUKNIRAM, Archbishop of Thare and Nonseng (THAILAND)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Luciano Pedro MENDES DE ALMEIDA, S.I, Archbishop of Mariana (BRAZIL)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Nestor NGOY KATAHWA, Bishop of Kolwezi (CONGO R.)
- H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX TARMOUNI, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church (LEBANON)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Michael Louis FITZGERALD, M. Afr., Titular Archbishop of Nepte, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (VATICAN CITY)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Charles Maung BO, S.D.B., Archbishop of Yangon, President of the Episcopal Conference (MYANMAR)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Julián LÓPEZ MARTÍN, Bishop of León (SPAIN)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Thomas Christopher COLLINS, Archbishop of Edmonton (CANADA)

Below are the summaries of the interventions:

- H.E. Most. Rev. Lucio Andrice MUANDULA, Bishop of Xai-Xai (MOZAMBIQUE)

The starting point of my intervention is the theme itself of this XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church”, a topic which seems to direct us towards studying further in depth the pastoral, spiritual and ecclesiological aspects of the Eucharist.
I will only talk about the pastoral and ecclesiological aspects of the priest, as minister authorized to celebrate the Eucharist.
Therefore, starting from the assumption of the Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and the Mission of the Church, and considering that the current statistical data tell us about great scarcity of priests in the world, it comes naturally to me to ask to what extent an ecclesial community without the Sacrament of the Eucharist can reach that dynamism of life which allows it to change into a missionary community capable of fulfilling with joy the missionary project which the Lord Jesus himself entrusted us: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you” (Mt 28:19-20).
In other words, how can, members of an ecclesial community living without the Eucharist, reach the perfection of Christian life, that state of holiness that comes from communion with the Lord and then makes him become, through their participation in the salvific work of Christ, light of the world and salt of the earth (Cf. Mt 5: 13-16)?
Therefore, one must insist on the equal redistribution of priests in the world, as already mentioned several times by the Synodal Fathers, and it is urgent to re-propose to the whole Church, in particular to priests, a true Eucharistic spirituality, all marked by the gratuity of the sacrifice of Christ, who gives himself as Eucharistic bread so that everybody can have access to the new life of grace.

[00138-02.04] [IN131] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Em. Card. Antonio María ROUCO VARELA, Archbishop of Madrid (SPAIN)

It is good to specify the objectives of the Synod in the light of the topic fixed by Pope John Paul II, and then, confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI, but bearing in mind the present moment of the Church and its more urgent pastoral needs today.
For this one must start from the doctrine of the Vatican Council II on the Church in its intimate and essential relationship with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”has recently shed light on. The Vatican Council II has taken up in a beautiful theological synthesis the doctrinal and pastoral fruits of liturgical, spiritual and apostolic renewal, which the Church lived through in the first half of the XX century.
Subsequently, one must confront the antithesis to the Council that the radically secularizing interpretations of the contents, the meaning and the forms of celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrament, “fons et culmen totius vitae christianae”, have represented; this without forgetting the hindrance implied by the ecclesiological questioning on liturgical reform by small groups.
We find ourselves, then, in a time of a new doctrinal and pastoral synthesis, which is clarifying and overcoming those antitheses:
1. Through the way of a renewal from a paschal point of view of the doctrine, the catechesis and the practical experience of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as that in which the sacrifice and priestly oblation of Christ is re-actualized, substantially present in the Eucharistic species.
2. Through a canonical and pastoral pedagogy, which is careful with and respectful of the ecclesial communion, and which eliminates subjectivism and arbitrariness in forms of Eucharistic celebration and worship.
3. And by the encouraging of a Eucharistic spirituality based upon habit and experience of the adoration of the Sacrament par excellence, “the Sacrament of the Love of Loves”, nourishment for the sanctification of the faithful and power to be active witnesses of the Gospel in the world.

[00139-02.06] [IN137] [Original text: Spanish]

- H. B. Emmanuel III DELLY, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church (IRAQ)

A Brief word on the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist according to the tradition, the liturgy and the devotion of the faithful Chaldeans, members of the Oriental Church known as the Chaldean Church which developed in the Empire of Partho and of the Sassanids across the bank of the Euphrates River up to China, Mongolia, Tibet and then India.
This Church born in Mesopotamia and in Persia, had the grace to receive the first preaching by the Apostles and the first Disciples of Christ, already from the first century after Pentecost it teaches us the Eucharistic doctrine confirmed today by the faith and by the doctrine of the Western Catholic Church.
The Chaldean Oriental Church considers Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament really present in the Eucharist as the “victim for our sins” source of life for men, fire that burns sins and purifies hearts, and often quotes the prophecy of Isaiah in its liturgical books - Isaiah who speaks of the “Servant of Yahweh” who bears the sins of the world.
Jesus in the Eucharist is the light that for the path that leads to Eternal life and the Master who teaches us. He is our strength and our consolation in the difficulties and persecutions, he is the living manna which gives us life and supports us. He is the nourishing food of the Banquet which the Heavenly Father made.
Jesus gave Himself to His Bride, the Church, and the Church in turn did this through the Priests. The Chaldean Church nurtures a great devotion in the Eucharist participating in the Solemn processions of the Most Holy Sacrament.
She is preparing her children to follow the tradition of their fathers and prays saying: “Merciful Lord, the gift of Yourself to us mortals is great: For water you clothed us with Your Spirit, for bread you made us eat Your Body and for Your living Blood you sanctified us, hence you united us with the Spiritual Entities and You lift us to Heaven from earth. Amen”.

[00140-02.05] [IN141] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Em. Card. Godfried DANNEELS, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, Malines-Bruxelles, President of the Episcopal Conference (BELGIUM)

This Synod on the Eucharist has two objectives. First of all we wish to reflect and study further in depth our knowledge of the riches of the mystery of the Eucharist and of its liturgy to love and celebrate it better. The second objective of this Synod is to work so that all these riches will be rooted in a post modern culture, which is, under certain aspects and at first sight, not favorable to this..
However, our culture is full of paradoxes. An opposite tendency is hidden under this negativity: for contemporary man the perception of the invisible is difficult. However, there is some interest for everything beyond the horizon, beyond what is sensitive, rational, efficacity and productivity. In addition, contemporary man is a being of action, but inside this man is also hidden a great thirst for gratuity, of the gift. He does not like the ritual because it is repetitive and monotonous, but nonetheless he invents his own rituals all the time. The Christian eschatology seems to be forgotten and even misleading, yet there never has been such thirst for a better world and such a need for hope. Although the symbolism of the Eucharistic liturgy is neither well perceived nor appreciated, we cannot say that our culture is blind towards symbols. It invents new ones every day. It is also true that contemporary man tends to manipulate and be possessive, but there is also oblative generosity almost without borders (tsunami). Contemporary man wants to move and our liturgies have often become very active, even activist. But we have forgotten that for many of our contemporaries are truly thirsting for silence. Perhaps we have misunderstood the sense of actuosa participatio, which also implies silence before the mystery. All these elements of our culture lead, in themselves, to some seeds for evangelization of our culture, and better evangelization, which is the celebration of the liturgy itself. It is, of itself, the first evangelizer.

[00141-02.03] [1N130] [Original text: French]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Louis CHAMNIERN SANTISUKNIRAM, Archbishop of Thare and Nonseng (THAILAND)

It goes without saying that secularization is destroying the faith of Catholics as well as other people in Thailand. People are less religious. They are desperately looking for new gods who, they think, might help them to be happy in their life. The Church in Thailand should help the faithful to examine their faith in God and especially in Christ being present in the Eucharist.
Faith formation on the Eucharist is a matter of urgency to be expedited. As clearly manifested, Catholic devotion toward the Eucharist is currently very weak especially among children and youth. It is, therefore, of utmost urgent necessity that a systematic and continuing formation on faith in the Eucharist be launched at first in creating the awareness of sacredness of the Eucharist with the real presence of Jesus Christ. There are also other indications that devotion to the Eucharist is not yet deep. Many a Catholic may consider receiving the Holy Communion a mere social practice so they go to communion without proper preparation. At the same time, formation on the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also quite important. This is to help the faithful to receive the Holy Communion properly by way of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The faithful must be clearly and repeatedly educated that their life is a journey to the Father and must be nourished by the Bread of Life. Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel, is ready to accompany everyone to eternal life.
As the faithful are part of the mystical Body of Christ who is the head, participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic celebration must be active. They should be encouraged by their parish priest to form a liturgical committee to prepare in a good and meaningful way for the assembly.
To achieve the objective: formulation of faith in the Eucharist, promotion of lively participation in the Holy Mass and making Sunday the day of Eucharistic celebration become the culture of life for the faithful; the Bishops' Conference of Thailand will appoint an ad hoc committee consisting of the committee for liturgy and the theological advisory committee to expedite the above agenda until the goal has been achieved within 5 years by using all kinds of media.

[00142-02.05] [IN133] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Luciano Pedro MENDES DE ALMEIDA, S.I, Archbishop of Mariana (BRAZIL)

This commentary refers to n. 37 of the Instrumentum Laboris that talks about”sacrifice, memorial and shared meal”.
1. The sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist is at the centre of the Eucharistic mystery: “the death and resurrection of Jesus”. The sacrifice of our Lord sheds great light on the meaning of human suffering and of the whole life of Christians, and allows us to understand why Christians, once forgiven and living in the grace of God, continue to suffer in this world in the midst of trials, without being spared.
2, The Sacrifice of the Church
But the Lord wanted to associate his Church with his offering of love: “Do this in memory of me”. In this way, the Church, the community of the faithful, is called by Jesus to live the “Eucharistic form”, to offer their own life through Him, with him and in Him, for the salvation of the world. He gave his life for us and we should give our lives (1 Jn 3: 16).
The priest at the altar unites himself to the offering of the Lord, making his the words and the feelings of Christ, words of commitment of his life with Jesus “pro mundi vita”.
The faithful are called to unite their life “in Christ” and to participate with his sacrifice of love.
“Father, look with love on this, your family, that once again gathers before You in the unique sacrifice of your Christ” (cf. Eucharistic Prayer I). Thus, in the Eucharist the teaching of the Apostle Paul is realized: “I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you” (Rom 12:1).
3. The meaning of al Christian life is union with Christ, who offers Himself to the Father for the life of humanity. This is the “Eucharistic form”. This is the beauty of the daily offering taught by “The Apostolate of Prayer”, which invites the faithful to assume “Eucharistic form”, uniting their life with Mary to the heart of Christ who offers Himself for humanity.
4. The disciple of Christ remains in the unjust and violent world, in the midst of trials, for the remission of his personal sins, but also to live the “Eucharistic form”, doing good to others, bringing fruits of salvation, being salt, light and yeast in the world.
5. The mission of the disciples of Christ is to live in the grace of God and remain in the midst of tribulations in this world where hate and division exist, assuming the “Eucharistic form” in the offering of their own life out of love, completing in the flesh that which is lacking to the passion of Christ, “for the sake of his Body the Church” (Col 1:24).
The Eucharist not only gives us the strength to face with courage and love these tribulations but also gives us the light to understand the why of our sufferings united to those of Christ: it is the love that sacrifices itself for the good of one’s brothers and for the life of the world.
This gives enormous peace to our hearts, discovering the divine project of salvation that unites our lives and thus achieves mutual co-operation in each others salvation.
6. We should, therefore, penetrate the beauty of the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist and invite the people of God to take on the “Eucharistic form” of living, giving value to the central moment of the “epiclesis”, when the Holy Spirit unites us in one body, and that of the anaphora, when, in the strength of the Spirit, the Church offers her own life with Christ, for Christ and in Christ to the Father.
The Christian does not ask to be freed from the trials and sufferings that are a part of being in the world, but to remain always united to Christ, in the Church, and to offer in peace their own life, in the expectation of his coming, in the fullness of the Kingdom.

[00143-02.03] [IN147] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Nestor NGOY KATAHWA, Bishop of Kolwezi (CONGO R.)

1. Among the different dimensions of the Sacrament of Eucharist, the relationship to the Paschal Mystery is presented by the Instrumentum laboris (no. 35) as bearing a “central character”.
2. This characteristic of the Eucharist holds to its nature that which is defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his body” (no. 1362). And Ecclesia de Eucharistia specifies: “The Eucharist thus applies to men and women today the reconciliation won once for all by Christ for mankind in every age” (no. 12).
3. The Church should study this mystique more deeply, so that the people of God may be lead to experiencing in truth the communion with Christ that realizes his redeeming sacrifice.
4. In a country such as Congo-Kinshasa, the Catholic faithful should be initiated more and more to bring to the Altar their sufferings, which are those of all their people and which has existed for decades. The frustrations from injustice and social inequalities, the rancour of living in extreme poverty on an extremely rich soil and undersoil, scandalously exploited for the well being of others, the wars imposed on them bringing with them destruction and forced displacement, the upheavals of tribal and ethnic hate... to just mention a small sample, are tragedies that cover the path of the cross of the people of Congo. Being Himself, at the same time, victim and artisan of his own misery, he must be enlightened by the mystery of the delivered Body and the poured Blood to find the grace of conversion, purification of his sin, sincerity of reconciliation with God and his neighbor, commitment to fight evil under all its forms and in all areas of public and private life. That in the Eucharist, the entire people of Congo, as well as the pastors of the Church, may find comfort and the necessary energy, sources and guarantees of the rebuilding of the country, which is hoped for and awaited, to be imposed as quickly as possible. This, thanks to the good will and sincere collaboration of all. Then the consecrated ministers and the faithful will be able to interiorize this prayer of Mass: “Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given to your Church; and by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise” (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer IV). Amen

[00144-02.03] [IN145] [Original text: French]

- H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX TARMOUNI, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church (LEBANON)

Born in 301, the Armenian Church found that Sunday was already called the “Day of the Lord” by all the Churches. She did the same and developed her own rich tradition based on Sunday. The Fathers of the Armenian Church severely condemned priests who did not celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays, or those who do not respect the Sunday rest. The Sunday Eucharistic Celebration in the Armenian liturgy is solemn and is, due to this, always sung. In the Armenian and Georgian villages, far from the secularization of the big cities, I saw our faithful celebrate Sunday truly as a day of great joy and festivity, with an active participation of the whole assembly in the Eucharistic Liturgy. The Feast of Easter is the central date of the liturgical calendar, in such a way that all the Sundays of the year adapt to the date for Easter, which is mobile. The great feasts are also transferred to Sundays. Thus, the Transfiguration is celebrated on the 14th Sunday after Easter, the Assumption on the closest Sunday to August 15th and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross the closest Sunday to September 14th. In the same way, no commemoration of saints is celebrated on a Sunday, which is consecrated to the Resurrection of the Lord. Another characteristic of Sundays in the Armenian liturgy: 4 Sundays of the year for the 5 feast days called of the Tabernacles, have special veneration: Easter, the Transfiguration, the Assumption of Mary, the Exaltation of the Cross, the 5th feast being the epiphany, called Theophany. They are preceded by a period of fasting and are followed, the day after, by the commemoration for the Dead. One of the Fathers of the Armenian Church exhorts the faithful in this way: “Exalt Sunday through your good works, because Sunday is the day of the Resurrection and of freedom”.

[00073-02.03] [IN011] [Original text: French]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Michael Louis FITZGERALD, M. Afr., Titular Archbishop of Nepte, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (VATICAN CITY)

In the Eucharist the sacrifice of the Lord is offered for the whole word. Included therefore are those who belong to other religions. It is good to make this explicit from time to time, by means of the homily, through special prayers, or even through a special Mass which could be added to the Roman Missal. When people of other religions are present at the Eucharist, special attention should be given them so that they can assist with profit. Eucharistic adoration is also a time for praying for people of other religions.

[00097-02.05] [IN026] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Charles Maung BO, S.D.B., Archbishop of Yangon, President of the Episcopal Conference (MYANMAR)

In any situation in our world, our best reaction is to give our lives wholeheartedly to Christ, through prayer and penance. Prayer should especially be in the presence of Jesus Himself - in the most Blessed Sacrament.
That is the foundation of the worldwide movement for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
Pope Paul said he wrote this encyclical - Mysterium Fidei "so the hope aroused by the Council that a new era of Eucharistic piety pervade the whole Church be not frustrated." He pleaded with pastors and bishops to "tirelessly" promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Pope John Paul II, in his letter On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist (1980), wrote: "The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of His love. In the opening prayer of the Perpetual chapel in St. Peter's - Vatican the Pope prayed for every parish in the world to have perpetual adoration.
His Holiness Benedict XVI has very vividly expressed: "Let us beseech the Lord to reawaken in us the joy at His presence and that we may once more adore Him. Without adoration, there is no transformation of the world"
When asked "What will save the world?" Mother Teresa replied: "My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in holv hours of pravers."
Over 2,500 parishes around the world now have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. About 500 in the Philippines, the United States has about 1,100 chapels of perpetual adoration, the Republic of Ireland about 150, South Korea has about 70 and lesser numbers in India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Holy Father, if the Perpetual Adoration Chapels were to be established in all the dioceses in the world and in all the possible parishes, what a magnificent result would be from the Eucharistic year.
“Everything in the universe cried aloud: to tho One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be all praise and honor, glory and power forever end ever.” (Rev. 5:13)
This is true: until the Church cries out that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is worthy of perpetual adoration for all He has done for our salvation, it will continue to be defeated by it's enemies.
I believe, the best, the surest and the most effective way of establishing everlasting peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

[00098-02.05] [IN029] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Julián LÓPEZ MARTÍN, Bishop of León (SPAIN)

Starting from the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, in parallel with the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, I would like to recall the intimate relationship that exists between the Eucharist and the liturgical year, whose kernel and foundation is indeed Sunday (cf. SC 106). The liturgical year is the sacred memory, “on certain days throughout the year” especially on Sundays, that the Church does, “recalling the mysteries of redemption, it opens to the faithful the riches of the Lord’s power and merits...” (SC 102). This unfolding or development “of the whole mystery of Christ” is done by the Church above all through the Dominical and Feast Day Lectionary of the Word of God. In this way the risen Lord is always obligatory content of both Sunday and even of any Feast day.
After the proclamation of the Word, the totality of the mystery of Christ is celebrated in its essential integrity through the Eucharistic Prayer, becoming sacramentally up to date under the action of the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist is a precious stone mounted on the ring of the Liturgical Year.
Some practical implications:
1. Avoid the transferal of feast days of saints or other commemorations of minor category to Sunday. 2. Try to ensure that ecclesial Events on Sunday don’t obscure the day of the Lord. 3. Mystagogical homilies, as the Dominical and Feast Day Lectionary sufficiently allows for all the aspects of the doctrine of faith and the principles of Christian life to be touched. And 4. In the teaching of the liturgy, one must insist on this intimate relationship of the Eucharist with the liturgical year.

[00099-02.04] [IN035] [Original text: Spanish]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Thomas Christopher COLLINS, Archbishop of Edmonton (CANADA)

We should see the Eucharist not primarily as something that we create, but as the Mystery of Faith in which we encounter the Risen Christ, whose coming in glory we await, and as a divine gift that allows us access to the court of heaven. This approach to the Eucharist was found in the earliest days of the Church, in the Apocalypse, which itself arose out of the celebration of the Eucharist, and which gives us insight into its meaning.
The Christians of the Apocalypse faced challenges at least as great as ours, but they placed them within the context of a vision of the heavenly court. We need to see each celebration of the Eucharist as a door into that world of glory, which allows us to place our struggles as disciples within the energizing context of the victory of the Risen Lord. The gift of apocalyptic perspective granted to us by God through each celebration of the Eucharist allows us more clearly to assess the moral questions which we face on our daily journey.
To live authentically as Christians, we also need an apocalyptic sense of urgency. When we realize that we are hurrying towards an encounter with Christ we are able properly to evaluate the claims of this passing world of ours, and to live each brief moment to the full. It is above all in the Eucharist that we are made aware of the coming of the Lord, and this should instill in us a sense of saving urgency so that as we are sent out from the celebration we are moved to bring our life into harmony with the Lord whom we have encountered.

[00101-02.05] [IN037] [Original text: English]

Then, in the presence of the Holy Father, free interventions followed. At the end of these, the Holy Father wished to offer his own contribution to the fraternal sharing.

This General Congregation ended at 7:00 p.m. with the prayer Angelus Domini. 243 Fathers were present.


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