A Pastoral Letter on the Eucharist

In his thoughtful homily at the Canonization of Martin de Porres, Pope John XXIII spoke of the saint's devotion to the Eucharist as an exceptional mark of his holiness. In this local Church, where God has gathered together so many of His poor, I ask the saint of the poor to guide this pastoral letter so that our devotion to that same Eucharist can become like his.

1. Every once in a while among the great variety of letters which come into my office, a letter will come from someone who tells me that he or she has "left the Church." They might write and indicate that because of some dissatisfaction with a teaching or a pastoral policy or disagreement with a local pastor or Church official or perhaps because they are unhappy with my leadership and service to this diocese, they have decided to join another faith community. Whenever I get a letter like that, I always write back and ask the one question which always haunts me when someone makes that kind of a decision. I write and say, "How can you live without the Eucharist?" For we have heard the voice of Jesus saying: "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."(1)

2. Of all the great gifts that God has given us, there is none so wonderful and so filled with grace as the gift of the Eucharist which we celebrate at Holy Mass. In my own life it is an enormous grace and strength and I am so very much aware of the consolation and the blessing that it brings into the lives of our Catholic people. If it were not for the Eucharist, if it were not for this marvelous manifestation of God's love, if it were not for this opportunity to place ourselves in the very real presence of God, if it were not for the Sacrament which reminds us of His love, His suffering and His triumph, which indeed perpetuates for us His saving sacrifice on the Cross, I am sure that I could never face the challenges of my life, my own weakness and sinfulness and my own need to reach out to the living God. I feel sure that the vast majority of Catholic people have the same profound sense of the Eucharist as the center of their own lives. It is for that reason that I write now to share with you my own thoughts, concerns, and hopes as we meditate on this wondrous gift.(2)

3. As I prepared this pastoral letter, I found a wonderful quotation in the document Instruction on Worship of the Eucharist. "The celebration of the Eucharist is the center of the entire Christian life, both for the Universal Church and for the local congregations of the Church. 'The other Sacraments, like every other ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the Holy Eucharist and have it as their end. For the Eucharist contains the Church's entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ, Himself. He is our passover and living bread; through His flesh, made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, He is bringing life to people and in this way inviting and leading them to offer themselves together with Him, as well as their labors and all created things.'"(3)

4. It is our faith in this mystery of the Eucharist which, perhaps more than anything else, sets us apart as a Church and a believing people. In so many other doctrines and dogmas, we have similarities with other Christian communities. We share with them a love for God and for our Lord Jesus Christ. We participate with them in the desire and the struggle to make the world a better place in which to live. We affirm with them their faith in the Scriptures and their understanding that the Church must endure. Where we sadly part company, except for our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Churches and in those which have preserved apostolic succession, is in our clear and yet mysterious faith in the Holy Eucharist.(4)

5. We need, therefore, to proclaim this mystery, not just by our words, but by our response to this great Sacrament. We need truly to make it, as the text I cited above reminds us, "the center of the entire Christian life, both for the Universal Church and for the local congregations of the Church." More than that, we need to make it the center of our own spiritual lives, since without it we will not have the foundation on which to grow in grace and holiness. For us, the Eucharist is the unique and enormous proof of the Eternal Father's love. It was that love which sent His only Son to save the world through His death and resurrection. It was that love through which Jesus became obedient even unto death and rose again on the Sunday of the Resurrection.

6. What do we Catholics believe about the Eucharist? We believe that during the Eucharistic prayer, at the moment of consecration, in the awesome mystery of God's loving Providence, the priest will take bread in his hands and say the words of consecration and take a cup of wine and do the same. When he repeats over these ordinary things the words which Jesus Himself has commanded us to say, we believe that the elements of bread and wine are changed sacramentally, really, profoundly and miraculously into the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The material elements still remain. We still see the bread and the wine. We can still taste it. Our eyes notice no difference, but we believe that an extraordinary difference has occurred and that the simple, ordinary items of our daily lives have been totally and absolutely transformed into the very Body and Blood of Jesus. This real presence of the Lord is the very central moment of our faith. It is His greatest gift to us because it is His abiding presence among us. It is the preeminent way that He has determined to be with us until the end of time.(5)

7. Christ is the priest at Mass and it is His prayer that we are praying. The priest is only His servant, as he is your servant. He stands in persona Christi - in the person of Christ. He takes the prayers of the people and offers them to the Lord. He takes Christ's prayer and offers it to the Father. The Mass is the greatest means of uniting ourselves with God. We know that God hears our prayers and we know that the prayer of Christ is all powerful. There is no greater way to pray than with faith and confidence in the prayer of Jesus as we offer it to His Heavenly Father.(6)

8. Of course, when we try to describe this mystery, we use human terminology, but obviously, you and I can never describe what takes place with our limited human vocabulary. Jesus told us "I am the living bread come down from heaven",(7) and we who are Catholics believe with all our hearts that the Words of Jesus are true, that they are to be taken as His new covenant until He comes again. In our Mass, this bread and wine which we offer are consecrated, using His very words at the Last Supper, and they will in fact become the Body and Blood of Christ.

9. We do this, as He commanded us, in remembrance of Him. Even more, not only do we see with the eyes of faith the real presence of God in the elements of bread and wine, but this consecrated bread and wine becomes our food and drink as nourishment for this earthly journey, as strength for the perils of our passage through this vale of tears, and as a joyful banquet filling our lives with grace. This is what we as Catholics believe. It is an act of faith on our part. Without it, we are lost in the shadows of our own humanity hardly able to hear the call to the wonder of God's own saving life.

10. This is the reason that Catholics are invited to Mass as often as they can attend to participate in this Eucharistic Banquet. The Mass is not only a place of fellowship; it is not only a moment to hear the Word of God and have it explained to us; it is not only a gathering to share a meal. Of course, it is all those things. But, it is also much, much more. It is the time and place where earth and heaven meet and where we who have been so gifted with faith are invited to walk in the newness of a life that we can neither describe nor imagine without God's love.

11. Because of this, if we truly understood the wonder of the Eucharist, we would never miss Mass on those days when the Church asks us to be present.(8) We go so many miles at so much inconvenience to attend a concert or a meeting or a theater presentation. And yet, the greatest of actors and singers and musicians who have ever lived are insignificant when we compare them to the living God. The moments of drama which can be portrayed on a stage are elements of lives which do not touch us directly. The drama of the cross which is represented and reenacted in the drama of the Mass touches us to the core of our being because it is through this awesome sacrifice of Jesus that we are saved, that we have a chance at heaven and happiness, that we are given grace to live our lives in light. As we pray in the Mass of the Second Sunday of Ordinary time: "Father may we celebrate the Eucharist with reverence and love, for when we proclaim the death of the Lord you continue the work of His redemption who is Lord forever and ever."

12. There are many Catholics who find it possible to go to Mass very frequently. There is no gift to the Lord more pleasing than this. He blesses with abundant grace and love those who are able to make the sacrifice of arranging their day and their lives so that they can often come into His presence and celebrate the Eucharist. So often, during Lent and Advent, Christmas and Easter, many of our Catholic people attend daily Mass. I encourage their attendance not only at those seasons of special grace, but throughout the year. How wonderful it would be if every Catholic man and woman would find the occasion to attend Mass again at least once or twice during the week, and in this way, to deepen their union with Christ and His Church, to increase their understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist and to grow in their love for the Lord.(9)

13. As we consider the wonder of the Eucharist and the enormous value of the Mass in our lives, we must never forget that the Lord, in His extraordinary love for us, has not only given us the Eucharist, but has desired that this Eucharist be maintained as a living and lasting memorial in our tabernacles. In the document Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass we read: "The celebration of the Eucharist in the Sacrifice of the Mass, moreover, is truly the origin and purpose of the worship that is shown to the Eucharist outside Mass. Christ the Lord is offered in the Sacrifice of the Mass when He begins to be sacramentally present as the spiritual food of the faithful under the appearances of bread and wine. After the Eucharist has been offered, as long as the Eucharist is reserved in churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, God with us. Day and night He is in our midst, full of grace and truth He dwells among us."(10)

14. In those profound words we are reminded of the wonder of God's presence in the tabernacle where He is to be adored and venerated by the faithful. The Lord is not only present after the consecration during the celebration of Mass, but the real presence of God remains as long as the species of bread and wine remain after the sacrifice has been completed. He stays with us as our friend, our consolation, our comfort and our strength. This gives rise to the wonderful practice of visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and I pray that all our Catholic people will always see the value and the tremendous grace of developing such a constant practice in their own lives.(11)

15. To my brother priests I have often written urging the possibility of a daily holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. For lay people, this is not always possible, I truly understand that. But a short visit on the way to work, on the way to school, on the way home, a moment to kneel before the Lord in the Eucharist to thank Him for His gifts and ask Him for His help is truly a moment that is not wasted. On the contrary it is a moment of grace made so much more excellent by our faith in the presence of the Lord.

16. To that end, it is important that we all develop the practice of giving public signs of respect and adoration to the Eucharist in the tabernacle. Just as it is proper to bow to the cross and to the altar, so it is proper to make a genuflection before a Tabernacle in which the Sacred Species are reserved. Sometimes, I confess to being scandalized when I see believing Catholic men and women, young and old, passing in front of the tabernacle without even a notice that the Lord is there. I know that this happens thoughtlessly, and for that reason, I call it to your attention. I believe that the more we are able to concentrate on the Lord's presence among us, the more that presence will be effective in helping us to lead lives of goodness and holiness and joy.(12)

17. How beautiful it is to find mothers and fathers bringing young children to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The youngsters may not totally understand the mystery to which they are being introduced, but at least they know that this is a good and holy place and that they will find a Friend there in the living God. To that end, I would hope that more of our parishes might find it possible to have the churches open at times for adoration and prayer. I certainly appreciate how difficult and even impossible this may be in many of our parishes because of local circumstances. However, wherever it is possible to allow a certain amount of time for the people to come in and adore the Lord, I would recommend this as a policy and practice.(13)

18. I appreciate that some people have problems with regard to Mass and the Eucharist. I hear the complaints from many who say that they are bored at Mass, that the Liturgies do not inspire them, that they "get nothing out of it". Of course, we who serve the Church have an obligation to do our very best so that Liturgies become inspiring and that they are aided by all the natural abilities of word and music and ceremony.(14) On the other hand, and in the deepest sense, we might need to ask ourselves the question: If I am bored at the Mass, if I get nothing out of it, what am I bringing to it myself?" The Mass is not a theatrical production. It was never meant to be that. The Mass is an encounter with the Lord. It is, as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council described it, echoing the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, "a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us."(15) Often, therefore, if we come in hurriedly, distracted by many problems, talking to our friends or conscious only of ourselves, we will miss the whole point of the Eucharist.

19. If a man or woman really wants to deepen a personal appreciation of the Eucharist, I would ask that they allow themselves to be caught up in the mystery of what is taking place. If they truly listen to the readings, if they truly ask the Lord for forgiveness during the penitential rite, if they truly attend to the homily, if they truly offer themselves with the gifts that are presented, if they truly try to reach out to God in the Eucharistic Prayer, if they truly join with their brothers and sisters in praying the Our Father, if they do all these things and prepare well for the reception of the Eucharist, then I have no doubt that God will touch their lives and they will leave the Church overwhelmed by God's presence and love.(16)

20. To aid the faithful to participate at Mass in a deep and meaningful way is a special challenge for the parish community. It is a goal which places a tremendous burden on pastors and on the Liturgical Committees which should exist in every parish. There are greater demands made by our revised and renewed Liturgy. There are greater needs faced by our people. Our Catholic people have become used to watching on their television channels some of the finest music, some of the finest speakers and some of the best theater presentations available. It is not surprising then that they approach the Mass with a critical eye for anything that does not compare.(17)

21. We are not in the business of theater so that we can compare with those offerings. We must live in a world of faith, but a faith that in the wonder of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is enriched and emboldened and brought to life. The Mass must challenge us to lead better lives, to repent of our sins and to forgive those who have hurt us. Most of all, it must put us deeply in touch with Jesus Christ, the Lamb of Sacrifice and the Eternal Priest. When it unites us with Him in the Holy Spirit with the Heavenly Father, then it brings us to a new plane of existence where we begin to experience just what Jesus meant by eternal life.

22. One last word. I know that there are some who because of difficult situations in their own lives are not able to receive Holy Communion when they come to Mass. My heart goes out to them. All of us have loved ones who are in that situation. To them, I would say as a friend and servant and brother: "Come to Mass." Even if it is not possible for you at this moment to participate fully in the life of the Sacrament, the Lord wants you there because He loves you. He will find a way through your pain and your difficulties. He will help you find the answer for the problems of your life. Give Him a chance to show you how much He loves you. Come and listen and pray and reach out to Him through your prayer and the goodness of your life. The Lord turns no one away. Come and participate in the Mass and find that He is there for you in a special way, as well.(18)

It is almost a year ago that I promised to share my thoughts on the Eucharist with you in the form of a Pastoral Letter. During that time - and for a long period before it - I prayed for the guidance of the Lord on what I should write. These thoughts and those that are included in the Pastoral Guidelines which follow come from my heart since I believe in the very depth of my soul that it is only through deep love and respect for the Sacrament of the Eucharist that we will ever approach the throne of Grace and ultimately begin the life which we are called to live in Jesus Christ Our Lord.

May Mary, His Blessed Mother and ours, obtain for each one of us the grace of deep faith in His Real Presence on our altars and deep trust and confidence in His love.

+Theodore E. McCarrick Archbishop of Newark

 

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Patronal Feast of the Archdiocese of Newark, 1993

Pastoral Guidelines

Having shared these prayerful reflections on the Blessed Eucharist with you and in order to strengthen the devotion of our Catholic people with regard to this wondrous gift of God, I would like now to present some thought and guidelines to the pastors and faithful of this archdiocese regarding the Sacred Liturgy and the proper care of the Blessed Sacrament.

A. Preparation for Mass. So often because of crowds at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, we tend to rush in and rush out. In the archdiocese, as you know, we have tried to arrange the Sunday Mass schedule so that there is sufficient opportunity to come and go without problems of traffic and parking and without the hassle of crowded parking areas. What a blessing it would be if we could come a few minutes early and, quietly in peaceful prayer, prepare for the Mass which is to be celebrated. So often we come in just on time - or even late -and find ourselves immediately caught up in the drama of the Mass without giving ourselves even a moment to realize what we are doing and the mystery in which we are participating. How wonderful it would be if each of us would strive to come to Church a few minutes earlier so that we could be conscious of the presence of God and of the special grace we are about to share. That same hope is obviously also true at the end of Mass when, if just for a few moments, we might stay to thank the Lord for His gift of the Mass and of the Eucharist. I do of course appreciate that some people, especially on weekdays, make the sacrifice of giving up part of a lunch hour to pray the Mass and for them these extra moments may not be possible.(19)

B. The Spirit of Recollection. In some of our Churches for one reason or another the time just before Mass becomes a period of greeting and friendly conversation. On the one hand, it is wonderful that the people of a parish form bonds of friendship and affection with each other and share that on a Sunday morning. On the other hand, this too can be a distraction as we prepare to begin the Eucharist. It is good for us to form community, but it is better if we can do it in a way that still allows a few moments to recollect our thoughts, our prayers, our needs and our hopes, so that as the Mass begins we can put ourselves more deeply into the mystery and reach out with more recollection to touch the wonder of God's love.

C. The Place of Music in the Liturgy. As we speak of holy silence and the need to be recollected, this also is something for the music ministers and choir directors to reflect on, too. Music and silence are both forms of prayer,(20) and therefore there should be moments of holy silence during the Mass, as well. Certainly, I believe in the great blessing of music as an aid to prayer and as prayer itself, and I encourage it, but I also know that there are times during the sacrifice when there is a need for a time of reflection and thoughtful silent prayer.(21)

D. The Kind of Music in the Liturgy. For those who direct music in a parish Church, I would ask that they always have in mind that the music at Mass must always be prayer and never a performance. It should, therefore, be possible for the congregation to sing most of what is being presented. The choir and soloists may surely be given the opportunity for some individual singing, but it should never take over the right of the people to raise their own voices in song during the Liturgy.(22) Music Ministers also have the great opportunity to blend our contemporary Church music with the Church's earlier music traditions.(23)

E. Family Liturgies. In many of our Churches, we no longer have children's Masses as was common when I was growing up. Those who deal in pastoral matters see advantages and disadvantages in this system. One of the great advantages, of course, is that the family can go to worship together. How beautiful it is to see mothers and fathers with their children, and sometimes with grandparents accompanying them, sharing their faith, giving witness to it and giving great good example to their children. There are few gifts more important than this that you can hand on to your youngsters. What a wonderful grace it is for a young man or a young woman to be able to say "I learned from my mother and father how important the Eucharist is to me."(24) Here I would like to commend the practice of the Liturgy of the Word with children when the very young may be gathered together at a different place during the Liturgy of the Word so that it can be made more understandable to them.(25)

F. The Lectors of the Liturgy. Because the Mass is so important in the life of every Catholic man and woman and child, those who are assigned roles in the celebration must be conscious of their own responsibility as servants of the community of the faithful. In a special way, this applies to lectors.(26) Those who are assigned to read at Mass must realize how grave an obligation they have to make sure that they are heard and understood. It is surely a serious omission for a reader to go to the pulpit without preparation, without having carefully prepared his or her reading and without having offered a prayer that God may bless him or her as they proclaim it. Every parish in this Archdiocese should have men and women who are lectors at Mass, not only on Sundays, but whenever possible for weekday Masses as well. (I add, parenthetically here, that whenever possible at Masses on weekdays, the Presentation of the Gifts by members of the congregation should not be omitted.)(27)

G. Special Ministers of the Eucharist. What is said of lectors is also true of special ministers of the Eucharist. They should in every way demonstrate by their reverence for the Eucharist that they truly believe that this is not just bread and wine, but the very Body and Blood of the risen Lord. Their manner of dress, their respectful silence, their grace-filled movement, and their care with the Sacred Species are observed by all the people and by the Lord. One should not accept this kind of responsibility unless he or she is willing to carry it out with deep faith and a deep and awesome sense of God's presence.(28) I would add here two notes which I would hope to be unnecessary. In the event that more of the precious Blood has been consecrated than is received by the faithful at Mass, it must be consumed as soon as possible after the Mass is completed and never disposed of in any other way.(29) Eucharistic Ministers who bring Communion to the ill at home should fulfill that ministry at once and never take the Blessed Sacrament with them on other errands before bringing the Sacred Hosts to their communicants.

H. Posture at Mass. There has been much discussion about the proper posture at Mass, whether kneeling or standing or sitting. For the United States of America, the proper posture is to be seated during the readings, to be kneeling from the end of the Holy, Holy until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer which concludes at the great Amen, and to be standing at the other parts of the Mass. I appreciate the fact that there are liturgists who believe that standing is more appropriate during the Eucharistic Prayer. However, kneeling is currently the posture prescribed by the bishops of our country and it is one to which I subscribe at this time for this local Church.(30)

I. Terminology. One of the perhaps unfortunate practices that has crept into the Liturgy in the past few years has been the use of common vocabulary to describe the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ. By that I mean that one often hears the Sacred Hosts referred to simply as "the breads" and the precious Blood as "the cups". I personally believe that this is harmful to the faith of the people in that it tends to diminish our sense of the mystery and of the wonder of the Eucharist. I would ask that those who are involved in ministry would once again do their best to refer to the Body and Blood of Christ in ways that would enhance their own appreciation of this great Sacrament and the faith of others, especially younger people who will listen and be moved or made indifferent by the terms that are used.

J. Location of the Tabernacle. The pastors of the archdiocese already know my concern about the location of the Blessed Sacrament in our churches. In new renovations permission is not granted to locate the tabernacle in a place where it is not visible by the great majority of the congregation. Most of our Catholic people can come into the church only for Sunday Mass. It would be a great loss for all of us if they were never conscious of the fact that the Lord is there reserved in the tabernacle for their adoration and their prayer. If they can never see the tabernacle, then their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament may soon begin to falter and decline.(31)


Notes

1. John 6, 53.

2. C.898: "The faithful are to hold the Eucharist in highest honor, taking part in the celebration of the Most August Sacrifice, receiving the sacrament devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with supreme adoration; pastors, clarifying the doctrine on this sacrament, are to instruct the faithful thoroughly about this obligation."

3. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction on Worship of the Eucharist, May 25, 1967, AAS 59 (1967) 539-573, Eucharisticum mysterium 6. The Instruction is quoting from the Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, December 7, 1965, AAS 58 (1966) 991-1024, Presbyterorum Ordinis.

4. Eucharisticum mysterium 8: "It is above all in the celebration of the mystery of unity that all Christians should be filled with sorrow at the divisions which separate them. They should therefore pray earnestly to God that all disciples of Christ may daily come closer to a proper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist according to his mind, and may so celebrate it as to become sharers in the Body of Christ, and so become one body linked by the very bonds by which he wishes it to be constituted."

5. Eucharisticum mysterium 9: "For in this sacrament Christ is present in a unique way, whole and entire, God and man, substantially and permanently. This presence of Christ is called "real" not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but par excellence.

6. Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, AAS 56 (1964) 97-138, Sacrosanctum Concilium 7: "The liturgy, then, is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.... From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title or by the same degree." See also the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, General Instruction of the Roman Missal, April 6, 1969, 7: "At Mass or the Lord's Supper, the people of God are called together, with the priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or eucharistic sacrifice. See moreover c. 899, 1: "The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ Himself and the Church; in it Christ the Lord, by the ministry of a priest, offers Himself, substantially present under the forms of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives Himself as spiritual food to the faithful who are associated with His offering. 2: In the Eucharistic banquet the people of God are called together, with the bishop or, under his authority, a presbyter presiding and acting in the person of Christ; and all the faithful present, whether clergy or laity, participate together, in their own way, according to the diversity of orders and liturgical roles."

7. John 6, 51.

8. C.1247: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body."

9. Eucharisticum mysterium 29: "The faithful should be invited to go to Mass frequently on weekdays, to go even daily in fact. This is particularly recommended on those weekdays which should be celebrated with special care, above all in Lent and Advent, as also on lesser feasts of the Lord, and on certain feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary or of the saints who are particularly venerated in the universal or local Church."

10. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, June 21, 1973, (Vatican City: Vatican Polyglot Press, 1973),

11. Eucharisticum mysterium 3: "There should be no doubt in anyone's mind 'that all the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament the worship which is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is it to be adored any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten.' For even in the reserved sacrament he is to be adored because he is substantially present there through that conversion of bread and wine which, as the Council of Trent tells us, is most aptly named transubstantiation."

12. Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Instruction on Some Norms for the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, April 3, 1980, AAS 72 (1980) 331-343, Inaestimabile donum 26: "The venerable practice of genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament, whether enclosed in the tabernacle or publicly exposed, as a sign of adoration, is to be maintained."

13. Eucharisticum mysterium 8: "Pastors should see to it that all churches and public oratories where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved remain open for at least several hours in the morning and evening so that it may be easy for the faithful to pray before the Blessed Sacrament."

14. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, Music in Catholic Worship, (Washington, DC: USCC, 1972), revised 1983, 6: "Faith grows when it is well expressed in celebration. Good celebrations foster and nourish faith. Poor celebrations may weaken and destroy it."

15. Sacrosanctum Concilium 47.

16. Sacrosanctum Concilium 11: "But in order that the liturgy may possess its full effectiveness, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds be attuned to their voices, and they cooperate with divine grace, lest they receive it in vain."

17. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 5: "The celebration of the eucharist, like the entire liturgy, involves the use of outward signs that foster, strengthen, and express faith. There must be the utmost care therefore to choose and to make wise use of those forms and elements provided by the Church which, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will best foster active and full participation and serve the spiritual well-being of the faithful."

18. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Role of the Christian Family in the World, November 22, 1981, AAS 74 (1982) 81-191, Familiaris consortio 84: "Together with the synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced with solicitous care to make sure they do not consider themselves as separate from the Church, for as baptized persons they can and indeed must share her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass.... However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scriptures, of not admitting to eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried."

19. Inaestimabile Donum 17: "The faithful are to be recommended not to omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion. They may do this during the celebration, with a period of silence, with a hymn, Psalm or other song of praise, or also after the celebration, if possible, by staying behind to pray for a suitable period of time."

20. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 19: "The faithful who gather together to await the Lord's coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing psalms, hymns and inspired songs. Song is the sign of the heart's joy (see Acts 2:46). Thus St. Augustine says rightly: "To sing belongs to lovers." There is also the ancient proverb: "One who sings well prays twice." With due consideration for the culture and ability of each congregation, great importance should be attached to the use of singing at Mass; but it is not always necessary to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung."

21. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 66: "Silence should be observed at the designate times as part of the celebration. Its function depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration."

22. Music in Catholic Worship 23: "Among the many signs and symbols used by the Church to celebrate its faith, music is of preeminent importance. As a sacred song united to words it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy. Yet the function of music is ministerial; it must serve and never dominate. Music should assist the assembled believers to express and share their interior commitment of faith."

23. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, A Statement of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of "Music in Catholic Worship" (Washington, D.C.: USCC, 1982) Liturgical Music Today 52: "However, singing and playing the music of the past is a way for Catholics to stay in touch with and preserve their rich heritage. A place can be found for this music, a place which does not conflict with the assembly's role and the other demands of the rites."

24. Eucharisticum mysterium 14: "Those who have charge of the religious instruction of children, especially parents, parish priests and teachers, should be careful when they are introducing them gradually to the mystery of salvation, to give emphasis to instruction on the Mass. Instruction about the Eucharist, while being suited to the age and abilities of the children, should aim to convey the meaning of the Mass through the principal rites and prayers. It should also explain the place of the Mass in the participation in the life of the Church."

25. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory for Masses with Children, November 1, 1973, AAS 66 (1974) 30-46, Pueros Baptizatos 17: "Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permits, it will be appropriate to celebrate the liturgy of the word, including a homily, with children in a separate, but not too distant room. Then, before the eucharistic liturgy begins, the children are led to the place where the adults meanwhile celebrated their own liturgy of the word."

26. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 66: "Those who exercise the ministry of reader ... must be truly qualified and carefully prepared in order that the faithful will develop a warm and lively love for the Scripture from listening to the reading of the sacred texts."

27. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 49: "The gifts are then brought forward. It is desirable for the faithful to present the bread and wine, which are accepted by the priest or deacon at convenient place.... Even though the faithful no longer, as in the past, bring the bread and wine from their homes, the rite of carrying up the gifts retains the same spiritual value and meaning."

28. Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction on Facilitating Reception of Communion in Certain Circumstances, January 29, 1973, AAS 65 (1973) 264-271, Immensae caritatis VI: "The faithful who are special ministers of communion must be persons whose good qualities of Christian life, faith, and morals recommend them. Let them strive to be worthy of this great office, foster their own devotion to the Eucharist, and show an example to the rest of the faithful by their own devotion and reverence toward the most august sacrament of the altar."

29. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, Directory for the Celebration and Reception of Communion under Both Kinds (Washington, DC: USCC, 1984) This Holy and Living Sacrifice 37: "In those instances when there remains more consecrated wine than was necessary, the minister shall consume it immediately at a side table before the Prayer after Communion, while the vessels themselves may be purified after Mass." See also 38: "It is strictly prohibited to pour the Precious Blood into the ground or sacrarium." See also General Instruction of the Roman Missal 244.

30. Appendix to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the Dioceses of the United States of America 21: "... the people kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic prayer, that is, before the Lord's Prayer."

31. Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass 9: "The place for the reservation of the Eucharist should be truly preeminent. It is highly recommended that the place be suitable also for private adoration and prayer so that the faithful may easily, fruitfully, and constantly honor the Lord, present in the sacrament, through personal worship." See also c.938, 2: "The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved should be placed in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer."

Related Links:
On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist - Pope John Paul II, 1980
Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery - Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 1980
Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist - Pope Paul VI

Archbishop McCarrick's Pastoral Letters