We celebrated on October 16 the formal conclusion of the Year of the Eucharist with the rest of Universal Church. At the same time I wanted to extend some of the devotional aspects of the Year of the Eucharist until the Feast of Christ the King in November for two reasons.
In the first place we were somewhat delayed in starting our observance of the Year of the Eucharist because of my surgery and hospitalization last September, 2004.
Secondly, it seemed good to prolong the devotion of the Year of the Eucharist into November because November is the month which begins with the celebration of All Saints and our commemoration of the souls in purgatory. It is at the Eucharist that we are in genuine communion with the Saints in Heaven, with the Souls in Purgatory, and with all the living on Earth. We cannot be closer to our sisters and brothers who have made it to their heavenly home and to those who await arrival at that home in Purgatory than we are at the Eucharist. And so it seemed appropriate to prolong our Eucharistic reflection until the Feast of Christ, the King of Heaven and Earth, really present in the Eucharist, through most of the month of November.
As we conclude the Year of the Eucharist as observed by the Universal Church and our own prolongation thereof here in the Diocese of Madison, I want to reflect with you on what I hope will be the fruits of our celebration of the Year of the Eucharist.
Continue to adore the Eucharist
In the first place, the practice of Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass has increased dramatically in the Diocese and I certainly hope that this will continue. The practice of holy hours before the Blessed Sacrament is an important part of the spirituality of every Catholic. But the times of Eucharistic Adoration available to the entire parish community, the celebration of special Eucharistic days with Eucharistic processions, and in certain appropriate instances, Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist, are part and parcel of our spiritual patrimony as Catholics. Eucharistic Devotion apart from Mass is not optional for Catholics really any more than the Mass itself.
We are obliged by Church precept to attend Mass on Sunday under pain of serious sin. We are not obliged by any Church precept under pain of sin to give ourselves to Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass. And yet since the Eucharistic Presence reserved in the tabernacle is none other than the Mass in meditation, and a consistent practice of Catholicism requires such Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass from each and every one of us.
And so I hope that within each Parish community the healthy practice of Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass, which has begun during the Year of the Eucharist, will continue and without question grow. And as I have said many times, there does appear to be a direct correlation between the intensity of Eucharistic Adoration and healthy numbers of young men responding to a priestly vocation.
Secondly, I intend that the Year of the Eucharist have a very visible follow-up in terms of the availability of Christ's presence in the tabernacle for the adoration of the faithful. Let me be clear that I do not intend generally to require that tabernacles be moved in our churches from their current location. However, when new churches are built or when there is renovation of our churches involving the sanctuary space, I do intend to make certain that the Eucharist is centrally and properly located in such wise that a good number of the faithful are able to be present for Eucharistic Adoration. Eucharistic Chapels which cannot be easily located as one enters the church, or which allow space for only two or three adorers should not be the order of the day.
As the one charged with the guidance of the liturgy in the diocese, unworthy though I am, I must ensure that the Mass in meditation is available as must be the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus in the future the location of the tabernacle so as truly to encourage Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass will be a major concern of mine.
Promoting Eucharistic reverence
Thirdly, in terms of promoting Eucharistic reverence, I intend in dialogue with our priests, to initiate a program for in-service education for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to ensure that proper reverence is always observed. There occasionally arise situations, for example, where an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion will receive the consecrated host at Mass to bring to one of the Christian faithful, and that consecrated host will remain in a pyx inside a purse, or a glove compartment in an automobile, for a substantial period of time.
I know that no one intends profound irreverence, but this kind of behavior is profoundly irreverent, and it is my responsibility to ensure profound reverence and I very much to intend to do so. And I myself have witnessed other similarly problematic behaviors. This is my motive for desiring a program of in-service education for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. It is also important for me to discern clearly what the liturgical law is with regard to these Extraordinary Ministers. Extraordinary Ministers are generally not to be appointed for life - they are to have specific terms. The training for Extraordinary Ministers of Communion who bring Communion to the sick or shut-in is different and more intense than the formation of Extraordinary Ministers who simply assist the Priest at Mass. All of these matters with regard to Extraordinary Ministers need to be re-examined and sorted out so that proper reverence for the Eucharist is always engendered in the hearts of all of our people.
Lastly, as a fruit of the Year of the Eucharist, I intend very carefully to examine the practice of the Church as it pertains to Communion under both species. There is little doubt in my mind that Communion under both species is not intended when a multitude of people are present since it simply cannot be done with the proper reverence. Frequently when there are many, many chalices and many, many Extraordinary Ministers, there are random spillages of the Precious Blood and in some instances a superabundance of Precious Blood is consecrated which makes the reverent consuming of what remains after Communion seriously problematic in terms of reverence.
If the Bread we break is truly the Body of Christ and the Cup we drink is truly the Blood of Christ, there is no room for even the slightest irreverence. And so in the days ahead I will be looking carefully with our priests at what the practice of the church specifically should be with regard to Communion under both species and I will in all likelihood issue particular legislation for the Diocese of Madison in this regard.
The reality of the Presence of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, under the signs of bread and wine, the presence of him who changes our lives, cannot be overly safeguarded, respected, and treated with reverence. Thus in the days ahead as we have come to know the Mass in meditation more profoundly through Eucharistic Adoration apart from Mass, we will work together, priests and people, toward that reverence which will invite the Eucharistic Christ to change us into His Body which is to be broken, and His Blood which is to be poured out so that there might be mercy for the whole world.
Thank you very much for reading this and God love you! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Help end poverty
Dear Sisters and Brothers, All in the Lord,
With the great calamities that have taken place, poverty has been exposed to us all. We learned of the dire needs of the people in the Gulf States and you responded with great generosity. Now is not the time to forget that one in six children live below the poverty line.
We bishops of the United States established the Catholic Campaign for Human Development 35 years ago to work in our name to help people end poverty not for just a day, but for a lifetime. CCHD works with low-income people to create jobs, improve educational opportunities and break the cycle of poverty.
To do this, we rely on the annual collection that will take place on November 19 and 20. We send 75 percent of the donations to the national CCHD office to support anti-poverty projects in rural and urban areas across the country. The remaining 25 percent is used here, in the Madison Diocese, to fund local self-help initiatives.
We live in the wealthiest nation. Please support this effort to end poverty among our sisters and brothers.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org