As I mentioned in last weekend's bulletin, during the month of October throughout the Church in the USA, we focus attention on our call to promote Respect for all of Life. As we gather this weekend to celebrate the Eucharist, I encourage each of us to contemplate these words of Pope Francis who challenges each of us to promote respect for life. The Holy Father said, All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable…..The sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.
This weekend, thousands of runners from throughout the world will be here in Chicago to participate in the 44th running of the Chicago Marathon. Hopefully, all our visitors will experience a warm welcome from each of us as they run throughout our city streets and neighborhoods. We offer a special blessing to all who are running at the 5:00 pm Vigil Mass on Saturday and ask God to give the runners strength and safety on Sunday.
The past few months we have been in discussion with a church architect about installing a reconciliation room in the church that will enable us to celebrate the Rite of Penance (confession) offering the option for the penitent to confess behind a screen or face-to-face. We are also looking into installing a couple of statues of saints and additional vigil lights into new shrines in a couple of the old confessionals that are no longer used. Once we have received some design details as well as anticipated costs, we will be sharing more details with all of you.
Earlier this year. the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the document, The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church. The document begins with a brief reflection on the importance of the Eucharist in our day. They wrote, "On March 27, 2020, at an early point in the global pandemic, Pope Francis walked alone in the rain across an empty St. Peter’s Square to offer prayer for the world in a time of crisis. “Faith,” he said, “begins when we realize we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars.” Recalling when Jesus was asleep in the boat as a tempest was raging (Mk 4:35-41), the Holy Father said, “The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.” On that day, Pope Francis presided over the rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction in order to focus our attention on the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope was reminding us that even in a time of turbulence and crisis, Jesus is present among us, as present as he was long ago in the boat on the Sea of Galilee." (from USCCB, Mystery of the Eucharist document)
I urge you to read the entire document of the US Conference of Bishops that can be found on their web site. I also have included below a brief reflection on the Eucharist that Cardinal Cupich wrote in August.
The weekend of October 22-23 is World Mission Sunday and a second collection will be taken up at Masses that weekend to support the world-wide evangelization efforts of the Church. More details in next weekend's bulletin.
A EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL THAT RENEWS THE CHURCH (from Cardinal Cupich)
The Catholic bishops of the United States have launched a eucharistic revival over the next three years. Pope Francis has made a singular contribution to that effort with the recent release of his powerful and theologically rich apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, “Desiderio Desideravi” (“I have earnestly desired”). (See vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/20220629-lettera-ap-desiderio-desideravi.html.) He tells us that his aim is to “invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration” as a means of more fully appreciating “the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church.”
This too must be the aim of our eucharistic revival. A central principle in that rediscovery is that in the ritual passed on to us from those disciples at the Last Supper, we encounter the crucified and risen Lord and are invited to participate in the paschal mystery by sharing in his work of saving the world. This engaging encounter by which the risen Lord invites us to share in his saving work is the core of our eucharistic faith, for, as the Holy Father observes: “The Christian faith is either an encounter with Him alive or it does not exist.”
To put it another way, the Mass is not a representation of the Last Supper, a play acting just to memorialize what Jesus did, much like we do on civic holidays that recall moments in our history. Rather, the Eucharist is a real encounter with the crucified and risen Christ, for, as the Council of Trent reminds us, what is really made present in the Eucharist is Christ’s victory and triumph over death for us who participate in it.
It was for this reason that when the fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up the work of reforming the liturgy, a high priority was to promote the full, active and conscious participation of all the baptized. Every consideration was given to making sure that the liturgy would guarantee this encounter, and assist all the baptized to understand that they come to the Eucharist as authentic participants, not spectators.
From the start of Mass, in one voice we acknowledge our need for God’s mercy in the penitential rite. We then join our voices in praising God as we sing the Gloria. Then, together we listen to the word of God, and reply in one voice to the word in the responsorial psalm and greet the risen Lord as the Gospel in the words of Easter morning in the Alleluia.
We continue to deepen our participation in Christ’s saving action as the Eucharistic Prayer recounts what Jesus did in his life and at the Last Supper. In saying “amen,” we proclaim that his story is now our story, which we make real by participating in the sharing of the one bread and the one cup, thus becoming one body in Christ.
That is why Pope Francis writes in “Desiderio Desideravi”: “The action of the celebration does not belong to the individual but to the Christ-Church, to the totality of the faithful united in Christ. The Liturgy does not say ‘I’ but ‘we,’ and any limitation on the breadth of this ‘we’ is always demonic. The Liturgy does not leave us alone to search out an individual supposed knowledge of the mystery of God. Rather, it takes us by the hand, together, as an assembly, to lead us deep within the mystery that the Word and the sacramental signs reveal to us.”
The Holy Father notes that there are those who claim that we lost a sense of mystery about the Mass with the reforms of the Vatican II. To this he replies that we have to be careful not to pursue a false sense of mystery, which he describes as “being overcome in the face of an obscure reality or a mysterious rite.” Rather, he says, the real mystery is that Christ has invited us to participate in his saving work. This is what should astonish us, Pope Francis tells us. “It is … marveling at the fact that the salvific plan of God has been revealed in the paschal deed of Jesus (cf. Eph 1: 3-14), and the power of this paschal deed continues to reach us in the celebration of the ‘mysteries’ of the sacraments.”
Over the next months we will be providing parishes with resources designed to help their communities join in this national eucharistic revival.
+Cardinal Blase J. Cupich