as individuals …
Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania have penned a pastoral letter on the Eucharist.
(You can check it out on their website www.pacatholic.org.) Though primarily
a catechetical document (question-and-answer format), it does include a
good reflection on why we should celebrate Mass on Sunday: “Since we are
constituted God’s family — God’s people — his Church — precisely by our
participation in the Eucharist, we cannot grow into Christ’s new body as
a healthy and full member without sharing in the Eucharist. On each Sunday,
which is a commemoration of the day Jesus rose from the dead, the faithful
come together not only to profess the faith but also to renew the life
of Christ within them. Not as individuals isolated from each other and
related only to God but precisely as God’s family interrelated to each
other and through the Church related to God do we gather — made one in
appeal continues that opting out of the Sunday Mass diminishes one’s spiritual
life. However, nothing is mentioned of the loss to the parish community.
It seems that some individualistic appeal must be made; that’s the main
drive in American spirituality these days.
only disappointing item in the letter is that the Pennsylvania bishops
seem to have bought into the notion that, according to one secular poll,
“a significant number of Catholics do not have a complete understanding
of the Eucharist and specifically the real presence of Christ in the Blessed
Sacrament.” Expecting a secular pollster to articulate a theology of real
presence for Catholics polled may be a bit of a stretch. Give our catechists
a little more credit.
the community of love
Thomas Collins of Edmonton gives a balanced effort in his pastoral
letter acknowledging that “good music and good preaching are two basic
elements of a Eucharistic celebration that evangelizes.” He also develops
the liturgical aspect in better detail, drawing in themes of the Sabbath,
community and action in the world. His letter can be accessed at www.wcr.ab.ca
archbishop was refreshingly direct in challenging people: “We need to make
the way we live with others outside the celebration of the Eucharist an
extension of the ordered community of love that we are called to be at
the Eucharist. How can the hand that receives our Lord Jesus himself in
communion be used later to strike another person, or to grasp at possessions?
How can the tongue that receives our Lord Jesus himself in communion be
used later to destroy the reputation of another or to lie?”
father concludes his talks
on the Eucharist
November, Pope John Paul II concluded a series of addresses on the
Eucharist. His last talk dealt with ecumenical issues. Acknowledging that
baptism “is the deep root of a basic unity that links Christians despite
their divisions,” he reminded listeners that separated Christians cannot
fully share the sacraments with Catholics because of doctrinal divisions.
in recognizing an existing degree of unity, the pontiff pointed out that
“it is possible to introduce into the eucharistic celebration, in specific
cases … certain signs of participation.” For a good reason, a local
bishop might approve a non-Catholic serving as a lector at Mass.
sharing between Catholics and Eastern Christians has been a disputed question
since Vatican II. It is also noteworthy that the pope would allow “a certain
reciprocity regarding the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and the
anointing of the sick,” acknowledging that such a sharing may be “lawful”
when necessary or if a “genuine spiritual advantage” exists.
may be one
ecumenical movement in the church has been battered lately, so it is encouraging
to hear of inventive and constructive initiatives. Jean Vanier,
founder of L’Arche, notes two levels of ecumenical dialogue: one theological
and intellectual and another that involves people in service and in love.
His forthcoming book, Toward a Land of Unity: Reflections on Ecumenism,
develops this theme.
describes his experiences in the L’Arche communities of welcoming non-Catholics.
In the struggle to involve severely disabled people in community life,
the connection with Christians separated by doctrinal beliefs became clearer.
“On this road, we have often realized our limitations and made errors,
but we have also discovered the joy of walking together as pilgrims toward
the land of unity.”
presents that perhaps it is appropriate to feel the pain of division in
the separation we experience in the sacraments. He asks, “Is it not important,
perhaps, to experience this suffering? Is it not the same suffering felt
by the Father and Jesus when they see our separations? Many among us are
unaware of this type of suffering, and they live shut-in in their churches,
communities, unconscious of the scandal of these divisions.”
relates the story of Nick, “a man with a mental handicap,” who lived with
others in a small L’Arche apartment in London. He felt hurt that every
Sunday each one went to a different church. One Sunday, when it was his
turn to cook dinner, Nick put bread and a glass of water on the table.
When everyone was seated, he blessed the bread and water and gave it to
each one. It was his way of crying: “That we may be one as the Father and
Jesus are one.” (Material courtesy of Zenit News Agency)
1,000 people attended The Jubilee Concert on World Disability Day,
Dec. 3, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. Singers, dancers, actors,
and others contributed to a “most extraordinary concert,” according to
Rick Curry, master of ceremonies. Anne Coghlan, director
of the archdiocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities, asserted, “Any
one of these people could be a lector or a choir member in the parish.”
Performers included the Deaf Choir of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Manhattan
(signing “O Come O Come Emmanuel”), actor Chris Burke (from the
TV show Life Goes On), Julliard graduate Tanya Crist and
many others. All joined in singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the end
of the concert, penned after the composer had gone totally deaf. (Story
courtesy of Catholic New York)
they call the award a “Uni”? Liturgical composer Marty Haugen won
four Unity awards — one for each of his nominations — from the United Catholic
Music and Video Association on Nov. 18. Forty-eight total citations were
given, including Haugen’s All Are Welcome for liturgical album of
the year, Dana’s “We Are One Body” for Song of the Year and John
Michael Talbot for Artist of the Year. Awards were also given for such
musical categories as alternative, hip-hop (won by a priest), country,
rock and children’s music.
not the Grammys but UCMVA hasn’t dodged some of the inconsistencies of
other award platforms. In offering separate categories for song and songwriter
of the year (both won by Dana for the same song), one wonders about that
latter category. If you’re giving two distinct awards, why not recognize
a songwriter for a volume of work, not just one song?
UCMVA’s first set of awards, and they seem to acknowledge there’s some
catching up to do. For example, “Shepherd Me, O God” was deemed Liturgical
Song of the Year even though published in 1986. You wonder about these
categories: Mass of Creation won Musical of the Year and the 1984
Haugen-Haas-Joncas collaboration Come and Journey was Choral Collection
of the Year. Access other info on the Uni’s at www.ucmva.com and check
out how your favorites fared.
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