(0900 K Fri 18 April 2003) I have not yet read it, but here
are links to it.
(1035 K Friday 18 April 2003). I have now read the encyclical.
Here are my thoughts on it.
I am struck by the approach taken in n. 10:
"It is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will
effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine
and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth
in all its radiant mystery."
He is the pope. He can preach and exhort. But he has limited
power and can only "hope" that this will "effectively
There is considerable encouragement for the "law and
order" approach I have been taking. For example:
"42. The safeguarding and promotion of ecclesial communion
is a task of each member of the faithful, who finds in the Eucharist,
as the sacrament of the Church's unity, an area of special concern.
More specifically, this task is the particular responsibility
of the Church's Pastors, each according to his rank and ecclesiastical
office. For this reason the Church has drawn up norms aimed both
at fostering the frequent and fruitful access of the faithful
to the Eucharistic table and at determining the objective conditions
under which communion may not be given. The care shown in promoting
the faithful observance of these norms becomes a practical means
of showing love for the Eucharist and for the Church."
I am particularly impressed with Chapter Five "The Dignity
of the Eucharisitic Celebration". It describes the history
"This led progressively to the development of a particular
form of regulating the Eucharistic liturgy, with due respect
for the various legitimately constituted ecclesial traditions."
I see n. 52 as particularly important:
"52. All of this makes clear the great responsibility
which belongs to priests in particular for the celebration of
the Eucharist. It is their responsibility to preside at the Eucharist
in persona Christi and to provide a witness to and a service
of communion not only for the community directly taking part
in the celebration, but also for the universal Church, which
is a part of every Eucharist. It must be lamented that, especially
in the years following the post-conciliar liturgical reform,
as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation
there have been a number of abuses which have been a source
of suffering for many. A certain reaction against "formalism"
has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the
"forms" chosen by the Church's great liturgical tradition
and her Magisterium as non-binding and to introduce unauthorized
innovations which are often completely inappropriate.
I consider it my duty, therefore to appeal urgently that the
liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed
with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of
the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is
their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property,
be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries
are celebrated. The Apostle Paul had to address fiery words to
the community of Corinth because of grave shortcomings in their
celebration of the Eucharist resulting in divisions (schismata)
and the emergence of factions (haireseis) (cf. 1 Cor
11:17-34). Our time, too, calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation
of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the
one universal Church made present in every celebration of the
Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to
the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those
norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the
Church. Precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning
of liturgical norms, I have asked the competent offices of the
Roman Curia to prepare a more specific document, including prescriptions
of a juridical nature, on this very important subject. No one
is permitted to undervalue the mystery entrusted to our hands:
it is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and
with disregard for its sacredness and its universality."
Perhaps this new document from the Roman Curia will provide
The encyclical does not talk about when the 2002 Roman Missal
should have been implemented. It does not teach about changes
that it made. It does not mentioned the instituted ministries
of lector or acolyte.
But there are signs of a change in direction. In n. 10 the
"Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might
also be mentioned.
Unfortunately, alongside these lights, there are also shadows.
In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been
almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses
have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith
and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At
times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of
the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning,
it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore,
the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic
succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of
the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form
of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives
which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices
contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her
faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The
Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation."
Hopefully this "profound grief" will lead to action
to correct the abuses.
By J.R. Lilburne, 18 March 2003. I give what I have written
on this page to the public domain.