Magazine article U.S. Catholic

What Kind of Presence Are You Expecting?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

What Kind of Presence Are You Expecting?

Article excerpt

Earlier this year several U.S. Catholic bishops issued statements that at first glance seemed routine and fell into the "so what else is new?" category. But they were not really routine and deserve careful attention. The bishops spoke out to call attention to the centrality of the eucharistic celebration at the Sunday Mass. Their concern was that with so much attention paid to other aspects of the liturgy -- the prayers of the faithful, the homily, the hymns -- the enormous importance of the Eucharist, with the Consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ as well as the reception of the Eucharist in Communion, is sometimes sidetracked.

Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, New York, in his guidelines emphasizing the centrality of the Sunday Eucharist, insisted that "any other liturgical celebration in lieu of Sunday Eucharist is an extraordinary measure and not the norm.

"When the Sunday Eucharist will not be celebrated in a parish due to the lack of a priest" and "it is not possible for members of the faithful to participate at Mass at another parish ... they are encouraged to take part in the Liturgy of the Word or the Liturgy of the Hours celebrated in their parish church or engage in prayer personally," the Rochester guidelines say.

In a somewhat different context, Bishop James Garland of Marquette, Michigan also spoke of the centrality of the Mass. "The church has always sought a balanced and full understanding of the Eucharist." That is why the church teaches that the celebration of the Mass "should hold the preeminent place in the church's prayer life." Garland was speaking to the concern that he and others are sharing about the growing popularity of "a movement to encourage perpetual adoration of the exposed blessed sacrament in parishes."

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, Garland explained, "private and silent adoration of the Lord truly present on the altar or in the tabernacle appeared to be our primary understanding of eucharistic worship."

However, Garland continued, "external and internal participation in the eucharistic sacrifice, especially by reception of Holy Communion, was key to the liturgical renewal that Pope Paul VI and the Vatican Council instituted. With the renewal now in place, we realize that our worship is not limited to adoration of the blessed sacrament. Rather and preeminently our eucharistic worship is an act of participation in the Mass."

The Diocese of Rochester guidelines emerged from year-long discussions in parishes. …

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