Priesthood: April 2007 Archives

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This Wondrous Sacrament

Sacramentum Caritatis calls the Most Holy Eucharist "this wondrous sacrament." It goes on to speak of the amazement -- the stupefaction -- that the Apostles felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during the Mystical Supper. "What wonder," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 1).

Eucharistic Amazement

Sacramentum Caritatis resonates with the words of Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia"

"I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic “amazement” by the present Encyclical Letter, in continuity with the Jubilee heritage which I have left to the Church in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte and its Marian crowning, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the “programme” which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of His Body and His Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a “mystery of light”. Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:31)" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 6).

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Reflections on Sacramentum Caritatis

With the approach of Maundy Thursday — the solemn commemoration of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and of the Priesthood — I feel compelled to return to the Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in search of whatever may be helpful to me personally, and to other priests desirous of growing in the friendship of Christ.

The Priest, Friend of the Bridegroom

The theme that emerges straightaway is that of the friendship of Christ. Before all else, the priest — every priest — is The Friend of Christ or, as Saint John the Baptist puts it, “the friend of the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29).

Amazed By the Sacrament of Charity

“1. The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of Himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that "greater" love which led Him to "lay down His life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ's act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, He tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of His disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us "to the end," even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!”

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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