Category Archives: Clergy

CBC: Ideology of the European Union

Why is a Catholic bishops’ conference cheerleading for the European Union?
Pray for our bishops
By Phil Lawler, | May 09, 2017, CatholicCulture.org

Yesterday in this space I remarked on the unsustainable ideology of the European Union, which invents new “human rights” on a regular basis, without recognizing any corresponding duties. Just for example, the European Commission recently promulgated a Pillar of Social Rights, explaining that the purpose of this instrument was “delivering new and more effective rights for citizens, based upon 20 key principles.”

The language of the announcement sounds suspiciously similar to an advertisement for a “new and more effective” laundry detergent, and the promises implied are just as difficult to pin down. If these rights truly are “new,” who created them? Rights, by themselves, cannot be “more effective;” someone must guarantee them. So who is the guarantor, and what is the nature of the guarantee? For that matter, how does a “social” right differ from other rights?

The European Pillar of Social Rights raises more questions than it answers. And since, as a general rule, prelates should avoid political questions, it would be prudent for European bishops to let this announcement pass without notice. But the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), rushed in, where angels fear to tread. COMECE welcomed the Pillar of Social Rights as “an important step toward the European treaties’ objective of a social market economy.”

Why? Why did COMECE feel obliged to say anything at all about this document? Why does COMECE act as a cheerleader for the European Union? Come to think of it, why does COMECE exist, in addition to the episcopal conferences of each of the EU nations?

And what are these “social rights” that COMECE has endorsed? Some are laudable in principle, but difficult to vindicate:

Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.
Everyone lacking sufficient resources has the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring a life in dignity at all stages of life, and effective access to enabling goods and services.
So the European Commission has now made a commitment to the abolition of poverty. So does that imply a much more productive economy, with everyone working harder to raise standards of living? Not quite.

Parents and people with caring responsibilities have the right to suitable leave, flexible working arrangements and access to care services. Women and men shall have equal access to special leaves of absence in order to fulfil their caring responsibilities and be encouraged to use them in a balanced way.
And then some parts of the Pillar are downright dangerous:

Regardless of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, everyone has the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment, social protection, education, and access to goods and services available to the public.
It’s only a matter of time before aggrieved European citizens, citing the Pillar of Social Rights, will demand sanctions against Catholic institutions that do not employ homosexuals, or ordain women, or agree to alter the gender on a baptismal certificate. By praising the Pillar, COMECE has put those Catholic institutions at risk. And for what?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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Posted by: rickt26170 – May. 30, 2017 5:42 PM ET USA
This is the land of Marx, Kasper and Danneels: they and all too many like them have helped do serious damage to the Church in Europe. We must pray that the Vatican does not listen to any of them because their road leads to religious ruin. But I fear that the Vatican does.

Posted by: Thomas429 – May. 12, 2017 2:45 AM ET USA
It is worse than that. They speak in oxymorons. It may not be on a list of glaring ones but “a social market economy” is definitely one.

Posted by: Philopus – May. 10, 2017 11:13 AM ET USA
Things could be worse; how it is that these bishops have not formed a similar group for the UN (COMWCE – Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the World Community)? Just think what they could condone? How much more of the church’s responsibility they could transfer to the state?

US is adopting official religion

Cardinal George: US is adopting ‘official religion’ on homosexuality that is reminiscent of sharia

Catholic World News – September 10, 2014

In an archdiocesan newspaper column, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said that American law has “taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what ‘values’ they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country.”
He writes:
Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the Church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger …

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.

Editor’s note
[It has been almost one year now since the Cardinal wrote that article. What has transpired since then is our country, under the helm of president Obama has obliterated our Founding Fathers and the Constitution and taken on the mantel as thee only father of our country. He has officially change the natural law of marriage to include the marriage between two men and two women.]

We Priests, Celibate Like Christ

by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Brandmüller’s Response to Eugenio Scalfari’s Interview with Pope Francis Description: 
As a Church historian, the German cardinal Brandmüller refutes the notion according to which clerical celibacy was an invention of the 10th century. He explains that its origin is with Jesus and the apostles. This article is in response to Eugenio Scalfari’s interview with Pope Francis published on July 13, 2014.


Dear Mr. Scalfari,
Although I have not enjoyed the privilege of meeting you in person, I would like to revisit your statements concerning celibacy contained in the account of your conversation with Pope Francis, published on July 13, 2014 and immediately disputed in their authenticity by the director of the Vatican press office. As an “old professor” who for thirty years taught Church history at the university, I would like to bring to your attention the current state of the research in this field.

In particular, it must be emphasized in the first place that celibacy by no means dates back to a law invented 900 years after the death of Christ. It is instead the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that report the words of Jesus in this regard.

Matthew writes (19:29): “And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

What Mark writes (10:29) is very similar: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold.”

Luke (18:29ff.) is even more precise: “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Jesus does not address these words to the masses, but rather to those whom he sends out to spread his Gospel and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God.

In order to fulfill this mission it is necessary to free oneself from any earthly and human attachment. And seeing that this separation signifies the loss of what is taken for granted, Jesus promises a “recompense” that is more than appropriate.

At this point it is often highlighted that “leaving everything” referred only to the duration of the voyage of proclaiming his Gospel, and that once they had finished their task the disciples would return to their families. But there is no trace of this. The text of the Gospels, in referring to eternal life, are speaking of something definitive.

Now, seeing that the Gospels were written between 40 and 70 A.D., their redactors would have been brought into a bad light if they had attributed to Jesus words that did not correspond to their conduct of life. Jesus, in fact, demands that those who have been made participants in his mission must also adopt his way of life.

But what does Paul mean, when in the first letter to the Corinthians (9:1, 4-6) he writes: “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? . . . Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?” Do not these questions and statements take it for granted that the apostles were accompanied by their wives?

One must proceed with caution here. The apostle’s rhetorical questions referred to the right of the one who proclaims the Gospel to live at the expense of the community, and this also applies to the one who accompanies him.

And this obviously brings up the question of who this companion may be. The Greek expression “adelphén gynaìka” requires an explanation. “Adelphe” means sister. And here sister in the faith means a Christian, while “gyne” indicates – more generically – a woman, whether virgin or wife. In short, a female person. This makes it impossible to demonstrate that the apostles were accompanied by wives. Because if this were a case one would be unable to understand why an “adelphe” is distinctly spoken of as a sister, and therefore a Christian. As for the wife, it must be understood that the apostle left her at the time when he became part of the circle of disciples.

Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Luke helps to clarify this. It states: “The twelve were with [Jesus], and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” From this description it seems logical to deduce that the apostles followed the example of Jesus.

Attention must also be called to the stirring appeal for celibacy or conjugal abstinence made by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:29ff.): ” I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.” And again: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” It is clear that Paul is addressing these words in the first place to bishops and priests. And he himself would have adhered to this ideal.

In order to prove that Paul or the Church of apostolic times did not acknowledge celibacy, the letters to Timothy and Titus, the “pastoral letters,” are sometimes brought out as evidence. And in effect, in the first letter to Timothy (3:2) a married bishop is mentioned. And the original Greek text is repeatedly translated in the following way: “Let the bishop be the husband of a woman,” which is taken to be a precept. But one needs only a rudimentary knowledge of Greek to translate this correctly: “For this the bishop must be above reproach, married only once (and he must be the husband of a woman!), sober and judicious.” And also in the letter to Titus we read: “An elder (meaning a priest or bishop) must be blameless and married only once.”

These are indications that tend to rule out the possibility that a priest or bishop should be ordained who has remarried after the death of his wife (successive bigamy). Because apart from the fact that at that time a remarried widower was not looked upon kindly, for the Church there was also the consideration that in this way a man could never give any guarantee to respect abstinence, to which a bishop or priest would have to devote himself.

THE PRACTICE OF THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH
The original form of celibacy therefore allowed the priest or bishop to continue his family life, but not his conjugal life. For this reason as well the preference was to ordain men who had reached an advanced age.

The fact that all of this can be traced back to ancient and sacred apostolic traditions is testified to by the works of ecclesiastical writers like Clement of Alexandria and the north African Tertullian, who lived in the 2nd-3rd century after Christ. Another witness of the high consideration bestowed on abstinence among Christians is a series of edifying tales of the apostles, the apocryphal ‘Acts of the Apostles’ composed in the 2nd century and widely read.

In the 3rd century the literary documentation on the abstinence of the clergy multiplied and became increasingly explicit, especially in the East. For example, here is a passage from the Syrian ‘Didascalia’: “The bishop, before he is ordained, must be put to the test to establish if he is chaste and has raised his children in the fear of God.” The great theologian Origen of Alexandria (3rd century) also recognized the celibacy of abstinence as binding; a celibacy that he explains and explores theologically in various works. And obviously there are other documents that could be brought forward in support, something that obviously is not possible here.

THE FIRST LAW ON CELIBACY
It was the Council of Elvira in 305-306 that put this practice of apostolic origin into the form of a law. With canon 33, the Council prohibited bishops, priests, deacons, and all other clergy from having conjugal relations with their wives, and likewise prohibited them from having children. At the time it was therefore thought that conjugal abstinence was compatible with family life. Thus even the sainted pope Leo I, called Leo the Great, wrote around 450 that ordained men did not have to repudiate their wives. They were to remain together with them, but as if “they did not have them,” as Paul writes in the first letter to the Corinthians (7:29).

With the passing of time there was an increasing tendency to ordain only celibate men. The codification would come in the Middle Ages, an era in which it was taken for granted that the priest and bishop would be celibate. It was another matter that the canonical discipline was not always followed to the letter, but this should not come as a surprise. And, as is in the nature of things, the observance of celibacy has seen highs and lows over the course of the centuries.

There is, for example, the famous and fiery dispute in the 11th century, at the time of what is called the Gregorian reform. At that juncture one witnessed a split that was so stark – especially in the German and French churches – as to lead the German prelates who were contrary to celibacy to forcibly expel from his diocese the bishop Altmann of Passau. In France, the pope’s emissaries who were charged with insisting on the discipline of celibacy were threatened with death, and at a synod held in Paris the sainted abbot Walter of Pontoise was beaten by bishops opposed to celibacy and was thrown in prison. In spite of this the reform succeeded and a renewed religious springtime took place.

It is interesting to note that the contestation of the precept of celibacy has always coincided with signs of decadence in the Church, while in times of renewed faith and cultural blossoming one has noted a strengthened observance of celibacy.

And it is certainly not difficult to draw historical parallels with the current crisis from these observations.

THE PROBLEMS OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST
Two questions that are frequently posed still remain open. There is the one concerning the practice of celibacy on the part of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine empire and of the Eastern rite, which does not admit marriage for bishops and monks but grants it for priests on the condition that they be married before they receive the sacrament. And taking precisely this practice as their example, there are some who ask if it could not be adopted by the Latin West as well.

In this regard must be emphasized in the first place that it was precisely in the East that the practice of abstinent celibacy was held to be binding. And it was only during the Council of 691, called “Quinisextum” or “Trullanum,” when the religious and cultural decadence of the Byzantine empire was evident, that the rupture with the apostolic patrimony was reached. This Council, influenced to a great extent by the emperor, who wanted new legislation to restore order in relations, was never recognized by the popes. It was precisely then that the Church of the East adopted its practice. When later, beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, and afterward, various Orthodox Churches returned to the Church of the West, the problem was posed in Rome about how to deal with the married clergy of those Churches. The various popes decided, for the good and unity of the Church, not to require any modification in their way of life for priests who had returned to the mother Church.

THE EXCEPTION IN OUR TIME
There is a similar motivation behind the papal dispensation from celibacy granted – beginning with Pius XII – to the Protestant pastors who convert to the Catholic Church and want to be ordained priests. This rule was recently applied by Benedict XVI to the numerous Anglican prelates who wanted to unite, in conformity with the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” with the Catholic mother Church. With this extraordinary concession, the Church recognizes the long and sometimes painful religious journey of these men of faith who have reached their destination with conversion. A destination that in the name of truth leads those directly concerned to renounce even the financial support realized until that moment. It is the unity of the Church, a good of immense value, that justifies these exceptions.

BINDING PATRIMONY?
But apart from these exceptions, the other fundamental question is raised, and that is: can the Church be authorized to renounce an evident apostolic patrimony?

This is an option that is continually taken into consideration. Some think that this decision could not be taken only by a part of the Church, but by a general Council. In this way it is thought that in spite of not involving all the ecclesiastical ranks, at least for some the obligation of celibacy could be relaxed if not abolished outright. And what appears inopportune today could be the reality tomorrow. But if there were the desire to do this one would have to bring back to the forefront the binding element of the apostolic traditions. And one could also ask if, with a decision made in the assembly of a Council, it would be possible to abolish the celebration of Sunday, which, if one wished to be meticulous, has fewer biblical foundations than celibacy.

To conclude, allow me to advance a consideration projected into the future: if it is still valid to contend that every ecclesiastical reform worthy of this definition must emerge from a profound understanding of the ecclesiastical faith, then the current dispute over celibacy would be overcome through a deepened understanding of what it means to be a priest. And if it were understood and taught that the priesthood is not a function of service exercised in the name of the community, but that the priest – by virtue of the sacrament received – teaches, guides, and sanctifies “in persona Christi,” all the more so would it be understood that it is precisely for this reason that he also takes on Christ’s way of life. And a priesthood understood and lived in this way would once again exercise a power of attraction over the finest of the young.

As for the rest, it must be taken into account that celibacy, just like virginity in the name of the Kingdom of Heaven, will always be troublesome for those who have a secularized conception of life. But as Jesus said in this regard: “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

Prelates rue recent court decisions on marriage

Catholic World News – July 29, 2014
Prelates around the country have criticized recent court rulings declaring that the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

“Recent court decisions on marriage in no way deter our efforts to promote the truth about marriage – a truth that no court decision can ever undo,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

“Every child has a father and a mother,” he added. “No law can change that. Well-ordered societies organize themselves around this natural truth for their own well-being and flourishing; when the institutions of a society turn away from this truth, disorder enters in with consequential serious social costs – already evident in our own society, marked as it is by the devastating effects of family fragmentation.”

Celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy Properly and Adoring

On the Art of Celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy Properly and Adoring the Lord in the Eucharist Devoutlyby Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

Bishop Paprocki Pastoral Letter “Ars celebrandi et adorandi” 2014 Description:
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, issued this pastoral letter on June 22, 2014, on liturgy and adoration. Titled “Ars celebrandi et adorandi“, the letter addresses the art of celebrating the liturgy properly and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist devoutly.
Publisher & Date: Diocese of Springfield, June 22, 2014

Introduction
Reverend Monsignors and Fathers, Deacons, Consecrated men and women, 
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

1. The art of celebrating the liturgy properly and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist devoutly (ars celebrandi et adorandi) is the key to fostering the active participation of the People of God in divine worship. Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission, Sacramentum Caritatis, wrote, “For two thousand years, faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9).”1 As “the chief steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church” entrusted to my care as Diocesan Bishop,2 I wish in my first pastoral letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois to address this “principal duty” of bishops, priests, and deacons in which the Christian faithful actively participate and carry out the Lord’s command.3

The Presence of Christ in History

2. Sacred Scripture attests time and again to God’s loving presence in human history. At the time of Creation, before the Fall, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). He remained with Adam and Eve’s descendants, walking with Enoch for 300 years and, through the covenant with Abraham, promising “to be God to you and to your offspring” as part of “an everlasting covenant” (cf. Genesis 5:21; Genesis 17:8).

3. When his people Israel wandered through the desert on the way to the Promised Land, the Lord God was present among them in the Dwelling Tent, the Tent of Meeting (cf. Exodus 40). His presence was shown in the pillar of cloud that descended upon the tent and by the presence of the sacred bread — the Bread of the Presence — placed outside the Holy of Holies (cf. Exodus 40:34; 25:30).

4. In our own day, too, the Lord is present to his people, no longer in the form of a pillar of cloud or of fire as in the days of old, but in manifold ways (cf. Exodus 40:38). The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reminds us that to accomplish the great work of salvation, “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in its liturgical celebrations.”4 He is present in Mass both in the person of his minister and in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine. He is present in all the sacraments. He is p
5. “Do this in memory of me” (Matthew 22:19). These words, first spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, have echoeresent when his word is proclaimed aloud. He is present in the gathered assembly, the People of God, when they pray and sing (Matthew 18:20). He is also, in a particular way, present in the humble appearance of bread, worshipped and adored by the faithful in his tabernacle — a word which means “tent” — in the churches and chapels of the world as the very Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, in keeping with his promise to “be with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).d through the centuries on the lips of his priests, to whom he entrusted his own mission, in every part of the world. Speaking in persona Christi, priests have called down the Holy Spirit upon humble offerings of bread and wine over which they have spoken these words in keeping with the Lord’s command. Through a marvelous exchange, these gifts are changed and given to us by the Lord, no longer as bread and wine but as his very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

6.Through these words the promise of the sole Redeemer of all mankind to be with us always is fulfilled (cf. Matthew 28:20). Saint Francis of Assisi recognized this tremendous reality in a profound way and called upon his spiritual sons and daughters to say, whenever they passed a church, “We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Your churches throughout the world, and we bless You, for through Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.”5

7. The Church has never tired of proclaiming the Lord’s closeness to his people. We are never far from Jesus. In our diocese, the faithful have opportunities every day to receive the Lord into their hearts at daily Masses celebrated in our various parish churches and chapels. Outside of Mass, all we need do is go to a Catholic church or chapel and kneel down before the tabernacle, where the Lord of heaven and earth dwells among us in his tent and is ever ready to receive us.

8. Near the tabernacle the sanctuary lamp gently burns, kept alight to indicate and honor the presence of Christ and to call our attention to the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle.6 There he waits for us. At times in our lives we ask with those two disciples, “Where are you staying” (John 1:38)? From his tabernacle he calls out to us: “Come, and you will see” (John 1:39).

9. Heeding the Lord’s own invitation, the faithful have long made their own the words of the Magi, saying, we “have come to do him homage” (Matthew 2:2). Kneeling before the tabernacle, much like the Magi who “prostrated themselves and did him homage,” the faithful have offered their prayers and praise to the Bread of Life (Matthew 2:11; cf. John 6:35).
Growth in the Church through Beauty in the Liturgy

10. “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The command of Our Lord to increase the number of his followers everywhere is clear, but we do not always know exactly how to go about doing that. Father Robert Barron, Rector of Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago, often speaks about the role of beauty in attracting people to the Church, using an analogy from baseball to make his point. He notes that you will not get people interested in baseball by explaining the “infield fly rule” to them before doing anything else. What attracts people to baseball initially is the beauty of the game, the skill of pitching, hitting and catching the baseball and running the bases. The infield fly rule and all the other intricate and sometimes arcane rules of any sport only have interest and relevance for people who already know and love the game.

11. The same is true with attracting people to the Church. We do not start by listing rules. The beauty of our church edifices, magnificent works of religious art and the graceful celebration of the liturgy, accompanied by harmonious music, inspiring homilies and the active participation of the faithful, are the foundational elements that attract people to the liturgy. Attention to the liturgical norms only comes after one has an appreciation for the art of the celebration.
The ars celebrandi

12. We must seek to be found fully aware of our actions in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament lest we fail to pay him the homage that is due him. This desire to come and adore the Lord must flow also into everything that pertains to the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. As noted at the beginning of this Pastoral Letter, Pope Benedict XVI, in union with the Fathers of the Synod on the Eucharist, directed our attention to the ars celebrandi, the art of celebration, in his 2007 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis. He said:
In the course of the Synod, there was frequent insistence on the need to avoid any antithesis between the ars celebrandi, the art of proper celebration, and the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful. The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself.7

13. In his desire for an ever-greater reverence and devotion throughout the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Pope Benedict XVI was not alone. His predecessor, the great Pope Saint John Paul II, also called our attention to the ars celebrandi in his Encyclical letter on the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, in which he said: “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.”8

14. With these words he returned to what he spoke of in his 1986 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, which he devoted to the example of Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney, patron saint of all parish priests. There Pope Saint John Paul II recalled the words of the Curé of Ars: “The cause of priestly laxity is not paying attention to the Mass.”9

15. This important theme was addressed by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in their Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, where they taught: “The liturgy must favor and make shine brightly the sense of the sacred. It must be imbued with reverence, adoration and glorification of God. … The Eucharist is the source and summit of all the Christian life.”10 The sense of the sacred is fostered by a reverent ars celebrandi, an art of celebrating, one of humble devotion, not of laxity or of rigidity.

16. Marking the Fiftieth anniversary of the Sacred Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium” on the Sacred Liturgy — the first document promulgated by the Second Vatican Council — Pope Francis stated that it is necessary to unite “a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution of the Holy Liturgy on the part of the baptized and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons.”11

17. With our minds and hearts turned toward an intentional and ongoing renewal of the ars celebrandi, I wish to offer the following observations and directives regarding the reservation and adoration of the Holy Eucharist because, as Saint Thomas More once wrote, “the Sacrament ought to be honored with Divine honor.”12
The Reservation and Adoration of the Holy Eucharist

18.
While the Holy Eucharist is reserved in the tabernacle of every parish church in our diocese, the faithful in some places do not frequently come to pray before the tabernacle to be in the presence of the Lord. Several reasons for this certainly exist, but one among them is the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today. Over the past few decades, tabernacles all too often were moved from prominent places in the sanctuary to obscure and remote rooms that in some cases were previously supply closets.

19. The present legislation of the Church concerning the placement of the tabernacle states, “In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.”13 Regrettably, this is not always followed.

20. In some churches and chapels, the tabernacle is set on a “side” altar in such a way that the tabernacle, though noble, is neither prominent nor readily visible. The same is often the case with the location of some Eucharistic chapels, whether they be in the nave itself, behind the sanctuary, or in another room. They are not always prominent or readily visible.

21. The great majority of our parish churches and chapels were designed to house the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary; removing the tabernacle from these sanctuaries has left a visible emptiness within the sacred space, almost as though the building itself longed for the return of the tabernacle. With the removal of the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary, the architectural integrity of many churches and chapels has been severely compromised.14

22. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist in 2007, “The correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ’s real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the place where the Eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. … In any event, final judgment on these matters belongs to the Diocesan Bishop.”15

23.
With this in mind, in order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

24. Some may object to this directive and point, by means of example, to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome to suggest that tabernacles should not be located in the sanctuary. Saint Peter’s, of course, is different from the average church or chapel in many respects. Chief among these differences is the number of tourists who visit the Basilica each day, with no intention of praying to the Lord therein. These tourists enter this remarkable edifice built to the honor of the Prince of the Apostles simply to look around, to see the architectural beauty and perhaps to see some aspect of Catholic worship, but not to pray. The Eucharist is reserved in a special chapel into which tour groups are not permitted so that the reverence and adoration due the Eucharist can be properly accorded him by pilgrims seeking to speak with him.

25. At the same time, it should be noted that the Eucharistic chapel in Saint Peter’s is itself larger than many of our parish churches. There is more than enough room to accommodate all those who wish to pray in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord in the chapel; it is not always so with every Eucharistic chapel in this Diocese.

26.
This deep-seated desire to be in the presence of the Lord resounds in the heart of every person, even if they cannot at first name this desire for what it truly is. We should therefore do all that we can to help them encounter the Lord who waits for them to seek and find him. In this regard, I strongly encourage keeping our churches open to the public in so far as can be done with the safety of people and the building in mind. Pope Francis spoke about this in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, Evangelii Gaudium: “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door” (no. 47).

27. Regularly scheduled times for exposition of the Most Holy Eucharist in a monstrance or pyx, as well as an annual solemn and lengthier exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, are highly commended as ways to stimulate the faithful to spiritual union with Christ which culminates in sacramental communion. The norms in the liturgical books for Eucharistic exposition and benediction are to be observed.16
To bend the knee

28. In recent years, there has arisen the practice of bowing to the Lord present in the tabernacle, rather than genuflecting before him. Such a profound bow — made purposefully and reverently from the waist — can be a fitting way to reverence the Divine Majesty, but only if one cannot genuflect, which is not always the same as having some difficulty genuflecting.

29. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides that “if, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself. Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession. Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.”17

30. To genuflect means, literally, “to bend the knee.” In the ancient world the knee symbolized the strength of a man. If a man is struck in the knee, he stumbles and falls; his strength is taken from him. When we genuflect before the Lord, our strength is not taken from us; rather, we willingly bend our strength to the Lord and place ourselves humbly in his service. When we bend our knee to the Lord of heaven and earth we should hear the words of the Psalmist ever in our hearts, “Lord, I am your servant,” remembering that before the Lord every knee must bend (Psalm 116:16; cf. Philippians 2:10).

31. I must note here, that as important as the Eucharist is to the Church, and that the proper reverence to the Blessed Sacrament is “to bend the knee,” to genuflect, it does not replace another reverence made by all between the opening and the closing processions. During Liturgy between these processions, all who enter or leave the sanctuary, or who pass before the altar, make a deep bow, a bow from the waist toward the altar. Neither a deep bow or a genuflection is made to the tabernacle within the Mass between the opening and closing processions.18

32. In order to keep these words in our hearts and put them into practice, it is helpful to be purposeful and deliberate in the moment of genuflection. One may avoid a hasty and irreverent slide through an attempted genuflection by consciously touching the right knee to the ground and humbly pausing momentarily before rising again. In doing so, we not only pay proper respect to the Lord, but we also remind ourselves in whose presence we are.
Processions with the Blessed Sacrament

33. As a young boy, it was the custom in my home parish of Saint Casimir to have an Easter sunrise Mass at 5:30 a.m. which included a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the church. At the parish where I served as Pastor on the northwest side of Chicago, Saint Constance Parish, this custom was observed with a standing room only crowd of over a thousand people overflowing the church at daybreak on Easter morning. On the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), our procession with the Blessed Sacrament carried by the priest in the monstrance went around the block of our parish grounds, with stops at four altars set up by the faithful for Benediction.

34. Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently about the meaning of the Corpus Christi procession for contemporary Catholics in his homilies for the feast. The procession is a profession of faith: the Solemnity of Corpus Christi developed at a time when Catholics were both affirming and defining their faith “in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist,” and the procession is a public statement of that belief. The sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood always “goes above and beyond the walls of our churches.” The procession blurs the separation between what we do inside the church, and what we do outside: we immerse Christ, so to speak, “in the daily routine of our lives, so that he may walk where we walk and live where we live.” Pope Benedict declared, “The procession represents an immense and public blessing for our city.”19

35. The Code of Canon Law encourages liturgical processions outside the church, “When it can be done in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, as a public witness of the veneration toward the Most Holy Eucharist, a procession is to be conducted through the public streets, especially on the solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ.”20 The leading of processions outside the church is among the specific liturgical functions especially entrusted to the pastor.21

36. I highly encourage and give permission for pastors to conduct processions with the Blessed Sacrament through the public streets, especially on the solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ, as a witness to our faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist and as an expression of our belief that God is in our midst even in our everyday lives. Suitable arrangements are to be made with public authorities and local law enforcement officials for the safety of the participants.
Conclusion

37. In a sermon preached on Easter Sunday, Saint Augustine, one of the great doctors of the Church, said the following regarding our reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus: “If you receive them well, you are yourselves what you receive.”22 What we receive is Christ who himself is God, and as St. John tells us: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). What we therefore become in receiving the Eucharist well is love, a love which is meant to be shared with others in imitation of him whom we receive.

38. By letting the love of God, received in the Eucharist, flow through us in our care for others, we provide a light for others to see. When we leave the church after having received Holy Communion, we go to a world that is full of darkness. We encounter people who are struggling with the crosses of life in the forms of physical suffering, emotional anguish, or spiritual desolation. They can be tempted to follow the example of Judas and give in to despair. We have the opportunity to bring them the light of Christ and so encourage them to have hope in the midst of their trials and to trust in faith that the God who loves them has not abandoned them.

39. In order to further promote the art of celebrating the liturgy properly and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist devoutly, I direct the Office of the Chancellor in collaboration with the Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop and the Department of Catechetical Services, especially the Office for Worship and the Catechumenate, and in consultation with the Presbyteral Council, to review the diocesan liturgical norms and guidelines and formulate them as policies and procedures to be promulgated by me and posted for easily accessible reference on our diocesan website.

40. As we seek to pay fitting homage to our Eucharistic King through the devoted and careful celebration of the Holy Mass, may we come to an ever greater realization that the law of the heart is love. May God give us this grace. Amen.
Given at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois, on June 22, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and the Feast Day of Saints Sir Thomas More and John Cardinal Fisher, in the year of Our Lord 2014, the fourth anniversary of my installation as Bishop of Springfield in Illinois.

Notes

1 Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission, Sacramentum Caritatis (March 13, 2007), 38.
2 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 22; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41; cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (March 25, 2004), 19-25.
3 Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (March 13, 2007), 39.
4 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7.
5 Saint Francis of Assisi, The Testament, 4. In Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1982), 154.
6 Cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 316. See also, Code of Canon Law, canon 940.
7 Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 38.
8 Pope Saint John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52.
9 Pope Saint John Paul II, 1986 Letter to Priests, 8.
10 Lumen Gentium, 11.
11 Pope Francis, Message to Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the occasion of the conclusion of the symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium: Gratitude for and Commitment to a Great Ecclesial Movement,” February 21, 2014.
12 Saint Thomas More, A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body of Our Lord Sacramentally and Virtually Both.
13 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 314.
14 A misprint and transposition of numbers referenced in a key document translated from Latin to English appears to have “inadvertently encouraged and confirmed in the name of the Church a mistaken understanding of the liturgical principles and architectural norms involved in the placement of the Eucharistic tabernacle.” See Timothy V. Vaverek, “The Place of the Eucharistic Tabernacle: A Question of Discrepancy,” Antiphon: Journal for Liturgical Renewal, vol. 4, no. 2 (1999), pp. 10-13. The correct paragraph reference states, “The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a solid, inviolable tabernacle in the middle of the main altar or on a secondary altar, but in a truly prominent place. Alternatively, according to legitimate customs and in individual cases to be decided by the local Ordinary, it may be placed in some other part of the church which is really worthy and properly equipped” (Sacred Congregation for Rites, Eucharisticum Mysterium, May 25, 1967, no. 54).
15 Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (March 13, 2007), 69.
16 See Code of Canon Law, Canon 941- 943, and the Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, nos. 82-100.
17 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 274.
18 See the Ceremonial of Bishops, nos. 69-73 and the Dedication of a Church and an Altar, II, nos. 16 and 62; III, no. 22; and IV, nos. 4 and 48.
19 See Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Thursday, 7 June 2007, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2007/documents/hf_benxvi_hom_20070607_corpus-christi_en.html, and Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Thursday, May 26, 2005, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050526_corpusdomini_en.html.
20 Code of Canon Law, Canon 944.
21 Code of Canon Law, Canon 530.
22 St. Augustine, Easter Sermon 227.
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