SOUTH AFRICA: Prelate Concerned by Poor Eucharistic Practice
Written By: CISA Posted: Wed, Apr 15, 2009
JOHANNESBURG, April 14, 2009 (CISA) –
The Catholic archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlaghale, has expressed his disappointment about poor Eucharistic practice among some priests and the faithful.
The Eucharist effectively makes present the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet there is evidence that some Catholics do not show faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Tlaghale said in his homily on Holy Thursday.
“Many enter the church and do not make the sign of the cross with holy water. Many no longer genuflect; not even a bow that acknowledges the presence of Christ in the tabernacle,” the archbishop said.
He also noted that altar rails had been dismantled, making it no longer imperative for the faithful to kneel when receiving the ‘Body of Christ’.
“Our churches are like a market place before and after mass partly because we have moved the tabernacle to a separate room, or simply because we have lost the sense of the presence of the Holy. We have abandoned silence and a prayerful atmosphere in the church.”
The archbishop recommended that where possible the centrality of the tabernacle be restored and the practice of genuflecting and silence revived.
“Church law requires us to fast for an hour before the Eucharist. The chewing of gum during Mass is simply distasteful,” Archbishop Tlaghale further said.
“The taking of Communion to the sick often leaves much to be desired. Usually, Consecrated Hosts are distributed to lay ministers after Communion. And the priest asks: ‘How many?’ How many what? It does not sound like a language of people who recognise the presence of the Lord.”
Lay ministers carrying Communion to the sick often stop to chat with friends as they go. “At times they rush to do a shopping round before proceeding to the sick. It is not unusual for some to keep the Consecrated Hosts at home because they did not find the sick person or because on their return, they found the church locked.”
Archbishop Tlaghale encouraged the practice of priests praying with altar-servers in the sacristy before and after Mass, but regretted that “some sacristies are like a market place. No prayers are said.”
He challenged priests, as custodians of the Eucharist, to promote adoration and ensure that papal or Vatican documents on the Eucharist are well known by Christians.
“My strong plea to the priests: put these documents within the reach of your parishioners. Help us translate them into vernacular languages where necessary. This is one way of reawakening and increasing Eucharistic faith. This is the supreme treasure of the Catholic Church.”