The Eucharist – The Sacrament of Love

The long-awaited postsynodal exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI was published on March 13. The document contains the conclusions of the 2005 Synod of Bishops and is entitled “Sacramentum Caritatis.”
by Benjamin Cieply, LC | Source:
The long-awaited postsynodal exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI was published on March 13. The document contains the conclusions of the 2005 Synod of Bishops and is entitled “Sacramentum Caritatis.”

Flipping through the TV channels on Sunday morning, a non-Catholic viewer happened upon a Catholic priest preaching about the Eucharist. The man had never heard of this belief before.

Fascinated, he went to ask a Catholic friend of his for more details.

“So, you believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, that God really comes down upon the altar, and that the bread and wine really become Jesus’ body and blood?”

“Yeah, that’s what they always told me,” his friend answered.

“And how often does this happen?”
“Well, I think there are Masses every day in most churches, but we only have to go once a week, on Sunday.”

“Have to go?! If you really believed, I would think you would want to go more often!”

***

While authentic devotion to the Eucharist gradually continues to spread, true stories like these illustrate a real need for ongoing catechesis.

That is why on a peaceful October evening in Rome, 2005, two hundred fifty-six synodal Fathers gathered inside St Peter’s Basilica to adore Christ, truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. They accompanied Pope Benedict XVI for what was more than just a pious ceremony; it was a living lesson to all the Church’s faithful.

The XI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops had already begun a few days before. It was the largest synodal assembly since Pope Paul VI established it in 1965, and fittingly, they were reflecting together upon the Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.

The Eucharistic hour in St Peter’s was the initiative of one of the cardinals, seconded by the entire synodal assembly. For three weeks, in the presence of the Holy Father, they were to speak about the Treasure of the Church. It was therefore appropriate to contemplate this treasure face-to-face.

In addition, they asked the Holy Father to solemnly expose the Eucharist in the small chapel close to the synod hall. From then on, it was customary to see a number of cardinals and bishops on their knees during the breaks and before the afternoon working sessions.

Indeed, there was a special environment of prayer and recollection among the synodal Fathers, which surely bore fruit and is reflected in the long-awaited postsynodal exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI entitled “The Sacrament of Love” (“Sacramentum Caritatis”).

More than a mere enumeration of the proposals made during the synod's ordinary general assembly, the document contains the personal reflections of the Pope, and it will most certainly be an occasion for the entire Church to renew its love for this Sacrament of Love, instituted by Christ two thousand years ago and present today inside millions of tabernacles around the globe.

- For the entire text, go to
Sacramentum Caritatis.



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