Preparatory working document for the Synod on the Eucharist

Source: FSSPX News

 

Instrumentum laboris is a working document proposed to the 250 bishops convened at the eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place from October 2 to 23 at the Vatican at the close of the Year of the Eucharist. Published on July 7, this 89 page document (in its French version) takes its title from the theme of the synod: “The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and the mission of the Church”. Signed by the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Synod, it is divided into four parts: “The Eucharist and today’s world”, “Faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist”, “The Eucharist in the life of the Church” and “The Eucharist in the mission of the Church”.

 Its objective is to “recall certain doctrinal verities which have a considerable influence on the celebration of this Mystery” and to “identify the emerging questions concerning the essential points of the Eucharistic doctrine of the Church, in the light of Scripture and Tradition.” A collection of observations by bishops, priests, religious, theologians and faithful, it will “serve to inform on the reality of the faith, worship and the Eucharistic life in the world and to compare it with that of the Church.” During the Synod the bishops will have to present the pope with proposals which are “useful for the Eucharistic renewal of Ecclesial life.”

The document states the “weakening of the sense of Mystery in secularized societies which is also attributed to interpretation and acts which do not conform to the sense of the liturgical reform of the Council, which leads to rites of great banality and lacking spirituality.”

The authors of the text state that “too many faithful receive communion without having reflected sufficiently on the morality of their life.” “Some receive communion even if they deny the teachings of the Church or publicly support immoral choices, such as abortion, without thinking they are committing a personal act which is profoundly dishonest or a source of scandal.” “Furthermore, there are Catholics who do not understand why they are committing a sin when they give political support to a candidate openly in favor of abortion or other grave acts against life, justice and peace.”

 The document also states: “The faithful who disregard the Sunday obligation, in the majority of cases attach no particular importance to the Mass.” “Sometimes they underestimate the importance of this precept, maintaining that it is sufficient to observe it only when one feels like it.”

 Announcing in the foreword that the “faithful are expecting appropriate guidance, so that the sacrament of the Eucharist be celebrated with more dignity,” this document gives a great many recommendations to both clerics and faithful: “a widespread demand has been noted for a deepening of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the demand to expose our faith with ever more clarity, in conformity with the recent Magisterium of the Church.” “It is necessary to clarify the fact that access to the Mystery depends on a celebration of the liturgy carried out with dignity, by careful preparation, but above all, with faith in the Mystery itself.” “A more continuous and intense catechesis concerning the importance and the obligation of participation at Sunday Mass and holy days of obligation, should be encouraged.” “The Synodal Assembly should devote itself to rediscovering the theological and deeply spiritual sense of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, by facilitating its celebration.”

 Likewise: “One can not have access to the Eucharist without having received the sacrament of Baptism or Confession for grave sins.” “The life of the Church is the parish.” “The bishop is the ordinary minister for Confirmation.” “The doctrine of the Church makes Holy Orders the indispensable condition for the valid celebration of the Eucharist.” “It is considered necessary to offer the possibility of Confession before Mass.” “Priests must be encouraged to administer the sacrament of Penance.” “The faithful are drawn to Confession when they see the priest exercising his ministry in the confessional.”

 The document insists on the necessary safeguard of the sense of the sacred in liturgical gestures, vestments, the quality of the architecture and art. It calls for reflection on the “appropriate location” for the tabernacle, the use of incense, the knowledge of Gregorian chant by the faithful, the reintroduction of the prie-dieu, and emphasizes the importance of avoiding all forms of music which are not conducive to prayer.” “It is urgent,” it stresses, “to guard against sacrilege of consecrated Hosts, which occurs during satanic rituals and black masses.”

 Alongside these judicious reminders, the theology of the Paschal Mystery is also discussed in Instrumentum laboris: “The theme of the synod ought to lead to a rediscovery of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus as the Mystery of Salvation, which gives rise to the life and mission of the Church.” “To consider the Eucharist as a sacramental sacrifice: thanksgiving, memorial, presence, allows one to go beyond the dialectic between the sacrifice and the meeting.” On this question of the Paschal Mystery it would be useful to refer to the work, The problem of the Liturgical reform, the Mass of Vatican II and of Paul VI.

Also, ecumenical dialogue is present in the working document: “Ecumenical meetings are privileged occasions to make the doctrine of the Church known, regarding the Eucharist and the unity of Christians.” “It is a matter of urgency to work to re-establish communion with our separated brethren, who have not the same comprehension of the faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” “This urgent inescapable task, especially concerns the Eastern Church.” “The manner of presenting the mystery of the Eucharist in ecumenical dialogue still needs clarification, so as to avoid two opposite extremes: complete exclusion caused by prejudices and relativism.”

 The last Synod of Bishops, in 2001, included six representatives of non-Catholic confessions. This year, twelve “fraternal delegates” of the Orthodox Churches, the “ancient Churches of the East” and communities from the Reform have been invited. “It could be said that this is one of the concrete gestures of ecumenism desired by Benedict XVI at the start of his pontificate,” said Mgr. Nikola Eterovic, the general secretary of the synod. “As observers they will be able to participate in small groups and intervene, but not being members by right, they will not be able to vote.” It is “very interesting that they listen to the discussions and appreciate the atmosphere of brotherly collegiality between the Pope and the bishops, and that they are able to share their own experiences, which are very similar on many points to those of the Catholic Church, especially in the  Orthodox Churches". Concerning the Eucharist, we are very close to the Orthodox Churches and the ancient Eastern Churches.”

Instrumentum laboris is a working document proposed to the 250 bishops convened at the eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place from October 2 to 23 at the Vatican at the close of the Year of the Eucharist. Published on July 7, this 89 page document (in its French version) takes its title from the theme of the synod: “The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and the mission of the Church”. Signed by the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Synod, it is divided into four parts: “The Eucharist and today’s world”, “Faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist”, “The Eucharist in the life of the Church” and “The Eucharist in the mission of the Church”.

 Its objective is to “recall certain doctrinal verities which have a considerable influence on the celebration of this Mystery” and to “identify the emerging questions concerning the essential points of the Eucharistic doctrine of the Church, in the light of Scripture and Tradition.” A collection of observations by bishops, priests, religious, theologians and faithful, it will “serve to inform on the reality of the faith, worship and the Eucharistic life in the world and to compare it with that of the Church.” During the Synod the bishops will have to present the pope with proposals which are “useful for the Eucharistic renewal of Ecclesial life.”

The document states the “weakening of the sense of Mystery in secularized societies which is also attributed to interpretation and acts which do not conform to the sense of the liturgical reform of the Council, which leads to rites of great banality and lacking spirituality.”

The authors of the text state that “too many faithful receive communion without having reflected sufficiently on the morality of their life.” “Some receive communion even if they deny the teachings of the Church or publicly support immoral choices, such as abortion, without thinking they are committing a personal act which is profoundly dishonest or a source of scandal.” “Furthermore, there are Catholics who do not understand why they are committing a sin when they give political support to a candidate openly in favor of abortion or other grave acts against life, justice and peace.”

 The document also states: “The faithful who disregard the Sunday obligation, in the majority of cases attach no particular importance to the Mass.” “Sometimes they underestimate the importance of this precept, maintaining that it is sufficient to observe it only when one feels like it.”

 Announcing in the foreword that the “faithful are expecting appropriate guidance, so that the sacrament of the Eucharist be celebrated with more dignity,” this document gives a great many recommendations to both clerics and faithful: “a widespread demand has been noted for a deepening of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the demand to expose our faith with ever more clarity, in conformity with the recent Magisterium of the Church.” “It is necessary to clarify the fact that access to the Mystery depends on a celebration of the liturgy carried out with dignity, by careful preparation, but above all, with faith in the Mystery itself.” “A more continuous and intense catechesis concerning the importance and the obligation of participation at Sunday Mass and holy days of obligation, should be encouraged.” “The Synodal Assembly should devote itself to rediscovering the theological and deeply spiritual sense of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, by facilitating its celebration.”

 Likewise: “One can not have access to the Eucharist without having received the sacrament of Baptism or Confession for grave sins.” “The life of the Church is the parish.” “The bishop is the ordinary minister for Confirmation.” “The doctrine of the Church makes Holy Orders the indispensable condition for the valid celebration of the Eucharist.” “It is considered necessary to offer the possibility of Confession before Mass.” “Priests must be encouraged to administer the sacrament of Penance.” “The faithful are drawn to Confession when they see the priest exercising his ministry in the confessional.”

 The document insists on the necessary safeguard of the sense of the sacred in liturgical gestures, vestments, the quality of the architecture and art. It calls for reflection on the “appropriate location” for the tabernacle, the use of incense, the knowledge of Gregorian chant by the faithful, the reintroduction of the prie-dieu, and emphasizes the importance of avoiding all forms of music which are not conducive to prayer.” “It is urgent,” it stresses, “to guard against sacrilege of consecrated Hosts, which occurs during satanic rituals and black masses.”

 Alongside these judicious reminders, the theology of the Paschal Mystery is also discussed in Instrumentum laboris: “The theme of the synod ought to lead to a rediscovery of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus as the Mystery of Salvation, which gives rise to the life and mission of the Church.” “To consider the Eucharist as a sacramental sacrifice: thanksgiving, memorial, presence, allows one to go beyond the dialectic between the sacrifice and the meeting.” On this question of the Paschal Mystery it would be useful to refer to the work, The problem of the Liturgical reform, the Mass of Vatican II and of Paul VI.

Also, ecumenical dialogue is present in the working document: “Ecumenical meetings are privileged occasions to make the doctrine of the Church known, regarding the Eucharist and the unity of Christians.” “It is a matter of urgency to work to re-establish communion with our separated brethren, who have not the same comprehension of the faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” “This urgent inescapable task, especially concerns the Eastern Church.” “The manner of presenting the mystery of the Eucharist in ecumenical dialogue still needs clarification, so as to avoid two opposite extremes: complete exclusion caused by prejudices and relativism.”

 The last Synod of Bishops, in 2001, included six representatives of non-Catholic confessions. This year, twelve “fraternal delegates” of the Orthodox Churches, the “ancient Churches of the East” and communities from the Reform have been invited. “It could be said that this is one of the concrete gestures of ecumenism desired by Benedict XVI at the start of his pontificate,” said Mgr. Nikola Eterovic, the general secretary of the synod. “As observers they will be able to participate in small groups and intervene, but not being members by right, they will not be able to vote.” It is “very interesting that they listen to the discussions and appreciate the atmosphere of brotherly collegiality between the Pope and the bishops, and that they are able to share their own experiences, which are very similar on many points to those of the Catholic Church, especially in the  Orthodox Churches". Concerning the Eucharist, we are very close to the Orthodox Churches and the ancient Eastern Churches.”