Friday, March 16, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis ... Morsels for the Soul

This morning I began to read the Holy Father's new encyclical, and was struck by a passage that immediately brought to mind those moments I stood, motionless, outside that church in Southern California ...

Each of us has an innate and irrepressible desire for ultimate and definitive truth. The Lord Jesus, "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6), speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts, our hearts yearning for the source of life, our hearts longing for truth. (par 1)

Every time I talk with someone who has left the Church ... for whatever reason ... or who has gone through RCIA and decided not to move forward into full communion, I always ask the same question:

"But what about the Eucharist? How do you expect your soul to live forever without the Body and Blood of Christ living within you? And where else can you receive that, except in the Catholic Church? Oh, please come back. It's not too late!"

In this encyclical, the Holy Father reminds us what a treasure we have ... and while I think you should go and read the whole thing in its entirety (here's the link) ... especially now, in the season of Lent, I wanted to offer a few of my favorite "tidbits" from Part I to inspire you.

Under the Mercy...

"Jesus is the lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself." (1, quoting from his own Address to Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 10 February 2006)

Faith and the sacraments are two complementary aspects of ecclesial life. Awakened by the preaching of God's word, faith is nourished and grows in the grace-filled encounter with the Risen Lord which takes place in the sacraments: "faith is expressed in the rite, while the rite reinforces and strengthens faith." (6, quoting Propositio 16).

We too should therefore exclaim with Saint Augustine: "If you see love, you see the Trinity" (8, quoting De Trinitate, VIII, 8, 12: CCL 50, 287).

Relationship between penitence and indulgences. The practice of indulgences, which involves not only the doctrine of Christ's infinite merits, but also that of the communion of the saints, reminds us "how closely we are united to each other in Christ ... and how the supernatural life of each can help others." (18-19, Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (1 January 1967), Norms, No. 1: AAS 59, 1967).

Relationship between baptism, Eucharist, and marriage. Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist." (85)

The Eucharist inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage. By the power of the sacrament, the marriage bond is intrinsically linked to the eucharistic unity of Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Church (27, cf. Eph 5:31-32).

On divorce and remarriage. The Synod of Bishops confirmed the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist. Yet the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion, listening to the word of God, eucharistic adoration, prayer, participation in the life of the community, honest dialogue with a priest or spiritual director, dedication to the life of charity, works of penance, and commitment to the education of their children. (29)

1 comment:

elena maria vidal said...

It is really a sublime document. I emailed my favorite passage to you, although I think you may already have it up!