Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Pope Paul VI: Two months before he died he expressed grave concerns about abuse of the Mass


In an address to a group of American bishops on their ad limina visit, on the 15th June, 1978, Pope Paul VI expressed the following reflections of the utmost severity: words of a false understanding of the Real Presence, words of a corruption of the nature of the Mass, to such a degree that it was in danger (in many parts already was) no longer "theocentric". When Mass becomes "anthropocentric" we are entering upon the mystery of iniquity. 


A few months before the promulgation of the Council’s Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, we ourself reiterated the Church’s doctrine on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, stating that “it is presence in the fullest sense: because it is a substantial presence by which the whole and complete Christ, God and man, is present” (PAULI PP. VI Mysterium Fidei, 39). We went on to state that the Catholic Church “has at all times given to this great Sacrament the worship which is known as latria and which may be given to God alone” (Ibid. 55). And we are convinced today that an ever greater emphasis on this teaching will be a source of strength to all the pilgrim people of God. For this reason we encourage you and all your priests to preach frequently this rich doctrine of Christ’s presence: the Eucharist, in the Mass and outside of the Mass, contains the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and is therefore deserving of the worship that is given to the living God, and to him alone.

Another clear enunciation of the importance of the Eucharist is contained in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, in which participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is called “the source and summit of the whole Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). The Eucharistic Sacrifice is itself the apex of the Church’s liturgy, the entirety of which is the festive expression of salvation, and has as its primary role the glory of the Lord (Cfr. PAULI PP. VI Allocutio habita ad Helvetiae sacros Praesules, occasione visitationis «Ad limina» coram admissos: AAS 70 (1978) 104). In the words of the Council: “the Sacred Liturgy is above all the worship of the divine majesty” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 33). What a great service to the people of God: week after week, year after year to make them ever more conscious of the fact that they can draw unlimited strength from the Eucharist to collaborate actively in the mission of the Church. It is the summit of their Christian lives, not in the sense that their other activities are not important, but in the sense that, for their full effectiveness, these activities must be united with Christ’s salvific action and be associated with his redemptive Sacrifice.

The Vatican Council assures us that the Eucharist is likewise “the source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5). The very identity of the Church, in her evangelizing mission, is effected by the Eucharist, which be comes the goal of all our activities. All the pastoral endeavors of our ministry are incomplete until the people that we are called to serve are led to full and active participation in the Eucharist. Every initiative we undertake in the name of God and as ministers of the Gospel must find fulfillment in the Eucharist.

A year ago, at the canonization of John Neumann, we cited the importance that the Eucharist held for him as a Bishop of the Catholic Church, precisely in the context of evangelization. And the example we gave was the importance he attributed to the Forty Hours’ Devotion. Venerable Brothers, we do not hesitate today to propose to you and all your faithful the great practice of Eucharistic adoration. At the same time we ask you and your priests to do all in your power so that the reverence due to the Eucharist will be understood by all the faithful, that Eucharistic celebrations everywhere will be characterized by dignity, and that all God’s children will approach their Father through Jesus Christ, in a spirit of profound filial reverence. In this regard, we recall the words we spoke last year to a group of Bishops on their ad limina visit: “The Catholic liturgy must remain theocentric” (AAS 69 (1977) 474).

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