WASHINGTON (April 23, 2004) -- One year after Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia De Eucharistia), the Holy See has issued an Instruction (Redemptionis Sacramentum) to explain the deeper level of liturgical norms in the light of some abuses of liturgical law. USCCB Publishing is the initial publisher of the Instruction in this country.
The Holy Father had called for the Instruction as a follow-up to the encyclical. The Instruction was prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Bishops and experts throughout the world were consulted in the development of the document.
The Instruction is subtitled On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.
"All along the centuries the Church has surrounded the celebration of this mystery of faith with reverence, care, devotion and love," writes Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the introduction. "This is the reason for liturgical norms concerning the celebration, reception and adoration of the Holy Eucharist. This mystery 'is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and with disregard for its sacredness and its universality' (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, 52)."
In a statement welcoming the Instruction, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, said: "In response to our Holy Father's mandate that bishops do all in their power to foster an appreciation of the inestimable treasure which is the Eucharistic mystery, the Congregation has provided us with a carefully developed tool to foster the authentic celebration of the Mass."
"Forty years ago, the Council Fathers taught us that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the entire Christian life. There is no more important work than the care and attention that we give the sacred Liturgy. Fidelity to the liturgy as given to us by the Church is fidelity to Christ."
For information on how to order the Instruction (ISBN 1-57455—619-3) directly from the USCCB, visit the bishops' Web site at www.usccb.org.