Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 20, 1975)
11. Many persons today are physically hungry. Certainly the solution to starvation and malnutrition requires increased production and improved distribution of food. But it also requires “a concerted act of solidarity” by the nations and peoples of the world (Synod of Bishops, 1974, Statement on Human Rights and Reconciliation). Our sharing in the Eucharist inspires us to such solidarity, as well as to actions which express it; for sincere celebration of the Eucharist “must lead to various works of charity and mutual help” (Vatican Council II, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 6).
12. The quest for human freedom and justice is not optional for Catholics, nor is it a small part of the Church’s mission. Participation in the struggle for freedom and justice is a duty for each one of us, as it is a central element of the Church’s mission of redemption and liberation. In the Eucharist we find the source of our deepest commitment to the loving service of our brothers and sisters. It is especially timely for us to reflect on these facts at this season of the year, when we are called upon to express our solidarity with the poor and powerless of our nation through the Campaign for Human Development.
15. Our times experience the tragedy of estrangement between nations, races, classes, churches, and even generations. Members of the same family are sometimes strangers to each other. Children feel that they are not understood by their parents; parents feel the same with respect to their children. The need for reconciliation is clear. How better achieve such reconciliation than at the Table of the Lord; for “the liturgy in its turn inspires the faithful to become of one heart in love” (Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10).
16. In an era of tension and violence, the limits of human instruments for peace are all to evident. Christ is our peace, and Christ Himself in the Eucharist provides us with both our model and best hope for peace. For it is He “who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart” (Eph 2:4). It is here, in the Eucharist, that “all education in the spirit of community must originate” (Vatican Council II, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 6).
Pastoral Statement Issued by the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops (May 3, 1983)
295. The Mass in particular is a unique means of seeking God’s help to create the conditions essential for true peace in ourselves and in the world. In the Eucharist we encounter the risen Lord, who gave us his peace. He shares with us the grace of redemption, which helps us to preserve and nourish this precious gift. Nowhere is the Church’s urgent plea for peace more evident in the liturgy than in the Communion Rite. After beginning this rite of the Mass with the Lord’s Prayer, praying for reconciliation now and in the kingdom to come, the community asks God to “grant us peace in our day,” not just at some time in the distant future. Even before we are exhorted “to offer each other the sign of peace,” the priest continues the Church’s prayer of peace, recalling the Lord Jesus Christ’s own legacy of peace:
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom.
Therefore, we encourage every Catholic to make the sign of peace at Mass an authentic sign of our reconciliation with God and with one another. This sign of peace is also a visible expression of our commitment to work for peace as a Christian community. We approach the table of the Lord only after having dedicated ourselves as a Christian community to peace and reconciliation. As an added sign of commitment, we suggest that there always be a petition for peace in the general intercessions at every Eucharistic celebration.
Pastoral Statement Issued by the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops (December 4, 1983)
15. The Eucharist especially teaches us the meaning God’s peace and justice. For as we have said in another pastoral letter, the Mass is
a unique means of seeking God’s help to create the conditions essential for true peace in ourselves and in the world. In the Eucharist we encounter the risen Lord, who gave us His peace. He shares with us the grace of redemption, which helps us to preserve and nourish this precious gift (The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, 295).
God’s gifts of justice and peace, indeed all those gifts which strengthen our moral life, are summed up in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist as a sacrament of reconciliation. As God loves us and shares this new life with us, so we are enabled to love and serve one another. In the liturgy the divine story of creation and redemption is told and retold; that revelation is reinforced by ritual patters which communicate Christian meaning and values in verbal and nonverbal ways. As a result a Christian vision of life is shared. It is a vision framed and permeated by faith. In celebrating the liturgy, Christians do no leave their everyday world and responsibilities behind; rather they enter into God’s real world and see it as it actually is in Jesus—a place where God’s providence and love are indeed at work.