Cardinal Francis Arinze on Liturgy and Eschatology
On September 25, 2004, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered an address entitled, “The Holy Eucharist Unites Heaven and Earth.” The following excerpts are offered as a service to our readers.
The Church in celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice is very aware of doing so in union with the heavenly host. One Eucharist Prayer after another confesses: “In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God” (Roman Missal: Eucharistic Prayer I). Then the following are named: St. Joseph, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the confessors, the virgins and all the Saints. “May their merits and prayers”, the Church prays, “gain us your constant help and protection” (ibid.). The Eastern Rite Anaphoras, or Eucharistic prayers, do the same.
The Angels are given special mention in the preface. Here are examples. “And so with all choirs of angels in heaven we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise” (Advent I). “In our unending joy we echo on earth the song of the angels in heaven as they praise your glory for ever” (II Sunday of Lent). “With thankful praise, in company with the angels, we glorify the wonders of your power” (III Sunday of Lent). These references to the angels are only natural, as the cry “Holy, Holy, Holy” that we make our own immediately afterwards is attributed by Scripture to them (cf Is. 6:2; Rev. 4:8).
The Church suffering in purgatory is not forgotten. The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who “have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified” (Council of Trent: DS 1743), so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ (cf CCC, 1371).
It follows therefore that at the Mass “our union with the Church in heaven is put into effect in the noblest manner when with common rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine Majesty” (Lumen Gentium, 50). “In the earthly liturgy, by way of foretaste, we share in that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8; cf also I Cor. 15:28; CCC 1090, 1326).
Eschatological Dimension of the Holy Eucharist
The Holy Eucharist brings us to tend towards the life to come. “When you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes”, St. Paul tells the Corinthians (I Cor. 11:26). Christ promised his Apostles his own joy so that their joy may be complete (cf Jn. 15:11). The Eucharist is a foretaste of this joy. It is a confident waiting “in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Roman Missal: Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer).
When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion one of the results is that we get a pledge of eternal life, of our bodily resurrection, since Jesus promised that those who so receive him in this sacrament have eternal life and he will raise them up at the last day (cf Jn. 6:54). Therefore, St. Ignatius of Antioch called Holy Communion “a medicine of immortality and an antidote of death” (Ad Ephesians, 20: PG 5, 661; quoted in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 18; cf also Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47).
When, therefore, the priest says to us before the Preface: “Lift up your hearts”, let us also think of the future life, of heaven, where the Eucharist is bringing us. Pope John Paul II has put it beautifully: “The Eucharist is really a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 19). “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come’” (Rev. 22:17).
Eucharist and Commitment to this World
The fact that the Eucharist brings us to long for, to strain or tend towards the world to come, must not be interpreted to imply a diminishing of interest in the improvement of this present world on earth. Quite the contrary.
At the end of Mass the deacon or priest says to us: “Ite, Missa est”. “Go, our celebration is ended. You are now sent to go and live what we have prayed, and sung and heard. Go to serve God and your neighbor”.
The Second Vatican Council is clear on this commitment to improve the earth: “The expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age. Earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ’s kingdom. Nevertheless, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the kingdom of God” (Gaudium et Spes, 39).
Therefore the Holy Eucharist commits us to undertake initiatives to promote development, justice and peace. Solidarity and cooperation should replace competition and domination. Oppression, repression or exploitation of individuals or of the poorer minorities or countries should be eliminated. The Christian who is exiting from the Eucharistic celebration should examine his or her conscience on what can or should be done for the poor, the sick, the handicapped and the needy in general.
Christ washed the feet of his Apostles to teach them that the Holy Eucharist sends us to actively love our neighbor (cf Jn. 13). St. Paul tells the Corinthians that their participation in the Holy Eucharist is defective if they are indifferent towards the poor (cf I Cor. 11:17-22, 27-34). The recent Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stresses this dimension of our participation in the Eucharistic celebration: “The offerings that Christ’s faithful are accustomed to present for the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Holy Mass are not necessarily limited to bread and wine for the eucharistic celebration, but may also include gifts given by the faithful in the form of money or other things for the sake of charity toward the poor. Moreover, external gifts must always be a visible expression of that true gift that God expects from us: a contrite heart, the love of God and neighbor by which we are conformed to the sacrifice of Christ, who offered himself for us.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 70).There is no doubt that the Holy Eucharist commits us to strive to make this world a better place in which to live (cf Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 70).
As we seek to conclude these reflections, we adore and thank Our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us the honor and the possibility of being associated with him in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
We pray him to teach us to offer ourselves at Mass through him and with him, to make of us an everlasting gift to God the Father (cf. Roman Missal: Euch. Prayer III). Then the Eucharistic sacrifice becomes for each of us the center of our day and our week, which will all be like an offertory procession. The Eucharist teaches the Church to offer herself. As St. Augustine says: “The Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar so well-known to believers wherein it is evident to them that in what she offers she herself is offered ” (De Civitate Dei, 10, 6: PL 41, 283; CCC, 1372).
The Holy Eucharist calls on us human beings to be the voice of creation in offering it all to God. The family, work, science and culture, politics and government, the mass media and recreation, plus sun, moon, trees, rivers and all created things, should all be offered to God. All creation, redeemed by Christ, should be symbolically offered to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
We celebrate the Mass in union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. We pray for the souls suffering in purgatory. We look heaven-wards to the time when all those redeemed by Christ will be together to sing for eternity the praises of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today we pray for the abundant blessings of the Eucharistic Jesus on the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and all the members of their religious institutes or congregations. By their consecrated lives they are without words witnessing to Christ and proclaiming “that the kingdom of God and its over mastering necessities are superior to all earthly considerations” (Lumen Gentium, 44). May the Holy Eucharist be the center of their lives, their hopes, their joys.
To Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist be honor and glory now and forever.
Five Questions on the Use of Wine for Mass in Prisons
In recent months, the Secretariat has received inquiries concerning whether prison authorities can lawfully refuse to permit a priest to use wine in prison for the limited purpose of celebrating Mass for inmates. The Secretariat for the Liturgy is grateful to the USCCB Office of the General Counsel for its assistance in researching the question.
1. Why celebrate Mass in prisons?
Because the Mass “is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit…,”1 every effort should be made to provide prisoners with the opportunity to take part in the Sacred Mysteries. The Bishops of the United States have urged that the Church should have a strong presence in prisons and jails, “where we Catholics work to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of inmates…”2
2. Can a federal prison refuse to allow a priest to use wine for the celebration of Mass?
No. Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Guidelines (www.bop.gov) provide that the prison itself will purchase and store wine for use at religious rites.
3. Can a state or local prison receiving federal funding refuse to allow a priest to use wine for the celebration of Mass?
The answer, though not entirely settled, is probably “No.” The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act forbids prisons receiving federal funds to substantially burden an inmate’s religious exercise unless it is the “least restrictive means” of furthering a “compelling governmental interest.” The approach taken by federal prisons suggests there are less restrictive means of furthering prison order and security than the wholesale banning of wine for the celebration of Mass.
4. What about a state or local prison which does not receive federal funding?
If a state or local prison does not receive federal funds, the answer is generally not as promising since prison regulation traditionally needs only be rationally related to legitimate penological interests under federal law. There may, however, be legal remedies under state law. In addition, if the denial of permission to use wine to celebrate Mass is because prison officials favor or disfavor certain faiths over others, it may be possible to bring a federal legal claim. It is prudent to seek the assistance of local counsel in every case to determine whether redress might be available from the courts or, alternatively, from prison authorities themselves, other executive branch officials, or the appropriate legislative body.
5. If a state or local prison refuses permission for a Mass with wine, can the Bishop give permission for mustum to be used instead?
No. “Permission to use mustum can be granted by ordinaries to priests affected by alcoholism or other conditions which prevent the ingestion of even the smallest quantity of alcohol, after presentation of a medical certificate.”3 Only the inability of a priest or communicant to drink wine may be used as the reason for granting this permission.
September Meeting of the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee
The Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee met September 17-20, 2004 at the Las Posadas Hotel in Laredo, Texas. The meeting was hosted by Most Reverend James A. Tamayo, Bishop of Laredo and Subcommittee member.
The Subcommittee, chaired by Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J. reviewed the Bendición Al Cumplir los Quince Años, incorporated suggestions made at the September meeting of the Administrative Committee of the USCCB, and added an English language translation of the Bendición Al Cumplir los Quince Años under the title: Order for the Blessing on the Fifteenth Birthday. The group also discussed the Texto Unico in response to a request from Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, concerning the Spanish language translation of the Ordo Missae from the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia.
While Subcommittee members discussed the Spanish text of the Ritual para la Confirmación in preparation for a forthcoming bilingual edition of the Rite of Confirmation, work continued on the finalization of texts of the patronal feasts of Spanish-speaking countries. A review of the completed text of the Bendicional (Book of Blessings) was undertaken by the Subcommittee and selected texts of Liturgiam Authenticam were discussed along with a proposal to produce guidelines for the translation of liturgical texts into Spanish.
Special Sale for BCL Newsletter Subscribers Only!
USCCB Publishing is hosting a special sale for BCL Newsletter subscribers only from now until October 31, 2004. Because of high inventory levels, we want to give you as diocesan leaders the opportunity to supplement your resources with these special offers.
The following four titles are available to you at no charge except shipping and handling. Order any quantity and distribute them to your parishes to ensure that they have what they need for successful ministry.
- Promoting Liturgical Renewal: Guidelines for Diocesan Liturgical Commissions and Offices of Worship (No. 250-0, 24 pp.—Regularly priced: $3.50)
- Order of Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary (No. 167-9, 36 pp.—Regularly priced: $3.50)
- Rite of Commissioning of Special Ministers of Holy Communion (No. 599-2, 18 pp.— Regularly priced: $2.50)
- Pastoral Statement on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (No. 931-9, 48 pp. — Regularly priced: $2.95)
To place an order, call USCCB Publishing at 800-235-8722. In the Washington metropolitan area or from outside the United States, call 202-722-8716. Visit the Bishops’ internet site at www.usccb.org.
- Sacrosanctum concilium, no. 14.
- Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic perspective on Crime and Criminal Punishment (USCCB Publications, 2000), page 60.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Norms for the Use of Low Gluten Bread and Mustum. (August 22, 1994).