The Year of the Eucharist
On October 17, 2004, Pope John Paul II solemnly opened the Year of the Eucharist with a Mass celebrated at the ‘altar of the confessio’ in Saint Peter’s Basilica and broadcast to the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. In his homily, the Holy Father asked that the coming year be used to foster and promote “a more keen awareness of the Eucharist, with more deeply felt celebration, with prolonged and fervent adoration, with a greater commitment of fraternity and service to the neediest.”
Resources for the Year of the Eucharist have been developed by the Secretariat for the Liturgy and may be found on the USCCB website at: /liturgy/eucharistyear.shtml.
This site provides downloadable resources for dioceses and parishes for the Year of the Eucharist which will be updated through October, 2005. The illustration featured above, has been designed for this special year-long event and is available for non-commercial use by dioceses and parishes.1 The image depicts Christ in glory, the giver of his Body and Blood, surrounded by types of the Eucharistic Mystery in (clockwise, from upper left) the sacrifices of Abel, Melchisedech, and Abraham, and the Annunciation.
Homily of Pope John Paul II
On October 17, 2004, Pope John Paul II delivered the following homily to open the Year of the Eucharist:
- “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28: 20).
In contemplation before the Eucharist, at this moment we experience with special vividness the truth of Christ's promise: He is with us!
I greet all of you who are gathered at Guadalajara to take part in the conclusion of the International Eucharistic Congress. I greet in particular Cardinal Jozef Tomko, my Legate, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, and the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and priests of Mexico and of very many other countries who are present there.
I extend my greeting to all the faithful of Guadalajara, of Mexico and of the other parts of the world who have joined us in adoration of the Eucharistic Mystery.
- The television link-up between St Peter's Basilica, the heart of Christianity, and Guadalajara, the venue of the Congress, is like a bridge that spans the continents and makes our prayer meeting an ideal “Statio Orbis”, in which the believers of the whole world converge. The meeting point is Jesus himself, truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist with the mystery of his death and Resurrection in which heaven and earth are united and peoples and different cultures meet. Christ is “our peace, who has made us both one people” (Eph 2: 14).
- “The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium”. The theme of the Congress invites us to consider the Eucharistic Mystery not only in itself, but also in relation to the problems of our time. Mystery of light! The human heart, burdened with sin, often bewildered, weary and tried by suffering of all kinds, has need of light. The world needs light in the difficult quest for a peace that seems remote, at the beginning of a millennium overwhelmed and humiliated by violence, terrorism and war.
The Eucharist is light! In the Word of God constantly proclaimed, in the bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of Christ, it is precisely he, the risen Lord, who opens minds and hearts and makes us recognize him, as he made the two disciples at Emmaus recognize him, in the “breaking of the bread” (cf. Lk 24: 35). In this convivial gesture we relive the sacrifice of the Cross, we experience God's infinite love, we feel called to spread Christ's light among the men and women of our time.
- Mystery of life! What greater aspiration is there in life? Yet threatening shadows are hanging over this universal human hope: the shadow of a culture that denies respect for life in all its stages; the shadow of an indifference that relegates countless people to a destiny of hunger and underdevelopment; the shadow of scientific research that is sometimes used to serve the selfishness of the strongest.
Dear brothers and sisters, the needs of our many brothers and sisters call us into question. We cannot close our hearts to their pleas for help. Nor can we forget that “one does not live by bread alone” (cf. Mt 4: 4). We are in need of the “living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6: 51). Jesus is this bread. Nourishing ourselves on him means welcoming God's life itself (cf. Jn 10: 10) and opening ourselves to the logic of love and sharing.
- I desired this Year to be dedicated especially to the Eucharist. In fact, every day, particularly Sunday, the day of Christ's Resurrection, the Church lives this mystery. But, in this Year of the Eucharist, the Christian community is invited to become more aware of it through a more deeply felt celebration, prolonged and fervent adoration and a greater commitment to brotherhood and the service of the least. The Eucharist is the source and manifestation of communion. It is the principle and plan of mission (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, chapters III and IV).
Therefore, in the footsteps of Mary, “woman of the Eucharist” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, chapter VI), the Christian community lives this mystery! Strengthened by the “bread of eternal life”, it becomes a presence of light and life, a leaven of evangelization and solidarity.
- Mane nobiscum, Domine! Like the two disciples in the Gospel, we implore you, Lord Jesus, stay with us!
Divine Wayfarer, expert in our ways and reader of our hearts, do not leave us prisoners to the evening shadows. Sustain us in our weariness, forgive our sins and direct our steps on the path of goodness. Bless the children, the young people, the elderly, families and the sick in particular. Bless the priests and consecrated persons. Bless all humanity.
In the Eucharist, you made yourself the “medicine of immortality”: give us the taste for a full life that will help us journey on as trusting and joyful pilgrims on this earth, our gaze fixed on the goal of life without end.
Ten Questions on Influenza and the Liturgy
On numerous occasions, the BCL Newsletter has addressed the liturgical implications of the transmission of pathogens on numerous occasions. As the flu season once again approaches, the Secretariat for the Liturgy has consulted with experts and offers the following brief reflections on “influenza and the Liturgy.”
- What is influenza?
- Why is there particular concern for the spread of influenza this year?
- What is the best way to prevent the transmission of the influenza virus?
- How is the influenza virus transmitted?
- Does transmission of the flu require direct contact between persons?
- How can the spread of the influenza virus be prevented?
- In previous years, what has the Church done in localities where the outbreak of influenza is most significant?
- What measures should be taken in Roman Catholic Liturgies in the United States of America now?
- What about further adaptations or the restriction of options at Mass?
- What is the Secretariat for the Liturgy doing to address this question?
According to the Centers for Disease Control “influenza (commonly called `the flu') is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Infection with influenza viruses can result in severe illness and life-threatening complications. An estimated 10% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year: an average of 114,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications and 36,000 Americans die each year from complications of flu.”
Various concerns with the availability and efficacy of influenza vaccines have again raised issues of concern.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “as with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important and appropriate preventive practices is careful and frequent hand hygiene. Cleaning your hands often using either soap and water or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizers removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission.”
According to the CDC, frequently “influenza viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and spreads virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs of a person, they begin to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu.”
In this regard, the CDC notes that “viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it (for example, a door handle) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. A person who is sick with the flu can spread viruses - that means they are contagious. Adults may be contagious from one day before developing symptoms to up to seven days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for longer than seven days.”
While the single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall, the CDC recommends these other ways to prevent the flu: “Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too; stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness; cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick; clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs; Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.”
In those localities where the outbreak of the disease has been the most significant, bishops have introduced several liturgical adaptations in regard to such practices as the distribution of Holy Communion and the exchange of the Sign of Peace in order to limit the spread of contagion.
Priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion especially should be reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. All who distribute Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion. They should instruct people who feel ill not to receive from the cup.
The Diocesan Bishop should always be consulted regarding any changes or restriction of options in the celebration of Roman Catholic Liturgy. However, the need for the introduction of widespread liturgical adaptations for the prevention of the transmission of influenza in the dioceses of the United States of America is not evident at this time.
The Secretariat will continue to monitor closely the situation and provide the best advice possible to Diocesan Bishops and their Offices for Worship. The Secretariat likewise appreciates whatever information Diocesan Offices for Worship are able to provide concerning local conditions and any pastoral responses developed by Diocesan Bishops. Continuously updated information on the influenza virus and its spread is available from the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.
1 Illustration by Rolph Rohn. Copyright 2004 by Sacred Spaces, LLD of Arlington, Virginia (703-519-9800). Used with permission. Dioceses and parishes are granted permission to use this image for non-commercial purposes.