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Vatican II did not downplay Eucharistic Adoration, says Pope

By on Friday, 8 June 2012

Benedict XVI celebrating Mass outside the Basilica of St John Lateran (AP)

Benedict XVI celebrating Mass outside the Basilica of St John Lateran (AP)

A misunderstanding of the Second Vatican Council has led some Catholics to think that Eucharistic Adoration and Corpus Christi processions are pietistic practices that pale in importance to the celebration of Mass, Benedict XVI said yesterday.

“A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has penalised this dimension” of Catholic faith, which is to recognise Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and worthy of adoration, the Pope said during a Mass marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The evening Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St John Lateran preceded a moment of silent adoration and the Pope’s traditional Corpus Christi procession with the Eucharist through the streets of Rome.

In his homily, the Pope told the thousands of people gathered on the basilica lawn that it is important to recognise the centrality of the celebration of Mass, the moment in which the Lord gathers his people, nourishes them and unites them to himself in offering his sacrifice.

But if Christ is seen as present in the Eucharist only during Mass, “this imbalance has repercussions on the spiritual life of the faithful,” who need to be aware of “the constant presence of Jesus among us and with us”, the Pope said.

“The sacrament of the charity of Christ must permeate all one’s daily life,” he said.

Celebration and adoration are not in competition, the Pope said. “Worshipping the Blessed Sacrament constitutes something like the spiritual environment in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth.”

Pope Benedict said Mass is most meaningful when the faithful recognise that in the Blessed Sacrament the Lord is present, “awaits us, invites us to his table and then, after the assembly disperses, remains with us with his discrete and silent presence”.

Spending time in prolonged silence before the Eucharist “is one of the most authentic experiences of our being Church”, and it finds its complement at Mass when Catholics “celebrate the Eucharist, listening to the word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the bread of life”.

Truly entering into communion with someone, he said, is accompanied by “exchanging glances and intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration”.

“If this dimension is missing, even sacramental communion can become a superficial gesture on our part,” the Pope said.

Pope Benedict said another misunderstanding – one influenced “by a certain secular mentality” of the 1960s and 1970s – was the idea that the Bible teaches that with the coming of Christ, rituals and sacrifices no longer should have meaning. Basically, he said, some people believe “the sacred no longer exists”.

It is true that Christ inaugurated a new form of worship, one tied less to a place and a ritual and more to his person, but people still need “signs and rites”, the Pope said. In fact, without its annual Corpus Christi procession, “the spiritual profile of Rome” would change.

Preceded by members of parish eucharistic associations, children who recently made their first Communions, religious, seminarians, priests, bishops and cardinals walking to the Basilica of St Mary Major, Pope Benedict rode on the back of a truck facing the Blessed Sacrament, which was held in a gem-studded gold monstrance.

Thousands of people carrying candles walked behind the Pope. People watching from the sidewalks behind metal barriers tossed flower petals in front of the truck and joined in singing Eucharistic hymns and reciting litanies.

Darkness fell as the procession made its way to St Mary Major, and the evening ended with the Pope blessing the crowd with the Blessed Sacrament.

  • Metaphysicus

    You say, “This does not mean that a Catholic has to be knowledgeable as to Aristotle’s theory of substance and accidents.’ But the definition from Trent that you quote assumes that theory, which most people now would regard as untenable. So what is the meaning of transubstantiation? If it is only a word for what is really a mystery whose working cannot be explained, how can Catholics claim to have a different understanding of the sacrament from other Christians? I am not sure of this, but I would guess that most Christians who celebrate the Eucharist believe, unless they explicitly rule this out, that in holy communion they are truly, really receiving Christ – in a way that can only be called sui generis sacramental. Can we define it more closely than that, and if not why should Catholics think themselves different? Why do we still want to categorise and divide people by making claims about truth that we cannot sustain? This does not sound like a very godly way.

  • hunhsa700

  • renming328

  • amator Dei

    Wise words from Richard Rohr:’When we start making the Eucharistic meal something to define membership instead of to proclaim grace and gift, we always get in trouble; that’s been the temptation of every denomination that has the Eucharist. Too often we use Eucharist to separate who’s in from who’s out, who’s worthy from who’s unworthy, instead of to declare that all of us are radically unworthy, and that worthiness is not even the issue. If worthiness is the issue, who can stand before God? Are those who receive actually saying they are “worthy”? I hope not. It is an ego statement to begin with.The issue is not worthiness; the issue is trust and surrender or, as Thérèse of Lisieux said, “It all comes down to confidence and gratitude.” I think that explains the joyous character with which we so often celebrate the Eucharist. We are pulled into immense gratitude and joy for such constant and unearned grace. It doesn’t get any better than this! All we can do at Eucharist is kneel in gratitude and then stand in confidence. (Actually, St. Augustine said that the proper Christian posture for prayer was standing, because we no longer had to grovel before such a God or fear any God that is like Jesus.)’

  • WSquared

    That’s actually a reasonable question, karlf, and the answer is yes.  One hears with the aid of faith and reason both.  And for that, one does have to listen– we recall from the Old Testament, Samuel saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” [1 Sam 3:10].  Also, “be still and know that I am God” [Ps 46:10].  We listen for that “still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:11-13], and we trust that the Lord will fight for us; we need only be still [Ex 14:14]. 

    Scripture, once again, must be read in light of Christ– through Him, with Him, and in Him (some of you might recognize this from Mass).  Jesus isn’t going to tell you to do something contrary to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, to which the Church He gave us is conformed to through the Sacraments.

  • WSquared

    Seconding Bob Hayes: but part of a loving relationship involves listening.

    …and what if those happy-clappy songs are actually heretical, thereby obscuring Jesus and the Eucharist?

  • beimabao

  • provobisetpromultis

    VII did not downplay Eucharistic Adoration? Joseph Ratzinger was never a friend to Tradition as he demonstrated during that PASTORAL council that let in the smoke of Satan instead of John 23rd’s “fresh air”. How about “downplay” the Mass itself which had developed over centuries (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit) to emphasize and supplement Eucharistic Adoration? If catholics can’t see the distinction they don’t understand their faith as Michael Davies did, God bless him and keep him.

    I surely hope that Benedict XVI will fully return to Tradition before it’s too late for him.

    Wrong is wrong even if everybody
    is doing it, and right is right even if nobody is doing it.  –St. Augustine
    devil has always attempted, by means of the heretics, to deprive the world of
    the Mass, making them precursors of the Anti-Christ, who, before anything else,
    will try to abolish and will actually abolish the Holy Sacrament of the altar,
    as a punishment for the sins of men, according to the prediction of Daniel “And
    strength was given him against the continual sacrifice” (Daniel 8:12D).  –St.
    Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church

    first requirement of salvation is to keep the standard of the True Faith. 
    –Pope St. Adrian II (867-872