VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A new Holy See document responds to John Paul II’s request for “suggestions and proposals” for ecclesial realms for the Year of the Eucharist, which begins Sunday.
The 35-page text, published today, points out that the Pope has left the development of this Year to the initiative of the local Churches. Still, he asked that useful suggestions be given to pastors and pastoral agents.
“Year of the Eucharist: Suggestions and Proposals,” written by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, is currently available only in Italian.
The text offers suggestions for the Eucharistic year to bishops’ conferences, dioceses, parishes, shrines, monasteries and religious communities, seminaries and houses of formation, and Catholic associations and movements.
The text asks episcopal conferences to prepare subsidiary material that addresses the most important doctrinal and pastoral problems in their countries. In particular, it points out the following: “lack of priests, weakening in priests of the importance of daily Mass, neglect of Sunday Mass, absence of Eucharistic worship.”
The conferences must also give thought to “the quality of television and radio transmissions of the Eucharistic celebration,” and states that “adoration in church must be favored, avoiding that the faithful be content with following adoration transmitted by television.”
The document further suggests that bishops’ conferences promote initiatives for the opening and closing of the Eucharistic year; encourage reflection on the Eucharist in universities, institutes and seminaries; and promote national Eucharistic congresses.
The text asks that dioceses celebrate in an appropriate manner “the official opening and closing of the Year of the Eucharist” and that they promote knowledge of the saints who were outstanding for their love of the Eucharist.
The document also encourages the dioceses to make known their “art heritage with Eucharistic reference”; “to increase perpetual adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament”; and to give a Eucharistic character to World Youth Day, in particular, around Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is when Youth Day is observed at the diocesan level.
Dioceses are also requested to “create sections of Eucharistic interest in weeklies, diocesan reviews, Internet sites, and local radio and television stations.”
The text also offers guidelines for parishes, which it refers to as “Eucharistic communities.”
Among other things, the document calls for the reordering, if necessary, of places of celebration (“altar, ambo, presbytery”) or where the Eucharist is reserved (“tabernacle, chapel of adoration”). Dioceses must be furnished with “liturgical books,” and must safeguard the beauty of the signs (“ornaments, chalices,” etc.).
Parishes are requested in particular to pay special attention to “liturgical singing,” following the last indications given by John Paul II; to know and apply the liturgical normative prepared by the Pope and the Holy See; to teach the faithful to be recollected in church; to promote Eucharistic adoration and other prayer practices before the Blessed Sacrament; and to verify the regularity and dignity with which Communion is taken to the sick.
The document goes on to address shrines and suggests that they favor Mass attendance, “valuing Gregorian chant, (at least in the easier melodies); that they help people to pray with recollection before the Most Holy Sacrament; and that they offer pilgrims the possibility to approach the sacrament of reconciliation.”
It suggests that monasteries and religious communities plan moments of reflection and evaluation of the quality of Eucharistic celebration in community. They should rediscover in the life and writings of their founders the manner of Eucharistic piety, and examine themselves on the Eucharistic testimony given by consecrated persons in parishes, hospitals, schools and prisons, among other places.
The Vatican document encourages seminaries and houses of formation to cultivate “the bond between theological formation and spiritual experience of the Eucharistic mystery”; to pay attention to “interior and exterior participation in the celebration of the Mass”; to know “liturgical theology” and the rite of the Mass; to be familiar with Gregorian chant and Latin; and to promote Eucharistic adoration.
Finally, the text addresses “associations, movements and confraternities” and explains that the Year of the Eucharist “is a call to reflect, verify, internalize and eventually update their traditional statutes.”
Moreover, it is a stimulus to dedicate more time to Eucharistic adoration, also involving other people in a sort of “Eucharistic apostolate.” And it “is an invitation to combine prayer and charitable commitment,” the document adds.