Propositions of Synod on the Eucharist, Nos. 31-36

“Celebrations of the Word of God Are Also of Great Importance”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 1, 2005 ( Here is a translation of Propositions 31-36 given to Benedict XVI by the recent Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. The text is based on a provisional translation in Italian. ZENIT is publishing translations of all 50 propositions.

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Proposition 31

The Word of God in Christian Prayer

The Eucharistic celebration is the central celebration of the Church but, for the spiritual life of a community, the celebrations of the Word of God are also of great importance.

Such celebrations offer the community the possibility to further its reflection on the Word of God. Forms of access to the Word of God may also be used which have been demonstrated to be valid in the catechetical and pastoral endeavor, such as dialogue, silence or other creative elements like gestures and music.

Moreover, the forms of the Liturgy of the Hours, confirmed by tradition, should be recommended to the communities, especially Lauds, Vespers and Compline, and also the holding of vigils. The introductions to the psalms and readings of the Office may lead to a more profound experience of the event of Christ and of the economy of salvation that, in turn, can enrich the understanding of the Eucharistic mystery.

It will be decisive that whoever leads such celebrations not only have a good theological formation but that, stemming from personal spiritual experience, be able to draw closer to the heart of the Word of God.

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Proposition 32

Eucharistic Celebration in Small Groups

Holy Masses celebrated in small groups must foster a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Eucharist. The following criteria have been suggested:

— small groups must serve to unite the parish community, not to fragment it;

— they must respect the needs of the different types of faithful, so that they foster the fruitful participation of the whole assembly;

— they must be guided by clear and precise directives;

— they must keep in mind that, in the measure possible, the unity of the family must be preserved.

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Proposition 33

The Presbyter and Liturgical Ministries

The tasks of the priest and of other liturgical ministries must be better clarified.

The true subject who acts in the liturgy is Christ risen and glorified in the Holy Spirit. Christ however includes the Church in his action and commitment. The priest is, irreplaceably, the one who presides over the whole Eucharistic celebration, from the initial greeting to the final blessing. This is because, in the Eucharistic celebration, he, in virtue of his priestly ordination, represents Jesus Christ, head of the Church and also, properly, the Church herself.

The deacon, educating the faithful in the hearing of the Word of God, in praise and in prayer, can inculcate love of the Eucharist.

The collaboration of the laity in the liturgical service and, especially, in the celebration of the Eucharist, has always existed. With the Second Vatican Council (cf. “Apostolicam Actuositatem,” 24) and the consequent liturgical reform, it has subsequently been urged (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, published on January 25, 2004, numbers 103-107).

In these ministries, the Church is reflected as unity in the plurality of forms, and also expressed, in a representative manner, is a form proper to the “actuosa participatio” of the faithful. These ministries must be introduced according to their specific mandate and according to the real needs of the community that celebrates.

The persons in charge of these lay liturgical services must be carefully chosen, well prepared and supported by permanent formation. Their appointment must be temporary. These persons must be known by the community and must receive grateful acknowledgment from the same. The liturgical norms and regulations serve to give a clear orientation on the economy of salvation, “communio” and the unity of the Church.

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Proposition 34

Reverence for the Holy Eucharist

To be observed before the consecrated Host is the practice of genuflection or other gestures of worship, according to different cultures. The importance of kneeling is recommended during significant moments of the Eucharistic prayer, with a sense of worship and praise of the Lord present in the Eucharist. Moreover, thanksgiving after Communion should be promoted, including with a time of silence.

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Proposition 35

The Reception of Holy Communion

In our plural and multicultural society, it is appropriate that the meaning of Holy Communion be explained also to those who are not baptized or other persons belonging to non-Catholic Churches and communities, present in the Holy Mass on the occasion, for example, of Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communion, weddings and funerals.

In many metropolises and cities, especially rich in art, visitors of other religions and creeds and nonbelievers often attend the Eucharist.

It must be explained to these persons, in a delicate but clear manner, that non-admission to Holy Communion does not mean a lack of esteem. Also Catholic faithful that, permanently or occasionally, do not fulfill the necessary requirements, must be aware that the celebration of the Holy Mass, even without personal participation in sacramental Communion, continues to be valid and significant. No one should be afraid of giving a negative impression if they do not go to Communion.

In some situations, a celebration of the Word of God is recommended instead of the Holy Mass. Pastors of souls must be concerned to lead the greatest possible number of men to Christ, who calls all to himself — and not only in Holy Communion — so that they will have eternal life.

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Proposal 36

The Use of Latin in Liturgical Celebrations

To express better the unity and universality of the Church in the celebration of the Eucharist during international meetings, ever more frequent today, it is proposed:

— to suggest that the concelebration of the Mass be in Latin (except Readings, the homily and the Prayer of the Faithful). So also should be the prayers of the tradition of the Church, and musical compositions of Gregorian chant should eventually be sung;

— to recommend that priests be prepared in the seminary to understand and celebrate the Mass in Latin, as well as to use Latin prayers and know how to value Gregorian chant;

— to not neglect the possibility that the faithful themselves be educated in this respect.

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