VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Catholics and their pastors must rediscover the force of the Eucharist, said the preacher at the Spiritual Exercises being attended by John Paul II and his Roman Curia aides.
On the first full day of the weeklong spiritual retreat, Bishop Renato Corti of the Italian diocese of Novara dedicated the first meditation to respond to the question: Why was it necessary to convoke the Year of the Eucharist?
The preacher, who is vice president of the Italian bishops’ conference, said that this “year of synthesis” of the present pontificate is necessary to help baptized persons, and in particular priests, to contemplate the Eucharist in all its “splendor” and with full “awareness.” The Year of the Eucharist began last October and continues through this October.
In the passages of the meditation broadcasted on Vatican Radio, the prelate today said that Catholics in general have given a good reception to the Pope’s proposal for this year.
But he acknowledged that the relation of some Catholic communities with this sacrament is also experiencing “shadows.”
Bishop Corti mentioned specifically the abandonment of the practice of Eucharistic adoration. He also mentioned abuses that blur Catholic doctrine on the sacrament, and reductionist interpretations of it.
He referred to the “empty places” in parish meetings, especially the absence of adolescents and young people.
The preacher also warned about the risk of “trivializing” the Eucharistic celebration, especially at weddings and funerals, during which the presence of the rite seems “dictated by an act of courtesy.”
Lastly, Bishop Corti lamented the separation of the Eucharist from daily life, including among Christians of solid faith.
To overcome these dangers or temptations, the prelate proposed a deeper reflection on the “theology of the Eucharist,” in particular, by bishops and priests, in order to create a new “catechumenal sensibility.”
In the second meditation today, the bishop of Novara explained why the papal magisterium insists so much on presenting the figure of Christ.
First, it is a “missionary task” of which Jesus was witness and which the Catholic Church is called to live with his same style, he said.
Second, it is necessary to propose the figure of Christ especially at this time of change in which religious pluralism is spreading and which, in the near future, will put the Church in relation with the great religious traditions of Asia.
Third, the Church presents Christ in response to the religious relativism that is spreading in contemporary societies, in which there is a mentality that seems determined to eliminate religions “which affirm a revelation.”
“Christ, on the contrary, unites humanity,” observed Bishop Corti. “The Gospel is a seed that humanizes the life of humanity. The Church has the vocation to be a sacrament of unity and peace,” which finds its root in the Eucharist.