VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Eucharist is a regenerating communion and expression of love of the risen Christ, explained the preacher of the Pontifical Household during a Lenten meditation in the Vatican.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa also called for a rediscovery of Sunday, and warned against the “de-personalization” of the sacrament of the Eucharist, during his meditation today.
His talk was the first in a series held every Lent, on Fridays, designed to help John Paul II and members of the Roman Curia prepare for Easter.
The Pope did not attend today as he is recovering in the Gemelli Polyclinic from a successful tracheotomy operation Thursday to ease his breathing problems.
Father Cantalamessa’s sermon, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, was a continuation of a reflection on the Eucharistic hymn “Adore Te Devote,” which he began last Advent.
The third stanza “takes us to Calvary to” relive “the death of Christ,” he said.
The fourth stanza — ”I do not see the wounds as Thomas saw them / but I confess that thou art my God: make me believe in thee more and more, / that I may hope in thee and love thee” — the object of today’s meditation — “takes us to the cenacle for us to encounter the Risen One,” said Father Cantalamessa.
It was in the cenacle where the episode of the Apostle Thomas took place.
The preacher summarized his sermon for ZENIT.
In the “Adoro Te Devote” the “profound analogy” is made “evident that exists between Thomas’ situation and that of the believer,” said Father Cantalamessa.
Thomas “asks to touch the wounds, but we can also ask him to touch ours. … Wounds that are different from his, caused by sin, not by love,” he said. We can ask him “to touch them in order to heal them.”
The “insistence on the chronological data of these apparitions shows the evangelist’s intention to present Jesus’ encounter with his own in the cenacle as the prototype of the Church’s Sunday assembly,” added the preacher.
In those moments “Jesus makes himself present among his disciples in the Eucharist; he gives them peace and the Holy Spirit; in communion they touch, more than that, receive his wounded and risen body and, like Thomas, proclaim their faith in him. Almost all the elements of the Mass are there,” he said.
Father Cantalamessa said that the theological truth highlighted in the fourth stanza “is that in the Eucharist, not only is the Crucified present but also the Risen One,” which is a “memorial both of the passion as well as of the resurrection.”
“In every Mass Jesus is at the same time victim and priest,” he continued. “As victim he makes his death present, as priest he makes his resurrection present.”
And “through the resurrection it is God the Father who enters as protagonist in the Eucharistic mystery. If in fact the death of Christ is the work of men, the resurrection is the work of the Father,” stated Father Cantalamessa.
Rediscovery of Sunday
“The profound theological link between the Eucharist and the resurrection creates the liturgical link between the Eucharist and Sunday,” the Capuchin said. It is significant, he said, that the day par excellence “of the Eucharistic celebration is not that of the death of Christ, Friday, but the day of the resurrection, Sunday.”
“There are urgent pastoral reasons that impel the rediscovery of Sunday as ‘day of the resurrection,'” the priest continued. “We have gone back to be much closer to the situation of the first centuries than to that of medieval times, when the most important aspect of Sunday was the precept of the festive rest.
“There is no longer a civil legislation that ‘protects,’ so to speak, the day of the Lord. In the present organization of work, the law of festive rest itself is subject to many limitations and exceptions.”
It is our task “to rediscover what Sunday was in the first centuries, when it was a special day not because of external supports, but because of its own internal force,” he stated.
Father Cantalamessa said that “no faithful should return home from Sunday Mass without feeling himself also in some measure given a ‘new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.'”
Not much is needed to achieve this “and to put the whole of the Sunday celebration under the paschal sign of the resurrection: a few, vibrant words at the moment of the initial greeting, the choice of an appropriate formula of dismissal at the end, such as ‘May the joy of the Lord be our strength: go in peace,’ or ‘Go and take to all the joy of the risen Lord,'” he said.
From the memory of Thomas and the words of Christ — “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” — a prayerful invocation closes the stanza: “Make me believe more and more in thee, that I may hope in thee and love thee.”
“In practice, what is being asked is an increase in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity,” which “cannot but be rekindled when in contact with the one who is their author and object, Jesus, son of God, and he himself God,” he said.
The “queen” of these virtues is love; and the “Adoro Te Devote” “speaks to us of a particular aspect of love: the love of the soul for Jesus” — “Make me love Thee.”
“It is of this loving response that an increase is requested,” said Father Cantalamessa. “A call all the more precious for us today, in order not to ‘de-personalize’ the Eucharist, reducing it solely to the communal and objective dimension. A true communion between two free persons cannot be realized except in love.”