The Key to “Sacramentum Caritatis”

Interview With Author Father Nicola Bux

ROME, APRIL 4, 2007 ( Charity is the key to reading the postsynodal exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis” and also to understanding Benedict XVI’s thought, says the author of a book on the Eucharist.

Father Nicola Bux, author of “Il Signore dei Misteri: Eucaristia e Relativismo” [The Lord of the Mysteries: Eucharist and Relativism], spoke with ZENIT about liturgical reform and the Pope’s exhortation to “Eucharistic consistency.”

Q: For the second time the Pope has authored a significant text with the word charity, love. First “Deus Caritas Est” and now “Sacramentum Caritatis.” Do we have a key for reading this papacy?

Father Bux: Charity is the key to reading Catholic Christianity and therefore the postsynodal exhortation, because Pope Benedict’s thought is fully Catholic in the sense that it is the bearer of what is believed always, everywhere, and by all — as St. Vincent of Lerins says — and at the same time it is a thought that is mobile, attentive to the questions of contemporary man.

Q: Benedict XVI’s exhortation reasserts his influence on the liturgical reform. Is this one of the more important points of the document?

Father Bux: It’s in the theme itself of the exhortation: the Eucharist source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. We know that the Council wanted the Eucharist and the liturgy to be at the center of the Church, insofar as it is from Eucharist, and not from us, that the Church is continually built up, as St. Thomas says.

The liturgical reform, insofar as it had this as a presupposition, bore fruit; when it instead encouraged the enterprise of the clergy and ministers, it became a show and was sterile.

Q: The Holy Father also speaks of “Eucharistic consistency.” What does he mean by this?

Father Bux: Every Catholic knows that he should not receive Eucharistic Communion if his moral life does not conform to what is meant by the word “communion.” What I have in mind is the egoism that brings one to think and act on his own, with a freedom detached from truth, instead of being united in heart and soul, as the Acts of the Apostles says.

If one gets divorced, that is, if married people split, how can you receive the sacrament of unity? If I encourage quarrels and war for dealing with controversies, how can I receive the sacrament of peace?

If I collaborate in making laws that violate nature as God created it, how can I enter into communion with the Creator? This, in sum, is what is meant by Eucharistic consistency. To be more precise, it is the correspondence between believing and acting.

Q: How should we understand the suggestion to celebrate some of the parts of the Mass in Latin in international Masses?

Father Bux: In the sense that one should use the Roman Missal in the Latin “editio typica,” which has existed from the beginning of the liturgical reform, rather than have multilingual Masses that resemble Babel more than Pentecost.

It is necessary, however, that in every community, whether it be a parish community or not, one is not afraid to sing and pray some parts in Latin and Gregorian — there were collections published already after the Council.

Why must we use English now in almost every ambit of relations in the world and not Latin, which expresses the common faith of Catholics throughout the world?

Q: What is for you the most important point of this exhortation?

Father Bux: The admonition to live the Eucharist as a sacrament of love, which is organic communion, or more exactly, reciprocal obedience between Pope and bishops, bishop and priests, priests and laity.

Just as we do not make the Church but it is rather Jesus who gathers together and continually renews the Church with the action of the Holy Spirit, so also the Eucharist, greatest manifestation of the Church, must be observed in obedient humility in such a way that I “diminish” and the Lord “increases” more and more in every Christian.

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