with Paul Ray
The Sacrament of Charity: The Eucharist, a Mystery to be Proclaimed
We draw closer to the end of our look into Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Apostolic Exhortation on the Holy Eucharist and will now learn how the Blessed Sacrament is a mystery which we must proclaim (¶ 84). We begin with the heading, “The Eucharist and Mission.” We’re reminded that an authentically Eucharistic Church is a missionary Church. What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in Him.
Now, Pope Benedict tells us that, “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel; by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.” This encounter comes to us mainly through the Sacrament. It is something that, once experienced, is not meant to kept to oneself. By it’s very nature it demands to be shared with all. The Eucharist is thus source and summit not only of the Church’s life, but also of her mission.
Everyone of us must be able to say to our brothers and sisters the same words spoken by St. John: “That which we have seen (Jesus in the Eucharist) and heard (the Liturgy of the Word) we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us (1 Jn. 1:3)”. Truly, as the Pope Emeritus reminds us, there is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to make Him known to others.
We cannot approach the Eucharistic table without being drawn into the mission which, beginning in the very Heart of God, is meant to reach all people. Missionary outreach is thus an essential part of the Eucharistic form of the Christian life. Why do you think, therefore, that at the end of every Holy Mass we hear the words, “Go forth, the Mass has ended,” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord,” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”? The very word “Mass” comes form the Latin, “Missa”. At the end of the Holy Mass in Latin we hear, “Ite, Missa est” which Translates to what we mentioned above. The Mass is the heart of our strength to do what Christ commanded us to do (which is how He knows we love Him) and gives us the grace to live and act as we were created by Him to live and act. We are all missionaries, and the Eucharist is our fuel.
- Paul A. Ray
NEXT WEEK: The Eucharist and Witness