Wednesday, October 05, 2005


In today's VIS Bulletin were the usual excerpts from the speeches at the Synod of Bishops. Read the excerpts here. Aside from the hot button issues that gets the blood pressure pumping, there has been an undercurrent that has as far as I've seen gone unreported.

A lot of these bishops are pretty serious about not only the Eucharist but Penance as well.

BISHOP RIMANTAS NORVILA OF VILKAVISKIS, LITHUANIA. "Without the will or the possibility of sacramental reconciliation, it becomes impossible for Catholics to experience the most profound union with Jesus Christ and the Church, favored by the Eucharist. Thus Christians reach a point where they cannot appreciate the value of the Eucharist as a source of grace and, little by little, they lose their bonds with the parish community and their closeness to the whole Church. At the same time, without the practice of reconciliation, subjectivism tends to increase, and it becomes more difficult to evaluate personal behavior and religiosity. The decline of the practice of this Sacrament is very obvious throughout the world.

Another bishop made a suggestion that during Lent on Fridays, no celebration of the Eucharist be held.

BISHOP LORENZO VOLTOLINI ESTI, AUXILIARY OF PORTOVIEJO, ECUADOR. "Refraining from the celebration of Mass on Friday in Lent would help the faithful to feel greater hunger for the Eucharistic food, and it would give priests the chance to put themselves at the disposal of the faithful for the Sacrament of Penance, thus establishing a relationship of equal dignity and necessity between the two Sacraments. ... I propose it be suggested to dioceses or National Conferences, or at least allowed to those that request it, that they establish a day of Eucharistic fasting, preferably during Lent and perhaps on Fridays. This should not be experienced as a day of Eucharistic absence but as a period of preparation for and expectation of the Eucharist. It should not be considered as an interruption of the practice of celebrating the Eucharist each day, but as a way to give worth to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, equally celebrated in Penance and in the Eucharist in the totality and complementarity of the two Sacraments."

In a speech from the other day, one of the bishops suggested that the upcoming year be declared the Year of Penance.

Reconciliation is perhaps the 'bastard child' sacrament of the West (and perhaps the rest of the world, given the bishops making these suggestions are from places like Lithuania and Ecuador. Mainstream Catholics get cleaned up and tromp off to Mass Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, but I would really love to see some statistics comparing weekly Mass attendance and weekly confession.

It is often pointed out that weekly Mass attendance is supposed to be some kind of 'indicator', but I would submit that the latter, weekly confession, would be the true measure of a practicing Catholic. Levada asked his fellow bishops for comments on allowing politicians who support anti-Catholic positions to receive the Eucharist. He ought to be asking his fellow bishops about allowing the unconfessed masses to receive the Eucharist week in and week out without so much as a word from the pulpit.

Back in the sixteenth century, there was so much conflict over the Reformation and which side the princes should choose because one of the factors was that the princes were personally responsible for their subjects' souls and if they chose wrong, they were condemning them all to eternal damnation. The clergy might want to consider this point as well.

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