Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Apostolic Exhortation, Pt. 18

Did you miss me?

This covers paragraphs 80-83 of the Apostolic Exhortation. Please read my "introduction" to this effort if you haven't done so already. (Be patient, not only is the translation from Latin a bit rough, but also formatting in Blogger is a pain in the...it's my croix du jour to bear, let's just say.) The stuff I find to be incorrect will be stricken out, what I consider the best (or most approximate) translation will be in bold. If there is something that isn't in the text to be translated, but which adds sense, I put it in [brackets]. Sometimes a translated word or phrase needs a little extra help in making itself clearer, so in put any such clarification(s) [italicized in brackets]. I haven't made any comments yet, and I know that I have been VERY nitpicky in the translatin' so that anyone with a better sense of these things than I can piece together something, meaningwise, which might not have been apparent to me.

The Eucharist and priestly spirituality

80. The Without a doubt the eucharistic form of the Christian life is seen emerges in a very special particular way in the priesthood priestly life. Priestly spirituality is intrinsically eucharistic. The seeds of this spirituality are already found in the words spoken by the Bishop during the ordination liturgy: "Receive the oblation of the holy people to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's Cross." (222) In order to give an ever greater fuller [i.e. more complete] eucharistic form to his existence, the priest, beginning with his years in the seminary time in formation and throughout the ensuing years, should make his spiritual life his highest priority dedicate [his] time to his spiritual life. (223) He is called to always seek God tirelessly with authenticity, while remaining attuned to the concerns of his brothers and sisters men. An intense spiritual life will enable him to enter more deeply into communion with the Lord and to let himself be possessed by God's love, bearing witness to that love becoming its witness at all times, even the darkest most adverse and most difficult. To this end I join the Synod Fathers in recommending "the daily celebration of Mass, even when the faithful are not present." (224) This recommendation is consistent congruent with the objectively infinite value of every celebration of the Eucharist, and is motivated by the Mass's unique spiritual fruitfulness singular spiritual efficacy. If celebrated lived in a faith-filled faithful and attentive way, the Holy Mass is formative in the deepest sense of the word, since it fosters promotes the priest's configuration to Christ and strengthens him in his vocation.

The Eucharist and the consecrated life

81. The relationship of the Eucharist to the various ecclesial vocations is seen in a particularly [i.e. necessarily] vivid way visible in "the prophetic witness of consecrated men and women, who find in the celebration of the Eucharist and in eucharistic adoration the strength necessary for the radical following of Christ, obedient, poor and chaste." (225) Though they provide many services in the area of human formation and care for the poor, education and health care for the sick, consecrated men and women know that the principal purpose of their lives is "the contemplation of things divine and constant assiduous union with God in prayer." (226) The essential contribution that the Church expects from consecrated persons is much more in the order of being than of doing. Here In this context I wish to reaffirm underscore the importance of the witness of virginity, precisely in relation to the mystery of the Eucharist. In addition to its connection to priestly celibacy, the eucharistic mystery also has an intrinsic relationship to consecrated virginity, inasmuch as the latter is an expression of the Church's exclusive devotion to Christ, whom she accepts as her Bridegroom with a radical and fruitful fidelity that is total and fruitful. (227) In the Eucharist, consecrated virginity finds inspiration and nourishment for its complete dedication self-giving to Christ. From the Eucharist, moreover, it draws encouragement solace and strength encouragement to be a sign, in our own times too, of God's gracious free [literally, gratuituous] and fruitful love for humanity. Finally, by its specific witness, consecrated life becomes an objective sign reference to and foreshadowing [literally, anticipation] of the "wedding-feast of the Lamb" (Rev 19:7-9) which is the goal of all salvation history. In this sense, it points to that eschatological horizon against which the choices and life decisions of every man and woman should be situated.

The Eucharist and moral transformation

82. In discovering the beauty of the eucharistic form of the Christian life, we are also led to reflect ponder on the moral energy strength it provides for sustaining the authentic freedom of the children of God. Here I wish to take up a thematic discussion that took place during the Synod about the connection between the eucharistic form of life and moral transformation. Pope John Paul II stated that the moral life "has the value of a 'spiritual worship' (Rom 12:1; cf. Phil 3:3), flowing from born of and nourished by that inexhaustible source of holiness and glorification of God which is found in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist:; [amazing how much a meaning can change from a colo to semi-colon... -J.] by sharing participating in the sacrifice of the Cross, the Christian partakes of Christ's self-giving love and is equipped becomes capable of and committed to live this same charity in all his thoughts and deeds" (228). In a word, " 'worship' itself, eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice practical exercise of love is intrinsically fragmented" (229).

This appeal to the moral value of spiritual worship should not be interpreted in a merely moralistic way. It is before all else the joy-filled joyful discovery of the dynamic love at work in the hearts of those who accept take up [literally shelter] the Lord's gift, abandon themselves to him and thus find true freedom. The moral transformation implicit in the new worship instituted by Christ is a heartfelt yearning and cordial desire to respond to the Lord's love with one's whole being, while remaining ever conscious of one's own weakness fragilities. This is clearly reflected in the Gospel story of Zacchaeus (cf. Lk 19:1-10). After welcoming Jesus to his home, the tax collector is completely changed: he decides to give half of his possessions to the poor and to repay fourfold those whom he had defrauded. The moral urgency intention born of welcoming Jesus into our lives is the fruit of gratitude for having experienced the Lord's unmerited closeness.

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