Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Apostolic Exhortation, Pt. 19

For some truly excellent commentary on this Apostolic Exhortation by Fr. Martin Fox, click here and here (and there is, God willing, more to come)

This covers paragraphs 84-87 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'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, a mystery to be proclaimed

The Eucharist and mission

84. In my homily at the eucharistic celebration solemnly inaugurating my Petrine ministry [from] the Cathedra [i.e. Chair] of Peter, I said that "there is nothing more beautiful than to be reached and 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." (233) These words are all the more significant This affirmation asumes a greater significance if we think of the mystery of the Eucharist. The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to reserve for ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter enter in congress with Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church's life, but also of her mission: "an authentically eucharistic Church is a missionary Church." (234) We too must be able to tell our brothers and sisters with conviction: "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship be in communion with us" (1 Jn 1:3). Truly, nothing is more beautiful than to know Christ and to make him known communicate this to others. The institution of the Eucharist, for that matter furthermore, anticipates the very heart intimate part of Jesus' mission: he is the one sent by the Father for the redemption of the world (cf. Jn 3:16-17; Rom 8:32). At the Last Supper, Jesus entrusts to his disciples the sacrament which makes present his self-sacrifice actualizes the oblation he has made of himself for the salvation of us all, in obedience to the Father's will. We cannot approach the eucharistic table without being drawn into the mission which, beginning in the very heart of God's own heart, is meant to reach all people men. Missionary outreach intention is thus an essential constituitive part of the eucharistic form of the Christian life.

The Eucharist and witness

85. The first and fundamental mission that we receive from the sacred mysteries we celebrate is that of bearing giving witness by with our lives. The wonder [overwhelming] admiration we experience at the gift God has made to us in Christ gives new impulse to our lives imbues our lives with a new activism [i.e., momentum, dynamism] and commits us to becoming witnesses of his love. We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, Another makes himself present. Witness could be described as the means by which the truth of God's love comes to men and women man in history, inviting them him to accept freely this radical newness. Through witness, God lays himself open, one might say, to the risk of human freedom. Jesus himself is the faithful and true witness (cf. Rev 1:5; 3:14), the one who came to testify to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). Here I would like to reflect on a notion dear to the early Christians, which also speaks eloquently to us today: namely, witness even to the offering of one's own life, to the point of martyrdom. Throughout the history of the Church, this has always been seen as the culmination of the new spiritual worship: "Offer your bodies" (Rom 12:1). One thinks, for example, of the account of the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of Saint John: the entire dramatic event is described as a liturgy, with the martyr himself becoming Eucharist. (235) We might also recall the eucharistic imagery with which Saint Ignatius of Antioch describes his own imminent martyrdom: he sees himself as "God's wheat" and desires to become in martyrdom "Christ's pure bread." (236) The Christian who offers his life in martyrdom enters into full communion with the Pasch of Jesus Christ and thus becomes Eucharist with him. Today too, the Church does not lack martyrs who offer the supreme witness to God's love. Even if the test of martyrdom is not asked of us for, we know that worship pleasing to God demands that we should be inwardly prepared an inward disposition for it. (237) Such worship culminates in the joyful and convincing conscientious testimony to all of a consistent coherent Christian life, wherever the Lord calls us to be his witnesses.

Christ Jesus, the one Saviour

86. Emphasis on the intrinsic relationship nexus between the Eucharist and mission also leads to a rediscovery of the ultimate content of our proclamation. The more ardent the love for the Eucharist in the hearts of the Christian people, the more clearly will they recognize the goal of all mission: to bring Christ [to others]. Not just a theory or a way of life an ethos inspired by Christ him, but the gift of his very person. Anyone who has not shared communicated the truth of love with his brothers and sisters has not yet given enough satisfactorily. The Eucharist, as the sacrament of our salvation, inevitably reminds unavoidably compels us of to ponder the unicity of Christ and the salvation that he won obtained for us by with the price of his blood. The From the mystery of the Eucharist, believed in and celebrated, demands arises the demand for a constant catechesis to all on the need for all to engage in a missionary effort centred on the proclamation of Jesus as the one Saviour. (238) This will help is to avoid a reductive and purely sociological understanding of the vital decisive work of human promotion present in every authentic process of evangelization.

Freedom of worship

87. In this context, I wish to reiterate the concern expressed by the Synod Fathers about the grave difficulties affecting the mission of those Christian communities in areas where Christians are a minority or even where they are denied religious freedom. (239) We should surely Truly we are to give thanks to the Lord for all those Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity who devote themselves consumed with generously to the preaching of the Gospel and practise their faith at the risk of their very lives. In not a few parts of the world, simply going to church represents is a heroic witness that can result in exposes people to marginalization and violence. Here too, I would like to reaffirm the solidarity of the whole Church with those who suffer from are denied denial of the freedom of worship. As we know, wherever religious freedom is lacking, people lack the most meaningful freedom of all, since it is through faith that men and women express their deepest decision man expresses his most intimate convictions about the ultimate meaning of their lives sense of his life. Let us prayerfully ask, therefore, for greater space for religious freedom in every nation, so that Christians, as well as the followers believers of other religions, can freely express live according to their convictions, both as individuals and as communities.


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