"Urging Pastors to Promote Priestly Vocations"

Proposition 11

Scarcity of Priests

The centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church makes the problem of the serious lack of priests in some parts of the world felt with acute pain. Many faithful are thus deprived of the Bread of life. To respond to the Eucharistic hunger of the People of God that often and for long periods must do without the Eucharistic celebration, it is necessary to take recourse to effective pastoral initiatives. In this context, the Synodal Fathers affirmed the importance of the inestimable gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the praxis of the Latin Church.

Referring to the Magisterium, especially to the Second Vatican Council and to the Magisterium of the last Popes, the Fathers requested that the reasons for the relationship between celibacy and priestly ordination be properly explained to the faithful, in full respect of the tradition of the Eastern Churches. Some have alluded to the "viri probati" [priestly ordination of married men of proven virtue], but this theory has been considered as a path that must not be followed.

Moreover, it must be taken into account that the Christian quality of the community and its force of attraction have decisive weight when it comes to offering the Eucharistic gift to all the faithful. Specifically, it is about:

-- urging pastors to promote priestly vocations; to discover them and to become their "heralds," beginning with adolescents and paying attention to acolytes;

-- not being afraid to propose to young people the radical nature of the following of Christ -- to sensitize families, which in some cases are indifferent or even opposed;

-- cultivating prayer for vocations in all communities and ecclesial realms;

-- Bishops seeking -- and also involving Religious Families, while respecting the charism proper to them -- a more equitable distribution of the clergy and urging the clergy itself to greater willingness to serve the Church where there is need, even at the cost of sacrifice.

* * *

(continued on page 2)

Proposition 12

Vocational Pastoral Program

By way of response to the Church's urgent duty to offer the gift of the Eucharist to all faithful on a regular basis, and given the scarcity of priests in different places, we turn to the Lord and ask him persistently to send laborers to his harvest.

For our part, we intend to reinforce the vocational pastoral program and the vocational dimension of all pastoral care, especially of youth and the family. Therefore, we request

-- that groups of altar servers be constituted and that they be given spiritual support;

-- that Eucharistic adoration for vocations be spread in parishes, schools and ecclesial movements;

-- that parish priests and all priests be encouraged to support young people spiritually and to form them, inviting them to follow Christ in the priesthood with their testimony;

-- that a vocational center or minor seminary be organized, according to possibilities, in [local] Churches.

-- that we, Bishops and priests, be committed in the first person in this kind of pastoral care, giving example of enthusiasm and piety.

* * *

(continued on page 3)

Catechesis and Mystagogy

Proposition 13

The Sequence of Sacraments of Christian Initiation

The close connection between Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist is not sufficiently perceived. It is opportune, therefore, to explain that we are baptized and confirmed in function of the Eucharist. A better insertion must therefore be favored of the relationship between the three sacraments of Christian initiation in the celebration of each of these sacraments, regardless of the chronological order or the age of the celebration of Confirmation and First Communion. In this connection, an in-depth theological and pastoral study of Confirmation might be very valuable. All this, moreover, would have a positive value in ecumenical dialogue.

There could be renewed reflection on the appropriate age for Confirmation. Thought should also be given if in the Latin Church the sequence of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion must be observed only for adults and not for children. The Latin tradition, which is differentiated from the Eastern tradition by the separation of the celebration of Confirmation from that of Baptism, has a raison d'être and a weight. On the other hand, the differences between the two traditions are not of a dogmatic nature. Both traditions, in fact, give a different practical answer to the identical situation of a great number of baptisms of children.

* * *

(continued on page 4)

Proposition 14

Eucharist, Catechesis and Formation

The Eucharist, "mysterium fidei," inscribed in God's Covenant with his People, is the source of inspiration of all proposals of pastoral formation. The latter must present the profound relationship of the Eucharist with all the other sacraments, leading men and women of our time to a new life in Christ. With this objective, well-inculturated catechumenal endeavors will have to be developed, which include the presentation of the doctrinal content and introduction to the spiritual and moral life and to social commitment.

The whole People of God -- bishops and parish priests, according to their specific responsibility -- must be involved in this permanent formation promoted in each [local] Church, especially the faithful who are active in parishes and communities, such as catechists and evangelizers.

Seminarians especially will be given a solid formation in theological, liturgical and pastoral principles of an authentic Eucharistic spirituality. They must understand as well as possible the meaning of each liturgical norm.

Parishes and small communities that are a part of them must be schools of Eucharistic mystagogy. In this context, the cooperation will be sought of communities of consecrated life, of movements and of groups that reappraise, according to their own charisms, Christian formation.

In the framework of the new evangelization, we acknowledge the need to develop new forms of catechesis appropriate to the different situations and cultures. In this context, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent teachings of the Magisterium must be privileged points of reference.

* * *

(continued on page 5)

Proposition 15

Family and Sacramental Initiation

It is necessary to associate the Christian family with the sacramental initiation of children. Access of children to the Eucharistic table must not be limited without a reason. First Communion, above all, is a step of great importance for a life committed to the path of holiness, full of charity, joy and peace. Every family, supported by the parish, the priests, consecrated persons, lay collaborators and, especially, Catholic schools, must foster a process of Eucharistic education.

The Church, family of God, grows and is nourished at the table of the Word of God and of the Body and Blood of Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist must increasingly promote at all levels the awareness and realization of a "Church family" through solidarity, family relations and communion among all the members of the community.

(continued on page 6)

Proposition 16

Mystagogic Catechesis

Not neglecting the systematic understanding of the contents of the faith, the ancient tradition of the Church reminds that the Christian journey is experience born from the proclamation and deepened in catechesis, which finds its source and summit in the liturgical celebration.

Faith and sacraments are two complementary aspects of the Church's sanctifying activity. Awakened by the proclamation of the Word of God, faith is nourished and grows in the encounter of grace with the risen Lord in the sacraments. Faith is expressed in the rite, and the rite reinforces and strengthens faith.

Hence the exigency of a mystagogic endeavor lived in the community and with its help, which is based on three essential elements:

-- Interpretation of the rites in the light of biblical events, in conformity with the tradition of the Church;

-- Appreciation of the sacramental signs;

-- Meaning of the rites in respect of the Christian commitment in life.

It would be desirable to develop the mystagogic method above all with children receiving first communion and confirmation.

* * *

(continued on page 7)

Proposition 17

Compendium on the Eucharist

The competent departments of the Holy See and/or of the episcopal conferences should consider a Eucharistic Compendium project, or an instrument of pastoral aid that brings together, at the same time, liturgical, doctrinal, catechetical and devotional elements on the Eucharist, to help develop faith and Eucharistic piety.

This compendium could propose the best of patristic teaching, the experience of the Latin Church and of the Eastern Churches, and devotional prayers. It should include an appropriate catechesis on the nature and structure of Eucharistic prayers.

* * *

(continued on page 8)

Part II

Participation of the People of God in the Eucharistic Celebration

Structure of the Eucharistic Celebration

Proposition 18

Of the two banquets, that of the Word of God and that of the Body of Christ, the Church receives and offers to the faithful the Bread of Life, especially in the sacred liturgy. The Word of God, as the whole Eucharistic mystery, is only accessible in faith. It is appropriate therefore that the readings be proclaimed with care, if possible by instituted readers.

The correct weight must be given to the Liturgy of the Word in the Eucharistic celebration. There is an intrinsic bond between the Word of God and the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the Word made flesh gives himself to us as spiritual food. Faith is born from hearing the Word of God (cf. Romans 10:17).

To appreciate, celebrate and live the Eucharist better, a profound knowledge of the proclaimed Sacred Scriptures is necessary. "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ" (cf. "Dei Verbum," 25). The faithful must be helped to appreciate the treasures of the Scripture in the Lectionary, through the development of the biblical apostolate, the impulse of parish groups that prepare the Sunday Mass with a prayerful study of the Readings themselves, and liturgical practices such as silence or a few introductory words that help for greater understanding.

Moreover, the People of God must be educated through a catechesis based on the Word of God. To love, read, study, meditate and pray the Word of God is a precious fruit of the practice of "lectio divina," of groups of biblical study and prayer in the family and in small ecclesial communities.

Because of the intrinsic relationship between the liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic liturgy, the Word of God must be venerated and honored (cf. "Dei Verbum," 21), especially the Gospels, as sign of the presence of the Word incarnate in the assembly of the faithful (cf. "Instrumentum Laboris," 46).

An expression must be found for the prayer of the faithful that is related better with the Word of God, with the needs of the assembly and more broadly with those of the whole of humanity.

* * *

(continued on page 9)

Proposition 19

The Homily

The best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated. Because of this ordained ministers are asked to consider the celebration as their main duty. In particular, they must prepare the homily with care, basing themselves on an appropriate knowledge of Sacred Scripture.

The homily should put the Word of God, proclaimed in the celebration, in profound relationship with the sacramental celebration (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," 52) and with the life of the community, so that the Word of God is the foundation and life of the Church ("Dei Verbum," 21) and is transformed in food by prayer and daily life.

The homily molded by the teachings of the Fathers of the Church is a true mystagogy, that is, a true initiation to the mysteries celebrated and lived.

In addition, the possibility was suggested of taking recourse -- stemming from the triennial lectionary -- to "thematic" homilies that, in the course of the liturgical year, could address the great topics of the Christian faith: the Creed, the Our Father, the parts of the Mass, the Ten Commandments and other arguments.

These thematic homilies should correspond to what has again been authoritatively proposed by the Magisterium of the Church in the four "pillars" of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the recent Compendium. With this objective, the elaboration of pastoral material was proposed, based on the triennial lectionary, which puts the proclamation of the Scriptures in relationship with the doctrines of the faith that spring from the same.

* * *

(continued on page 10)

Proposition 20

Offering of Human Work

The bread and wine, fruits of the earth and of the work of man, which we place on the altar as expression of the offering of the life of the human family, imply that the whole of creation is assumed by Christ the Redeemer to be transformed in his recapitulating love, and to be presented to the Father. It should be ever more underlined that the dignity of the work of the men and women of the whole world, through the Eucharistic celebration, is profoundly united to the redeeming sacrifice of Christ the Lord.

(continued on next page)

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter