The Word of God in Christian Prayer
The Eucharistic celebration is the central celebration of the Church but, for the spiritual life of a community, the celebrations of the Word of God are also of great importance.
Such celebrations offer the community the possibility to further its reflection on the Word of God. Forms of access to the Word of God may also be used which have been demonstrated to be valid in the catechetical and pastoral endeavor, such as dialogue, silence or other creative elements like gestures and music.
Moreover, the forms of the Liturgy of the Hours, confirmed by tradition, should be recommended to the communities, especially Lauds, Vespers and Compline, and also the holding of vigils. The introductions to the psalms and readings of the Office may lead to a more profound experience of the event of Christ and of the economy of salvation that, in turn, can enrich the understanding of the Eucharistic mystery.
It will be decisive that whoever leads such celebrations not only have a good theological formation but that, stemming from personal spiritual experience, be able to draw closer to the heart of the Word of God.
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Eucharistic Celebration in Small Groups
Holy Masses celebrated in small groups must foster a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Eucharist. The following criteria have been suggested:
-- small groups must serve to unite the parish community, not to fragment it;
-- they must respect the needs of the different types of faithful, so that they foster the fruitful participation of the whole assembly;
-- they must be guided by clear and precise directives;
-- they must keep in mind that, in the measure possible, the unity of the family must be preserved.
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The Presbyter and Liturgical Ministries
The tasks of the priest and of other liturgical ministries must be better clarified.
The true subject who acts in the liturgy is Christ risen and glorified in the Holy Spirit. Christ however includes the Church in his action and commitment. The priest is, irreplaceably, the one who presides over the whole Eucharistic celebration, from the initial greeting to the final blessing. This is because, in the Eucharistic celebration, he, in virtue of his priestly ordination, represents Jesus Christ, head of the Church and also, properly, the Church herself.
The deacon, educating the faithful in the hearing of the Word of God, in praise and in prayer, can inculcate love of the Eucharist.
The collaboration of the laity in the liturgical service and, especially, in the celebration of the Eucharist, has always existed. With the Second Vatican Council (cf. "Apostolicam Actuositatem," 24) and the consequent liturgical reform, it has subsequently been urged (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, published on January 25, 2004, numbers 103-107).
In these ministries, the Church is reflected as unity in the plurality of forms, and also expressed, in a representative manner, is a form proper to the "actuosa participatio" of the faithful. These ministries must be introduced according to their specific mandate and according to the real needs of the community that celebrates.
The persons in charge of these lay liturgical services must be carefully chosen, well prepared and supported by permanent formation. Their appointment must be temporary. These persons must be known by the community and must receive grateful acknowledgment from the same. The liturgical norms and regulations serve to give a clear orientation on the economy of salvation, "communio" and the unity of the Church.
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Reverence for the Holy Eucharist
To be observed before the consecrated Host is the practice of genuflection or other gestures of worship, according to different cultures. The importance of kneeling is recommended during significant moments of the Eucharistic prayer, with a sense of worship and praise of the Lord present in the Eucharist. Moreover, thanksgiving after Communion should be promoted, including with a time of silence.
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The Reception of Holy Communion
In our plural and multicultural society, it is appropriate that the meaning of Holy Communion be explained also to those who are not baptized or other persons belonging to non-Catholic Churches and communities, present in the Holy Mass on the occasion, for example, of Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communion, weddings and funerals.
In many metropolises and cities, especially rich in art, visitors of other religions and creeds and nonbelievers often attend the Eucharist.
It must be explained to these persons, in a delicate but clear manner, that non-admission to Holy Communion does not mean a lack of esteem. Also Catholic faithful that, permanently or occasionally, do not fulfill the necessary requirements, must be aware that the celebration of the Holy Mass, even without personal participation in sacramental Communion, continues to be valid and significant. No one should be afraid of giving a negative impression if they do not go to Communion.
In some situations, a celebration of the Word of God is recommended instead of the Holy Mass. Pastors of souls must be concerned to lead the greatest possible number of men to Christ, who calls all to himself -- and not only in Holy Communion -- so that they will have eternal life.
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The Use of Latin in Liturgical Celebrations
To express better the unity and universality of the Church in the celebration of the Eucharist during international meetings, ever more frequent today, it is proposed:
-- to suggest that the concelebration of the Mass be in Latin (except Readings, the homily and the Prayer of the Faithful). So also should be the prayers of the tradition of the Church, and musical compositions of Gregorian chant should eventually be sung;
-- to recommend that priests be prepared in the seminary to understand and celebrate the Mass in Latin, as well as to use Latin prayers and know how to value Gregorian chant;
-- to not neglect the possibility that the faithful themselves be educated in this respect.
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The Synodal Fathers recognize the high value of concelebrations, especially those presided over by the Bishop with his presbytery, deacons and faithful. The competent bodies are requested, however, to study better the practice of concelebration, when the number of celebrants is very high.
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Mission of the People of God Nourished by the Eucharist
Mission of the People of God Nourished by the Eucharist
Gratitude for Priests, Deacons and Other Liturgical Ministers and Collaborators
The Synodal Assembly expresses intense gratitude, appreciation and willingness to encourage priests, especially "fidei donum" priests, and ministers of the Eucharist, who with competence and generous dedication ennoble the community with the proclamation of the Word of God and the Bread of Life.
Priests are strongly recommended to celebrate Holy Mass daily, even when the faithful do not participate.
The Synod also thanks the permanent deacons who collaborate with the presbyters in the work of evangelization through the proclamation of the Word of God and distribution of Holy Communion. It would be appropriate to promote this ministry, according to conciliar indications. Likewise, it is important to thank instituted ministers, consecrated men and women, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, catechists and other collaborators, who help to prepare and celebrate the Eucharist and distribute it with dignity, and especially leaders who communicate the Work of God and give Communion in community celebrations awaiting a priest.
The Synodal Fathers very much appreciate the testimony of Christian faithful who participate frequently in daily Eucharistic celebration, especially those who face notable difficulties due to age and distances.
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Eucharistic Spirituality and Daily Life
Christian faithful need greater understanding of the relationship between the Eucharist and daily life. Eucharistic spirituality does not consist only in participation in the Mass and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament. It comprises the whole of life.
Above all we encourage the lay faithful to continue their search to give the Eucharist a higher meaning in their lives and to feel hunger for God. We ask lay theologians to express their experience of living daily life with a Eucharistic spirit. We especially encourage families to be inspired by and draw life from the Eucharist. In this way, they will take part in the transformation of their baptismal vocation which destines them to take the Good News to their neighbors.
In this context shines the prophetic testimony of consecrated women and men, who find in the Eucharistic celebration and in Adoration the strength for a radical following of Christ, obedient, chaste and poor. Consecrated life has here the source of contemplation, light for apostolic and missionary action, the ultimate meaning of their own commitment to the poor and marginalized, and the pledge of the realities of the Kingdom.
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Divorced Persons Who Have Remarried and the Eucharist
In keeping with numerous pronouncements of the Magisterium of the Church, and sharing the painful concern expressed by many Fathers, the Synod of Bishops reaffirms the importance of a pastoral position and action of care and acceptance of divorced faithful who have remarried.
According to the Tradition of the Catholic Church, they may not be admitted to Holy Communion, being in a condition of objective contrast with the Word of the Lord who restored to marriage the original value of indissolubility (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1640), attested by his spousal surrender on the cross and communicated to the baptized through the grace of the sacrament.
Divorced persons who have remarried however belong to the Church, which receives them and looks after them with special care so that they will cultivate a Christian style of life through participation in the Holy Mass -- even if they do not receive Holy Communion -- listening to the Word of God, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, participation in community life, confidential dialogue with a priest or a master of the spiritual life, dedication to lived charity, works of penance, and the commitment to educate their children.
If subsequently the nullity of the marital bond is not recognized, and there are objective conditions that in fact make living together irreversible, the Church encourages them to be committed to live their relationship according to the exigencies of the law of God, transforming it into a loyal and solidaristic friendship; so they will again be able to approach the Eucharistic banquet, with the care provided by the proven ecclesial practice. The blessing of these relationships, however, must be avoided so that confusion will not arise among the faithful on the value of marriage.
At the same time, the Synod hopes that all possible efforts will be made to ensure the pastoral character, presence and correct and solicitous activity of the ecclesiastical tribunals in regard to causes of marital annulment (cf. "Dignitas Connubii"), both furthering ultimately the essential elements for the validity of marriage, as well as taking into account the problems arising from the context of profound anthropological transformation of our time, by which the faithful themselves run the risk of being conditioned, especially if they lack a solid Christian formation.
The Synod considers, however, that great care must be taken to ensure the formation of engaged couples and to prior proof that they share effectively the convictions and commitments which cannot be given up for the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It asks Bishops and parish priests to have the courage to make a serious discernment, in order to avoid emotional impulses or superficial reasons leading engaged couples to assume a great responsibility with themselves, with the Church and with society, to which later they will be unable to respond.