Tag Archives: Eucharist

Pope moves Holy Thursday rites to a juvenile prison

Bergoglio washes feet of the young.JPG

The Holy See Press Office said today that Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the juvenile prison ‘Casal del Marmo’ in Rome. Known as Maundy Thursday is the first of the Three Sacred Days in Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday; this Liturgy is rooted John 13. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. The Mass on Holy Thursday recalls that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example of love, of service ; the washing of the feet known as the ‘mandatum.’ 

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as you can note in the picture, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio celebrated Mass in a prison, hospital or hospice for poor and marginalized people. This move from Saint John Lateran to the prison is consistent with Francis’ previous pastoral priorities.

On 18 March 2007, Pope Benedict offered Mass in this same prison.

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Fr Pacwa on The Eucharist for the Year of Faith

In this Year of Faith there are some new books that have arrived and that are coming out to help all of us discover anew the the beauty of the Christian Faith. No one can ever say that they know it all, or, have heard it all before, and at the same maintain credibility in knowing the Truth. It’s not possible.

Pacwa The Eucharist.jpg

Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, theologian and EWTN host, is in the middle of a publishing campaign to help us respond with confidence to the proposals of the Year of Faith.
Father Pacwa is a Chicago native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Detroit, a Masters from the Jesuit School of Theology (Chicago) before being ordained a priest in 1976. He also earned a PhD from Vanderbilt in Old Testament studies which included learning 12 languages. Father Pacwa offers the Mass in both the Latin and Maronite Churches. He is the president of Ignatius Productions.
On 23 January, The Eucharist: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics will be released to the public. Order now.
The Eucharist is published in order to draw connections between the Holy Eucharist and the Bible. The author looks at Old Testament types of the Eucharist, shows the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, what Eucharistic Presence means to call Jesus the Lamb of God, the meaning of sacrifice as applied to the Sacrifice of the Mass and more.

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The sacraments are events

[T]he sacraments constitute the events of a time which is the tension between the Resurrection and the Parousia …. Thus during the delay of the Parousia, the Eucharist prevents humanity, in this foretaste of celestial food …. And the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity which gathers about Christ of glory, present in the community, all nations in order to offer them through His hands to the Father.

Jean Cardinal Daniélou, SJ
Marxist History and Sacred History, 508-9

Christ is present in His Church today

The beautiful sections of Pope Paul VI’s encylical Mysterium Fidei (1965), are the ones dealing with the manner in which Our Lord is present in the Church today. Christmastide is nothing if not about the Presence of Someone who makes a difference in our lives, who redeems us from sin, who gives Himself completely, par excellence, to us in the Eucharist. The Presence is not about the doing of nice things, but offering us concretely eternal life. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch famously said of the Eucharist, the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is given to us as the “medicine of immortality.”


The full text of Mysterium Fidei is obligatory reading for those who want to be well-educated in the Faith. Emphasis added.

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

Glory of the New Born Christ Child in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eve are represented bellow Jesus Christ Ceiling painted by Daniel Gran (1694-1757).

35. All of us realize that there is more than one way
in which Christ is present in His Church. We want to go into this very joyful
subject, which the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy presented briefly, at
somewhat greater length. Christ is present in His Church when she prays, since
He is the one who “prays for us and prays in us and to whom we pray: He
prays for us as our priest, He prays in us as our head, He is prayed to by us
as our God”; and He is the one who has promised, “Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” He is
present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because
whatever good we do to one of His least brethren we do to Christ Himself, but
also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and
who continually helps men with His divine love. He is present in the Church as
she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of
eternal life
, for He is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith, and who
instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to us.

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The end times are indeed near at hand…

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado Jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The end times are indeed near at hand. That is not to say that the “12/12/2012” Mayan prediction of the end of the world is true –it is not– or that the rapture approach is insightful. But if you really believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior then an acknowledgement of our living in the end times is the right way to live. The Scripture readings in these final weeks of the liturgical year, but especially this week, prepare the believer to face the fact of the final things, sometimes called the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. We can’t get away from these things. If we could, then there would be no need of a Messiah, of the Cross and Resurrection, the Eucharist, the sacraments, the Church, and a spiritual life; no need for salvation. If there is no probability of hell, then there is no need of salvation.

The subject of the Four Last Things was taken up by Pope John Paul II in the Wednesday Audiences in July and August of 1999. Look them up, they are worth a good review. By way of summary, let me draw attention to a few things the Pontiff said:
  • heaven “is not an abstraction nor a physical place amid the clouds, but a living and personal relationship with the Holy Trinity;
  • When this world has passed away, those who accepted God in their lives and were sincerely open to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God, which is the goal of human existence”;
  • the hell some will enjoy is not the result of God willing the death of the person but the result of the person not desiring the love and mercy God has offered, that he has freely given;
  • the Pope spoke of the danger of rigidly holding a literal interpretation of the Scriptural images of hell: for John Paul, and therefore us, “the inextinguishable fire” and “burning oven” in the biblical narrative points the hearer to “indicate the complete frustration and vacuity of a life without God”;
  • we know that hell exists; we don’t know the population of hell; Cf. Cardinal Avery Dulles’ famous First Things article, “The Population of Hell”; John Paul says that hell is not something that we can know but that real damnation “remains a possibility”;
  • On purgatory the Pope said, is the state of being “before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our soul must be corrected. This is exactly what takes place in purgatory”;
  • Purgatory is “the process of purification for those who die in the love of God but are not completely imbued with that love”; 
  • even though Christ holds His hand in friendship, that is, in love, the extension of our hand “does not exclude they duty to present ourselves pure and whole before God.”
  • Read the Catechism at paragraph 1861.
Perhaps tying all this together can be seen in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians where he says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will appear with him in glory” (3:2-4) And in the collect for this week’s Mass: “Stir up the will of your faithful, we pray, O Lord, that, striving more eagerly to bring your divine work to fruitful completion, they may receive in greater measure the healing remedies your kindness bestows.”
What ought be my approach to the four last things today, and in the years to come? Well, if I truly believe that Jesus is real, then the nihilistic approach is not a winning one. If I believe what Jesus exhorted us to consider as genuine, “Do not be afraid” then fear (sinful activity) can’t rule my life. If I believe that God is always present, then I ought to receive the sacraments of Confession and frequently receive the medicine of Immortality –the Holy Eucharist– reminding myself that Jesus told us that he’d be with us to the end of the world. His presence is neither magic nor fiction, but a real presence that no other warm body can ever give. These are the things that our spiritual life needs to be fed with, these are the treasures given by the all-loving, all-powerful God.
One of the monks at New Skete Monastery (in New York) said the following at the Divine Liturgy:

So how can we honestly and proactively approach today’s feast, and this holiday season in a way that will get us past the public façade of wise-guy banter and beyond the disconnect between hard realities and sincere beliefs and honest ideals? How might we bravely allow our deeper humanity to shine forth in the midst of some extreme assaults on such things as tenderness, hope, and compassion?

Today’s readings, along with monastic wisdom and psychological insight suggest the following: Daily if not hourly slow down the frantic pace of our media interaction, verbosity, and endless tasks: daily if not hourly return to the temple of our own person and the holy and fertile ground of our interior life. Daily if not continually express appreciation for whatever someone does that makes my life richer today: Daily or at least once in a while do something simple but concrete and different, for the express purpose of nurturing the human spirit, within yourself, for someone else, and for the future.

In these days in the post Christ the King observance and before Advent, let’s pray for the grace to know ourselves more deeply so as to accept more fully “divine work” in our lives with the gift of discernment showing us the way to the Father.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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