Pope Francis keeps repeating that fears, doubts, lack of boldness … can radically hinder the impetus toward the renewal the Church needs today. In his Apostolic Exhortation, ”The Joy of the Gospel,” he goes so far as to say that, if we stay paralyzed by fear, once again we can end up being “mere onlookers as the Church gradually stagnates.”
His words are thought-provoking. What can we see taking place among us? Are we mobilizing so as to rekindle the faith in our Christian communities, or do we remain settled in this “infertile stagnation” that Francis talks about? Where do we find strength to react?
One of the great contributions of the Second Vatican Council was the impetus given to move from “Mass,” understood as private obligation to fulfill a sacred precept, to the “Eucharist,” lived out as a joyful celebration of the whole community to nourish its faith, grow in solidarity and to fan the flames of our hope in Christ.
Over these years, we have undoubtedly taken important steps. Far from us now are those Masses celebrated in Latin, in which the priest “said” Mass and the Christian people came to “hear” Mass or “assist at” the celebration. But are we not celebrating the Eucharist in a routine and boring manner?
There is one undeniable fact. The people are unstoppably drifting away the Sunday practice because they do not find in our celebrations the climate, the clear word, the expressive rite, the exciting welcome they need in order to nourish their weak and faltering faith.
Without doubt, all of us, pastors and believers, have to ask ourselves what we have been doing so that the Eucharist may really be, as the Council desires, the “center and summit of the whole life of the Christian community.” But is the good will of parishes or the isolated creativity of some people enough, without further criteria for renewal?
The Supper of the Lord is way too important to let it get “lost” as we become “mere onlookers as the Church gradually stagnates.” Is not the Eucharist the center of Christian life? How can the hierarchy remain so silent and still? Why do we believers not show our concern and our pain more forcefully?
The problem is serious. Should we go on being “stuck” in a way of celebrating the Eucharist that has so little attraction for today’s men and women? Is this liturgy that we have been repeating since centuries ago the best that can help us to make present today that memorable supper of Jesus, in which the core of our faith is admirably condensed like some sort of concentrate?
José Antonio Pagola
June 22, 2014
Body and Blood of Christ (A)
John 6, 51-58