Dies Domini 32-33: The Eucharistic Assembly

The Mass is not just a community event, or even the community event of the week, but as Pope John Paul II often describes it, a “fountain.”

That term struck me as I read through these sections. Is a fountain a decorative and artistic thing? Do people really drink from them anymore, or as much as we do from bottles? The Holy Father does describe a nourishment:

32. The Eucharist is not only a particularly intense expression of the reality of the Church’s life, but also in a sense its “fountain-head”.(Cf. John Paul II, Letter Dominicae Cenae (24 February 1980), 4: AAS 72 (1980), 120; Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem (18 May 1986), 62-64: AAS 78 (1986), 889-894) The Eucharist feeds and forms the Church: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor10:17). Because of this vital link with the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the mystery of the Church is savoured, proclaimed, and lived supremely in the Eucharist.(Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus (4 December 1988), 9: AAS 81 (1989), 905-906)

The Mass always nourishes people, but Sunday is especially important. Sunday Mass is the heart of our liturgy:

This ecclesial dimension intrinsic to the Eucharist is realized in every Eucharistic celebration. But it is expressed most especially on the day when the whole community comes together to commemorate the Lord’s Resurrection. Significantly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life”.(CCC 2177)

Just as Sunday is an Easter, Sunday Mass is an Easter Mass. And that Easter Mass suggests the early gathering of apostles and disciples:

33. At Sunday Mass, Christians relive with particular intensity the experience of the Apostles on the evening of Easter when the Risen Lord appeared to them as they were gathered together (cf.Jn 20:19). In a sense, the People of God of all times were present in that small nucleus of disciples, the first fruits of the Church. Through their testimony, every generation of believers hears the greeting of Christ, rich with the messianic gift of peace, won by his blood and offered with his Spirit: “Peace be with you!” Christ’s return among them “a week later” (Jn 20:26) can be seen as a radical prefiguring of the Christian community’s practice of coming together every seven days, on “the Lord’s Day” or Sunday, in order to profess faith in his Resurrection and to receive the blessing which he had promised: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). This close connection between the appearance of the Risen Lord and the Eucharist is suggested in the Gospel of Luke in the story of the two disciples of Emmaus, whom Christ approached and led to understand the Scriptures and then sat with them at table. They recognized him when he “took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them” (24:30). The gestures of Jesus in this account are his gestures at the Last Supper, with the clear allusion to the “breaking of bread”, as the Eucharist was called by the first generation of Christians.

It is fortuitous that we’re experiencing the proclamation of these readings this Easter season. With that nucleus, that first batch of fruit, we experience the peace of Christ, the breath of the Spirit, the fire of the proclamation of Scripture, and the recognition of Christ in the bread and wine.

Comments, anyone?

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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