Synod Prop 7: Unity Between Word and Eucharist

Just before Christmas I noticed all propositions from the bishops’ October synod are up on the Zenit website. If you want to find them yourselves, scroll to the bottom of the main page and browse through the list of documents.

I’d like to offer a miniseries on the texts that are relevant to Catholic liturgy and invite your commentary. Prop 7 leads off:

Unity between Word of God and Eucharist

 

It is important to consider the profound unity between the Word of God and the Eucharist (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 21), as expressed by some particular texts, such as John 6:35-58; Luke 24:13-35, in such a way as to overcome the dichotomy between the two realities, which is often present in theological and pastoral reflection. In this way the connection with the preceding Synod on the Eucharist will become more evident.

 

The Word of God is made sacramental flesh in the Eucharistic event and leads Sacred Scripture to its fulfillment. The Eucharist is a hermeneutic principle of Sacred Scripture, as Sacred Scripture illumines and explains the Eucharistic mystery. In this sense the Synodal Fathers hope that a theological reflection on the sacramentality of the Word of God might be promoted. Without the recognition of the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, the intelligence of Sacred Scripture remains unfulfilled.

The bishops acknowledge a deficiency in the realms of both the theological and pastoral. This is good. Likewise, they state their desire for a “theological reflection” on the sacramentality of the Word. This would be useful, too, if it leads to practical guidance for the laity, especially young people.

The basic definition of sacrament is a “perceptible sign” instituted by Christ to give grace. (CCC 1084) The Word of God stands somewhat in this realm. The Word proclaimed at liturgy certainly is one of many “signs” in which human beings experience the grace of Christ. The witness of non-believers, catechumens, and children would suggest the Word stands strongly as an experience of grace.

This last sentence strikes me as a bit curious. While I have no problem with the Eucharistic Presence informing and deepening the believers’ experience of grace in the Word (and vice versa), I have to wonder about the choice of adjective: intelligence. Perhaps Neil or others more steeped in a background on the Word and Christian history would care to comment if I’m off base thinking this is a clumsy expression.

My last comment is on the modern practice of marking a church ambo with candles, as is done with the altar. Peter Elliott and others in the reform2 crew look down upon the practice. Elliott’s explanation that “altar lights mark the time of a whole celebration of word and sacrament” doesn’t quite satisfy. Would one extinguish a tabernacle light to emphasize the “whole?” I wouldn’t.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Synod Prop 7: Unity Between Word and Eucharist

  1. Jim McK says:

    Todd,

    I am glad you are looking at these propositions, but can I suggest you start with either proposition 3 or the following paragraph from prop 2:
    “this has allowed for further reflection on the infinite value of the Word of God that is given to us in sacred Scripture, as inspired testimony of revelation, which with the living Tradition of the Church constitutes the supreme rule of faith (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 21). It is this same Word that is kept and interpreted faithfully by the Magisterium (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 10), which is celebrated in the sacred Liturgy and which gives itself to us in the Eucharist as bread of eternal life (cf. John 6).”

    These early props define “The Word of God” in a way that impacts any reflection. For example, it is the Word that is celebrated at the altar, so the candles at the altar are already for the Word. Do we need more at the Ambo? How is the experience of the Word there comparable to the altar? How can we balance the intelligibility(ambo) and mystery(altar) of the Word of God?

  2. Thanks for looking at these propositions.

    Regarding “intelligence,” could the choice have been in reference to “reason,” as in “faith seeking reason”? The starting point of intelligence/knowledge of Scripture, for the believer, must be faith realized in belief in the eucharistic presence of Christ. Without this faith, knowledge of Scripture becomes merely study rather than a sacramental act.

  3. Liam says:

    “Intelligence” is an equivocal translation, as the word has several shades of meaning in English.

    Here, I believe it means “a searching understanding”, much as we complain about poor CIA intelligence re a given issue.

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