Continuing from yesterday’s post, the third sense of the Church’s apostolicity:
28. Lastly, the Church is apostolic in the sense that she “continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the Apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of Bishops assisted by priests, in union with the Successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”. (CCC 857) Succession to the Apostles in the pastoral mission necessarily entails the sacrament of Holy Orders, that is, the uninterrupted sequence, from the very beginning, of valid episcopal ordinations. (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Sacerdotium Ministeriale) This succession is essential for the Church to exist in a proper and full sense.
The verification of this succession in the context of human history seems like something more sought for in the past few centuries. Some breakaway Catholic groups are almost obsessive over it.
Is an uninterrupted history verifiable? If it can’t be verified in the same way for all bishops, is it as vital, say, as a sequence affirmed by some other category? Spirituality? The daily celebration of Eucharist? Orthodoxy?
The Eucharist also expresses this sense of apostolicity. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “the faithful join in the offering of the Eucharist by virtue of their royal priesthood”, (Lumen Gentium, 10.) yet it is the ordained priest who, “acting in the person of Christ, brings about the Eucharistic Sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people”.(Lumen Gentium, 10.) For this reason, the Roman Missal prescribes that only the priest should recite the Eucharistic Prayer, while the people participate in faith and in silence. (GIRM 147)
This is not exactly true. The people have the responses to the dialogue, plus three acclamations. The people also participate by their postures, and by the experience of their senses in addition to the music. The Holy Father rather understates the situation of the Eucharistic Prayer.