We continue our examination of the preamble (sections 1-13) of the CDWDS instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum. We begin with a matter that is far from a disputed point: the Eucharist is essential to the life of the Church, and nothing outshines it:
[2.] The Church’s doctrine regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, in which the whole spiritual wealth of the Church is contained – namely Christ, our Paschal Lamb[Presbyterorum Ordinis 7; Ecclesia in Europa 75] – the Eucharist which is the source and summit of the whole of Christian life,[Lumen Gentium 11] and which lies as a causative force behind the very origins of the Church,[Ecclesia de Eucharistia 21] has been expounded with thoughtful care and with great authority over the course of the centuries in the writings of the Councils and the Supreme Pontiffs. Most recently, in fact, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, set forth afresh certain elements of great importance on this subject in view of the ecclesial circumstances of our times.[Ecclesia de Eucharistia]
The CDWDS believed that modern practices and sensibilities were a substantial threat to the faith. This instruction is described as a collaboration between Divine Worship and the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger:
In order that especially in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy the Church might duly safeguard so great a mystery in our own time as well, the Supreme Pontiff has mandated that this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,[Ecclesia de Eucharistia 52] in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, should prepare this Instruction treating of certain matters pertaining to the discipline of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Those things found in this Instruction are therefore to be read in the continuity with the above-mentioned Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia.
That letter, which we’ve just finished examining, is indeed important to consider in tandem with this document.
It is not at all the intention here to prepare a compendium of the norms regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, but rather, to take up within this Instruction some elements of liturgical norms that have been previously expounded or laid down and even today remain in force in order to assure a deeper appreciation of the liturgical norms;[Ecclesia de Eucharistia 52] to establish certain norms by which those earlier ones are explained and complemented; and also to set forth for Bishops, as well as for Priests, Deacons and all the lay Christian faithful, how each should carry them out in accordance with his own responsibilities and the means at his disposal.
Redemptionis Sacramentum, then, needs to be seen not as a comprehensive document, but as a reactionary one. It identifies important points to address, and presumably, what it does not address, it does not find a concern for the Church.
It is also addressed to everyone in the Church. Anyone concerned with liturgy will find, somewhere in these words, important matters to consider and to implement.