Sacramentum Caritatis 20: Eucharist and Reconciliation

What about a look at The Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Pope Benedict XVI offered some thoughts on Their intrinsic relationship. Let’s read.

20. The Synod Fathers rightly stated that a love for the Eucharist leads to a growing appreciation of the sacrament of Reconciliation. (Cf. Propositio 7; Ecclesia de Eucharistia 36) Given the connection between these sacraments, an authentic catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist must include the call to pursue the path of penance (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

I think it might be more accurate to say the link between them is Baptism.

We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin (Cf. John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 18) and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1385)

I’ve never been convinced of this as something special for the post-conciliar church/world. At best, I think it offers an incomplete analysis of what is the human condition, including the clerical culture. Often enough, we want to omit our own sins. It’s easier to notice and carp on the faults of others. It has always been so.

Frequent confession is often touted. But name a bishop or diocese that has offered more than one liturgy of sorrow for the sins and omissions of administration. A good amount of testimony on sin involves bishops and others telling the laity they are sinners. Here follows the suggestion that confession is “helpful to the faithful,” but something more may be needed: help for the clergy, and especially bishops.

The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God’s love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God’s mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful. (For example, the Confiteor, or the words of the priest and people before receiving Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Not insignificantly does the liturgy also prescribe certain very beautiful prayers for the priest, handed down by tradition, which speak of the need for forgiveness, as, for example, the one recited quietly before inviting the faithful to sacramental communion: “By the mystery of your body and blood, free me from all my sins and from every evil. Keep me always faithful to your teachings and never let me be parted from you.”)

Pope Benedict is correct to counter the notion that Eucharist and Reconciliation are for the me-and-Jesus universe.

Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism. For this reason, Reconciliation, as the Fathers of the Church would say, is laboriosus quidam baptismus; (Cf. Saint John Damascene, Exposition of the Faith, IV, 9: PG 94, 1124C; Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio 39, 17: PG 36, 356A; Ecumenical Council of Trent, Doctrina de sacramento paenitentiae, Chapter 2: DS 1672) they thus emphasized that the outcome of the process of conversion is also the restoration of full ecclesial communion, expressed in a return to the Eucharist. (Cf. Lumen Gentium 11; Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 30)

This document is copyright © 2007 Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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