To all those for whom Luke 24:13, the Road to Emmaus, has special significance...
POPE JOHN PAUL'S APOSTOLIC LETTER "MANE NOBISCUM DOMINE"
VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Apostolic Letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine" ("Stay with us, Lord"), addressed to the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Church on the occasion of the October 2004-October 2005 Year of the Eucharist, was presented today in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Francis Arinze. The Letter, in Italian and dated October 7, feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, has an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion.
The prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, recalled that the Holy Father announced the celebration of a Year of the Eucharist throughout the Church during Mass at St. John Lateran Basilica on the June 10, 2004 solemnity of Corpus Christi. Calling today's 30- page Letter "beautiful and incisive," the cardinal added that it "will help guide the Church to celebrate this special year with the greatest possible fruits."
Cardinal Arinze pointed out that "the underlying theme of the Apostolic Letter is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus." In fact, the Apostolic Letter starts: "'Stay with us, for it is towards evening'. This was the heartfelt invitation that the two disciples, walking towards Emmaus the very evening of the Resurrection, issued to the Wayfarer who had joined them along the road. Filled with sad thoughts, they could not imagine that that stranger was their very Master, by now risen."
"The Year of the Eucharist," he added, "will see the Church especially committed to living the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus continues to walk with us and to introduce us to the mysteries of God, opening us up to the deep meaning of Sacred Scriptures. At the summit of this encounter, Jesus breaks for us 'the bread of life'."
"Many times during his pontificate," said the cardinal, "John Paul II has invited the Church to reflect on the Eucharist, ... especially last year in the Encyclical 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia'. ... The Pope mentions two principal events that illuminate and spell out the beginning and the end of the year of the Eucharist: the 48th International Eucharistic Congress that will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico the week of October 10 to 17 and the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of bishops which will take place in the Vatican October 2-29, 2005."
In Chapter One, "In the Wake of Vatican II and the Jubilee," said the prefect, "the Holy Father underlines that the Year of the Eucharist strongly expresses the focus on Jesus Christ and the contemplation of His face that is marking the pastoral path of the Church, especially since Vatican Council II. In Christ, the Word made flesh, not only is the mystery of God revealed, but the mystery of man is also revealed to us." The Pope writes, in fact: "Christ is at the center not only of the history of the Church, but also the history of mankind."
Chapter Two is entitled "The Eucharist, Mystery of Light." The cardinal pointed out that "Jesus spoke of Himself as 'the light of the world'. In the obscurity of faith, the Eucharist becomes for the believer a mystery of light because it introduces him to the depth of the divine mystery. The Eucharistic celebration nourishes the disciple of Christ with two 'meals', that of the Word of God and that of the Bread of Life. When minds are enlightened and hearts burn, signs speak. In the Eucharistic signs the mystery is in some way open to the eyes of the believer. The two disciples of Emmaus recognize Jesus as they break bread."
Cardinal Arinze went on to explain that in Chapter Three, "'The Eucharist, Source and Sign of Communion,' the disciples of Emmaus prayed the Lord to remain 'with' them. Jesus did even more. He gave Himself in the Eucharist to remain 'in' them: 'Remain in Me and I in you'. ... Eucharistic communion promotes unity among those who receive communion. ... The Eucharist also shows ecclesial communion and calls the members of the Church to share their spiritual and material goods. ... During this Year of the Eucharist special importance must be given to Sunday Masses in parishes."
In the final chapter, "Eucharist, Principle and Project of Mission," says the prefect, "the two disciples of Emmaus, having recognized the Lord, 'left without delay' to communicate the good news. The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist drives every Christian to give witness, to evangelize the Church. We must thank the Lord and never hesitate to show our faith in public. The Eucharist compels us to show solidarity towards others, becoming promoters of harmony, peace, and, especially, of sharing with the needy."
In the Conclusion, states Cardinal Arinze, "the Holy Father prays that this Year of the Eucharist will be for everyone a precious occasion for a renewed awareness of the incomparable treasure that Christ has entrusted to His Church. ... The Holy Father does not ask for anything extraordinary, but rather that all initiatives be marked by great spiritual intensity. Priority must be given to Sunday Masses and to Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass."
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, the secretary of the Congregation, expounded on the historical reading of John Paul II's text.
In the first part of his talk, "Begin again from Christ," the archbishop recalled that "the Church depends on our faith in Christ. In other historical periods, but perhaps even more today, the temptation of man is to reduce the Master to his own dimensions. Sometimes with the best intentions for dialogue, we risk 'diminishing' Christ, undermining the faith in its mystery in the Word made flesh." In explaining the second point, "A contemplative Christianity," he spoke of the signs of regression in spirituality in modern times and he said that "in this new historic situation, the Pope has emphasized the urgency of making the Christian community aware of the treasures of Christian contemplation."
In his last point, "The urgency of example", the prelate affirmed: "The Pope is concerned about reminding the Christian community that the faith must be translated into witness. . We must not be surprised that an Apostolic Letter on the Eucharist does not touch upon the contemplative and celebratory aspects but makes strong statements about the Christian commitment in history, especially in building up peace and in service to the needy."
Msgr. Mauro Parmeggiani, secretary general of the vicariate of Rome, spoke about initiatives organized by the Church in Rome in order to celebrate the Eucharistic Year. From October 1 to 10, he said, a mission of young people, aimed at their peers, is taking place in downtown Rome, entitled "Jesus downtown". He also noted that the catechesis this year will focus on the rediscovery of the importance of the Eucharist. Other initiatives will include Masses, Eucharistic adoration and confession in St. Agnes in Agone in Pza. Navona. Msgr. Parmeggiani indicated that in all the patriarchal basilicas there will be Eucharistic adoration in one of the side chapels.
./MANE NOBISCUM DOMINE/ARINZE VIS 041008 (1170)