Living the Mass in Everyday life: Part 2
- ..called to close fellowship with Christ -
Paul Otsuka Yoshinao, Bishop of Kyoto
@Happy New Year! This year let us, once again, gall united as oneh in
Kyoto Diocese, in the words of the gospel gput out into the deeph. Last
year, using the theme gLiving the Mass in Everyday Lifeh, we began to
reflect on the life of faith concentrating on the Mass as the most fundamental
means of promoting Collaborative ministry for mission. I would like to
use this same gLiving the Mass in Everyday Lifeh as this yearfs theme.
As a supporting theme I have chosen gccalled into close fellowship with
Christh (1 Cor. 1:9). This is to show that we who receive in faith the
mystery of Eucharistia (Blessed Sacrament) (1) should live out, in geveryday
lifeh, the grace of being called into close fellowship with Christ.
1. gThe Year of the Eucharisth
@Pope John-Paul II, in issuing his first encyclical letter of the new
millennium, gThe Eucharist which gives life to the Churchh, dedicated
to the mystery of eucharistia (Blessed Sacrament), is calling all Christians
as they gput out into the deeph to take part in the new evangelization,
constantly to renew their experience of the mystery of eucharistia (Blessed
@This year the whole Catholic Church is taking part in a gSpecial Year
of the Eucharisth proclaimed by the Holy Father. The gYear of the Eucharisth
began with the 48th Eucharistic Congress on the theme gThe Eucharist:
Light and Life of the New Centuryh held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from October
10~17 last year and will end with the Synod (meeting of representative
bishops from all over the world) on the theme gThe Mystery of the Eucharist
? Source and Summit of the Churchfs Life and Missionh to be held at the
Vatican from October 2~29 this year. I would like us, the Christians of
Kyoto Diocese, spend this gYear of the Eucharisth productively by getting
to grips with the theme gLiving the Mass in Everyday Lifeh.
@I would like every parish, block and regional pastoral council to carry
out some suitable activity to mark the gYear of the Eucharisth. I will
also be carrying out an episcopal visitation of each block: let us think
and pray together about this matter.
2. The Sacraments and Everyday Life
@Although sacraments assist the life of faith they cannot replace it.
The gEveryday lifeh part of the theme gLiving the Mass in Everyday Lifeh
is meant to emphasize the importance of approaching the sacraments from
the position of living out the faith in our everyday lives. The Catholic
liturgical act (worship) is not the kind of greligious observanceh which
requires severe spiritual discipline or asceticism. The purpose of sacramental
acts in the liturgy is to bring about inner change which occurs when we
have gfellowship with the risen Christh. Taking part in the Mass, the
liturgy of the eucharistia ? the Blessed Sacrament, is an act of faith
but it cannot be said that by going to Mass we are living the faith in
@We can say that esacramentf is the intermediary which brings together
emy ordinary selff and ethe mystery of Christfs Passoverf. What must
we do if we want to transcend space and time and come into contact with
the events of Christfs death and resurrection which took place 2000 years
ago? Thinking like this we can understand why our Lord Jesus himself instituted
the Sacrament of the Eucharist when he said, gDo this in memory of meh.
From our human position we cannot effectively approach the mystery of Christfs
Passover. It was Jesus himself who devised for us this way of getting close
to him. The invitation to gTake this and eat ith is right there before
us. In receiving the sacrament we can, by means of a tangible symbol come
into contact with the mystery of Christ. So, although we cannot see him,
we can have gfellowship with Christ our saviourh. In the Mass we use
the tangible symbols of bread and wine. As well as the Eucharist, the Body
of Christ, we need to know and deepen our understanding of the symbols
in all seven sacraments.
3. Three Dimensions of the Eucharist: Christfs Sacrifice, Real Presence and Fellowship.
@When we place the consecrated eBread and Winef before us we can, by
faith, proclaim, gThis is the sacred Body and Blood of Christh. Our understanding
of the Eucharist is an essential tenet of the Faith, something grasped
intuitively and also something which is given to us directly when we take
part in the liturgy (worship). Our Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice,
reveals himself through fellowship and unity with us.
@In this Pastoral Letter, then, I would like to examine three dimensions
of the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist (Cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia,
61) - Christfs Sacrifice, the Real Presence, and Fellowship ? and to meditate
on the supporting theme of gLiving the Mass in Everyday Life: Part IIh,
g..called to close fellowship with Christh. These three dimensions are
the principal concepts which constitute the true nature of the Eucharist,
and, furthermore, can be used to explain one another. They lead us towards
becoming the eChurch of Love and Servicef, the eChurch which lives by
the Spirit of Christf, the eChurch working for Fellowshipf.
4. The Holy Mass: Fellowship through Sacrifice
@@The Sacrifice of Christfs Atonement
@In carrying out the Sacred Festival of the Mass the Church celebrates
eChristfs Passoverf. The Eucharist is the memorial of eChristfs Passoverf
and the sacramental offering of Christfs unique sacrifice. Bread which
we can eat and wine which we can drink re-present Christ who gave himself
as a perfect sacrificial victim. Jesus offered this sacrifice, for the
salvation of all people, on the cross. Ever since, the Church has made
this sacrifice of atonement present for every age.
@At the Last Supper when Jesus stated clearly, eThis is my body which
is given upf and, eThis is my blood which is poured outf he is clearly
referring to his own death. Christfs instruction to, eDo this in memory
of mef does not simply mean that there should be repeated meals to commemorate
him but rather, gYou must constantly carry out anew this offering which
represents my death: this will be a memorial for meh. Because the Eucharist
calls to mind, makes present now Christfs work of atonement on the cross
and imparts the fruits of that sacrifice it is a sacrifice of love which
brings about fellowship.
A@The Churchfs Spiritual Sacrifice of Love
@Christfs role as saviour was none other than being the Son who receives
all things including himself, from the Father. The offering of Christ was
Love; an offering of the Fatherfs love he had received. In this way God
received glory by the Son who receives everything from Him. This is because
Godfs glory consists in giving himself in love.
@The Church at the same time both receives and offers up this Christ.
The fact that a Christian has fellowship with Christ means that he or she
becomes ea sacrificial offeringf. In this way the Eucharist is also the
Churchfs sacrifice. The Church does not simply accept something, it is
only by participating that it receives. Because of this Saint Paul writes,
gOffer your bodies as a living sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable to Godh
(Rom 12:1). If we do this the daily life (praise, suffering, prayer, work),
faith and service of the Church and of ourselves as Christians is united
with the Mass which Christ offers. Life itself must, therefore, even more
than the liturgy, become the sacrificial offering.
B@A Loving (Serving) Church
@Reflecting on the Eucharist sacrifice teaches us that we are trying to
become ea loving, serving Churchf; a Church whose members joyfully acknowledge
the gifts that we, together with Christ, have received from the Father
and use those gifts to serve their brothers and sisters. We love, first
of all, those with whom we gather around the same Eucharistic table. Then
the Eucharistic community must take care to extend its love to help anyone
at all. In order to promote Collaborative Ministry for Mission we need,
more than anything else, to become a more loving community and, by serving
one another as brothers and sisters, to offer up our own Church community
as a spiritual sacrifice.
5. The Holy Mass: a celebration of the gReal presence of Christh in this
@@The Real Presence: Christ giving Himself
@The eJoy of Salvationf which God promises is gbeing with the Lord
foreverh (1 Thess. 4:17). The sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass is not simply
a re-presentation, it is an ever-present reality. Through the priestfs
prayer invoking the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) and the words of consecration
the risen Christ is really present under the forms of bread and wine. This
eReal Presencef is not a static kind of presence but a dynamic activity
by which Christ egives himselff. Christ is really present to us first
of all in his death but he is also present for us in his resurrection.
The disciples, gwere filled with joy at seeing the Lordh (John 20:20).
This was because they saw Jesus, who bore the wounds of having offered
himself to the Father on the cross, glorified. The risen Lord comes to
where we are and opens his heart to us, turns his eyes to us with love
and forgiveness and He accepts us. In the same way that Jesus said gWhoever
eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that personh
(John 6:56), the real presence in the Eucharist is a process of self-giving
and mutual acceptance by Jesus and the recipient.
A@Preparation to Meet the Risen Lord
@The disciples celebrated the Eucharist by greeting the risen Lord, whom
they encountered in a vibrant way, and by breaking bread gwith glad and
sincere heartsh (Acts 2:46). We might say that Christ rose from the dead
in order to meet with the Church in the bread and wine we prepare on the
altar and which through the working of the Holy Spirit becomes Christ Himself
really present. This is because, for us in this world, the resurrection
of Christ is a esecond comingf, that is to say both the future coming
of Christ and the real presence of the Lord now. Since the days of the
early Church Eucharistic faith has been nourished by the conviction that
the risen Lord is really present in the Church community. As a matter of
course this conviction required preparation to meet the Lord who comes
to meet us in the Eucharist. gEveryone is to examine himself and only
then eat of the bread and drink from the cuph (1 Cor. 11:28). This means
B@A Church which lives through the Spirit of Christ
@Fellowship associated with the real presence is celebrated in the interaction
of the meeting between the eLord who is to comef and ewe who repentf.
Furthermore, the Church itself can become the real presence of Christ in
this world. Even though we recognize that the Mass is the communityfs
fraternal meal, however, it is not a fraternal meal only for the communityfs
fellowship with Christ. When the Church is closed in on itself the sacrament
is still imperfectly interactive; Christians gathered together by themselves
cannot become the leaven of love. If, in the Churchfs apostolic work and
all its activities, not least the Collaborative Ministry for Mission which
we are getting to grips with, we underrate the real presence of the Lord
then it means Christ is not likely to be present. Meditating on the real
presence of Christ in the Eucharist teaches us that we must truly become
ea Church which lives through the Spirit of Christf.
C@The Real Presence of Jesus among the Poor
@We who receive Eucharist do not, simply by doing so, become tabernacles
of the Blessed Sacrament. We do, however, become a symbol of our Lordfs
real presence when we respond to the invitation gTake and eath by effectively
eLiving the Mass in everyday lifef. The proclamation of faith which we
receive before the altar of Christ is concerned with how we witness to
faith, practically, in our everyday lives. It involves offering ourselves,
together with Christ, as a sacrifice. Precisely, this means gserving the
poor and sufferingh. To receive worthily Christfs Body and Blood given
up for us we have to acknowledge Christfs presence among our brethren
the poorest of the poor. The Lord Jesus says, gThis is my Bodyh. The
same Lord identified himself with gthe poor, the least of my brethrenh
(Matt. 25:40, 45). This is effectively the establishment of a esymbol
of Christfs real presencef in the midst of the poor. eThe real presence
of Christ among the poorf and ethe real presence of Christ in the Eucharistf
6. The Eucharist: a sacrament of Fellowship
@@The Fellowship of the Shared Table, communion
@We can say that, at the Last Supper, Jesus gave to his disciples a sacrifice
of fellowship (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Taking part in this sacrifice, eating
and drinking the ebread and winef, is a celebration. This is ecommuniof.
We use this term to refer to a part of the Mass in which we receive the
sacrament, the communion: in fact it refers to fellowship, the deepest
dimension of what the Eucharist brings about. Ecclesiastical communio (fellowship)
is celebrating Christfs Passover together. As I said before precisely
because the Eucharist is both sacrifice and real presence it is enacted
in the context of the shared table. The purpose of the invitation gTake
and Eath is to create fellowship and unity.
A@The Church, the Body of Christ
@People who receive the Eucharist and create fellowship join themselves
to Christ. By means of the Eucharist, his own body, Christ binds all believers
into a single body, his Church. The Church is, therefore, the Body of Christ
and we can also say that the Church is fellowship with Jesus. g..the bread
which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? As there is
one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body for
we share in the one loafh (1 Cor. 10:16-17). gThe Church is not simply
gathered around Christ, she is united in His body: in Him.h (Catechism
of the Catholic Church, 798)
B@The Unity and Bonds of Mutual Love between Christians
@Because everyone who receives the Eucharist is bound more closely to
Christ, it gives rise to the unity of all believers Catechism of the Catholic
Church, 1396). The fellowship of the Eucharist not only strengthens the
incorporation of the Christian into the Church which was realized at baptism
it also deepens the mutual bonds of love and unity between Christians as
parts of the Body of Christ.
@In 2003 I chose the theme eLetfs experience a community of faithf;
once again I ask you to deepen your understanding of the ecommunity of
faithf by reflecting on the Eucharist.
C@A Church of Fellowship: the Spirituality of Collaborative Ministry
@The fellowship in the Eucharistic is not simply the esharing of gracef.
The grace we receive is perfected by the love and service we give by responding
to it. This is not something we do arbitrarily on our own as individuals;
we must work together as a community. Even though there is only one body
of Christ, it is because its parts are many and varied that we need to
work together as a community. gIn the building up of the Church there
is a flourishing variety of members and functions. There is only one Spirit
who, according to His own richness and the needs of ministries, distributes
His different gifts for the welfare of the Churchh (Lumen Gentium, Vatican
II: Constitution on the Church, 7) . Our reflection on fellowship in the
Eucharist shows the way for us to become more of a Church built on fellowship.
Collaborative Ministry for Mission means that Priests, Religious and Laity,
each according to their own vocation, work together to carry out the Churchfs
apostolic work. This is the spirit of Collaborative Ministry for Mission.
7. Praying together with Mary before Christ
@Entering into fellowship with eucharistia, the Blessed Sacrament, involves
prayer. This is because the Eucharist is the ereal presence of prayerf
in this world. The Father raised Christ from the dead, established him
as a temple and gcalled us to deep fellowship with His Sonh (1 Cor. 1:9).
Worship of the Eucharist apart from the Mass, especially visits to the
Blessed Sacrament, are an important act of faith by which we can come into
contact with the real presence of our Lord. (Cf. gReception of the Eucharist
outside Mass and Eucharistic Worshiph). Rather than the Christian going
to visit the Eucharist it is our Lord who, by constantly renewing his real
presence among his community on earth, welcomes us. The Eucharist, at the
heart of the Christianfs prayer, teaches us that prayer is about receiving
something but also about fellowship.
@When the Church prays before Christ and expresses the needs of the Church
and world it is not that God does not know these things but rather that
the Church itself is opening its heart to hear the word of the Lord. The
Lord is always there to answer every need. The real presence of the Lord
is a way for almighty God to intervene in the affairs of this world.
A@Mary: Woman of the Eucharist
@Mary eWoman of the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 53), who conceived
the Son of God, prepared for us a way for the risen Jesus and us to meet
in the Eucharist and leads us along it. Let us pray with her before Him
until the hunger and thirst of our hearts be ever more deeply satisfied
and we shall be contented.
B@Prayer for World Peace
@Finally, letfs continue this year to pray for world peace during the
Mass. Last year I designated the small chapel in the cathedral, dedicated
to eOur Lady of Miyakof, as a place of prayer for peace. The pope makes
the appeal, gWherever there is the possibility for peace there is also
the obligation to make peaceh. Always, after the Lordfs Prayer in the
Mass, we offer a special prayer for Peace. We, who are opposed to war,
must pray to Christ, the Lord of Peace, and ask him to teach us what we
must do in the face of hostility and dissension. The Mass itself is the
greatest prayer for peace we can make. I pray that the entire human family,
without exception eccalled to deep fellowship with Christf may be eunited
as onef and all people live together in solidarity.
1/1/2005, Solemnity of the Mother of God
(1)@The term Eucharistia (Blessed Sacrament).
@In the early Church the gathering on the eLordfs Dayf for the commemoration
of the Last Supper was called eucharistia. (The Greek word means thankfulness
or gratitude). This eucharistia is often given in English as eBlessed
Sacramentf. This word gives the impression of something static whereas
ethanksgivingf is a dynamic concept. The Mass is also called the eLiturgy
of Thanksgivingf. Thanksgiving in this context is broadened to include
the ideas of commemorating, taking part in the Lordfs Supper, a new covenant,
offering, worship etc. In order to include the meaning of both eThanksgivingf
and eBlessed Sacramentf I have used the word eeucharistiaf followed
by (Blessed Sacrament).
(In the English translation when the word eEucharistf is used it should be read as equivalent to eeucharsitia (Blessed Sacrament)f.)