Papal Encyclicals

The Eucharist: “The Living Centre of the Universe”

‘It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”. The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself”. Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.’
Pope Francis, Laudato Si n. 236

The Continual Touch of Jesus

lumen-fidei-cover-montage

‘The Church, like every family, passes on to her children the whole store of her memories. But how does this come about in a way that nothing is lost, but rather everything in the patrimony of faith comes to be more deeply understood? It is through the apostolic Tradition preserved in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy a living contact with the foundational memory. What was handed down by the apostles — as the Second Vatican Council states — “comprises everything that serves to make the people of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith. In this way the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes”.

‘Faith, in fact, needs a setting in which it can be witnessed to and communicated, a means which is suitable and proportionate to what is communicated. For transmitting a purely doctrinal content, an idea might suffice, or perhaps a book, or the repetition of a spoken message. But what is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion. There is a special means for passing down this fullness, a means capable of engaging the entire person, body and spirit, interior life and relationships with others. It is the sacraments, celebrated in the Church’s liturgy. The sacraments communicate an incarnate memory, linked to the times and places of our lives, linked to all our senses; in them the whole person is engaged as a member of a living subject and part of a network of communitarian relationships. While the sacraments are indeed sacraments of faith, it can also be said that faith itself possesses a sacramental structure. The awakening of faith is linked to the dawning of a new sacramental sense in our lives as human beings and as Christians, in which visible and material realities are seen to point beyond themselves to the mystery of the eternal.’
Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) n.40

The Church, with its magisterium and sacraments, doesn’t keep us at arms length from the revelation of Jesus Christ, but brings us into direct, personal contact with him!

The good news isn’t something to be read in the papers, analysed, discussed, accepted and set aside, but a person, our Lord Jesus Christ, to encounter in his fullness, more intimately than we encounter anyone else in the world. But more than two thousand years after his birth, how are we meant to encounter him? Is it only through speaking to him in prayer, and reading about him in the scriptures? No disrespect to prayer and Bible study, but wouldn’t this make him a bit of cell-phone-saviour? A saviour you’ve never met “in person”, but have spoken with long distance. Of course, long distance relationships are wonderful, but the dream is always to be closer, more intimately with our Beloved.

Thank God for His Church and His holy sacraments! By these means (and more), Jesus Christ is always readily present to us, to teach, guide, cleanse, heal, forgive, strengthen, nourish, enlighten, refresh, rejuvenate, correct, sustain, and redeem us. He has not left us orphans, but is with us always, even until the end. The resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is with us, body and blood, soul and divinity, at all times.

Sola scriptura is a bit like refusing to listen to the king’s ambassador, because you read his (authorised) biography, and he can call or write you himself. The king has an ambassador, because he wishes to have a personal, authorised, representative with you, so that you can know his thoughts on all matters. The ambassador has lived with the king his whole life, and was there from the beginning. The king’s ambassador does not distance you from the king, but reveals him to you more perfectly. As a matter of fact, the king’s ambassador is also his wife.

And to stay away from the sacraments is a bit like a person in love, preferring to just speak over the phone (and it is tough to listen and easy to get distracted while on the phone).

In our life in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, we are members of the one believing subject, present throughout all of Christ’s mysteries. We are part of the body of believers, present throughout Jesus’ ministry, in the Upper Room at Pentecost, and who all of the epistles are addressed to. We are living in the realities of the Bible! As I wrote here, about my first time visiting mass,

I remember noticing, that I had a wonderful feeling throughout, after the fear passed, that I had only ever had while reading the Bible. It almost felt like I was in the Bible.

God bless you in abundance!

P.S. If you haven’t yet read Lumen Fidei, do. Here’s a link. It’s so good. I suspect it’s especially wonderful in part because it’s the product of not just one Pope, but two.