Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference Pastoral Letter for 2012
Penetrating into the mystery of our faith - leading a Eucharistic life
|Dear brothers and
sisters in Christ:
The 50th International Eucharistic Congress will be held this year from the 10th to the 17th of June in Dublin, Ireland. In response to the invitation of the Universal Church, the local Church in Taiwan already solemnly celebrated last year a "National Eucharistic Congress" at the Fu-Jen Catholic University on the vigil of the feast of Christ the King as a warm-up preparation. At the same time, the National Eucharistic Congress was also an expression of communion and unity with the Universal Church, and a common immersion in the infinite grace of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Benedict XVI wrote the Apostolic Letter "The Door of Faith"
(Porta Fidei) on the 17th of October last year announcing 2012-2013 as
the "Year of Faith". The "Year of Faith" will begin
on the 11th of October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of
the Second Vatican Council. It also marks the twentieth anniversary of
the publication of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church". The
Pope has chosen this very meaningful date to launch the "Year of
Faith" to arouse in the Church the spirit of renewal of the Second
Vatican Council with the hope that the whole Church will reinvigorate
and deepen our understanding and experience of our faith, live it out,
confirm it, and confess it. The Year of Faith will end on the 24th of
November 2013, feast of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of
the Universe. Reading between the lines of the apostolic letter, we strongly
sense the deep desire of the Pope that goes beyond words and expression.
The explanation of the apostolic letter on faith really echoes the core meaning and the spirit of what has been called the "mystery of faith" of Thanksgiving (Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). We can especially look at the Eucharistic Congress of the local Church from this point of view: "Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #10). Followed by the theme of the International Eucharistic Congress this year: "The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with One Another", the significant core meaning emerges, not only in the practice of love can one reach the summit of faith in terms of liturgical celebration, but in the celebration of faith flows an overflowing source of love as well. Yes, the meaning of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is so abundant, but all these riches come from "We have come to believe in God's love", as Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical says: "In these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (Deus Caritas Est #1). The Church as the sacrament of Christ is to practice in life what we believe in faith that God is Love (Deus Caritas Est #19-39). This is the declaration of our faith as well as the reason for celebrating the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
the "mystery of faith" in liturgy and living it out, is precisely
the theme that is enthusiastically promoted this year by the Church all
over the world. This theme in our generation is important and relevant
especially in our world and society where there is a lack of faith. First
of all, our society (in Taiwan) is not primarily a Christian faith based
culture. On top of this, in the process of globalization, market economy,
consumer culture, individualism, spiritual indifference and other factors,
coupled with unique domestic political situation, nationalism, all these
have worsen the crisis of faith in the whole society. It is therefore
urgently necessary to spread the Gospel. Furthermore, many faithful do
not have a clear understanding of their faith. Thus, facing the challenges
and temptations of sin, their attitude is often of compromise or swimming
with the tide. Confronted with diverse religious phenomena, division in
Christianity, their position becomes more confused, or they do not have
a stance of their own. In addition, there are many scientific developments
that are threatening: brain science research allows new forms of materialism
in the field of knowledge to become the mainstream. England leading physicist
Stephen Hawking's presumption that there is no need of a God to create
the universe, and that life may also originate from nowhere, casts science
and faith into a new wave of tensions. Hence, the faithful become even
1. We encourage the priests to fervently prepare and celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
According to the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal", "A priest also, who possesses within the Church the power of Holy Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ, stands for this reason at the head of the faithful people gathered together here and now, presides over their prayer, proclaims the message of salvation to them, associates the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father, gives his brothers and sisters the Bread of eternal life, and partakes of it with them. When he celebrates the Eucharist, therefore, he must serve God and the people with dignity and humility, and by his bearing and by the way he says the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of Christ". (93)
Thus, being a celebrant is a noble art. First, he should have the spiritual life of the Eucharist. Then, he should know how to delegate duties for others to perform. He should also know when to lead and how to lead. At the same time, his leadership should reflect his relationship with the mystery of God and his reverence. The priest should learn how to be a good leader, to be able to give better services to the assembly of the People of God, to show the faithful how to actively participate in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
However, "Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy # 14). Therefore, we encourage priests to make effort in studying this year the "General Instructions of the Roman Missal". By studying the "General Instructions", priests will find help to be more fervent and more appropriate in celebrating the Mass. It will also help the congregation to be more devout to celebrate the "mystery of faith".
2. We encourage the faithful to actively take the initiative to participate in the Eucharist
That all the faithful should actively participate in liturgical celebrations is one of the objectives of Vatican II Liturgical Reforms (cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #14). In order to achieve this goal, since Vatican II, the faithful zealously have been accepting liturgical formation and training, which is one of the most important activities in the Church. We are pleased to see that dioceses, deaneries and parishes are organizing liturgical formation courses which truly help the faithful to understand better the meaning and the spirit of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. However, we have also noticed, because of the impact of secular values and "the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin" (Sacrament of Charity #20), the faithful constantly overlook the personal conditions required in active participation. These personal conditions should once again be given importance and need to be practiced (Sacrament of Charity #55).
We encourage the faithful to know and learn how to pray the Liturgy of
4. We encourage the faithful to review the Catechism of the Catholic Church
That our weak faith
may be able to respond to the world's challenges, we should strengthen
our understanding and knowledge of our belief, be more active and conscious
in participating in the Mass, to better able to "¡Ksanctify Christ
as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone
who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1 Pt 3:15). For this reason,
we encourage the parishes to form Catechism Study Class using as textbook
the "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" recently
translated and published by the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference.
This book, as Pope Benedict XVI has said, was compiled and written for
those who live in a world of distractions and bombarded with multifarious
messages but who desire to know Christ (cf. MOTU PROPRIO, for the approval
and publication of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church).
The "mystery of faith" is beyond what our intellect can understand. We can only fully obey the word of God by faith. The Blessed Virgin Mary, as described in the Prayer "Hail Holy Queen", is really "a handmaid who always obeyed because of her faith"; she is also a woman whose whole life has the "spirit of thanksgiving" In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Church is completely united with Christ and his sacrifice. Let us therefore place the intention of our Taiwan local Church which is to "penetrating into the mystery of our faith, leading an Eucharistic life" into the hands of our Blessed Mother and through her intercession so that the life of each one of us as Christians may resemble that of our Blessed Mother Mary, a continuing thanksgiving canticle of "Magnificat" to God.
Wishing you all and your families peace and joy!
the Bishops of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference