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.

Furthermore, Pope 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.

At the outset of the apostolic letter of the Pope, it is clearly presented to us: "The 'door of faith' is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church". Towards the end of the apostolic letter, it is calling us moreover that: "The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As Saint Paul reminds us: 'So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love' (1 Cor 13:13). In this regard, the apostolic letter quotes James 2:14-18 to further illustrate: "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?..." In short, faith in God should be concretized in one's love of neighbor and the communion with them.

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.

Thus, celebrating 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 more indecisive.

These real situations on one hand affect our faith and at the same time they also affect our "mystery of faith" - the celebration of the Eucharist. However, through the theme of the International Eucharistic Congress, besides providing us with warnings on theological reflections on the Eucharist, it also inspires the pastoral guidelines of our local Church this year so that the faith of the faithful may be revitalized, and live out the life of the Eucharist. We will condense in five points the goals we strive to achieve this year:

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).

a. The faithful should have the spirit of constant repentance and conversion. If one does not reflect on one's own life but only participate superficially in the liturgy of the Eucharist, his participation cannot be active. And one can prepare himself interiorly.

b. Before the liturgical celebration, make an examination of one's conscience, keep silence and fast; if necessary go first to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

c. The faithful need to be reminded that without an active, full participation in the life of the Church, including the fulfillment of the mission of bringing the love of Christ in ones social life, there is no such thing as an active participation in the sacred mystery.

3. We encourage the faithful to know and learn how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours

We are pleased to see that in some parishes, the faithful recite the "Liturgy of the Hours" before the Mass to prepare themselves for the Eucharistic celebration; some of the faithful have already formed the habit of praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Actually, "to the different hours of the day the liturgy of the hours extends the praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation, the petitions and the foretaste of heavenly glory that are present in the Eucharistic mystery, the center and high point in the whole life of the Christian community. The Liturgy of the Hours is in turn an excellent preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist itself, for it inspires and deepens in a fitting way the dispositions necessary for the fruitful celebration of the Eucharist: faith, hope, love, devotion, and the spirit of self-denial." (General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours #15). Therefore, we invite the faithful to recite the "Liturgy of the Hours" and take it as an excellent preparation to enter into the celebration of the Eucharist. Any faithful who wants to learn how to recite the "Liturgy of the Hours" can read the "General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours". This General Instruction provides us with very clear methods, and with pastoral, spiritual and theological guidance.

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).

5. We encourage parishes to set up and promote programs of evangelization

The dismissal at the Concluding Rite of the Mass means "to send" and "mission" This is the missionary nature of the Church. Like the two disciples who having experienced the risen Christ at the "breaking of bread" went in haste back to Jerusalem to help their brothers and sisters discover the presence of the Risen Christ in their lives and passed on this gospel of love and communion to others.

Therefore, having recognized Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and parish community being in communion with Christ and united with him, their annual pastoral work should include the dimension of evangelization. As a matter of fact, the parish should reach out to all those living in the same area. Just as in the Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" written by Pope John Paul II, he says: "¡Kespecially in those areas where Christians are a minority, priests must be filled with special missionary zeal and commitment. The Lord entrusts to them not only the pastoral care of the Christian community, but also and above all the evangelization of those of their fellow-citizens who do not belong to Christ's flock (# 67). Yes, the parish should be a center for evangelization where all its activities are centered on evangelization. This is the main mission of the 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!

All the Bishops of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 1, 2012