.- 243 bishops assembled this morning for the 6th meeting of the 11th General Synod of Bishops being held this week at the Vatican. Pope Benedict was on hand as the morning discussions largely addressed questions of proper respect for the sacredness of the Eucharist, specifically in liturgy and reception, and the broader implications thereof.
Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, Prelate of the Personal Prelature of the apostolate, Opus Dei, cited the 'Instrumentum Laboris' document, from which the bishops are working which, he said, "highlights the importance of a sense of the sacred in celebrating the Eucharist."
"We should", he suggested, "study practical ways to help the faithful to a clearer understanding of the sacredness of Eucharistic sacrifice. ... It would therefore be useful, on the basis of the Instruction 'Redemptionis sacramentum,' to try to remove abuses that harm the sacred nature of Eucharistic celebrations, and to rethink certain regulations which may be interpreted and applied in an abusive fashion."
"For example," he said, "I suggest reviewing the appropriateness of Eucharistic ceremonies in which there is such an excessive number of concelebrants as to make the dignified celebration of the liturgy impossible; and re-evaluating whether communion should actually be given to all participants in a Mass where great numbers of believers are present, when such general distribution may harm the dignity of worship."
On a broader level, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England added that "An impoverished appreciation of the irreplaceable nature of Eucharistic sacrifice also has obvious implications for understandings of the priesthood. Facilitating the reception of Holy Communion becomes as relevant and important as being present at the celebration of the Mass. We need to re‑connect the reception of Holy Communion with the offering of the Mass through which we are caught up into Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
"Holy Communion", he said, "properly belongs to the Mass as the fruit of a sacramental act in which we encounter Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In this discussion the value of the place of Eucharistic adoration becomes all the more important for our prayer and contemplation. Christ's presence and His offering are united, flowing from and pointing towards the Mass, that sacramental celebration where Christ's offering of sacrifice and presence in Holy Communion are held in rightful unity."