The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments has released a document today with suggestions and proposals for living out the Year of the Eucharist. The document, entitled "The Year of the Eucharist: Suggestions and Proposals," has been written in answer to instructions put forth by Pope John Paul II in his October 7 Apostolic Letter "Mane nobiscum Domine."
The text of the Congregation’s document (published in Italian, and expected to be available shortly in other major languages) consists of an Introduction, Summary of the five Chapters a list of documents and abbreviations used, the five Chapters (entitled, repectively: Frame of Reference, Worship Contexts, Lines of Eucharistic Spirituality, Pastoral Initiatives and Commitments and Cultural Paths), and a Conclusion.
The introduction opens by pointing out that the integral link between the Pope’s initiatives of the Year of the Rosary which is ending and the Year of the Eucharist, which is beginning is that of “placing the face of Christ at the center of ecclesial commitments in the wake of Vatican Council II and the Great Jubilee,” and that “the Year of the Eucharist offers us an important pastoral occasion for the entire Christian community to be further sensitized to make this wonderful Sacrifice and Sacrament the heart of its life.”
Pointing out that the Holy Father asked particular dioceses to come up with pastoral initiatives, the document says “does not pretend to be exhaustive, but rather limits itself to give, with a simple style, some working suggestions."
The congregation therefore indicates a series of suggestions on the parochial and diocesan level in order to begin the Year of the Eucharist, including the following:
· Preparation of documents - especially where the dioceses cannot do so - that emphasize the Year of the Eucharist and promote reflection by priests and faithful on the doctrinal and pastoral problems in their respective countries such as lack of priests, low Sunday Mass attendance, abandonment Eucharistic adoration;
· Promoting national Eucharistic congresses and inviting universities, faculties and seminaries to explore this theme;
· Encouraging knowledge of the saints who have a special relationship with the diocese and who have been distinguished by love for the Eucharist;
· Increasing perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in churches and chapels, especially at a time when it is convenient for parishioners;
· Organizing Eucharistic adoration for young people around Palm Sunday;
· Dedicating space to the theme of the Eucharist in diocesan magazines, internet sites, as well as on local radio and television stations;
· Responding to the Pope's invitation to make every effort to make sure that Sunday Mass occupies the central place in the parish;
· Teaching the faithful the proper behavior when entering a church, helping them to prepare themselves interiorly during mass, especially in the most important moments and educating them on exterior participation as well;
· Promotion, by parishes, of Eucharistic worship and personal and community prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, namely visiting the Blessed Sacrament, adoration and Eucharistic benediction and spiritual assistance for those who are in irregular situations, and who cannot receive communion although they participate in Mass.
· Organization, by monasteries, religious communities and institutes, of mediation on the quality of Eucharistic celebration in community, fidelity to liturgical norms and personal Eucharistic devotion, as well as providing for the possibility of increasing adoration hours before the Blessed Sacrament.
"The success of this Year,” concludes the document, “undoubtedly depends on the depth of our prayer. We are invited to celebrate the Eucharist, to receive it and to adore it with the faith of the saints. ... This special year must help us to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and to live by Him."