.- Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message to Cardinal Francis Arinze ahead of the Congregation for Divine Worship’s study day on the Sunday Mass. The Holy Father told those involved in the study group that Sundays remain the central focus of the Church’s liturgical year and that there is a need to, “reiterate the sacred nature of the Lord’s day and the need to participate in Sunday Mass.
Cardinal Arinze, who serves as Prefect for the congregation called the study day under the theme: “Sunday Mass for the sanctification of Christian people."
The Pope’s letter, which is dated November 27 but was made public today, recalls how the study day falls on the anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium," and is the third of its kind following one dedicated to the Roman Martyrology and another to sacred music.
"Sundays," writes the Pope, "remain the fundamental seedbed and the primordial nucleus of the liturgical year... a fragment of time pervaded by eternity, because its dawn saw the Risen Christ enter victoriously into eternal life."
"For the first Christians, participation in Sunday celebrations was the natural expression of their belonging to Christ, of their communion with His mystical Body, in joyous expectation of His glorious return."
“Today," the Holy Father continued, "it is more than ever necessary to reiterate the sacred nature of the Lord's day and the need to participate in Sunday Mass. The cultural context in which we live, often marked by religious indifference and secularism that obscure the horizon of transcendence, must not cause us to forget that the People of God who came into being with the events of Easter must return [to those events] as an inexhaustible spring, in order to better understand ... their own identity and the reasons for their existence."
"Sunday was not chosen by the Christian community," he wrote, "rather by the Apostles, indeed by Christ Himself Who on that day, "the first day of the week," arose and appeared before the disciples. ... Each Sunday celebration of the Eucharist enacts the sanctification of Christian people, until that Sunday without end, the day of the definitive encounter of God with His creatures."
Benedict XVI closed his message by expressing the hope that the study day "may help to recover the Christian meaning of Sunday in ... the life of all believers."