.- The Vatican today, released a synopsis of the working document of the "Instrumentum laboris" for the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will explore the theme, “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." The upcoming Synod is scheduled to be held in the Vatican from October 2 to 23, 2005. Secretary General, Archbishop Nikola Eterovicand, and under-secretary Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, of the Synod of Bishops presented the document in the Holy See Press office this morning.
A Vatican press release explained that the Instrumentum laboris is made up of a preface, an introduction, four sections each divided into two chapters, and a conclusion. It was compiled based on responses to the "Lineamenta" sent by the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to episcopal conferences, Eastern Catholic Churches, dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General.
The preface of the new document states that, "The question of great pastoral concern, episcopal responsibility and prophetic vision is to see how (the) rich patrimony of faith can be implemented in the Catholic Church ... in the initial years of the third millennium of Christianity and beyond."
It continues: "This document then is principally concentrated on the positive aspects of the celebration of the Eucharist which bring the faithful together and make them a community."
The first part of the document, entitled, "the Eucharist and today's world," explores the historical context in which the Synod is to take place, calling it "a period marked by strong contrasting forces within the human family."
The problem of hunger in the world, is specifically addressed in this section saying, "This dramatic situation is an inescapable reality in the discussion of the synod fathers, who, like every Christian at various times during the day, pray to the Lord: 'give us this day our daily bread'."
I then turns to the situation of the Church around the world, noting that attendance at Sunday Mass "is high in various particular Churches in the countries of Africa and also in some Asian countries. The opposite is the case in the majority of countries in Europe, America and Oceania."
In part two, called, "the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist," centers largely on the faithful’s perception of the Eucharistic mystery and highlights the nuances of such perception according to cultural context: "In those countries enjoying a general climate of peace and prosperity - primarily western countries - many perceive the Eucharistic mystery as simply the fulfillment of a Sunday obligation and a meal of fellowship. Instead, in those countries experiencing wars and other difficulties, many understand the Eucharistic mystery more fully, that is, including its sacrificial aspect."
The document also looks at problems in the celebration the Eucharist which, it says, "challenge a sense of the sacred." Included examples are incorrect liturgical vestments, participants wearing unbefitting clothing, or the scant architectural and artistic quality of church buildings.
“All these negative realities,” it notes however, “occurring more often in the Latin liturgy than the liturgies of the Eastern Churches, should not lead to great alarm, since they seem to be limited."
Part three is called "the Eucharist in the life of the Church," and details the correct celebration of the Mass, addressing everything from the opening rites to the conclusion and the significance of liturgical norms, described as "guides for entering into mystery."
In the final part of the Instrumentum laboris, "the Eucharist in the mission of the Church," the writers emphasize the importance of the Eucharist as the "font of Christian morality.”
It states that this "has always empowered the choices and the ethical and moral behavior of believers." Here, the document discusses the Eucharist's association with peace, unity and ecumenism in addition to addressing questions like inculturation and intercommunion.