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Saturday, 3 March 2018

(EUCHARIST) ANTIDOTE FOR IMMORTALITY

        (THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST)

INTRODUCTION
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.(Rom3:23) all mankind without Gods assistance are heading for ruin and destruction. However, Gods wills that all men be saved and come the knowledge of Truth.(Tim2:4). For God does not wish the death of the sinner but that he repent of his evil ways and come to life (18:32). In trying to realise his divine wish of all men being saved. God in many ways and at various times has been sending the prophet and holy men and women to deliver his saving words to man (Heb1:1).

He however, at the fullness of time sends his son Jesus Christ, the words made flesh for the salvation of the entire human kind. Our Lord Jesus Christ when he came eventually, perfectly accomplish his salvific mission through his paschal mystery, that is, the mystery of the suffering, dying and rising to new life again. This paschal mystery became the source of power and grace for the redemption of mankind and he entrusted it to his Church his Bride through the apostles. The picture or the figure of person of suffering, dying Jesus hanging on the cross of Calvary represent what we may call the climax of the saving action of the divine person of Jesus. As received in the liturgy of Holy Saturday, it is this very scope that witnesses the birth of the Church, (the bride of Christ).

In a symbolic manner when water and blood gushed forth from the pierced side of Christ. The “water” has been explained to represent the saving and the sanctifying water of baptism, while blood represents the saving and renewed blood of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

WHAT IS HOLY EUCHARIST?
The true content and the meaning of the Eucharist cannot be adequately grasped or expressed. This is because it is a mystery. According to Pope John Paul II, the Eucharist as the ineffable sacrament is the “mystery of Mysteries”. Our explanation of the Eucharist here shall be in accordance with our topic of the discourse: Eucharist: The Heart of Church's Liturgy.

Etymologically, Eucharist came from Greek word Eucharistia which means “thanksgiving”. Thus the Eucharist decribed as thanksgiving based on the account of its institution Jesus Christ. At the last supper, Jesus “gave thanks” to the father on lifting cup and He gave the cup to his disciples and commanded them to do this in His remembrance. (Mtt 26:26, Mk14:22-24, Lk22:17-20, 1Cor11:24). It also refers to the Lords supper because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with His disciples on the eve of His passion, and because it anticipates the wedding Feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The vivid expression of the unity embedded in the liturgy actually came with Vatican II of revision of the Churchs sacred liturgy which restored the Holy Eucharist to its place of prominence and primacy as the central expression of the Churchs worship of itself, the sacrament of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist expresses the gathering of the assembly Christian (Apostles and Disciples) to do this in his memory of him. It is a mystery in memory  of Jesus Christ where the salvific mission of Christ glorification of God in the restoring and bringing all mankind both past, present and future and all creation into the peaceful joyful and united family of Gods heavenly kingdom is realised. It is for this reason that all other liturgical and actions do not only extension but also in fact draw all their powers and effects from it as from the fountain.

In the light of the above, the sacraments of Christian initiation which include baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist are now viewed as have the Holy Eucharist as their focus or the aim at the eventual incorporation of the catechumen Into the Eucharist assembly of Christ faithful. The Eucharist is aptly defined as the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, together with His soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine. It is a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ pledge of future glory is given to us.

THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

HOLY EUCHARIST IN THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHURCHS LITURGY
The Eucharist is the source and summits of the Christian life.The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. (1325)

Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. (1326) In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking. (1327)

According to Richard McBrien, the reflections on the Eucharist are framed by two basic doctrine principles: the one enunciated by the council of Trent and the other by second Vatican Council. Trent taught that the Eucharist is not simply one of the sacraments but is prominent among them because Christ is present in the Eucharist even before the sacrament is used. Vatican II declared that the Liturgy, most of all I the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful can express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. The Eucharist is indeed the source and summit of the entire Christian life. Lturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed. It is also found from all her power flows.
The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament that was instituted by Jesus Christ at the eve of his passion and death to be a representation of his sacrifice on the cross. Concerned with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, the Holy Eucharist representing that sacrifice is wholly a sacrifice. It is the sacrifice of Christ that has replaces the Jewish sacrifice of feast, and Christ himself is the priest, for e offered himself and then replaces the Levitical priesthood.
The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity: the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions; the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion. (1346)

The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form "one single act of worship the Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord. Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.(1347)
All gather together. Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing him that the bishop or priest acting in the person of Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis) presides over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the offerings, and says the Eucharistic Prayer. All have their own active parts to play in the celebration, each in his own way: readers, those who bring up the offerings, those who give communion, and the whole people whose "Amen" manifests their participation. (1348)The Liturgy of the Word includes "the writings of the prophets," that is, the Old Testament, and the memoirs of the apostles" (their letters and the Gospels). After the homily, which is an exhortation to accept this Word as what it truly is, the Word of God,175 and to put it into practice, come the intercessions for all men, according to the Apostle's words: "I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings, and all who are in high positions. (1349)
In the Catholic Church, the various celebrations or actions are regarded as liturgy. In the Church today, the liturgy includes celebration such as: celebration of the seven sacraments, the liturgy of hours, Eucharistic worship after the Mass, Blessings, ritual of the order of funeral and the right of religious profession.


HOLY EUCHARIST AND OTHER SACRAMENTS
The efforts of modern Catholic theologians at defining sacrament have brought in new lights and inspiration which paved the way for the Vatican councils understanding of and posits on sacraments. The constitution on the sacred liturgy says:
The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify man, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They are only presupposing faith, but also by word and objects. They also nourish strength and express it. This is why they are called sacrament of faith. They do, indeed, centre grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace to their profit, to worship God duly and to practice charity.
According to Pastoral Guide Vol. II Page 12, “if anyone say that the sacraments of the new law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord ofr that there are more or less than seven namely Baptism, Confirmation Eucharist, Penitence, Extre Unction, Order, Matrimony, or that anyone of these seven is not truly and strictly speaking a sacrament let him be anathema.

Baptism
Baptism gives rebirth to this who receive it through water and Holy Spirit . (Jn 3:5), they becomes new creatures, adopted sons and daughters of God, the people of God, and member of Christs body which is the Church. Baptism incorporates us into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Col. 2:12, Eph 2:1-6, Phi 3:10-11), and into the body of Christ (1Cor12:12, 14, 27). The baptismal event and the Christ event are, for all practical purposes.

Confrmation
There is no separation rite of confirmation in the New Testament. Where the spirit is given, the spirit is given in connection with baptism. Baptism and confirmation could be considered, in light of their origins and history, one sacrament. Confirmation, which comprises the postbaptism rites of anointing, the laying on of hands, and the words “Be sealed with the Gift of Holy Spirit”, is a ramification, or sealing, of baptism. ( more importantly, the revise rite 1971 for children baptized as infants stipulates that confirmation be postponed until the age of reason, unless an Episcopal conference chooses a more appropriate age. Ordinarily confirmation should take place within the Eucharist to express the fundamental connection of the sacraments.)
The Rite of Ordination
            For the right of ordination, installation and religious profession, they are part of the Churchs liturgy now seen towards ordering of event of services for the good of ecclesia community that has been essentially made and or identified prominently as Eucharistic celebration. In the new dispensation of Vatican II. No one of them that this rite is also usually celebrated within the Holy Eucharist celebration.

Matrimony
According catechism of the Catholic Chucr, “ the parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and m woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent(CCC No 1625). The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouse to be the indispensable element that makes marriage.(CCC No.1626) The love and selfgiving involve in the sacrament of matrimony on its parts enligthment in the understanding of the union of love and total self-giving of Christ to the Church and vis-visa in surrendering love: that is the ecclesiastical mystical union of the Church with his head fully symbolsed into Eucharistic celebration where Christ gives himself fully in the Eucharistic communion. It seen as concrete example and expression of the sort of love and unity celebrating in the Eucharist assembly in the spirit of Christ where the man is to the woman and Christ to the Church Vis-Visa.

Anointing of the sick
The sacrament of anointing of the sick often goes with the Holy Communion. It is seen as an act of extending the Eucharistic assembly to include those unable to be physically present, bringing the sick, the physical and spiritual healing and strength which the saving effect of the paschal mystery already symbolized and actualized.



Penance and Reconciliation
            The sacrament of reconciliation perceived in the light of an act of restoring the unity of Eucharist assembly that has been destructed, distorted by sin and alienation of member. The need of this is even already expressed within the Eucharistic celebration both at the penitential rite, kiss of peace, and before the reception of Holy Communion.
The text to which catholic doctrine has traditionally appealed in asserting the sacramentality and divine origin of penance is (Jn 20:22-23), which records one of Jesus post resurrection appearances: “receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sin of any they are retained”. This is also reflected in the gospel of Saint (Mt16:19, 18:18). By itself, the text does not prove that Jesus instituted the sacrament of penance as we know it today or that he conferred the power to forgive sins only on the Apostles and their successors, and their chosen delegates.

Liturgy of Hours
Bearing in mind the unifying mission of Eucharistic celebration, the Liturgy of the hours seeks to gather the Eucharistic assembly, (the faithful) regularly in groups and in communities in order to publicity offer ceaselessly, thanksgiving and intercession both at the rising sun and setting for the well being of the restored brotherhood of mankind in the mystical body of the Eucharistic Jesus
The celebration of the liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voices with the praying heart, but also a deeper understanding of the liturgy and of the bible, especially of the psalms. The liturgy of Hours, which is like an extension of the Eucharist celebration, does not exclude but rather in a complementary way calls forth the various devotions of the people of God, especially adoration and worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

Blessings
The blessings which equally form part of churchs liturgy in the scope of liturgy is seen properly as aiming and bringing  the Eucharistic assembly to all the corners of life of the faithful.

Liturgy of Funeral Rite
The Christian funeral is a liturgical of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community.
The church seeks to help the disposed person on his or her journey to God and to assist the bereaved relatives and friends in the cause of the reverential dispose of corps in order to enable them have their mind fixed on the eschatological reality (heavenly banquet of the Eucharistic assembly): that life in death is not ended but changed for the better in Christ

The Eucharistic Worship outside the Mass
This involves the praise and thanks of supplication of the faithful which are due to God almighty who is fully and really present in the Eucharist under the appearances of Bread and Wine. This was formally limited to benediction alone but with reform of Vatican II, it has been broading to include both approclamation of the word of God and Silent adoration , praise and supplication before the restored Eucharist.

CONCLUSION
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Pope John Paul II, Address to Pilgrim from Millan and Allessandria and to the French Jurists, 14th November, 1981, in Losservatore Romano, English Weekly ed. Nov. 1o 1981.
Cf. Thomas Pazhayampallil, Pastoral Guide Vol.II Bangalore: Kristus Jyoti, 1995.
Richard McBrien, Catholicism, 3rd Edition, Britain: Society of St. Paul, 1981 P.819.
CCC, No.
Vatican II document.
Code of Canon Law
           
               By: 'Bisi-Oluwole

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