Celebrating together

The celebration of the Eucharist commits us to the poor and should flow into social action; our active love for the poor and oppressed, the sick and the sad, leads us back to the Eucharist as the source and summit of all we do. St John Chrysostom challenged those who recognised Christ in the breaking of bread to recognise him also in the broken lives of those around them: ‘Would you honour the body of Christ? Do not despise his nakedness; do not honour him here in church clothed in silk vestments and then pass him by unclothed and frozen outside. Remember that he who said, “This is my body”, and made good his words, also said, “You saw me hungry and gave me no food”, and, “in so far as you did it not to one of these, you did it not to me”. In the first sense the body of Christ does not need clothing but worship from a pure heart. In the second sense it does need clothing and all the care we can give.

cf Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, One Bread One Body, s43

Celebrating together

Active participation in the Eucharist is a transforming experience. In our prayers, and that of the whole Church, we seek the transformation not only of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but that the same Spirit transforms us also into the Body of Christ. But it does not end here...

Authentic Catholic spirituality is centred on communal celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ so that we may go out into the world to live that mystery, refreshed and restored as agents of God’s love.  The Christian is called into a broken world to witness to and work for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Eucharist must feed those who celebrate: for their work in the healing of relationships, in the promotion of peace and justice, and in the proclamation of the Good News.

Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Celebrating the Mass 16-17

Thanksgiving and Sacrifice

In the Eucharist, Christ’s gift of his life to his Father for our salvation is made present, so that we may be united with him in his sacrifice and be accepted in him by the Father. The Mass is the ultimate act of worship. By our communion with the Risen Christ, we become one with him in his giving of himself to the Father. Our lives are at-one with his as he commends his spirit to the Father. United with Christ, we lift up our hearts to the Father and give him thanks and praise.

We give to God all that he first gave to us, all that we are and have, uniting ourselves with the self-giving of Jesus himself. Our sharing in the Eucharist should make us a sacrificial people, lifting up and laying down our lives in love for God and for one another, and sharing all that we have and are with those in need.

cf One Bread One Body, 34 Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Fed by the Living Word

The Church is nourished spiritually at the table of God’s word and at the table of the Eucharist: from the one it grows in wisdom and from the other in holiness. In the word of God the divine covenant is announced; in the Eucharist the new and everlasting covenant is renewed. The spoken word of God brings to mind the history of salvation; the Eucharist embodies it in the sacramental signs of the liturgy.

It can never be forgotten, therefore, that the celebration of Mass in which the word is heard and the Eucharist is offered and received forms but one single act of divine worship. That act offers the sacrifice of praise to God and makes available to God’s creatures the fullness of redemption.

Introduction to the Lectionary 10.


Saint Peter's Square
Third Sunday of Lent, 15 March 2009


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I shall be making my first Apostolic Journey to Africa from Tuesday 17 to Monday 23 March. I shall go to Cameroon, to the capital, Yaoundé, to present the "Instrumentum Laboris", [working document] of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops that will be celebrated here in the Vatican in October. I shall then go on to Luanda, the capital of Angola, a country which has rediscovered peace after the long civil war and is now called to rebuild itself in justice. With this Visit I intend to embrace in spirit the entire African continent: its thousands of differences and its profoundly religious soul; its ancient cultures and its laborious process of development and reconciliation; its grave problems, its painful wounds and its enormous potential and hopes. I intend to strengthen Catholics in the faith, to encourage Christians in their ecumenical commitment and to bring to all the announcement of peace, entrusted to the Church of the Risen Lord.