From a catholicculture.org e-mail:
Pope Benedict Releases Sacrament of Love
Pope Benedict XVI today released Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love), his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist following up the work of the 2005 Synod of Bishops. What this important document covers can be roughly outlined by the titles of its three main parts:
1. The Eucharist, A Mystery to Be Believed
2. The Eucharist, A Mystery to Be Celebrated
3. The Eucharist, A Mystery to Be Lived
The document is available on CatholicCulture.org: Sacramentum Caritatis—Sacrament of Love.
The structure of this document is interesting in that it is clearly designed to assist busy bishops, priests and laity who may not be prone to take the time to read a lengthy academic treatise. Sacramentum Caritatis is broken into numerous subheads, each of which addresses a key point in a succinct paragraph or two. Because of the organization of the document, anyone can scan over it quickly to learn what the Pope wants to emphasize on virtually any Eucharistic topic.
Striking a Blow for Us Oldsters
Speaking of the Eucharist, it is also the source of wisdom. Christ is the Wisdom of God, and so the Eucharist is both Wisdom and its source. Nonetheless, most of us progress toward wisdom very slowly through a combination of grace and hard experience. In other words, the young generally just don’t have it. I address this benefit of age in my current column: Wisdom: The Fruit of Maturity.
The document can be accessed on their site.
Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis
27. The Eucharist, as the sacrament of charity, has a particular relationship with the love of man and woman united in marriage. A deeper understanding of this relationship is needed at the present time. (83) Pope John Paul II frequently spoke of the nuptial character of the Eucharist and its special relationship with the sacrament of Matrimony: “The Eucharist is the sacrament of our redemption. It is the sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride.” (84) Moreover, “the entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist.” (85) The Eucharist inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage. By the power of the sacrament, the marriage bond is intrinsically linked to the eucharistic unity of Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32). The mutual consent that husband and wife exchange in Christ, which establishes them as a community of life and love, also has a eucharistic dimension. Indeed, in the theology of Saint Paul, conjugal love is a sacramental sign of Christ’s love for his Church, a love culminating in the Cross, the expression of his “marriage” with humanity and at the same time the origin and heart of the Eucharist. For this reason the Church manifests her particular spiritual closeness to all those who have built their family on the sacrament of Matrimony. (86) The family – the domestic Church (87) – is a primary sphere of the Church’s life, especially because of its decisive role in the Christian education of children. (88) In this context, the Synod also called for an acknowledgment of the unique mission of women in the family and in society, a mission that needs to be defended, protected and promoted. (89) Marriage and motherhood represent essential realities which must never be denigrated.
The Eucharist and the unicity of marriage
28. In the light of this intrinsic relationship between marriage, the family and the Eucharist, we can turn to several pastoral problems. The indissoluble, exclusive and faithful bond uniting Christ and the Church, which finds sacramental expression in the Eucharist, corresponds to the basic anthropological fact that man is meant to be definitively united to one woman and vice versa (cf. Gen 2:24, Mt 19:5). With this in mind, the Synod of Bishops addressed the question of pastoral practice regarding people who come to the Gospel from cultures in which polygamy is practised. Those living in this situation who open themselves to Christian faith need to be helped to integrate their life-plan into the radical newness of Christ. During the catechumenate, Christ encounters them in their specific circumstances and calls them to embrace the full truth of love, making whatever sacrifices are necessary in order to arrive at perfect ecclesial communion. The Church accompanies them with a pastoral care that is gentle yet firm, (90) above all by showing them the light shed by the Christian mysteries on nature and on human affections.