Ratzinger om tilbedelse av alterets hellige sakrament

I Joseph Ratzingers liturgibind (som jeg har nevnt tidligere) i hans samlede verk fins det også noen prekener. Her er en som heter «On the Question of the Adoration of the Eucharist and Its Sacredness» – som det passer godt å nevne i dag som er festen for Corpus Christi. Der sier han bl.a.:

… this year (1980) the Holy Father has sent a letter to all priests to help us understand our task anew in the light of the Paschal Mystery and, thus, in unity with the whole Church, to live it more fully.’ On that account we make our recollection this day in fellowship with all the faithful, because our service is to them: even when we are talking about the priesthood, precisely then we are not proclaiming ourselves but Christ crucified, in whose service we are here. ratzinger_liturgy

In his letter the Holy Father has turned this year to questions concerning the Eucharistic sacrament and has quite deliberately addressed those points on which we risk becoming in some sense one-sided. It is a matter, as people would say nowadays, of a sort of «revision de vie», an examination of our common path at a certain point, so as to find our course again and clarify it. This evening I would like to take two main points out of the Pope’s letter and reflect on them with you before the Lord: the question of the adoration of the most holy Eucharist, and that of its sacredness.

First, there is eucharistic adoration. We had rediscovered with renewed clarity in the Council that the heart of the eucharistic sacrament is the celebration of the holy mystery in which the Lord assembles his people, unites them, and builds them up by taking them into his sacrifice and giving himself to them, letting himself be received by us. The Eucharist, as we had rediscovered, is an assembly in which the Lord acts upon us and brings us together. All this is correct and remains correct. But in the meantime this idea of assembly had become flattened and separated from the idea of sacrifice, and thus the Eucharist had shrunk to a mere sign of brotherly fellowship. At the same time the concentration on the eucharistic celebration was causing faith and sacrament to lose something of their place among us. This has become quite visible in many churches—the place of adoration hides away somewhere on the edge of things, like a bit of the past. What was more far-reaching was the way the Eucharist itself was shrinking to the space of a brief half-hour, so that it could no longer breathe life into the building, no longer be the pulse of time. Confined to the space of the sacred rite, it was becoming a tiny island of time on the edge of the day, which as a whole was given over to the profane and hectic business of our worldly activity. If, today, we look back on this development, we realize that the adoration of the Sacrament was not in competition with the living celebration of the community, but its condition, its indispensable environment. Only within the breathing space of adoration can the eucharistic celebration indeed be alive; only if the church and thus the whole congregation is constantly imbued with the waiting presence of the Lord, and with our silent readiness to respond, can the invitation to come together bring us into the hospitality of Jesus Christ and of the Church, which is the precondition of the invitation.

The Pope has further clarified these interconnections with a series of reflections. A first of these has been touched on in what was just said: Eucharistic adoration is, as it were, the vertical dimension in which universal and special priesthood coincide. If the distinction of the two callings over against each other is expressed in the Mass, in adoration we see how they are joined together: of this sacrament we all receive. All of us can only stand before him and adore. Even the authority of the priest must in the end be adoration, must spring from adoration and culminate in adoration. And thereby something else becomes clear: Communion and adoration do not stand side by side, or even in opposition, but are indivisibly one. For communicating means entering into fellowship. Communicating with Christ means having fellowship with him. That is why Communion and contemplation belong together: a person cannot communicate with another person without knowing him. He must be open for him, see him, and hear him. Love or friendship always carries within it an impulse of reverence, of adoration. Communicating with Christ therefore demands that we gaze on him, allow him to gaze on us, listen to him, get to know him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion.

We cannot communicate sacramentally without doing it personally. Sacramental Communion becomes empty, and finally a judgment for us, unless it is repeatedly completed by us personally. The saying of the Lord in the book of Revelation is valid not only for the end times: «Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me» (3:24. This is at the same time a description of the most profound content of eucharistic piety. True Communion can happen only if we hear the voice of the Lord, if we answer and open the door. Then he will enter in with us and eat with us. Because this is so, I would like to underline and emphasize two thoughts in the papal letter: «Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and … [let] our adoration never cease.»‘ And the other is connected with this: the Pope heavily emphasizes the intimate personal relationship with Christ as the heart of eucharistic piety. In the death of Jesus Christ, says the Pope, each one of us has been loved to the end. Too narrow a conception of the humanity of Jesus Christ has meanwhile sometimes prevented our being aware of this: The Lord knows me, too, and did know me; he suffered for me as well.

And a further aspect expounded in the papal letter is connected with this: the adoration of the Lord in the Sacrament is also an education in sensitizing our conscience. «Christ comes into the hearts of our brothers and sisters and visits their consciences.» When the conscience becomes dulled, this lets in the violence that lays waste the world. Anyone who gazes upon the face of the Lord, which the servants of the Sanhedrin and Pilate’s servants have spat upon, which they have slapped and covered with spittle, will see in his face the mirror of our violence, a reflection of what sin is, and their conscience will be purified in the way that is the precondition for every social reform, for every improvement in human affairs. For the reform of human relationships rests in the first place on a reinforcement of moral strength. Only morality can set limits to violence and selfishness, and wherever it becomes insignificant it is man who is the loser every time, and the weak first of all.

Thus the Pope also tells us that eucharistic adoration «is an education in active love of one’s neighbor». It is not just God whom we venerate in eucharistic adoration: «Eucharistic worship is not so much worship of the inaccessible transcendence as worship of the divine condescension.»‘ Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of his life meets us here and, within this, love itself. But we can only understand love by sharing in it, by loving. «Let all pastoral activity be nourished by it, and may it also be food for ourselves and for all the priests who collaborate with us and, likewise, for the whole of the communities entrusted to us. In this practice there should thus be revealed, almost at every step, that close relationship between the Church’s spiritual and apostolic vitality and the Eucharist, understood in its profound significance and from all points of view».

Denne prekenen i Ratzingers samlede liturgitekster tatt fra boka From God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life, Ignatius Press, 2003, p 94-101. men prekenen ser å til å ha blitt holdt i 1980 da pave Johannes Pauls brev Domenicæ cenæ kom ut.

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