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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Two Letters and a Booklet from Vatican Congregation for the Clergy on Eucharistic Adoration for Our Priests

The Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy has today, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, issued two important letters on Eucharistic Adoration. The first is a letter to Bishops for the Sanctification of the Clergy (emphases mine):

Your Excellency,

In today’s world a great many things are necessary for the good of the Clergy and the fruitfulness of pastoral ministry. With a firm determination to face such challenges without disregarding their difficulties and struggles, and with an awareness that action follows being and that the soul of every apostolate is Divine intimacy, it is our intention for the departure point to be a spiritual endeavor. In order to continually maintain a greater awareness of the ontological link between the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and in order to recognize the special maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for each Priest, it is our intention to bring about a connection between perpetual Eucharistic adoration for the reparation of faults and sanctification of priests and the initiation of a commitment on the part of consecrated feminine souls - following the typology of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, and Helper in his work of Redemption - who might wish to spiritually adopt priests in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer, and penance.

According to the constant content of Sacred Tradition, the mystery and reality of the Church cannot be reduced to the hierarchical structure, the liturgy, the sacraments, and juridical ordinances. In fact, the intimate nature of the Church and the origin of its sanctifying efficacy must be found first in a mystical union with Christ.

According to the doctrine and the very structure of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, such a union cannot be conceived as being separated from the Mother of the Word Incarnate - the one whom Jesus desired to be intimately united with Himself for the salvation of all humanity.

Therefore, it is no accident that on the same day in which the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church was promulgated – 21 November 1964 – Pope Paul VI also proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church,” i.e., mother of the faithful and the pastors.

With reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Second Vatican Council expresses itself in these words: “She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.” (LG 61).

Without adding or detracting from the singular mediation of Christ Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary is acknowledged and invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. She is the model of maternal love who must inspire all those who cooperate – through the apostolic mission of the Church – in the regeneration of all humanity (cfr LG 65).

In light of these teachings, which belong to the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the faithful are called to turn their eyes to Mary - shining example of every virtue - and imitate her as the first disciple. It is she to whom every other disciple was entrusted by Christ as she stood at the foot of the cross (cfr Jn 19:25-27). By becoming her children, we learn the true meaning of life in Christ.

Thereby – and precisely because of the place occupied and the role served by the Most Blessed Virgin in salvation history – we intend in a very particular way to entrust all Priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer, placing 24 hour continuous Eucharistic adoration at the center, so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition, and reparation, will be raised to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity – at the level of the Mystical Body – all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood and are ontologically conformed to the one High and Eternal priest. This movement will offer better service to Christ and his brothers - those who are at once “inside” the Church and also “at the forefront” of the Church, standing in Christ’s stead and representing Him, as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church (cfr. Pastores Dabo Vobis 16).

We are asking, therefore, all diocesan Ordinaries who apprehend in a particular way the specificity and irreplaceability of the ordained ministry in the life of the Church, together with the urgency of a common action in support of the ministerial priesthood, to take an active role and promote – in the different portions of the People of God entrusted to them - true and proper cenacles in which clerics, religious and lay people - united among themselves in the spirit of true communion – may devote themselves to prayer, in the form of continuous Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of genuine and authentic reparation and purification. For this purpose, we enclose a leaflet that more fully explains the nature of the initiative, as well as a form to fill out and return to this Congregation if there is the intention – as we hope - to adhere to the project presented in this letter in a spirit of faith.

May Mary, Mother of the One, Eternal High Priest, bless this initiative, and may she intercede before God, pleading for an authentic renewal of priestly life, taking as a model the only possible model: Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd!

I greet you cordially in the bond of ecclesial communion, with sentiments of profound collegial affection.

Cláudio Card. Hummes
Prefect

X Mauro Piacenza
Secretary

From the Vatican, 8 December 2007
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


This letter is followed by an explanatory note:

Explanatory note to help promote the practice of continuous
Eucharistic adoration
[1] in dioceses
(parishes, rectories, chapels, monasteries, convents, seminaries)
for the benefit of priests and priestly vocations


In his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI concretized the perennial teaching of the Church on the centrality of Eucharistic adoration in ecclesial life by a direct appeal addressed to all pastors, bishops, priests, as well as the People of God, for perpetual Eucharistic adoration: “With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church's pastors and to the People of God the practice of Eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community. (194) Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully. Wherever possible, it would be appropriate, especially in densely populated areas, to set aside specific churches or oratories for perpetual adoration. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist. (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 67)
In order to support the Holy Father’s appeal, the Congregation for the Clergy, in its own solicitousness for the presbyterate, proposes that:

1. Each diocese appoint a priest who will devote himself full time – as far as possible – to the specific ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration and coordinating this important service in the diocese. Dedicating himself generously to this ministry, this priest will be able to live this particular dimension of liturgical, theological, spiritual and pastoral life, possibly in a place specifically set aside for this purpose by the bishop himself, where the faithful will benefit from perpetual Eucharistic adoration. Just as there are Marian Shrines, with rectors in charge of that particular ministry and suitable for its specific needs, it is also possible to have “Eucharistic shrines” – with priests in charge of them – which radiate and foster the special love that the Church has for the Holy Eucharist, worthily celebrated and continuously adored. Such ministry within the presbyterate will remind all diocesan priests, as Benedict XVI said, that “the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist. (…) The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist” (Angelus, 18 September 2005);

2. Specific places are to be reserved for continuous Eucharistic adoration. To that end, parish priests, rectors, and chaplains are encouraged to introduce the practice of Eucharistic adoration in their communities, both personally and communally, in a collective effort to enhance prayer life. Let everyone be involved, beginning with children preparing for First Holy Communion;

3. The dioceses that are interested in this project might look for appropriate donations in order to organize continuous Eucharistic adoration in the seminary, in parishes, rectories, oratories, shrines, monasteries, and convents. Divine Providence will surely assist in finding benefactors who are willing to contribute toward suitable works to set in motion this project of Eucharistic renewal for the particular Churches, specifically: the construction or adaptation of a place of worship for adoration within a large worship building; the purchase of a solemn monstrance or a noble liturgical vestment; and the funding of liturgical-pastoral-spiritual material for such promotion;

4. Initiatives directed at local clergy, especially those relating to the continuing formation of priests, should be always permeated by a Eucharistic spirit, specifically devoting a suitable time to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, so that it may become – together with the Holy Mass – the driving force for each individual and communitarian undertaking;

5. The modalities for Eucharistic adoration in different places may be diverse, according to the circumstances. For example:

· perpetual Eucharistic adoration throughout the 24 hour day;

· extended Eucharistic adoration, beginning in the early hours of the morning and continuing until the evening;

· daily Eucharistic adoration during specific hours;

· Eucharistic adoration during one or more days of the week during specific hours;

· Eucharistic adoration for special circumstances, such as feast days and anniversaries.

The Congregation for the Clergy expresses its gratitude in advance to those Ordinaries who will become promoters of this project, one that is certain to renew the spirituality of both the clergy and the People of God in their particular Churches.

In order to more closely follow the development of this important appeal of the Holy Father, the individual Ordinaries interested in the initiative are kindly requested to keep this Dicastery informed of developments related to continuous Eucharistic adoration in their dioceses, indicating especially which priests and places are involved in this important apostolate.

Should further clarification on this matter be necessary, the Congregation for the Clergy stands ready to provide it.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2007
Solemnity of the of the Immaculate Conception of Mary


[1] What is meant by “continual Eucharistic adoration” is not only 24 hours a day uninterrupted adoration, but also continuous adoration from the first hours of the morning until the last hours of the evening. The latter, in fact, may be more viable for priests and faithful living in small communities. Obviously, where the number of faithful is larger and willing, the possibility of exposing the Eucharist without interruption might be explored.


Finally, there is a link on the Congregation for Clergy's website to a 40 page booklet entitled "Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests". I'm not sure if this will become available in United States as a booklet to buy, but I hope so. It is filled with great images and writings. You can find this document at the link below.

The letters in this post are available on the Congregation for Clergy website.

3 comments:

Dcn. Gregory Plow, T.O.R. said...

Dear Brad: Thank you for this piece of information. It is very useful. Could you direct me to a link where either or both texts might be in its entirety. Thank you and God bless you! -Dcn. Gregory, TOR

Argent said...

They are both available via the clerus.org website. The website's been overhauled, Deo gratias!

Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests

Explanatory note to help promote the practice of continuous Eucharistic adoration in diocese...

That's a long title. I like the Italian better: Nota esplicativa.

How was the First Friday Vocations Holy Hour in Burlington last night? I'm sorry we had to miss it. It was just a bit too far for us to drive. But we were with you in spirit. I'm sure that Blessed Sacrament Church was graced by all the holy prayers and pray-ers.

tbkpalmers said...

How do I get a copy of the form mentioned in the online documentation?