Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 8, 2021
At a meeting this past June, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to begin work on a “teaching” document dealing with the Eucharist. The press sensationalized and even politicized this decision.
Pundits suggested that a vocal faction was attempting to “weaponize” the Sacrament by denying Communion to politicians who publicly expressed opinions that appear to be contrary to Church teachings.
Rome weighed in with a cautionary note.
The USCCB countered with a clarification. It is worth reading in its entirety.
Since the conclusion of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the U.S. Bishops last week, there has been much attention on the vote taken to draft a document on the Eucharist. The question of whether to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot. The vote by the bishops last week tasked the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine to begin the drafting of a teaching document on the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. The importance of nurturing an ever deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the Bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including Bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.
Over 2000 years have passed since that Passover meal when The Lord spoke those all-important…creation-changing…words:
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME!
So, we might well ask ourselves whether such a “teaching” document is really necessary. After all these centuries, what more is there to be taught…or learned…or remembered?
Looking back a few years to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 31 percent of U.S. Catholics expressed an appreciation for and understanding of the sacred mystery we call TRANSUBSTANTIATION. Since then, a wave of spiritual lethargy seems to have swept away many Catholics. Then the pandemic limited access to the Communion Table by those who have continued to obey the Lord’s command:
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME!
Tragically, then, it seems that this incredible Gift from The Lord, for many today is as misunderstood and dramatically under-valued as it was by the people described in today’s Gospel.
So, is a “teaching document” by the American Bishops really needed? It certainly seems so.
And what can we expect to see in this forthcoming document?
Hopefully, our Bishops will stress the importance of those words spoken by a Roman Centurion (Luke 7:6) and echoed by the faithful at every Eucharist:
Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof…but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Indeed, we are in desperate need of healing in every aspect of our existence. Our abused and victimized planet is in need of healing.
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT OUR EARTH MAY BE HEALED.
Much of humanity is suffering from the effects of war, drought, famine, and disease.
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT OUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS MAY BE HEALED.
Our Church is suffering from divisions aggravated by ego-driven misunderstandings and resistance to dialogue.
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT YOUR BODY…OUR CHURCH…MAY BE HEALED.
Our beloved country is suffering because our leaders seem incapable of coming together to promote the common good.
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT ALL ENTRUSTED WITH POWER MAY BE HEALED.
Many families are suffering from the effects of a culture that undermines the importance of the “dining room table.”
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT OUR FAMILIES MAY BE HEALED.
As individuals, we are the walking wounded, each suffering with some malady of body, mind, or spirit.
SAY THE WORD, LORD, THAT WE MAY BE HEALED.
While we wait for this document to issue, let us pray that our Bishops are inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that they might enliven within all the faithful a hunger for The Bread of Life…through which we are healed.