Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 9, 2000
Catch the excitement!
Collins' letter urges Catholics to develop greater appreciation for the Eucharist
By GLEN ARGAN
Archbishop Thomas Collins has issued a pastoral letter, urging Catholics to "catch the excitement of the early Christians" for the Eucharist.
"Our faith can become stale. It must be constantly refreshed by the experience of an encounter with the risen Lord," Collins said in the 9,400-word letter.
"That opportunity is open to us every time we celebrate the Eucharist."
Collins' pastoral letter, his first since becoming archbishop of Edmonton 16 months ago, is entitled The Eucharist: It is the Lord! and is published as an eight-page supplement in this week's WCR.
The wide-ranging pastoral letter is part reflection and part suggestions on how to celebrate the Eucharist.
But it avoids prescribing changes to the liturgy or making rulings on disputed aspects of how the Mass is to be celebrated.
In an interview with the WCR, Collins said the Vatican's new General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which deals with such issues, will be promulgated by the end of the year.
After that takes place, an effort will be made to devise local liturgical directives, he said. "This (letter) is more about the meaning and role of the Eucharist in our lives."
Collins said he wrote the letter to help bring about "an appreciation for the Eucharist because the Eucharist is central to our life as Catholics."
He said he plans to have the letter published in a booklet form and hopes that various sections of it can be used for discussion groups in parishes.
The pastoral letter takes its title from the appearance of the risen Jesus to seven of his followers who went fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (John 21). When the beloved disciple recognized Jesus on the shore, he said, "It is the Lord!" and Peter jumped out of the boat and ran to meet Jesus.
The archbishop offers tips on how to prepare to meet the Lord in Word and Sacrament and suggestions to various ministers at Eucharistic celebrations.
Collins gives a brief theological overview of the Eucharist, distinguishing seven facets of "the Eucharistic mystery" which he compares with the facets of a diamond.
He suggests that if Catholics pray and study the Scriptures daily, they will appreciate the Word of God at Mass.
He discusses our participation in the Eucharist, saying the basic meaning of participation is "engaged attentiveness." But our participation also extends beyond the Mass, into the faithfulness by which we live our daily lives.
In the longest section of the pastoral letter, Collins discusses the different parts of the Mass and how we might enhance our participation in them.
"We need to realize, however, that unlike most other things in life, the Mass fundamentally is not something we do. It is an action of God," he writes.
In a sixth section, the archbishop examines some roles of people involved in the Eucharist, ranging from the priest and deacon to ministers of hospitality and catechists for the RCIA and children's liturgy.
In the last major section, Collins examines how we might live out the Eucharist in celebrating Sunday, in community, through adoration and through our actions.
In a brief conclusion, he writes that too often we get trapped in the false values of a world that is passing away.
"Through the Eucharist, God frees us from illusion and brings us into contact with reality: the unseen world of divine providence and grace, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God."