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SPECIAL: Questions the Holy See Is Asking About the Eucharist

6/3/2004 - 6:00 AM PST

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In Preparation for 2005 Synod

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2004 (Zenit) - A questionnaire sent out by the Holy See to prepare for next year's Synod of Bishops will serve to evaluate how the baptized celebrate and live the Blessed Sacrament.

The questionnaire begins with these three questions: "What importance does the celebration of the Eucharist have in the life of your communities and of the faithful? What is the participation in the Holy Mass on Sundays, on weekdays, in the great feasts of the liturgical year? Are there any approximate statistics in this regard?"

The text constitutes the last chapter of the "lineamenta," or outline, whose answers will be used by the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to write the working document that will provide the basis for the debates of the synodal assembly.

The assembly, scheduled for Oct. 2-29, 2005, is entitled "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."

The introduction to the outline said the document is designed to encourage "episcopal conferences, the Eastern Churches 'sui iuris,' the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the Union of Superiors General to invite the participation of all in the Church so that they can enter into discussion and take a pastoral inventory."

The laity can present their answers through their local bishops.

"To properly prepare for the next stage in the synod process, these responses should arrive at the General Secretariat before 31 December 2004," the outline indicates.

Below is the full text of the questionnaire.

* * *

QUESTIONS

1. The Eucharist in the Life of the Church: What importance does the celebration of the Eucharist have in the life of your community and that of the individual believer? What is the frequency of participation at Mass on Sundays? On weekdays? On the major feast days of the liturgical year? Could you supply statistics -- even approximate -- in this regard?

2. Eucharistic Doctrine and Formation: What attempts are being made to transmit the teaching on the Eucharist, whole and entire, to your community and the individual believer? Specifically, how are The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1322-1419, and the Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia De Eucharistia" being utilized by priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the laity involved in pastoral work? In what way is the formation of faith in the Eucharist being ensured in initial catechesis? In homilies? In the programs of ongoing formation for priests, permanent deacons, and seminarians? Of consecrated persons? Of the laity?

3. The Understanding of the Eucharistic Mystery: What is the prevailing idea on the Eucharist among priests and the faithful of your community: sacrifice?, memorial of the Paschal Mystery?, the precept of Sunday Mass?, fraternal meal?, act of adoration? Other ...? Practically speaking, is any one of these ideas prevalent? If so, what is the reason.

4. The Shadows in the Celebration of the Eucharist: In the Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia De Eucharistia" (n. 10) the Holy Father mentions "shadows" in the celebration of the Eucharist. What are the negative aspects (abuses, misunderstandings) existing in Eucharistic worship? What elements or actions done in practice can obscure the profound sense of the Eucharistic mystery? What is the cause of such a disorienting situation for the faithful?

5. The Eucharistic Celebration and Liturgical Norms: In an attempt to be personal and avant-garde, do priests manifest any attitudes in their celebration of Mass which are explicitly or implicitly contrary to the liturgical norms established by the Catholic Church (cf. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, Chapter IV; Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches)? In your estimation, what are the underlying reasons for such behavior? What elements or actions during the celebration of Holy Mass, and also in Eucharistic worship outside of Mass, according to their respective norms and dispositions, should receive attention so as to highlight the profound sense of this great Mystery of the faith hidden in the gift of the Eucharist?

6. The Sacrament of the Eucharist and The Sacrament of Penance: Conversion is necessary to participate fully in partaking of the Eucharist. What is the faithful's understanding of the relationship between the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Eucharist? Holy Mass is also the celebration of salvation from sin and death. For the return of sinners, above all on Sundays, what is provided so that the faithful can celebrate the Sacrament of Penance in time to participate in the Eucharist? Do Christian communities often display a casual approach to receiving Holy Communion or do ...

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