In today’s mail, I received from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a copy of Pope Benedict XVI’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis or, in English, “The Sacrament of Charity.”
The theme of the document is the Eucharist as the source and summit of the church’s life and mission. The exhortation is directed to bishops, clergy, religious and the lay faithful.
The Holy Father’s exhortation is in keeping with the practice of his predecessors who, after recent synods, have shared with the whole church their reflections on the themes of those meetings.
I was not quite certain when this document would come to us, but I was delighted to find it in today’s mail. The larger reason for my delight is rooted in my recognition that the Eucharist is at the heart of the life of the church. It is always good to be nourished in our love of the Eucharist. I am sure that this document will do just that. Pope Benedict for years has been a gifted and respected theologian. Now he brings that rich perspective to the Chair of Peter where, as supreme pastor, he serves the unity and peace of the whole church.
The more personal reason is that one of the first thoughts I had this morning was to find a book that would stimulate and challenge me to continued prayer during this holy season. Now I have that material and very much look forward to moving slowly and prayerfully through it in anticipation of the Easter feast.
The gift of “The Sacrament of Charity” was one of two I received today that drew me to contemplate the wonders of the Eucharist.
The other was a celebration of the Eucharist with the community at Aquinas Institute. It is always a joy to celebrate with those great young people. But several elements of today’s gathering drew me in a special way to pray about the depth and power in our lives.
One was the lively awareness in the minds and hearts of the students of the recent death of Michael Krupiarz, one of their beloved teachers for whom they prayed especially at Mass.
Another element was the occasion for the gathering — the 100th day before the graduation for this year’s seniors. As you might imagine, these young women and men deal with many important themes on a occasion like this — the joy of the day, an awareness of their growth through their years at Aquinas and a huge quotient of excitement (some apprehension?) about the future.
Adding to the richness of the day was the presence of several Aquinas alumni who came to the school from St. Ann’s Community to celebrate. The oldest of these gentlemen, John McGrath, graduated with the Class of 1926 — 81 years ago!
So, today, we who celebrated at Aquinas carried joy and sadness, memory and hope. We spanned the generations. What brought it all into one was our faith in Christ the Lord, and his presence and love in us and among us as we gathered for worship.
I am grateful to Pope Benedict XVI and the Aquinas community for Lenten guidance and inspiration.
Peace to all.