Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Tuesday, 3rd July, 2007 at 5.00pm
My dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
As other Christs we come to be with Jesus, our great High Priest, as together we are drawn into the inestimable gift of the celebration of the Mass.
Christ our Lord leads us in our praise of the Father, nourishes us with his own Word and then in the most profound mystery of the transformation of bread and wine into his own Body and Blood, given for us, encourages each one of us renowned for faithfulness to the Church and love of her, one with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, to renew our self-giving as victims for the life of the world.
Let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
With esteem for your great faithfulness, as we come humbly to be nourished by Word, sacrifice and sacrament, I present some brief reflections upon the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, issued only in March.
We were all surprised when the Holy Father chose to speak of love in his first Encyclical Letter, developing his theme from human love, purifying it by self-giving and suffering, to inspire us to gaze at the mutual, profound love of the Trinity, which is the source of our own love of Christ and his Father and the Spirit and of the priestly journey which we make trusting in this wonderful gift.
We know that Jesus has loved us first, individually and as members of the Church, seeks to gather us to be instruments of the Father’s love for all human beings.
At the beginning of the Exhortation the Holy Father says: “The holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This is because the Eucharist shows us the truth about the love, which is the very essence of God.
We owe a great deal to Pope John Paul II for his many initiatives at the universal and local level to re-awaken and increase Eucharistic faith, to improve the quality of Eucharistic celebration, to promote Eucharistic Adoration and to encourage practical solidarity, which, starting from the Eucharist, would reach out to those in need. (S C 4)
One point, which needs to be constantly developed, is that we cannot see the Eucharistic celebration in isolation. Such a great gift needs to be pondered and its power needs to be brought through practical love and service to other people.
This I believe corrects a terrible imbalance, which has existed for nearly forty years. Although in visiting Roman churches with regular exposition and adoration, in over twenty-five years I have seen the balance gradually being restored. Indeed, Pope Benedict speaks in the Exhortation of the wonderful powerful effect of the collective adoration of Christ and the Eucharist performed in Saint Peter’s during the Synod.
As priests, however, we remember that we are other Christs. The Pope says:
“No one can say this is my body and this is the cup of my blood, except in the name and in the person of Jesus Christ, the one High Priest of the new and eternal covenant.” (S C 23)
Fundamental to our understanding of our role as other Christs in the celebration of the Eucharist are the Pope’s telling words: “As a result, priests should be conscious of the fact that in their ministry they must never put themselves or their personal opinions in the first place, but Jesus Christ. Any attempt to make themselves the centre of the liturgical action contradicts their very identity as priests. The priest is above all a servant of others and he must continually work at