Thursday, January 04, 2007


From then-Cardinal Ratzinger's God is Near Us:

There is only one Christ. Wherever the Eucharist is celebrated, he is wholly and fully present. Because of that, even in the most humble village church, when the Eucharist is celebrated, the whole mystery of the Church, her living heart, the Lord, is present. But this Christ, fully present, is yet at the same time one. That is why we can only receive him together with everyone else. He is the same, here or in Rome, in America or in Australia or in Africa. Because he is one, we can only receive him in unity. If we were opposed to unity, we would be unable to meet with him. For that reason, every celebration of the Eucharist has the structure we find in the Communicantes, that of communion not only with the Lord but also with creation and with men of all places and all times. This, too, is something we ought to take to heart anew, that we cannot have communion with the Lord if we are not in communion with each other; that when we go to meet him in the Mas, we necessarily go to meet each other, to be at one with each other. Therefore the mentioning of the bishop and the pope by name, in the celebration of the Eucharist, is not merely an external matter, but an inner necessity of that celebration. For the celebration of the Eucharist is not just a meeting of heaven and earth; rather, it is also a meeting of the Church then and now and a meeting of the Church here and there' it assumes that we visibly enter into a visible unity, one that cna be described. The names of the bishop and the pope stand for the fact that we are truly celebrating the one Eucharist of Jesus Christ, which we can receive only in the one Church.

I find two things particularly striking. First, and perhaps this is only because I continue to be temporal-mechanics-challenged, the realization that communion in the "with each other" sense is not limited to those here, or even those in the universal Church of today but encompasses, in God's outside of time capacity, communion with those before and after us. That's something that will make my head hurt a touch if I continue to contemplate it for a while.

The second thing is the amazing ease with which he systematically moves us from "communion with others" to the need for the one Church. This is a argumentation that should be learned by everyone that has to deal with those who would rather horizontalize our faith and the Mass. If you can get one of those folks to realize our unity is not because of each other but because of our union with Christ, they will have taken a big step towards understanding the truth of Christian unity.