Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sacraments and social mission

Early last year, the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document titled Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples. As the introductions states:
This guide is for priests and lay ministers, teachers and students, adults and young people, and those who are preparing for the sacraments. It is for all Catholics who seek to better understand the connections between the celebration of the sacraments and our social mission as followers of Jesus and members of the Body of Christ.
As religious education classes begin around the diocese, this is a good time to review what the document teaches and look at ways it can be used in our schools and parishes.

The document features two-page handouts on each of the sacraments. These can be photocopied and distributed throughout schools and parishes to inform people about sacramental call to work for peace and justice. Today we will focus on the Eucharist. Later, we will discuss other sacraments. Some excerpts:

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium [Dogmatic Constitution on the Church], no. 11). . . . the Eucharist is also social, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love): “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (no. 14).
. . .
St. Paul taught that the celebration of the Eucharist is insincere if there are divisions within the community based on class (1 Cor 11), status, or privilege (Rom 12), or if there are factions within the community (1 Cor 1). Partaking in the Sacrament as equals in the Body of Christ challenges us to unity as one family.
. . .
The risen Christ in the Eucharist acts as “a compelling force for inner renewal, an inspiration to change the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times entire peoples are entangled” (Pope John Paul II, Dies Domini [On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy], no. 73). These structures include racism, violence, injustice, poverty, exploitation, and all other systemic degradation of human life or dignity. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, our “fraternal communion” in the Eucharist leads to “a determination to transform unjust structures and to restore respect for the dignity of all men and women, created in God’s image and likeness” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 89).
. . .
Filled with awe for all we have received in Christ’s self-gift, we respond with service and works  of charity. We act to transform unjust structures, policies, and laws that degrade human life and dignity.
[NEXT: Baptism]

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