October 28, 2005

Archbishop Buechlein shares his thoughts on the Year of the Eucharist

By Sean Gallagher

(Editor’s note: This article is the final installment of a Criterion series exploring the importance of the Eucharist in all facets of the life of the archdiocese.)

The Year of the Eucharist, opened a year ago by the late Pope John Paul II, was brought to a close on Oct. 23 by Pope Benedict XVI with a Mass that ended a three-week meeting in Rome of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the Eucharist.

Over the past 12 months, dioceses and parishes around the world have had special eucharistic celebrations and sponsored catechetical programs intended to increase the faithful’s devotion to and knowledge of the Eucharist.

In an interview with The Criterion, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein responded to several questions about his views on the importance of the Eucharist for Catholics and in his own life as well as the Year of the Eucharist and its impact in the archdiocese.

Q. What effect do you hope the Year of the Eucharist has had for the archdiocese?

A. The Year of the Eucharist has provided an excellent opportunity for catechesis about the source and summit of our Christian life. It is my hope that more people of the archdiocese have had the opportunity to increase both their knowledge and appreciation concerning the treasure of the Eucharist.

Q. In a column that you wrote at the start of the Year of the Eucharist, you asked the faithful to pray during the Year of the Eucharist that God might bless the new archdiocesan initiative, Legacy for Our Mission. How would you describe the importance of the Eucharist to this new

A. The foundation and purpose of the Legacy for Our Mission campaign is spiritual. The mission we have received from Christ through the Church is spiritual, and it is to foster this mission in the most practical ways that we have launched the Legacy for Our Mission.

The Eucharist is the ultimate prayer of our community of faith and adoration is a wonderful way to bring our special needs to the Lord.

Q. During the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II died and Pope Benedict XVI was elected. What meaning can be gained from viewing these two historic events in the life of the Church in light of the fact that they happened during the Year of the Eucharist?

A. Pope Benedict remarked that the transition from the papacy of Pope John Paul II to his during this year was no accident. He also pointed out that fostering the primacy of the Eucharist would be at the heart of his ministry.

Q. As a young boy growing up in Jasper, Ind., how did you come to know the importance of the Eucharist and make it a key spiritual value in your own life?

A. The Sisters of Providence were excellent catechists as I prepared for first Communion. So were my parents. They planted the seeds of my devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

Q. As a bishop, how would you view the importance among your other pastoral duties of fostering a love and reverence for the Eucharist in the faithful in your charge?

A. Like Pope Benedict XVI, fostering love for the Eucharist has been a special focus of my ministry as teacher and pastor of the local Church.

Q. In a column you wrote at the start of the Year of the Eucharist, you reflected on the importance of viewing the Eucharist both as “paschal meal and paschal sacrifice.” What suggestions would you offer to Catholics and to parishes as a whole to help them maintain a healthy balance of approaching the Eucharist in these two ways?

A. I would encourage individual Catholics to find opportunities for adult education in which they can pursue a deeper understanding of the Eucharist as paschal meal and paschal sacrifice.

Soon the United States Catechism for Adults will be published. I think it will be an excellent resource for adults and young adults.

Q. In another column of yours on the Year of the Eucharist, you considered how the words of institution are Christ’s alone and that they are now spoken by Christ through men whom the Church has chosen to ordain to the priesthood. How can making this understanding of the Eucharist our own have an impact on our own love of and devotion to the Eucharist?

A. Recognizing that actually it is Christ who presides at the Eucharist through the agency of the priest celebrant raises our understanding and appreciation to a whole new level.

It is not just a humanitarian celebration by the community. It is Christ with us in the sacramental re-presentation of the paschal mystery, his Passion, death and resurrection.

Q. How can it serve as a foundation for our efforts to foster priestly vocations?

A. Besides recognizing the necessity of the priesthood for the celebration of the gift of the Eucharist, if a candidate contemplates the awesome possibility of presiding at the Eucharist in the person of Christ it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect way to serve humanity.

Q. What suggestions would you offer to Catholics to help them make a conscious connection between their participation in the Eucharistic celebration and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament?

A. The first purpose of the Eucharist is worship—giving God thanks for the gift of life and the gift of salvation. There is, then, a natural connection between the celebration of the Eucharist in community with worship in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Q. What outcomes do you hope to see from this meeting of the Synod of Bishops? What impact might it have for Catholics in the archdiocese?

A. The usual result of a special synod is the development of an apostolic exhortation by the Holy Father based on what he heard in the dialogue among bishops and auditors.

Pope Benedict is an excellent teacher and writer. I expect his apostolic exhortation will be a great help in continuing our catechesis about the beauty and the importance of the Eucharist. †

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