Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis: The Eucharist and Mary

Olivio Sozzi (1696-1765)
The Triumph of the Eucharist
Oil on canvas
100 x 60 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Raffaello Sanzio  (1483-1520)
La Disputa: The Debate on the Blessed Sacrament
The Camera or Chamber of the Signatura 
The Vatican Museum, Vatican City

In art where there is Christ or the depiction of the Eucharist, there is usually Mary. She is not there to fill a space or as eye candy. She was the first tabernacle.

Traditionally the Society of Jesus has always had very strong devotion to the Eucharist and to Mary

In schools as well as students having to write "AMDG", they also wrote "BVM" at the top of an exercise

For some reason, some seem surprised at this morning`s visit by Pope Francis to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

The Basilica is the premier shrine to the Blessed Virgin in Rome. The Basilica is also where the founder  of the Order St Ignatius Loyola celebrated his first Mass eighteen months after his ordination

Mary and the Eucharist would appear to be two favourite subjects of the new Pope

In 2008, at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress Quebec City (15-22 June 2008) he preached on the theme "The Eucharist builds up the Church, sacrament of salvation" 

Amongst other points he  presented three images to illustrate how Mary, the woman of the Eucharist woman, is a model of the relationship between Christ and his spouse, the Church: 
• Mary, the companion, the one who “is with”; 
• Mary, the  woman who trusts; 
• Mary, the  woman of hope. 
His emphasis on the Eucharist and Eucharistic devotion is in sharp contrast to many who have criticised the Church`s idea of the Eucharistic Congress and Eucharistic devotion including some in his own Order

The Catholic Register of Canada said this of the then Cardinal Bergoglio`s catechesis:
"QUEBEC CITY - Human beings may be fallible but the Catholic Church as an institution remains sanctified through the Eucharist, says Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. 
And it is this sanctified institution that always deserves defending, even if its individual members err, the archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of Argentina explained in a large catechesis session here at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress June 18. 
“The assurance of sanctity of the life of the church is not a question of personal or social privilege,” he said. “It is ordained for service.” 
Bergoglio noted that the “world really has the impression the church is always trying to defend its own power.” 
However, though individuals have abused their power, the sanctity of the church — through the gift of God in the Eucharist — remains intact. 
The cardinal's talk was one of five major lectures being presented at the June 15-22 congress. 
In it, he urged Catholics to look to the example of Mary as a guide to their own attitude toward Eucharist. Bergoglio also used the metaphor of the marriage nuptials to explain the nature of the covenant between God and His people. 
He explained that the Eucharist is a gift that transforms those who receive it. It is both “sanctified and sanctifying,” he said. 
He used the analogy of the marriage ceremony, with its anticipation of a life-long commitment in love, as a parallel to the Eucharist. The church, in this sense, is the bride and her reception of God's gift allows her “to share the life the Lord has given to her for the life of the world.” 
Bergoglio also reflected on the life of Mary, Mother of God, as an example of perfect submission to the will of God. She is, he explained, a role model of one who accompanies Christ, trusts the Lord completely and lives in hope. 
“We find in the Magnificat (Mary's affirmation of her role in the birth of Christ) the very program of what she is teaching us,” he said. 
Mary’s deep relationship with the Eucharist can guide us and allow us to get closer to God. She is the “model of the bond between the Lord and his bride, the church, between God and each man,” the Cardinal said. 
He compared Mary to a set of Russian dolls “in the same way that a set of Russian dolls includes others that are smaller, but essentially identical, our Lady is the smallest of the Russian dolls. Because we see in her the mystery of the bond that allows the gift of God to be accepted and communicated for the life of the world.” 
Catholics can ask for the grace to receive Communion in the same way as Mary received the Word. And Catholics must venerate the Church in the same way that they do the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist, he said. 
The cardinal’s theological reflections presented  of the church that is sharply at odds with those of fellow Jesuit Guy Paiement, who published an article earlier on in the year on the web site Journees Sociales du Quebec criticizing the focus on the Eucharist of the Eucharistic Congress. 
“The Eucharistic Congress proposes a ceremony centred on the adoration of the consecrated bread,” Paiement wrote in the article that was quoted on 14 June in Le Devoir, a French daily newspaper based in Montreal. 
“We believe that the Christian identity cannot be restricted to such a devotion.” 
Paiement wrote that Christians today should take action to show “solidarity and commitment towards equality between men and women, democratic life, international justice and saving the planet.” 
For Bergoglio, the Eucharist must be at the centre of the church.  
Describing the Eucharist as the “source and at the same time the summit of all evangelization,” and a force that purifies and sanctifies the church, the cardinal said that the bond between the Eucharist and the church is one that cannot be broken."