THE IMPORTANCE OF SACRED LITURGY. One year ago this week, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter. Entitled ‘Desiderio Desideravi,’ Latin for “I have earnestly desired,” its opening line is what Jesus told the disciples before the Last Supper: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” [Luke 22:15] I say these same words in the Introduction of Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper!
Desiderio Desideravi dovetails perfectly with my years-long series on the 2022-2025 National Eucharistic Revival, of which this is Part #30. The theme of this Letter is the proper celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at holy Mass. Since Eucharist can only be confected during a holy Mass, and Mass without the Eucharist reduces it to a mere memorial or Protestant Service, these two documents are a perfect blend. So, for a few weeks, I will share with you its various themes. To read it yourself, search for it by its Latin name:‘Desiderio Desideravi.’
THE CLIMAX OF GOD’S SELF-REVELATION. The Bible is a love story of God’s self-revelation to us: first through Creation, then through the Patriarchs, Commandments, Prophets and Temple Sacrifices of old. By coming to live as one of us, Jesus completes God’s self-revelation, but on His last night on earth, He chose to make His Real Presence visible, tangible, and receivable in the form of bread and wine. Which makes the Last Supper no ordinary meal; its preparations set the stage for the great miracle of our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence until the end of time!
LORD, I AM NOT WORTHY!” Those invited to the Last Supper were not worthy of receiving that great gift. Scripture never says if the Blessed Virgin Mary ever received Eucharist; if she did, the case could be made that she was worthy, as she merited bearing God’s Incarnate Son in her sinless womb! And none of us are worthy to receive Eucharist or distribute that Gift as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or Deacon, or confect it as a Priest or Bishop. However, all are invited to partake in the Eucharist in one way or another; but the onus is on them to fulfill every prerequisite to being the Lord’s guest. Among them are: becoming a fully initiated Catholic who has received Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist; live according to Church teaching; if married, be in a valid Marriage; confess all serious, grave mortal sins before receiving, and, ideally, confess all sins at least once a year; be a knowledgeable, regular, active participant in the holy Mass.
A RESPONSE, NOT AN OBLIGATION! As the Holy Father notes, it was the desire of the Lord Jesus – at the Last Supper – to make Himself available and ‘truly present’ to all His disciples until His return in glory. Jesus was thinking of, and inviting us to, the Banquet as He sat at table with the Apostles that night! What a beautiful reality to reflect on: among whatever ‘prompts’ or ‘moves’ us to come to holy Mass and receive
Holy Communion, is Jesus’ desire for us to come to Him! Here’s how Pope Francis explains it: “We may not even be aware of it, but every time we go to Mass, the first reason is that we are drawn there by his desire for us. [We must] surrender to this love … letting ourselves be drawn by him. Indeed, every reception of communion of the Body and Blood of Christ was already desired by him in the Last Supper.” [Desiderio Desideravi #6]
TRULY PRESENT IN THE SACRAMENTS. From the very beginning, the Church was fully aware that the Eucharist was not merely a memorial or remembrance as Protestants profess. For sacred Scripture states, “He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” [Luke 24:35] Notice they were not reminded of Jesus, or simply able to recall what He said and did when they broke the bread; they came to KNOW Him! No wonder our Blessed Mother, who ‘knew’ Him better than anyone else, and needed no reminders to help her recall Him, joined the Apostles for, among other things, the breaking of bread. [Cf: Acts 1:14; 2:42] If our Blessed Mother, with all her graces, joined in the sacred mysteries, shouldn’t we? Next week: the next section in the ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ Letter: the Liturgy: THE place of encounter [for now!] with Christ.
With God’s love and my prayers,
Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS