Vol. XVIII, No. 7
“A Eucharistic Springtime in Every Parish”
by Father Stanley Smolenski, spma
In his encyclical on the Eucharist in relationship to the Church, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Blessed John Paul II expressed his desire to “re-awaken amazement and gratitude” [§5,6] in this sacra- ment. He points out that “This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist.” Whereas Blessed John Paul II concentrated on the Real Presence, sacrifice, and communion aspects of the Eucharist, Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity) presented the Eucharist as a mystery to be believed, celebrated, and lived. These encyclicals pertain to the universal Church.
Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Eucharist in diocesan terms in his November 17, 2010 conference. He spoke of the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi (The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ) through the influence of Saint Juliana of Liège in the thirteenth century. The pope stressed the spirituality of the Church of Liège of that time. “It is important to emphasize this place because at this time the Diocese of Liège was, so to speak, a true ‘Eucharistic Upper Room’. Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and, again in Liège, there were groups of women generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Guided by exemplary priests, they lived together, devoting themselves to prayer and charitable works.” Thus appreciation of the Eucharist was prevalent at that time in that diocese. In this way the Holy Father presents Liège as a Eucharistic model for all dioceses.
But Pope Benedict XVI did not leave it just in that perspective. He brought it to the level of the parish as well. He continued, “I would like to affirm with joy that today there is a ‘Eucharistic springtime’ in the Church… I pray that this Eucharistic ‘springtime’ may spread increasingly in every parish.”
Obviously he would like to see each diocese and each parish as an “Upper Room,” referring to the Cenacle where our Lord instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. In this way, Blessed John Paul II’s desire for a Eucharistic “reawakening of amazement and gratitude” would be fulfilled throughout the universal Church.
When these pieces are put together, a progression becomes apparent: 1) the universal Church, 2) each diocese, 3) each parish, 4) each Mass, and, 4) ideally speaking, each of the faithful. The Liège model consists of “eminent theologians” who instilled Eucharistic faith. This was continued by “exemplary priests” who guided “dedicated groups” in their Eucharistic devotion and apostolates.
In our times, it would be teachers, preachers, and priests especially devoted to Eucharistic evangelization who would motivate and guide groups/parishes to believe, celebrate and live the Eucharist, according to magisterial directives. This would be a way of producing many fruitful branches on the Holy Vine as well as fulfill God the Father’s desire for worshipers and witnesses in spirit and in truth.
Providentially two groups of people in our diocese came to me in 2011 seeking assistance toward a Eucharistic spirituality, with emphasis on appreciation of the Mass. It so happened that twenty years ago I formulated a Corpus Christi Rosary centering on five Eucharistic episodes in the Gospels. With this and the reading of Eucharistic literature, the Corpus Christi Cenacle was formed.
It is not an organization since there are no officers or statutes. These groups gather to pray and share their mutual devotion and interest in the Eucharist as the source and summit of their spiritual lives. Thus they strengthen the communal aspect of Eucharistic faith, hope, and charity. The CC Cenacle format can be used by individuals as well.
The Corpus Christi Rosary — with scripture quotes — follows the ordinary rosary format with these Eucharistic mysteries: 1) The Multiplication of the Loaves, 2) The Bread of Life Discourse, 3) The Last Supper, 4) The Washing of the Feet, 5) The Vine and the Branches.
It is a compendium of five central episodes and teachings of Christ on the Eucharist. As an expansion of the fifth luminous mystery, the institution of the Eucharist, it allows us to pause, as it were, to let that mystery unfold, to delve into it more deeply so as to make explicit what is implicit. Thus, through the Corpus Christi Rosary, we “sit at the school of Mary” — “Woman of the Eucharist” — contemplating “the Eucharistic Face of Jesus”, according to Blessed John Paul II.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston, South Carolina, gave this evaluation: “In the Corpus Christi Cenacle, you write beautifully about the relationship between the Church, the Eucharist and Mary, the Mother and Model of the Church. Also, you remind the faithful of the numerous Encyclicals and Apostolic Letters which honor Mary and her role in the Church. Certainly, it is inspiring to reflect on the passages of scripture which you quote for the Corpus Christi Rosary, and one cannot help but want to meditate on the holy mysteries.”
Corpus Christi Rosary and Cenacle formats online: ourladyofsouthcarolina.net.
Father Smolenski, who was educated in the US, Canada, and Rome, was in a variety of ministries in Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Quebec. Now a Baptistine canonical hermit, he is the director of the diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina – Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, South Carolina.