Excerpt from XXXVIII - 8(05)


what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!"            Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)

"The Centrality of Sunday
for Christians of Today"


Editor's Preface


The Documentation of the teaching on the Doctrine of the Incarnation as taught by the Adventist Church continues in this issue of WWN (pp. 2-4). However, the emphasis takes second place to what John Paul II said prior to his death regarding Sunday, and what emphasis Benedict XVI will give to the same question, as well as his ecumenical intents. Just as we were concluding this draft of WWN, the June issue of L'Osservatore Romano came to the desk with a center spread featuring the 'Homily" which Benedict XVI gave at the Mass in Bari, Italy, closing the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress.The strong affirmation of his ecumenical intent — "working with all my might" to achieve - and parallel events demand close attention, but must await another issue of WWN.


There are three factors which surface in the current emphasis of Sunday by Rome: 1) The day — "Making holy the Lord's day! (L'Osservatore Romano. 1 June 2005, p.1): 2) The Sunday Mass. the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday, the worship of a presumed "creation' by man. Instead of the worship of the Creator on His day — the Sabbath: And 3) the use of the Eucharist to achieve the "unity" of Christendom under Rome.


"The Christ whom we meet in the Sacrament is the same here in Bari (Italy) as he is in Rome. ... He is the same Christ who is present in the Eucharistic Bread in every place on earth. This means that we can encounter him only together with all others. We can only receive him in unity."


Benedict XVI - May 29, 2005 — Bari, Italy


"The Centrality of Sunday

for Christians of Today"


Two and one half months before his death, John Paul II addressed the Pontifical Commission for Latin America whose theme was "Sunday Mass, the center of Christian life in Latin America." He said:


I am pleased that in this year dedicated to the Eucharist you have chosen to reflect on the various initiatives in order to "experience Sunday as the day of the Lord and day of the Church" (apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, #23). It was not the Church who chose this day but the Risen Christ himself, and this is why the faithful should welcome it with gratitude, making Sunday the sign of their fidelity to the Lord and an indispensable element of Christian life.


I already wrote in my apostolic letter Dies Domini: "It is crucially important that all the faithful should be convinced that they cannot live their faith or share fully in the life of the Christian community unless they take part regularly in the Sunday Eucharistic Assembly." Taking part in Sunday Mass is not only an important obligation, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out clearly, but first and foremost a profound need of every member of the faithful. It is impossible to live faith without taking part regularly in Sunday Mass, the sacrifice of the Redemption, the common Banquet of the Word of God and of the Eucharist Bread, center of Christian life.


The importance of the topic demands of us, pastors of the Church, a new effort to make people discover the central place of Sunday in the ecclesial and social life of today's men and women. For all bishops and priests it is a challenge to summon the faithful to constant participation in Sunday Mass, an encounter with a living Christ (The Pope Speaks, Vol. 50, #3, pp. 161-162).


This last quoted paragraph from the pope's address needs careful reflection. Two categories of people are noted, "the faithful" (the members of the Roman Church) and "today's men and women" (the non-Catholic). Observe that the pope called for a "new effort to make people discover the central place of Sunday" in their lives. It should also be observed that the emphasis is on the "Sunday Mass."


In the June issue of WWN (p. 7) we noted that the last prayer intent of Pope John Paul II for April was that "Christians may live Sundays more fully as the Day of the Lord." We asked what might be ahead under Benedict XVI? Now an answer can be given.


On Trinity Sunday (May 22) Benedict XVI, in a reflection before leading the prayer of the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square made, the following observations:"


We are contemplating the mystery of the love of God shared in a sublime way in the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, the representation of his redeeming Sacrifice.


For this I am glad to address today, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, my greeting to the participants of the Eucharistic Congress of the Church in Italy which opened yesterday in Bari. In the heart of this year dedicated to the Eucharist, the Christian people converge around Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament, the source and summit of their life and mission.


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In particular, each parish is called to rediscover the beauty of Sunday, the Lord's day, in which the disciples of Christ renew, in the Eucharist, communion with the One who gives meaning to the joys and hardships of each day.


"Without Sunday we cannot live:" thus professed the first Christians, even at the cost of their lives, and this is what we are called to repeat today (L'Osservatore Romano, 25 May, 2005, p. 1; emphasis his).


Not only does Benedict XVI emphasize the need for Sunday, but Sunday connected with the Eucharist. Further, he intends to promote "visible unity" of the body of Christ. "In an address read in Latin to cardinals in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, after his 19 April election, the Pope said his 'primary task' would be 'that of working - sparing no energies- to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers.' "He said he was 'aware that showing good sentiments is not enough for this. Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed."'


"Benedict said he was 'fully determined to cultivate any initiative that might seem appropriate to promote contacts and understanding with representatives of different churches and ecclesial communities.' And he pledged to 'continue weaving open and sincere dialogue' with people of other faiths or those simply looking for an answer to life's fundamental questions" (ENI, 25 May 2005, p. 2).


Earlier, Cardinal Walter Kasper, who was President of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity under the reign of John Paul II, and who was a fellow theological professor with Ratzinger in Munster, Germany in the 1960s told the television network CNN that the election of Ratzinger was a "good sign" for the ecumenical movement. Kaspar quoted Ratzinger as telling him in a "short" meeting that he had with him after his election - "Well, now we will work together, walk together, on paths to the unity of the churches" (ibid.). In his inaugural mass during which he was invested with the papal ring, Benedict "seized the opportunity by challenging the Christian church of his desire for unity. His first prayer as pope was significant - 'Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd."' Representatives from half of the world's nations together with 350,000 pilgrims witnessed the solemn ceremony.


On his first trip outside of Rome following his installation as Pope, he conducted an outdoor mass at the Italian city of Bari which was attended by an estimated 200,000 people. Still pledging to make Christian unity a priority of his papal reign, he "called for the rediscovery of the religious meaning of Sunday as an antidote to the 'rampant consumerism and religious indifference' that was making the modern world a spiritual desert."