Teaching of Pope Francis
Encyclical Letter Laudato Si shows sobriety, even shortness, when treating the theme of the Eucharist and its connection with created world. When talking, he puts in direct relation the mystery of the Eucharist and the mystery of Incarnation from the reality of Christ, Incarnated Word, Divine Word of the Father, Person of the Trinity. In christian experience, Incarnated Word gives meaning to all creatures. The Church as humanity and the body of Christ is born in the Incarnation and is built and strengthen in the Eucharist. It is in this point where the accord and similarity of thought of Pope Francis and Francisco Palau is more coinciding: “In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16). The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy” (n.99).”For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation. «Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation»” (n.235). “It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter... In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God… The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself ”. Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation” (n.236).
Experience and testimony of Francisco Palau
Teachings of Palau about the Eucharist are rich and abundant, although not always the accent is put on the same content recalling similar experience. In his literary principles and coherency with dramatic suffering he experienced due to the war and bloody religious persecution, he lives Eucharist as a saving sacrifice, actualization of the oblation of Christ on the Cross, active and efficient mean to impetrate salvation obtained by Christ in favor of humanity and that Christian has to offer with faith and love to get from divine justice peace for the entire world. The excellent book, in this meaning, is The Struggle of a soul with God (Montauban 1843). This vision is taught in the Catechism of virtue and Month on Mary. Nevertheless, testimony of Francisco Palau about the Eucharist achieves its maximum quotes from his mystical ecclesial experience. Without abandoning the value of sacrifice, he centers his life and teaching in the Eucharist as mystery of communion, growth and fecundity, banquet, wedding feast, inefable union, matrimonial union on the altar, offer from Spouse to Spouse, presence of Christ and presence of the Church… It is where the connection Eucharist/Incarnation is present. Its maximum exponent is found in My Relationships with the Church. There are abundant pages that give testimony to this. A rich exposition is offered in chapters 3 and 11. Reflexive and pious reading would be of much advantage and nourishing for personal and communitarian Eucharistic life in palautian style. As a kind of illustration, we offer some texts about two mentioned aspects in spiritual process of blessed Palau, centered in two writings, Struggle and My Relationships:
- Struggle dedicates many pages for a theme of the Eucharist as saving sacrifice: “The holy host which we present on thealtars every day to the Father, together with our prayers, is not only there to renew the memory of the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ, but also to oblige the God of goodness to deign to apply his Son’s redemption to the nation, province, village, or to those persons for whom the Mass is being celebrated or heard. It is there that the redemption is negotiated with the Father, that is, the conversion of nations” (Struggle, Letter of a Director, n.9). Exemplar, in this aspect, s the 5th Conference dedicated whole to proof the real value of the Holy Mass for the whole world, nation, city, etc. It is the effective and efficient offering of the Incarnated Word for liberation of each person, city, nation and country: “It is the holy body of Jesus, here upon this altar of holocausts as a victim. It is his precious blood, presented to you by the priest in the chalice in satisfaction for all the sins of the sons of Spain. It is the very person of the Word, equal and consubstancial to You” (Id. 80). “Own salvation, that of another person, or of a city, province, nation and even of the whole world; but also to show us actively the passion and death of Jesus Christ, so that by this means its memory must always be alive in the Church. Jesus Christ is immolated and mystically suffers passion and death every time the sacrifice of the cross is renewed in the Mass” (Id. 61). “On the holy mountain of Calvary the tree of the cross produced the following fruits for all the nations of the world” (Struggle 3,42).
- My Relationships with the Church: the meaning of the title “Faith in the mystery of Incarnation and Redemption of the world”(17,5). And revealing chapters 3 and 11, a kind of doctrinal bodies: “Maternity of the Spouse and her virginity. The Word made flesh is a seed: «Semen est verbum Dei» [Lc 8,11; Mt 13,10-13; Mc 4,10-12]. Under the species of bread and wine those who receive communion worthily, that is the Church, Spouse of the Lamb, receive it. The Word made flesh passes through the mouth to the mind of the one who received it. The Church protects it like a foetus in her own womb; there she fosters it with holy meditations and good resolutions; there, the Sacrament pours out its gifts and grace, the Word grows, is organized, formed strengthened and when reduced to good works it is the product of the Spouse. When the Sacrament touches the flesh, then the Word made flesh by the words of the priest, is united to his Church in the souls of those who receive him, and the Church is united to her Spouse; and the two are one flesh, one body in the one same spirit which gives life, and this is God. Admirable mystery! (MR 3,5). “Spiritual marriage between Christ and his Church and between the Church and the one who communicates worthily “Sacramentum hoc magnum est” [Eph 5, 29-32] The Spouse receives him, and when the Sacrament touches her flesh they are no longer two, but only one mystical and moral Body, that is, the Church and the Head; and through this Sacrament, the one who receives communion besides a member of the same body becomes one with the other communicants, and one same and only body” (MR 3,9). “After the consecration, in an instance I was distracted; some kind of filial terror reminded me of the presence of Jesus on the I could no longer see and contemplate the Son of God under any other figure or idea, but that of Head, united in heaven, on earth and in purgatory to the holy Body of his Church. Hence, by looking at the Head I see the whole Body in it; and in his Body and Head, one sole entity and reality which is the Church. And when I receive holy communion I believe that I am united with my Spouse, the Church; with the Head with an act of divine love, and with all the members with acts of love for the neighbours. Therefore, all my relations with the Son of God and with his Father are always in relation with the Church” (MR 4,22).
In chapter 11, a doctrinal body dedicated to a Woman, figure of the Church, he introduces a theme of Incarnation of the Word in direct relation with the Eucharist, both are mystery of salvation, edification, regeneration, growth, expansion, communion, anticipation of new heaven and new earth, real presence and renewing power, resurrected, glorified (cf. 11,4-12): “When Christ my head is sacramentally present on the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, there is my Body, morally, united by love” (MR 4,28). “The apostles spread out to all the nations of the world, and the people who were baptized and already united to Christ by baptism, were incorporated into the Head morally and sacramentally in faith, hope and love and by grace. A nation, hundreds of nation were incorporated into the Head; and so, the body of the Church, as the ages passed, developed morally all its members on earth and in heaven as it grew and increased, just as a woman passes from infancy and to youth and to mature age... As the baptized are incorporated by baptism and the Eucharist into Christ, the Head… whether in heaven, on earth or under the earth, they are the body of Christ. The Head of the Church, Christ God and man, is present in heaven and on earth with a real presence: whether one person communicates or a thousand, they are all members united to the Head. The Church will continue to grow until it reaches its perfect age, that is its ultimate perfection; and then it will appear before the Father as a perfectly organized moral body under Christ its visible Head in his glorified flesh” (MR 11,9.10.11).
Hna. Josefa Pastor Miralles CMT