Sunday, June 29, 2003

Ratzinger on Unity and Communion

Nothing can be preserved, nothing can be gained, by division. For when the quality that was once the form of the Church is now used against her, it is no longer the same. It has been cut off, has become the expression of one's own self-will and, in the process, has been profoundly changed. Only unity can be fruitful. Augustine illusrated this with great forcefulness with respect to the experiences of his African homeland. . . . He exlaimed to the Donatists: Even though you have all these: the same Amen, the same Alleluia, that means the same canon and the same hymns, the same Credo, there is one thing you do not have: by rupturing unity, you have destroyed love; but it is in love that the Holy Spirit dwells, and without him you have but an empty form.
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How can we claim that our sole focus is Christ when the Pope is the visible focus of the Church's unity? The answer is perhaps nowhere so clearly evident as in the fundamental prayer of the Church, the Eucharist, in which the center of her life is notonly expressed, but consumated day after day. Christ is profoundly and solely the center of the Eucharist. He prays for us, he puts his prayer on our lips, for only he can say: "This is my Body . . . ; this is my Blood." In this way he incorporates us into his life, into his act of eternal love. Following an ancient tradition, we, for our part, say at each celebration of the Eucharist: we celebrate it together with our Pope. Christ gives himself in the Eucharist and he is, in every place, the one Christ; therefore, wherever the Eucharist is celebrated the whole mysteryof the Church is present. Precisely because the whole, undivided, and indivisible Christ is present in the Eucharist, the Eucharist can be properly celebrated only when it is celebrated with the whole Church. We have Christ only when we have him with others. Because the Eucharist is solely about Christ, it is, for that reason, the sacrament of the Church. And, for the same reason, it can be celebrated only in the unity of the whole Church and with the fullness of her power. That is why the Pope has a place in the Eucharistic prayer. Communion with him is communion with the whole; without it, there is no communion with Christ.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

I came across these quotes today in Co-Workers Of the Truth, (Ignatius Press 1992) -- an anthology of "meditations for every day of the year" by Cardinal Ratzinger, selected with his approval.

Regretfully these particular quotes are simply attributed to "Ordinariatskorrespondenz - , July 10, 1977, published by the Pressestelle des Erzbishchöflichen Ordinariats, Munich-Fresing," which doesn't really provide a suitable context. It would be interesting to know to whom he was addressing specifically in these cases. Nevertheless, I thought the content alone it was worth posting for reflection.

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