National Vocations Forum
posted on 01 July 2003
Speaking following the National Vocations Forum on Saturday (28th June 2003), Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor highlighted the words of Pope John Paul II in his most recent encyclical 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' (17th April 2003) where he states: 'The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by him she is fed and by him she is enlightened.' (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Introduction, Section 6)
The Cardinal called on the Catholic Community to reflect on the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and highlighted the essential role of the priesthood in the provision of the Sacrament as a central part of our spiritual development. Focusing on the need for vocations, the Cardinal said:
“Pope John Paul II, in his most recent letter to the faithful, calls on us to reflect on the importance of celebrating the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist in the life of the church and in our own spritual development.
'When we receive the Sacrament on a Sunday we receive the greatest of gifts, the body and blood of Our Lord, and we experience a strengthening and renewal through the Holy Spirit.
'In celebrating this gift in our parishes we grow together as a community. Through the mass, we prepare ourselves to face the challenges of life in the modern world and we commit ourselves, once again, to live the life of Christ.
'As we reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist in our own lives, we must not forget the important role of the priesthood. In the words of the Holy Father, ''If the Eucharist is the centre and summit of the Church's life, it is likewise the centre and summit of priestly ministry. For this reason, with a heart filled with gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, I repeat that the Eucharist “is the principal and central raison d'ętre of the sacrament of priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist'.(Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Chapter 3, The Apostolicity of the Eucharist and of the Church, section 31)
'With fewer priests we must face the possibility of parishes where access to the celebration of the Eucharist is more limited than it is today. This is something that should concern us all.
'In our generation we have become accustomed to having a priest in every parish but it will require a concerted effort throughout the church to ensure that this remains the case in generations to come.
'But we can be assured that the gift of Christ's body strengthens us to play our part. Be encouraging and supportive of those who feel they may be called to service in the Church and, through prayers, through actions, help create the environment in our own community where Faith is lived and vocations can flourish.'