Rev. Donald Rooney is the
Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the
Catholic Diocese of Arlington and the Pastor at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception
in Fredericksburg, VA. Below is his latest message from the office. If
you have any questions, please feel free to contact his office.
Lately as we prepare to receive the new texts
of the Mass, certain phrases come to mind repeatedly, all very similar
to the texts we’ve used for the past forty years. From the third
Eucharistic Prayer, “May this sacrifice of reconciliation, we pray, O
Lord, advance the peace and salvation of all the world…” From the
“…we offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to
you which brings salvation to the whole world. Look, O Lord, upon the
Sacrifice which you yourself have provided for your Church, and grant in
your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one
Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly
become a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory."
“Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom
we make this offering: especially your servant, Benedict, our Pope, our
bishop and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, those who make
this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and
all who seek you with a sincere heart.”
It occurs to me that there are several groups
considered here, and all held in the communion of the heart of Christ.
There are firstly those gathered together into one by the partaking of
the one Eucharist, clearly the purpose of which is to become the sacrifice itself.
The purpose of offering the merit of Christ’s salvific act united with
our own intentionality is the leaven by which unity of the Church will
be restored: for the clergy as well as those making the offering, but
also all of his people (present and not present, presumably) and all who
seek him with a sincere heart.
Key here is the fact of offering that
lies at the heart of active participation in the Catholic Tradition.
Once I was at the consecration of a Catholic bishop and some ecumenical
clergy friends were present. I felt torn: for a moment I felt I might
not receive Communion in solidarity with those who were not able, but I
came quickly to my senses. It would be like denying what resources you
have to those in need. So I said to the pastor next to me, “Today I will
offer the benefit of my reception of Communion for you.” He looked back
at me, a bit blankly, and said, “What do you mean?
I tried to explain. Making the offering, we
become the sacrifice poured out for the Church: it forms us as Church
but also makes us (in Christ) the catalyst by which
reconciliation is found for those not yet in communion. I explained how
Masses are offered for intentions. How we can even offer up daily
prayers and life experiences for the intention of others and the
salvation of souls. I was fascinated to realize that, somewhere in the
story of ecclesial communions as it has played out over the centuries,
this foundational understanding of participation seems to have been
lost. It is the cornerstone of our priestly identity in Christ, head and
members, as the common priesthood of Christ into which all are anointed
Was making the offering the baby that was thrown out with the bathwater following the abuse of indulgences at the time of the Reformation?
If you boil it down, it could be as simple as saying that there is something real
to be offered here, and it is salvific, and it is given to us as our
primary ministry as followers of Christ. Certainly, we listen and live
and proclaim his Word.But we also become sharers in the central ministry
of Christ which, deeper even than his ministry of charity and healing,
was his ministry of offering himself for us and for our salvation. It is the ultimate self-help program ordained from before the commencement of time.
It might be easy to say, “I dedicate my life to the unity of Christ in his Church,” but it is still my life. It is entirely another thing to say, “I offer my life.” The nature of sacrifice
adds a dimension of finality. There is not anything left. This is the
new covenant of Christ with us at Calvary, this is the covenant of a
wife and husband in the sacred bond of sacramental marriage, this is the
dying to self that takes place also when a man lies prostrate on the
floor of the cathedral and the Church sings the litany with all the
saints. The man stands, is anointed, and is priest, no longer who he had
been. I have actively decided to offer my life, as the prayers of the
Mass say, for Pope and bishop, for all those present and not present,
and all those others “who seek God with a sincere heart” in union with
that perfect and acceptable sacrifice of “the one Bread, and one
Chalice,” “a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of glory.”
And we should let our sisters and brothers in Christ know that they are
included in our offering every day. Consider offering the Mass for the
Christian church down the street. I’ve suggested that a husband or wife
offer their reception of Holy Communion entirely for their spouse who
may not be Catholic so that, through them as instrument, the full power
of the presence of Christ might truly be theirs. We believe in what we
have, we need to use it and offer it for the benefit of all.
As children, one of the most familiar things my mom would say to us
is “offer it up.” When we were confronted with something difficult,
boring or tedious, or painful, we were accustomed to this spiritual
interpretation of experiencing life. It was clear that we were to offer
it up for a particular intention: for someone, even if it was the souls
in purgatory. It is a very different thing from saying “get over it.” In
our faith we are challenged to follow the example of Jesus who didn’t
avoid suffering and go around the Cross, but went right through it and by making it offering
brought about the salvation of the world. This aspect of offering now
needs to make its direct entrance to our understanding of “Spiritual
Ecumenism,” which has been so prevalent in the writings of the Church
these past twenty years. It is the exercise of who we are, at its best,
in the common priesthood of Jesus Christ. And I believe it is the key to
moving ahead in our work of unity among all who seek him with a sincere
Hope your summer is refreshing, and fruitful.
Rev. Donald J. Rooney,
Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Find Parishes, Schools, Mass and Confession Times, Adoration Schedules and More! More Search Options.
Copyright © 2016 Catholic Diocese of Arlington firstname.lastname@example.org