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Attention! You have an Important Message from Pope Benedict XVI

Did you know there is a hierarchy to papal documents? Of course, an ex cathedra statement is the highest form but this has only been used a handful of times. The most recent ex cathedra statement was from Pope Pius XII when he formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. Following that is the papal encyclical. Next in teaching importance is the Apostolic Exhortation
Pope Benedict XVI just released the Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. Actually, the full title is:

POST-SYNODAL
APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS
OF THE HOLY FATHER
BENEDICT XVI
TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY,
CONSECRATED PERSONS
AND THE LAY FAITHFUL
ON THE EUCHARIST
AS THE SOURCE AND SUMMIT
OF THE CHURCH'S LIFE AND MISSION

Did you notice that this document is addressed to bishops, clergy, consecrated persons, and the LAY FAITHFUL? That’s right. Pope Benedict XVI is talking to you and me. This document is not meant to be only read by those with collars who then filter it on to us. This is critically important. Failure of the lay faithful to actively read the documents of Vatican II is what allowed so many misapplications and abuses in the implementation of Vatican II documents.

This is a long document. Don’t try to print it out directly from the Vatican web site. The parchment paper background makes reading the text difficult and it wastes a whole lot of printer ink. Copy it and paste it into your favorite word processor application.

We have three weeks left in Lent. Why don’t we all try to read about five pages of this document every day? Then by Holy Thursday when we celebrate the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist we will be well prepared.

I would like to offer these words from the introduction for your reflection:

"Jesus is the lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself." (3) In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us in particular the truth about the love which is the very essence of God. It is this evangelical truth which challenges each of us and our whole being. For this reason, the Church, which finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life, is constantly concerned to proclaim to all, opportune importune (cf. 2 Tim 4:2), that God is love.(4) Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept God's gift.

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