Introduction: Two different but related subjects
In writing to you this week, I want to address two different but related subjects of concern to us all. The first is the recent publication of new liturgical norms pertaining to the celebration of two forms of the Rite of the Mass, the form used by all until 1970 and the new form introduced by Pope Paul VI. The new norms, given by Pope Benedict XVI on July 7, have been the subject of much discussion in the media. For your better understanding of the new norms, I want to offer you my reflections on the norms and their implementation in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
I also write to you about National Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week, which we will be celebrating next week, July 22-28. The weeklong observance, designated by the U.S. Conference of Bishops, provides us all with an opportunity to understand more deeply the crowning of married love, which is the generation and education of new human life. The observance is centered around the 39th anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical "Humanae Vitae (On the Regulation of Birth)," issued on July 25, 1968. In a timely way, it brings to greater consciousness God’s plan for married love and procreation. In a culture which is so filled with confusion about human sexuality and its conjugal meaning, attention to the procreative dimension of the conjugal act is indeed timely.
The two topics seem to be quite diverse. In fact, however, they are closely related. The sanctification of our lives through participation in the liturgy, especially the Sacrifice of the Mass, is expressed concretely in the manner by which we fulfill the daily responsibilities of our vocation in life. For the married, the communion with our Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the source of their communion of life, also in its sexual or conjugal expression. The more we grow in reverence for the sacredness of the liturgy, the more we also grow in care to live a holy life in all things.
I found this statement to be interesting in relation to a recent discussion prompted by a seminarian's experiment concerning possible sacrilege occurring due to Communion in the hand. Is it a coincidence that when our world has lost all respect for the smallest of humans, we also lose all respect for the smallest particles of Our Lord's Body?