At Eucharistic Congress, Vatican cleric stresses importance of Sunday
CHARLOTTE — In a keynote address during the Diocese of Charlotte's Eucharistic Congress Sept. 23-24, Cardinal Francis Arinze spoke about the importance of Sunday Mass and the observance of Sunday as the Lord's Day in an increasingly secularized world.
"Religion is not an option. It is not an accessory footnote. It is the duty of the human creature in front of God the Creator," Cardinal Arinze said.
The seventh annual congress attracted a record crowd of more than 11,000 Catholics from around the Carolinas to Charlotte, hosted by Bishop Peter J. Jugis at the Charlotte Convention Center. Raleigh Bishop Michael F. Burbidge also spoke during the two-day event, one of the few Eucharistic congresses in the U.S. held annually and one of only two held in the Southeast each year.
Watch videos from Cardinal Arinze's keynote address here.
The congress included a Eucharistic procession through uptown Charlotte, Mass, Eucharistic adoration at the convention center and at historic St. Peter Church in uptown Charlotte, educational programs in both English and Spanish for children and adults, and confession.
"Sunday is the Lord's day, the day of Christ, the day of the Church and also God's gift to us humans," said the Nigerian cleric, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and a leading Vatican scholar on liturgy, Africa and Islam. "The Eucharistic celebration is central to Sunday. It is important to see Sunday as source, summit and center of Catholic life."
Cardinal Arinze emphasized why Christians should keep the day holy despite the challenges and distractions they face, speaking to a crowd of more than 2,500 faithful gathered at the convention center Sept. 23.
"All time, all history belongs to God. Every instant should be spent in adoring and praising Him and rejoicing in His presence. Nevertheless, it remains true that God has singled out a day in the week when humanity should pay special attention to Him. So as the Book of Genesis tells us, 'So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it,'" he said.
"The Third Commandment is very clear: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' The day of the Lord is therefore not just a day of rest for man, a day to put aside our daily work. It is that, but it is much more than that. It is primarily a day in which human beings give special attention to God the Creator, a day in which people commemorate the wonders created by God. The day of the Lord is that special day in the week in which man manifests his gratitude to God the Creator by adoration, praise, thanksgiving and by admiration of the wonders provided by God. And the Church does this especially by the Eucharistic celebration."
The Eucharistic celebration is the heart of the day of the Lord, he noted.
"The Eucharistic Sacrifice is 'the fount and apex of the whole Christian life' (Lumen Gentium, 11). The only possession which the Church has which is equal to a Mass is, well, another Mass! She does not possess anything greater.... The more people are convinced of these riches, the more they will appreciate the need for the Sunday Mass, without having to see participation at this assembly as a matter primarily of Church law."
This coming together then gives the Catholic community a sense of being a community of faith, worship and solidarity, he explained. And it is powerful.
"God has called us, not just as individuals, but as a community.... The Catholic Mass in Charlotte is in communion with members of the Church in Rome, in Paris, in London, in Washington, D.C., in Mexico City, in Brasilia, in Canberrra, in Tokyo, in New Delhi, in Jerusalem, in Warsaw, in Nairobi and in Abuja. This sense of catholicity is very reassuring and encouraging for a Catholic who takes part at Sunday Mass."
There are obstacles to honoring the day of the Lord, though, he said. "In many societies in the world of today, Sunday is being challenged by several forces which, as it were, are in competition with it."
In the more industrialized nations, he blamed "the weekend mentality" for infringing on celebration of the Lord's Day and taking a day of rest on Sundays. This view sees Saturday, as well as Sunday, as work-free days.
"The tendency is to see both days as a 'weekend,' a pair of days or a period in which normal work activities are suspended and one has the opportunity to make space for several engagements for which there was not enough time during the week (i.e., social engagements, feasts, political rallies and funerals)."
Cardinal Arinze also addressed the idea that many view Sunday as a free day for sports and recreation – football games, picnics, visits to friends, or grocery shopping.
"Such social and cultural activities are good in themselves. They possess positive value and can become part of a properly disciplined observance of the Day of the Lord," he said. "'Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,' it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see 'the heavens' (Dies Domini, 4)."
Cardinal Arinze explains that underlying most of these habits result from not considering Sunday primarily as a day set apart for God.
"Many modern societies are affected by the virus of secularism," he said. "People live as if God did not exist and as if man were the center around which everything else should rotate. Such people are trying to turn 'the Day of the Lord' into 'the day of man.'
This has a dangerous effect which "drags the human heart away from God and religion and from a sense of God's transcendence. It progressively obscures or elbows out long-established Christian values," he said.
"Christianity cannot accept such an approach," Cardinal Arinze said. "God is our Creator. We are His creatures....We owe him adoration, praise, thanksgiving and also reparation because we are sinners. Religion is not an option. It is not an accessory footnote. It is the duty of the human creature in front of God the Creator. If this objective is well oriented, the dimension of Sunday as a reality that also enriches man will be located in its proper place – that is, secondary to the worship due to God."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer. Photos by SueAnn Howell.
Editor's Note: Staff writer SueAnn Howell was granted an exclusive interview with Cardinal Arinze. Read her interview with Cardinal Arinze.
Nuns get on the bus for immigration reformCHARLOTTE — The nationwide "Nuns on the Bus" campaign by members of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby led by Sister Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director, will stop in Charlotte Friday, May 31, to highlight the urgent need for...
Belmont parish hosts community shredding eventBELMONT — A Community Shredding Fundraising Event was held May 4, at Queen of the Apostles Church in Belmont. According to event organizer, parishioner George Burazer, the event had several aims: to provide people with a convenient way to...
Military Mass planned for July 7CHARLOTTE — Bishop Peter J. Jugis will celebrate a Mass for U.S. military personnel at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte. The Mass and rosary (to be recited at 3 p.m.) will be offered for all military personnel...
Postcard from Kingston: My impressions of our parish mission trip to JamaicaKINGSTON, Jamaica — I was feeding a young boy named Paul, who couldn't speak or use his limbs. He was sitting in a chair and I was in a child's chair beside him. As I began to feed him I could see his eyes following me, and it was at that...
New Redemptorist parochial vicar joins Concord, Kannapolis parishesCONCORD — Redemptorist Father Aldrin Christopher Roswell Nunes has been appointed parochial vicar at St. James the Greater Church in Concord, effective April 23, Bishop Peter J. Jugis recently announced. Father Nunes will serve both St. James...
Renewing roots in charityLearn about the new Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Since 2005 we have celebrated Catholic Social Services Week. Each year this week provides an opportunity for our parishioners to become more...
Charlotte seminarians graduate from Pontifical College JosephinumCOLUMBUS, Ohio — The second Saturday of May was a joyful day at the Pontifical College Josephinum, as the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy held its 114th baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises. Diocese of Charlotte seminarians...
Photos: Honoring Mary, the Mother of GodWINSTON-SALEM — Students at St. Leo School in Winston-Salem celebrated Mary with a May crowning on May 10. (Photo provided by Donna Birkel) GREENSBORO — Our Lady...
Mecklenburg County Bar honors diocesan attorneyLucey recognized for distinguished service to families CHARLOTTE — It's hard to surprise a seasoned attorney, but the Mecklenburg County Bar managed to pull off an unexpected award presentation for Diocese of Charlotte attorney Richard Lucey...
Monroe pastor leads pilgrimage to National Shrine of St. DymphnaMONROE — On a blustery day in March, Father Benjamin Roberts made good on a promise made to St. Dymphna more than 14 years ago. Father Roberts, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Monroe, boarded a charter bus with 52 pilgrims from North...
PHOTO GALLERY: Crowning Mary during Family Rosary ProcessionCHARLOTTE — Patricia Jane (P.J.) Pickhardt crowns a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the Family Rosary Procession sponsored by the Charlotte Catholic Women's Group on May 3 at St. Ann Church. Pickhardt, a parishioner at St. Ann Church,...
Charlotte food pantry gets refrigeratorsCHARLOTTE — Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte's food pantry in Charlotte now offers perishable goods to clients, thanks to several refrigerators that were recently set up in the pantry at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Charlotte. Catholic...
Asheville parishioners honor Father Thomas on his 40th anniversary as priestASHEVILLE — Member of Asheville's historic St. Lawrence Basilica filled the church's Laurentine Hall recently to honor their pastor, Father Wilbur Thomas, on his 40th anniversary as a priest. Pictured: Father Wilbur Thomas, pastor and rector...
MOST POPULAR STORIES
- PHOTO GALLERY: Celebrating different cultures at Pentecost
- LATROBE: Charlotte's troubled abortion clinic
- Selfishness is a downer, proclaiming Christ brings joy, pope says
- Tornadoes exact deadly toll in Oklahoma; area needs 'a lot of prayers'
- Monroe pastor leads pilgrimage to National Shrine of St. Dymphna
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy