The widespread practice of Catholics receiving communion in the hand while standing up is part of Satan’s attack on the Church, the head of the Vatican department dealing with liturgy has said.
In the preface to a book on the subject, Cardinal Robert Sarah lamented the lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, saying this leads to belief in “errors” on the matter.
“The most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, sowing errors and favouring an unsuitable manner of receiving it,” the cardinal wrote.
“Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host.
We should not receive Communion like any other food, he adds, saying Catholics must retain a sense of the sacred. “Why do we not kneel down to receive Holy Communion on the example of the saints? Is it really too humiliating to bow down and kneel before the Lord Jesus Christ?”
Saints are regular people living the Gospel – Apostolic preacher
Of the many tasks and challenges before the Catholic Church, the most important thing is to help people be holy, the Papal preacher said. Everything the church does – the sacraments, ministries, documents, pastoral initiatives – must serve this goal, said Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, explaining the theme of the Lenten meditations he will offer to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia.
The theme of his Friday reflections, held from February 23 to March 23, is St Paul’s invitation to “clothe yourselves with Christ”.
Saints are regular people, not superheroes, the preacher told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Saints are humble disciples of Christ and are “clothed in him”.
One thing that is amazing, he said, is the great variety of different kinds of saints there are. “God is able to make saints out of all kinds of cloth, to make his flowers bloom in every climate, even the most hostile”.
Fr Cantalamessa said it is important to convey the true meaning of holiness to people and overcome fears that associate holiness with “mortification”, trials and tribulation beyond anything they could ever bear.
Leaders in war-torn Africa must protect civilians – cardinal
Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in war-torn countries like South Sudan and Congo is also a reminder for world leaders to protect their countrymen from violence and injustice, a Vatican official said.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said leaders have “the duty of securing a peaceful life for their fellow citizens”.
“We will ask the Lord to tear down the walls of enmity and strengthen the will of government leaders to look for peaceful solutions through dialogue and secure negotiations,” he said.
In early February, Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on February 23, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan. “Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to him in pain,” the Pope had said.
Fighting involving government troops, rebel forces and militias continues in Congo, especially in the East, but tensions also have erupted as protests grow against President Joseph Kabila, whose term of office ended in 2016.