|Following the Fall McGinley Lecture, a portrait of Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., painted by artist and Fordham golf coach Paul Dillon (right), was unveiled.
Photo by Chris Taggart
His Eminence Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., highlighted the bonds between the Eucharist and the church during the Fall McGinley Lecture, “A Eucharistic Church: The Vision of John Paul II,” on Nov. 10. Cardinal Dulles used the Pope’s designation of a Eucharistic Year, which began on Oct. 7, as a way to highlight the sanctity and reverence of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
The Eucharistic Year is an opportunity to recognize and remedy the weaknesses that exist in the church, said Cardinal Dulles. While the church itself remains “irrevocably holy, … she is sinful in her members and in constant need of being purified.” Clergy, too, must look inward to address scandals that have rocked the church in recent years, and unity must win out over nationalistic and ideological tensions among Catholics, said Cardinal Dulles.
In a letter to priests on Holy Thursday, the Pope observed that the Eucharist embodies the four attributes—one, holy, Catholic and apostolic—of the church in the Nicene Creed. Cardinal Dulles, the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, used those attributes to illustrate the power of the Eucharist to his audience, which filled the Fordham Prep Auditorium.
The Eucharist is the most holy of the sacraments, said Cardinal Dulles, because Christ sacrificed himself to make the church holy. “The more closely the faithful are conjoined to Christ, the more intimately are they united to one another in His body. The attribute of holiness therefore leads directly into that of unity.”
The Eucharist, according to Cardinal Dulles, renews Christ’s one sacrifice. The unity of the Eucharistic body makes the church one body, and the Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the church.
“The Holy Eucharist stands out as one of the most important instruments and signs of unity,” said Cardinal Dulles. “Although Masses are celebrated in many different times and places, each alone and all together constitute one and the same sacrifice, that of Christ on the cross.”
The Catholic nature of the Eucharist is seen through the universality of the liturgy, which begets a oneness among local bishops, the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church. The Eucharist is celebrated in union with the whole church on earth and in heaven, said Cardinal Dulles, and it is a bond between churches.
The church is a hierarchical community operating under the “supervision of leaders empowered to act in the name of Christ,” said Cardinal Dulles. “Apostolicity links each and all of the bishops historically with the Twelve [apostles] as the source of their powers.” Such apostolicity, according to Cardinal Dulles, is expressed in the celebration of the Eucharist by ordained clergy.
“The church is most of all herself when she gathers in worship around her apostolic leaders, who maintain communion with one another and with their predecessors in faith,” said Cardinal Dulles. “Through the Eucharist celebrated in this way, Christ assembles his flock—one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.”