Izmir (Agenzia Fides) - The year 2024 will be the year of the Eucharist for the Catholic Church in Turkey. This was stated by the President of the Turkish Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Izmir, Martin Kmetec, in a pastoral letter to all believers in which he explains the goals of the initiative. In announcing the special "Year of the Eucharist", the Archbishop announced that it begins on the first Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2023, and ends on November 24, 2024, the Solemnity of Christ the King, the conclusion of the Christian year. "Through the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist," said the Archbishop, "the Church of Turkey wishes to know, love, serve and proclaim the Lord Jesus more and more and to recognize him present, like the disciples of Emmaus, in the act of breaking bread. Together we wish to deepen the faith of the church community on this Sacrament through catechesis and other means to participate more and more actively and consciously in liturgical celebrations, and to remember after eating the Bread of Heaven that we are called to share the earthly bread with all people in poverty and need". "Dear brothers and sisters," the text says, "immense gift of God's love is the Holy Eucharist. This great sacrament, instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper as a memorial of his Passover, is spiritual nourishment for the faithful, a sign of unity and a bond of charity, a promise of future glory. It shows the perpetual fulfillment of the promise of the Savior who said "I am with you all days till the end of the world." Truly we can say together with Pope St. John Paul II, "The Church lives by the Eucharist."
The Archbishop notes that during the synodal process, lived in unity with the entire universal Church, it was emphasized that in the Christian communities in Turkey "the Holy Mass is still very important. The Word of God and participation in Sunday Mass remain "a requirement of individuals". "At the same time", he noted, "the urgency of arresting the decline in the "spirit of unity" that occurs in many realities of our Church emerged". For this reason, the Turkish bishops, in confirmation of the statements made at the Synodal Conference in Izmir in October 2022 approved the proposal to "devote a special time so that in all our communities we may increasingly place the Eucharist at the center and, starting from it, build new bonds of communion and renew our Christian life and pastoral action". "The choice to live this particular time of grace in 2024," said the Archbishop, "is related to a few reasons. First of all, it is intended to be deeply united with the celebration of the 53rd International Eucharistic Congress that will take place in Quito in September next year on the theme "Fraternity to heal the world. You are all brothers" (Mt.23:8). We intend in this way to participate, according to our concrete possibilities, in this significant moment in the life of the universal Church. Moreover, the year that is about to open will mark the conclusion of the synodal journey that has providentially begun long ago and will lead us to the opening of the Holy Year 2025, which, according to Pope Francis' intention, will have as its theme "Peregrinantes in Spe", pilgrims of hope. Focusing our attention on the Eucharist, which is sacrament of unity, bread of hope and prophecy of a new world, will help us to live fruitfully these very important moments", the pastoral letter says.
In this special time, the Church in Turkey also wants to respond specifically to Pope Francis' invitation to all Christians: to love God by "worshiping" him. "Adoration," says the Archbishop, "is the first response we can offer to the gratuitous love, the amazing love of God." "In fact to adore, means that to recognize faithfully that God alone is Lord and realize that our lives, the path of the Church, the fate of history depend on the tenderness of his love. He is the meaning of life."
In the coming weeks the initiatives will be proposed to live nationwide the Eucharistic Year of the Church of Turkey, will be announced. But it is important to emphasize that these larger events alone cannot be sufficient for this term of grace offered to us to bear abundant and lasting fruit. It is necessary to find out the best way to live the term of Year of the Eucharist in on their own specific possibilities and needs for each particular community, diocesan, parish, religious or other organizations, under the guidance of their pastors or superiors. At the same time, each individual faithful, bishop, presbyter, deacon, religious, consecrated person, lay person, is invited to ask himself, "How do I want to live in best manner this term?" "What concrete choices can and do I make so that the Year of the Eucharist that I am given as a gift of living, would leave a true sign of newness and joy on my life?".
Calling on the faithful to prepare to "enter with joy into the Year of the Eucharist," the archbishop quoted the words of Bishop Luigi Padovese, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia, who was assassinated on June 3, 2010: "Lord, help us to believe that your love for us has no limits. Make us understand that in the Eucharist you wanted to be with us always. Open our eyes for understanding that the meaning of our existence is realized in becoming also bread that gives life and sustains. Help us to become Eucharist that is Christians who give as much as they receive: love comfort and hope". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 21/11/2023)