Christ will come again

Question: A discussion in our study group recently led to some of us puzzling over the acclamation after the consecration at Mass in which we say, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." If Christ has come truly and substantially at the consecration, why do we ask that he will come again? Isn't that denying the consecration?

-- Name withheld, Belleville, Ill.

Answer: There is no contradiction between the truth of Christ's presence in the Eucharist after the consecration at Mass and the acclamation you mention.

Christ's presence in the Eucharist serves as a foretaste of the presence of Christ that we will encounter in all its dimensions in the kingdom of heaven. In the Eucharist, we do not see Christ face-to-face; he is hidden under the forms of bread and wine. Now, we encounter him in a veiled way, but in the kingdom of heaven we will be in his presence in all its glory and majesty.

The liturgy of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi contains words by St. Thomas Aquinas that put the fundamental truth here in poetic form: "O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given. Alleluia."

Every Mass makes present the Last Supper and all the eucharistic meals Jesus shared with his disciples after the Resurrection. By the same token, the Mass makes present sacramentally the full and final Supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of heaven, when the new heavens and the new earth will have been established.

There are three time dimensions to the Eucharist: the past, the present and the future. It is this truth that the acclamation discussed by your study group seeks to express.

I would encourage your group to examine the eucharistic prayers that are found in missals. You will find that the prayers constantly move back and forth between these three time dimensions.

Eucharistic reservation

Question: In our church, we have a chapel for perpetual adoration. In the sanctuary of the church proper there is a tabernacle behind the main altar in which Hosts from previous Masses are reserved. Would it be liturgically correct to move the Hosts from the tabernacle in the church to the tabernacle in the reservation chapel, which is below the monstrance containing the host for perpetual adoration?

-- Hampton H. Hairfield, Staunton, Va.

Answer: The Code of Canon Law states: "The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory" (Canon 938). This means there should not be two tabernacles in a church or oratory.

The application of the various principles that govern eucharistic reservation and adoration of the Eucharist would suggest that the Eucharist should not be exposed for adoration in one chapel, while the hosts from previous Masses are reserved in another. Thus, in the situation you mention, it would be proper to have the Hosts moved from the tabernacle in the body of the church and reserved in the tabernacle provided in the chapel of perpetual reservation.

However, if the church proper and the chapel for perpetual reservation are two truly separate buildings, then it seems legitimate to have two tabernacles.

I am thinking of a cathedral I know in the Midwest that has such an arrangement.The Eucharist is reserved behind the main altar in the body of the cathedral. But next door, there is a separate chapel in which the Eucharist is permanently exposed for adoration.

In this case, there are two tabernacles, but the separation between the buildings justifies this.

Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to mfmannion@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.