Papal Quotes

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Pope JOHN PAUL II

“In order to evangelize the world, we need experts in celebration, adoration and contemplation of the Holy Eucharist.”  (Pope John Paul II, Message for World Mission Sunday, October 24 2004)

“Through adoration, the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world and to the sowing of the Gospel. Anyone who prays to the Saviour draws the whole world with him and raises it to God. Those who stand before the Lord are therefore fulfilling an eminent service. They are presenting to Christ all those who do not know him or are far from him; they keep watch in his presence on their behalf.”  (Letter from Pope John Paul to the Bishop of Liège, June 26, 1996)

“Adoration is of inestimable value for the life of the Church…”  (Pope John Paul II “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” #25)

“Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face.” (Pope John Paul II, “Novo Millennio Ineunte” #16)

“Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine “schools” of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly “falls in love”. Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God’s plan.” (Pope John Paul II “Novo Millennio Ineunte” #33)

Pope BENEDICT XVI

Eucharistic Adoration

“The faithful must seek to receive and to venerate the Most Holy Sacrament with piety and devotion, eager to welcome the Lord Jesus with faith.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of May 11, 2007)

“Holy Mass is in itself the Church’s greatest act of adoration: “No one eats of this flesh”, as St Augustine writes, “without having first adored it”. Adoration outside Holy Mass prolongs and intensifies what has taken place in the liturgical celebration and makes a true and profound reception of Christ possible. I would like to take the opportunity to warmly recommend, to Pastors and to all the faithful, the practice of Eucharistic adoration. I express my appreciation to the Institutes of Consecrated Life as well as to the associations and confraternities that are especially dedicated to this practice; they offer to everyone a reminder of Christ’s centrality in our personal and ecclesial life. In life today, often noisy and dispersive, it is more important than ever to recover the capacity for inner silence and recollection. (Pope Benedict XVI Angelus 06.10.2007)

“In fact, adoration must precede our every activity and programme, that it may render us truly free and that we may be given the criteria for our action.” (Pope Benedict XVI Speech October 16, 2006).

“Adoration is a prayer that prolongs the Eucharistic celebration and communion, during which the soul continues to be nourished: it feeds on love, on truth, on peace. It feeds on hope, because he before whom we bow does not judge us, does not crush us, but liberates and transforms us.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for Corpus Christi, May 22, 2008)

“In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; Eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration. Receiving the Eucharist means adoring him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself….” (Pope Benedict XVI, ”Sacramentum Caritatis”, #66)

“From Eucharistic adoration compassion is born for all men, and from this compassion the thirst is born to evangelize. In keeping with the spirit of your own charism, I encourage you therefore to deepen your spiritual life giving an essential place to your personal encounter with Christ, the Emmanuel, God-with-us, so that you will allow yourselves to be transformed by him and have the passionate desire of the mission mature in you. In the Eucharist you find the source of all your commitments in the following of Christ and in Eucharistic adoration you purify your outlook on the life of the world. “We cannot keep for ourselves the love that we celebrate in the Sacrament. By its nature, it exacts that it be communicated to all. What the world needs is the love of God, to encounter Christ and to grow in Him.” (“Sacramentum Caritatis” # 84).

“A genuinely Eucharistic life is a missionary life. In a world frequently disoriented and in search of new reasons to live, the light of Christ must be taken to everyone. In the midst of the men and women of today, be ardent missionaries of the Gospel, supported by a life radically anchored in Christ!”  (Pope Benedict XVI in speech to the Emmanuel Community, 02.3.2011)

“The work of the Synod enabled us to deepen the important aspects of this mystery, given to the Church from the beginning. Contemplation of the Eucharist must urge all the members of the Church, priests in the first place, ministers of the Eucharist, to revive their commitment of faithfulness. The celibacy that priests have received as a precious gift and the sign of undivided love towards God and neighbour is founded upon the mystery of the Eucharist, celebrated and adored.  For lay persons too, Eucharistic spirituality must be the interior motor of every activity, and no dichotomy is acceptable between faith and life in their mission of spreading the spirit of Christianity in the world.”  (Homily, Conclusion of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and Year of the Eucharist. Canonisation of 5 Blesseds. World Mission Sunday, St Peter’s Square, 23 October 2005.)

“God has a Face. God has a Name. In Christ, God was made flesh and gave himself to us in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist.  The Word is flesh. It is given to us under the appearances of bread and thus truly becomes the Bread on which we live. We live on Truth. This Truth is a Person:  he speaks to us and we speak to him.”  (Homily, Pastoral Visit to Our Lady Star of Evangelization Parish of Rome, 2nd Sunday of Advent, 10 December 2006.)

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St Jozef Bilczewski was a man of prayer.  The Holy Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, meditation, the Rosary and other pious practices formed part of his daily life.  A particularly long time was dedicated to Eucharistic adoration.

St Zygmunt Gorazdowski also became famous for his devotion founded on the celebration and adoration of the Eucharist. Living Christ’s offering urged him toward the sick, the poor and the needy.

The deep knowledge of theology, faith and Eucharistic devotion of Jozef Bilczewski made him an example for priests and a witness for all the faithful.  In founding the Association of Priests, the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph and many other charitable institutions, Zygmunt Gorazdowski always allowed himself to be guided by the spirit of communion, fully revealed in the Eucharist.

“You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart…. You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22: 37, 39).  This was the program of life of St Alberto Hurtado, who wished to identify himself with the Lord and to love the poor with this same love.  The formation received in the Society of Jesus, strengthened by prayer and adoration of the Eucharist, allowed him to be won over by Christ, being a true contemplative in action.  In love and in the total gift of self to God’s will, he found strength for the apostolate.
He founded El Hogar de Cristo for the most needy and the homeless, offering them a family atmosphere full of human warmth. In his priestly ministry he was distinguished for his simplicity and availability towards others, being a living image of the Teacher, “meek and humble of heart”.  In his last days, amid the strong pains caused by illness, he still had the strength to repeat:  “I am content Lord,” thus expressing the joy with which he always lived.

St Gaetano Catanoso was a lover and apostle of the Holy Face of Jesus. “The Holy Face”, he affirmed, “is my life.  He is my strength”.  With joyful intuition he joined this devotion to Eucharistic piety.

He would say: “If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus…, we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host”.

Daily Mass and frequent adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar were the soul of his priesthood: with ardent and untiring pastoral charity he dedicated himself to preaching, catechesis, the ministry of confession, and to the poor, the sick and the care of priestly vocations.  To the Congregation of the Daughters of St Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, which he founded, he transmitted the spirit of charity, humility and sacrifice which enlivened his entire life.

St Filippo Smaldone, son of South Italy, knew how to instill in his life the higher virtues characteristic of his land.  A priest with a great heart nourished continuously on prayer and Eucharistic adoration, he was above all a witness and servant of charity, which he manifested in an eminent way through service to the poor, in particular to deaf-mutes, to whom he dedicated himself entirely.”  (Homily, Eucharistic Concelebration for the Canonization of four new Saints, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 October 2006.)

Eucharistic adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord. Thanks to Bishop Schraml, Altötting now has a new “treasury”. Where once the treasures of the past were kept, precious historical and religious items, there is now a place for the Church’s true treasure: the permanent presence of the Lord in his Sacrament. In one of his parables the Lord speaks of a treasure hidden in the field; whoever finds it sells all he has in order to buy that field, because the hidden treasure is more valuable than anything else. The hidden treasure, the good greater than any other good, is the Kingdom of God – it is Jesus himself, the Kingdom in person. In the sacred Host, he is present, the true treasure, always waiting for us. Only by adoring this presence do we learn how to receive him properly – we learn the reality of communion, we learn the Eucharistic celebration from the inside. Here I would like to quote some fine words of Saint Edith Stein, Co-Patroness of Europe, who wrote in one of her letters: “The Lord is present in the tabernacle in his divinity and his humanity. He is not there for himself, but for us: for it is his joy to be with us. He knows that we, being as we are, need to have him personally near. As a result, anyone with normal thoughts and feelings will naturally be drawn to spend time with him, whenever possible and as much as possible” (Gesammelte Werke VII, 136ff.). Let us love being with the Lord! There we can speak with him about everything. We can offer him our petitions, our concerns, our troubles. Our joys. Our gratitude, our disappointments, our needs and our aspirations. There we can also constantly ask him: “Lord send labourers into your harvest! Help me to be a good worker in your vineyard!”

Homily, Marian Vespers at the Basilica of St Anne in Alotting, 11 September 2006.

« And may our reception of him not be reduced to the moment of communion alone. Jesus remains present in the sacred Host and he awaits us constantly. »

Homily, Eucharistic Celebration, Kapellplatz, Altotting, 11 September 2006.

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“When, in adoration, we look at the consecrated Host, the sign of creation speaks to us. And so, we encounter the greatness of his gift; but we also encounter the Passion, the Cross of Jesus and his Resurrection. Through this gaze of adoration, he draws us toward himself, within his mystery, through which he wants to transform us as he transformed the Host.”

Homily, Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, St John Lateran, 15 June 2006.

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« Today we reaffirm with great joy our faith in the Eucharist, the Mystery that constitutes the heart of the Church. »

Homily, Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, St John Lateran, 7 June 2007.

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“Let us give thanks to God for the lasting benefits obtained through the powerful evangelizing influence that the Holy Spirit impressed upon so many souls through Frei Galvão. The Franciscan charism, lived out in the spirit of the Gospel, has borne significant fruits through his witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist, as a prudent and wise guide of the souls who sought his counsel, and as a man with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whose “son and perpetual servant” he considered himself to be.

God comes towards us, “he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path” (Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 17). He reveals himself through his word, in the sacraments and especially in the Eucharist. The life of the Church, therefore, is essentially eucharistic. In his loving providence, the Lord has left us a visible sign of his presence.

When we contemplate the Lord at Mass, raised up by the priest after the consecration of the bread and wine, or when we devoutly adore him exposed in the monstrance, we renew our faith with profound humility, as Frei Galvão did in “laus perennis”, in a constant attitude of adoration. The Holy Eucharist contains all the spiritual wealth of the Church, that is to say Christ himself, our Passover, the living bread come down from heaven, given life by the Holy Spirit and in turn life-giving because it is the source of Life for mankind.”

Homily, Canonization of Frei Antionio de Sant’Ana Galvao, O.F.M., Sao Paolo, Brazil, 11 May 2007.

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Without the God-with-us, the God who is close, how can we stand up to the pilgrimage through life, either on our own or as society and the family of peoples? The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God who does not leave us alone on the journey but stays at our side and shows us the way.

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Adoring the God of Jesus Christ, who out of love made himself bread broken, is the most effective and radical remedy against the idolatry of the past and of the present. Kneeling before the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly authority, however powerful. We Christians kneel only before God or before the Most Blessed Sacrament because we know and believe that the one true God is present in it, the God who created the world and so loved it that he gave his Only Begotten Son (cf. Jn 3: 16). We prostrate ourselves before a God who first bent over man like the Good Samaritan to assist him and restore his life, and who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet. Adoring the Body of Christ, means believing that there, in that piece of Bread, Christ is really there, and gives true sense to life, to the immense universe as to the smallest creature, to the whole of human history as to the most brief existence. Adoration is prayer that prolongs the celebration and Eucharistic communion and in which the soul continues to be nourished: it is nourished with love, truth, peace; it is nourished with hope, because the One before whom we prostrate ourselves does not judge us, does not crush us but liberates and transforms us.

Homily, Mass, Esplanade in front of Basilica of St John Lateran, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 22 May 2008.

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Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – by this we mean deepening our Communion, preparing for it and prolonging it – is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength “of unity with God and with one another” (St Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11: 11; cf. St Augustine, Sermo 577). We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and St Albert the Great have all said, following St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 10: 17), the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Church’s unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head.

Homily (live broadcast via satellite), for the Closing of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada, 22 June 2008.

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Furthermore, how can we omit to mention that St Giacinta Marescotti (1585-1640) from her monastery encouraged Eucharistic Adoration in the city and gave life to institutions and projects for prisoners and social outcasts?

Homily, Mass at Valle Faul, Viterbo (Italy), 6 September 2009.

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This is what the faithful expect of the priest: that is, the example of an authentic devotion to the Eucharist; they like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus as was the practice of the Holy Curé d’Ars, whom we shall remember in a special way during the upcoming Year for Priests.

Homily, Mass and Procession, Corpus Christi, 11 June 2009.

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St Arcangelo Tadini spent long hours in prayer before the Eucharist.

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Since childhood, Geltrude Comensoli felt a special attraction for Jesus present in the Eucharist. Adoration of Christ in the Eucharist became the principal aim of her life, we could almost say the habitual condition of her existence. Indeed, it was in the presence of the Eucharist that St Geltrude realized what her vocation and mission in the Church was to be: to dedicate herself without reserve to apostolic and missionary action, especially for youth. Thus, in obedience to Pope Leo XIII, her Institute came into being which endeavoured to translate the “charity contemplated” in the Eucharistic Christ, into “charity lived”, in dedication to one’s needy neighbour. In a bewildered and all too often wounded society like ours, to a youth, like that of our day in search of values and a meaning for their lives, as a sound reference point St Geltrude points to God who, in the Eucharist, has made himself our travelling companion. She reminds us that “adoration must prevail over all the other charitable works”, for it is from love for Christ who died and rose and who is really present in the Eucharistic Sacrament, that Gospel charity flows which impels us to see all human beings as our brothers and sisters.

St Caterina Volpicelli was also a witness of divine love. She strove “to belong to Christ in order to bring to Christ” those whom she met in Naples at the end of the 19th century, in a period of spiritual and social crisis. For her too the secret was the Eucharist.

Homily, Mass of Canonization of five new Saints, 26 April 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the Year of the Eucharist draws to a close, I would like to return to a particularly important subject that was also very dear to my Predecessor, John Paul II: the relationship between holiness, the way and destination of the Church and of every Christian, and the Eucharist.
I am thinking in particular today of priests, in order to emphasize that the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist. By virtue of sacred Orders, the priest receives the gift of and commitment to repeating in the Sacrament the gestures and words with which Jesus instituted the memorial of his Pasch at the Last Supper.
This great miracle of love, which the priest is called ever more faithfully to witness and proclaim (cf. Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 30), is renewed in his hands. This is the reason why the priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist, starting from the very moment in which he celebrates it.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 18 September 2005.

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The next stage was the Eucharistic procession with thousands of the faithful, including, as always, numerous sick people. Before the Blessed Sacrament, our spiritual communion with Mary became even more intense and profound, because she gives us eyes and a heart that can contemplate her Divine Son in the Holy Eucharist.

Audience, 17 September 2008.

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The purpose of this Year for Priests, as I wrote in my Letter addressed to priests for this occasion, is therefore to encourage every priest in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, and first and foremost to help priests and with them the entire People of God to rediscover and to reinforce their knowledge of the extraordinary, indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained minister represents for those who have received it, for the whole Church and for the world which would be lost without the Real Presence of Christ.

Audience, 24 June 2009.

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During this Year for Priests that will last until the next Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, let us pray for all priests. Let us pray that in dioceses, parishes, religious and especially monastic communities, in associations and movements, in the various pastoral groups that exist throughout the world there may be an increase in prayer initiatives and in particular in Eucharistic Adoration for the sanctification of the clergy and for priestly vocations, in response to Jesus’ invitation to pray “the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9: 38). Prayer is the first commitment, the true path of sanctification for priests and the soul of an authentic “vocations ministry”. Not only must the scarcity of ordinations to the priesthood in certain countries not discourage us, but it must also be an incentive to increase the number of places of silence and listening to the word, to better attend to spiritual direction and the sacrament of Confession. In this way God’s voice, which always continues to call and to strengthen, may be heard and promptly followed by numerous young people. Those who pray are not afraid; those who pray are never alone; those who pray are saved! St John Mary Vianney is without a doubt the model of an existence made prayer. May Mary, Mother of the Church, help all priests to follow his example in order to be, like him, witnesses of Christ and apostles of the Gospel.

Audience, 1 July 2009.

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The Holy Curé of Ars always expressed the highest esteem for the gift he had received. He would say: “Oh! How great is the Priesthood! It can be properly understood only in Heaven… if one were to understand it on this earth one would die, not of fright but of love!” (Abbé Monnin, Esprit du Curé d’Ars, p. 113). Moreover, as a little boy he had confided to his mother: “If I were to become a priest, I would like to win many souls” (Abbé Monnin, Procès de l’ordinaire, p. 1064). And so he did. Indeed, in his pastoral service, as simple as it was extraordinarily fertile, this unknown parish priest of a forgotten village in the south of France was so successful in identifying with his ministry that he became, even in a visibly and universally recognizable manner, an alter Christus, an image of the Good Shepherd who, unlike the hired hand, lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10: 11). After the example of the Good Shepherd, he gave his life in the decades of his priestly service. His existence was a living catechesis that acquired a very special effectiveness when people saw him celebrating Mass, pausing before the tabernacle in adoration or spending hour after hour in the confessional.

Therefore the centre of his entire life was the Eucharist, which he celebrated and adored with devotion and respect. Another fundamental characteristic of this extraordinary priestly figure was his diligent ministry of confession. He recognized in the practice of the sacrament of penance the logical and natural fulfilment of the priestly apostolate, in obedience to Christ’s mandate: “if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (cf. Jn 20: 23). St John Mary Vianney thus distinguished himself as an excellent, tireless confessor and spiritual director. Passing “with a single inner impulse from the altar to the confessional”, where he spent a large part of the day, he did his utmost with preaching and persuasive advice to help his parishioners rediscover the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence (cf. Letter to Priests for the inauguration of the Year for Priests).

Audience, 5 August 2009.

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The “devotion” to the Body and Blood of Christ which Odo in the face of a widespread neglect of them which he himself deeply deplored always cultivated with conviction deserves special mention. Odo was in fact firmly convinced of the Real Presence, under the Eucharistic species, of the Body and Blood of the Lord, by virtue of the conversion of the “substance” of the bread and the wine.

He wrote: “God, Creator of all things, took the bread saying that this was his Body and that he would offer it for the world, and he distributed the wine, calling it his Blood”; now, “it is a law of nature that the change should come about in accordance with the Creator’s command”, and thus “nature immediately changes its usual condition: the bread instantly becomes flesh, and the wine becomes blood”; at the Lord’s order, “the substance changes” (Odonis Abb. Cluniac. occupatio, ed. A. Swoboda, Leipzig 1900, p. 121). Unfortunately, our abbot notes, this “sacrosanct mystery of the Lord’s Body, in whom the whole salvation of the world consists”, (Collationes, XXVIII: PL 133, 572), is celebrated carelessly. “Priests”, he warns, “who approach the altar unworthily, stain the bread, that is, the Body of Christ” (ibid., PL 133, 572-573). Only those who are spiritually united to Christ may worthily participate in his Eucharistic Body: should the contrary be the case, to eat his Flesh and to drink his Blood would not be beneficial but rather a condemnation (cf. ibid., XXX, PL 133, 575). All this invites us to believe the truth of the Lord’s presence with new force and depth. The presence in our midst of the Creator, who gives himself into our hands and transforms us as he transforms the bread and the wine, thus transforms the world.

Audience, 2 September 2009.

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A fertile writer, Rupert left numerous works, still today of great interest because he played an active part in various important theological discussions of his time. For example, he intervened with determination in the Eucharistic controversy, which in 1077 led to his condemnation by Berengarius of Tours. Berengarius had given a reductive interpretation of Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, describing it as merely symbolic. In the language of the Church the term “transubstantiation” was as yet unknown but Rupert, at times with daring words, made himself a staunch supporter of the Eucharistic reality and, especially in a work entitled De divinis officiis (On divine offices), purposefully asserted the continuity between the Body of the Incarnate Word of Christ and that present in the Eucharistic species of the bread and the wine. Dear brothers and sisters, it seems to me that at this point we must also think of our time; today too we are in danger of reappraising the Eucharistic reality, that is, of considering the Eucharist almost as a rite of communion, of socialization alone, forgetting all too easily that the Risen Christ is really present in the Eucharist with his Risen Body which is placed in our hands to draw us out of ourselves, to incorporate us into his immortal body and thereby lead us to new life. This great mystery that the Lord is present in his full reality in the Eucharistic species is a mystery to be adored and loved ever anew! I would like here to quote the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which bear the fruit of 2,000 years of meditation on the faith and theological reflection: “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique and incomparable…. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ… is truly, really, and substantially contained’…. It is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present… by the Eucharistic species of the bread the wine” (cf. n. 1374). Rupert too contributed with his reflections to this precise formulation.

Audience, 9 December 2009.

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I am risen and I am with you always”. This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil. He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven.

Regina Caeli, 13 April 2009.

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To speak of the Eucharist, Ephrem used two images, embers or burning coal and the pearl. The burning coal theme was taken from the Prophet Isaiah (cf. 6: 6). It is the image of one of the seraphim who picks up a burning coal with tongs and simply touches the lips of the Prophet with it in order to purify them; the Christian, on the other hand, touches and consumes the Burning Coal which is Christ himself:

“In your bread hides the Spirit who cannot be consumed; in your wine is the fire that cannot be swallowed. The Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine: behold a wonder heard from our lips.
“The seraph could not bring himself to touch the glowing coal with his fingers, it was Isaiah’s mouth alone that it touched; neither did the fingers grasp it nor the mouth swallow it; but the Lord has granted us to do both these things.

“The fire came down with anger to destroy sinners, but the fire of grace descends on the bread and settles in it. Instead of the fire that destroyed man, we have consumed the fire in the bread and have been invigorated”
(Hymn De Fide 10: 8-10).

Audience, 28 November 2007.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which was celebrated last Thursday in the Vatican and in different Nations, invites us to contemplate the supreme Mystery of our faith: the Most Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. Every time that the priest renews the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in the prayer of consecration he repeats: “This is my Body… this is my Blood”.

He says this lending his voice, hands and heart to Christ, who wanted to stay with us and be the heartbeat of the Church. However, after the celebration of the divine Mysteries, the Lord Jesus remains alive in the tabernacle; for this reason special praise is given to him with Eucharistic adoration, as I wished to recall in the recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis(cf. nn. 66-69).

Indeed, an intrinsic connection exists between celebration and adoration. In fact, Holy Mass is in itself the Church’s greatest act of adoration: “No one eats of this flesh”, as St Augustine writes, “without having first adored it” (Enarr. in Ps. 98,9: CCL XXXIX, 1385).

Adoration outside Holy Mass prolongs and intensifies what has taken place in the liturgical celebration and makes a true and profound reception of Christ possible.

Today, then, the Eucharistic procession is taking place in Christian communities in all parts of the world. It is a special form of public adoration of the Eucharist, enriched by beautiful and traditional expressions of popular devotion. I would like to take the opportunity offered to me by today’s Solemnity to warmly recommend, to Pastors and to all the faithful, the practice of Eucharistic adoration.

I express my appreciation to the Institutes of Consecrated Life as well as to the associations and confraternities that are especially dedicated to this practice; they offer to everyone a reminder of Christ’s centrality in our personal and ecclesial life.

Then I rejoice to see that many young people are discovering the beauty of adoration, both privately and in groups. I ask priests to encourage these youth groups in their adoration, but also to guide them, to ensure that the form of their community adoration is always appropriate and dignified and that they allow sufficient time for silence and listening to the Word of God.
In life today, often noisy and dispersive, it is more important than ever to recover the capacity for inner silence and recollection. Eucharistic adoration permits this not only centred on the “I” but more so in the company of that “You” full of love who is Jesus Christ, “the God who is near to us”.

May the Virgin Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist, introduce us into the secret of true adoration. Her humble and simple heart was ever pondering the mystery of Jesus, in whom she adored the presence of God and of his redeeming love. May faith in the Eucharistic Mystery, joy in participating in Holy Mass, especially on Sundays, and enthusiasm in witnessing to Christ’s immense love grow throughout the Church through her intercession.

Angelus, 10 June 2007.

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I would like to affirm with joy that today there is a “Eucharistic springtime” in the Church: How many people pause in silence before the Tabernacle to engage in a loving conversation with Jesus! It is comforting to know that many groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, London. I pray that this Eucharistic “springtime” may spread increasingly in every parish and in particular in Belgium, St Juliana’s homeland.

Venerable John Paul II said in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned” (n. 10).

In  remembering St Juliana of Cornillon let us also renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic Species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man” (n. 282).

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Christ in the Eucharist in Holy Mass on Sunday is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to pay frequent visits to the Lord present in the Tabernacle! In gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of God’s love, we discover Jesus’ Passion and Cross and likewise his Resurrection. It is precisely through our gazing in adoration that the Lord draws us towards him into his mystery in order to transform us as he transforms the bread and the wine.

The Saints never failed to find strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. Let us repeat before the Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament the words of the Eucharistic hymn “Adoro te devote”: [Devoutly I adore Thee]: Make me believe ever more in you, “Draw me deeply into faith, / Into Your hope, into Your love”.

Audience [St Juliana of Cornillon], 17 November 2010.

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Her faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was so great that twice a miracle happened. Simply by showing to them the Most Blessed Sacrament distanced the Saracen mercenaries, who were on the point of attacking the convent of San Damiano and pillaging the city of Assisi.

Audience [St Clare of Assisi], 15 September 2010.

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Dear altar servers, St Tarcisius’ testimony and this beautiful tradition teach us the deep love and great veneration that we must have for the Eucharist: it is a precious good, a treasure of incomparable value; it is the Bread of life, it is Jesus himself who becomes our nourishment, support and strength on our daily journey and on the open road that leads to eternal life; the Eucharist is the greatest gift that Jesus bequeathed to us.

Audience, 4 August 2010.

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In speaking of the sacraments, St Thomas reflects in a special way on the Mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had such great devotion, the early biographers claim, that he would lean his head against the Tabernacle, as if to feel the throbbing of Jesus’ divine and human heart. In one of his works, commenting on Scripture, St Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes: “Since this [the Eucharist] is the sacrament of Our Lord’s Passion, it contains in itself the Jesus Christ who suffered for us. Thus, whatever is an effect of Our Lord’s Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of Our Lord’s Passion to us” (cf. Commentary on John, chapter 6, lecture 6, n. 963). We clearly understand why St Thomas and other Saints celebrated Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord who gave himself as a sacrifice for us, tears of joy and gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves with this Body and Blood of Our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine Grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation!

Audience [St Thomas Aquinas (III)], 23 June 2010.

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Francis’ love for Christ expressed itself in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. In the Fonti Francescane (Writings of St Francis) one reads such moving expressions as: “Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult, when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest. Oh stupendous dignity! O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation he hides himself under an ordinary piece of bread” (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, Editrici Francescane, Padova 2002, 401).

Audience [St Francis of Assisi], 27 January 2010.

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After the Regina Caeli:

I address a special greeting to the Brazilian people that will be gathering in Brasília, the capital, to celebrate the 16th National Eucharistic Congress, from next Thursday to Sunday, with the presence of my special representative, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes. The theme of the Congress is taken from the words of the two disciples at Emmaus who said, “Stay with us, Lord” an expression of the desire vibrant in the heart of every human being. May you all, pastors and faithful alike, rediscover that the heart of Brazil is the Eucharist! And it is precisely in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar that Jesus shows his will to be known, to live in us, to give himself to us. In adoring him, let us recognize the primacy of God, since he alone can transform human hearts, raising human beings to union with Christ in one Body. Indeed, in receiving the Body of the Risen Lord we experience communion with a Love that we cannot keep to ourselves: it demands to be communicated to others, so that we may thereby build together a more just society. Lastly, as we approach the conclusion of the Year for Priests, I invite all priests to foster a profoundly Eucharistic spirituality, after the example of the Holy Curé d’Ars who, in seeking to unite his personal sacrifice to that of Jesus, actualized on the altar, exclaimed: “How good it is for a priest to offer himself in sacrifice to God every morning!” And as I invoke through the intercession of Nossa Senhora Aparecida the abundant graces so that priests may be nourished by the Eucharist, bread of unity, to become true missionary disciples, I impart a heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to all.

Regina Caeli, 9 May 2010.

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Among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St Alphonsus, stands out the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or as we would call it today, “adoration”, brief or extended, personal or as a community, before the Eucharist. “Certainly”, St Alphonsus writes, “amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament takes the first place, is the most pleasing to God, and the most useful to ourselves…. Oh, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith… to represent our wants to him, as a friend does to a friend in whom he places all his trust” (Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Each Day of the Month. Introduction).

Audience [St Alphonsus Ligouri], 30 March 2011.

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Eucharist – Transformation

It is not possible to “eat” the Risen One, present under the sign of bread, as if it were a simple piece of bread. To eat this Bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating”, is truly an encounter between two persons, it is allowing our lives to be penetrated by the life of the One who is the Lord, of the One who is my Creator and Redeemer.

The purpose of this communion, of this partaking, is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and conformation into he who is living Love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, it implies the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes ahead of us. Adoration and procession thereby make up a single gesture of communion; they answer his mandate: “Take and eat”.

Homily, Square before the Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome, Solemnity of Corpus Domini, Thursday 26 May 2005.

Gathered around this twofold table, the Church of living stones builds herself up in truth and in love and is moulded interiorly by the Holy Spirit, transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself ever more to her Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, thus becomes a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.

Angelus, St Peter’s Square
Sunday, 9 November 2008

Dear Young Friends,
Yesterday evening we came together in the presence of the Sacred Host, in which Jesus becomes for us the bread that sustains and feeds us (cf. Jn 6: 35), and there we began our inner journey of adoration. In the Eucharist, adoration must become union.

At the celebration of the Eucharist, we find ourselves in the “hour” of Jesus, to use the language of John’s Gospel. Through the Eucharist this “hour” of Jesus becomes our own hour, his presence in our midst. Together with the disciples he celebrated the Passover of Israel, the memorial of God’s liberating action that led Israel from slavery to freedom. Jesus follows the rites of Israel. He recites over the bread the prayer of praise and blessing.

But then something new happens. He thanks God not only for the great works of the past; he thanks him for his own exaltation, soon to be accomplished through the Cross and Resurrection, and he speaks to the disciples in words that sum up the whole of the Law and the Prophets: “This is my Body, given in sacrifice for you. This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood”. He then distributes the bread and the cup, and instructs them to repeat his words and actions of that moment over and over again in his memory.

What is happening? How can Jesus distribute his Body and his Blood?

By making the bread into his Body and the wine into his Blood, he anticipates his death, he accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence – the Crucifixion – from within becomes an act of total self-giving love. This is the substantial transformation which was accomplished at the Last Supper and was destined to set in motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world when God will be all in all (cf. I Cor 15: 28).

In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world. Here now is the central act of transformation that alone can truly renew the world:  violence is transformed into love, and death into life.

Since this act transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within, the Resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded, so that it can no longer have the last word.

To use an image well known to us today, this is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being – the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little will change the world.

All other changes remain superficial and cannot save. For this reason we speak of redemption:  what had to happen at the most intimate level has indeed happened, and we can enter into its dynamic. Jesus can distribute his Body, because he truly gives himself.

This first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life, brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood.

But it must not stop there; on the contrary, the process of transformation must now gather momentum. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood.

We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. In this way, adoration, as we said earlier, becomes union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world.

I like to illustrate this new step urged upon us by the Last Supper by drawing out the different nuances of the word “adoration” in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word is proskynesis. It refers to the gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure, supplying the norm that we choose to follow. It means that freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good. This gesture is necessary even if initially our yearning for freedom makes us inclined to resist it.

We can only fully accept it when we take the second step that the Last Supper proposes to us. The Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio – mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love. Submission becomes union, because he to whom we submit is Love. In this way submission acquires a meaning, because it does not impose anything on us from the outside, but liberates us deep within.

Let us return once more to the Last Supper. The new element to emerge here was the deeper meaning given to Israel’s ancient prayer of blessing, which from that point on became the word of transformation, enabling us to participate in the “hour” of Christ. Jesus did not instruct us to repeat the Passover meal, which in any event, given that it is an anniversary, is not repeatable at will. He instructed us to enter into his “hour”.

We enter into it through the sacred power of the words of consecration – a transformation brought about through the prayer of praise which places us in continuity with Israel and the whole of salvation history, and at the same time ushers in the new, to which the older prayer at its deepest level was pointing.

The new prayer – which the Church calls the “Eucharistic Prayer” – brings the Eucharist into being. It is the word of power which transforms the gifts of the earth in an entirely new way into God’s gift of himself, and it draws us into this process of transformation. That is why we call this action “Eucharist”, which is a translation of the Hebrew word beracha – thanksgiving, praise, blessing, and a transformation worked by the Lord:  the presence of his “hour”. Jesus’ hour is the hour in which love triumphs. In other words:  it is God who has triumphed, because he is Love.

Jesus’ hour seeks to become our own hour and will indeed become so if we allow ourselves, through the celebration of the Eucharist, to be drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about. The Eucharist must become the centre of our lives.

If the Church tells us that the Eucharist is an essential part of Sunday, this is no mere positivism or thirst for power. On Easter morning, first the women and then the disciples had the grace of seeing the Lord. From that moment on, they knew that the first day of the week, Sunday, would be his day, the day of Christ the Lord. The day when creation began became the day when creation was renewed. Creation and redemption belong together. That is why Sunday is so important.

It is good that today, in many cultures, Sunday is a free day, and is often combined with Saturday so as to constitute a “week-end” of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is not present.

Dear friends! Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time.

Do not be deterred from taking part in Sunday Mass, and help others to discover it too. This is because the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it.

Let us pledge ourselves to do this – it is worth the effort! Let us discover the intimate riches of the Church’s liturgy and its true greatness:  it is not we who are celebrating for ourselves, but it is the living God himself who is preparing a banquet for us.

Homily, XX World Youth Day, Marienfeld, Cologne, Germany, 21 August 2005.

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Through Jesus’ love the Cross becomes metabasis, a transformation from being human into being a sharer in God’s glory. He involves us all in this transformation, drawing us into the transforming power of his love to the point that, in our being with him, our life becomes a “passage”, a transformation. Thus, we receive redemption, becoming sharers in eternal love, a condition for which we strive throughout our life.

Homily, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Basilica of St John Lateran, Holy Thursday, 20 March 2008.

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On this altar he will continue to sacrifice himself in the sacrament of the Eucharist, for our salvation and for that of the whole world.

Jesus makes himself truly present in the Eucharistic Mystery, which is renewed on every altar. His is a dynamic presence that takes hold of us to make us his, to liken us to him. He attracts us with the force of his love, bringing us out of ourselves to be united with him, making us one with him.

The Real Presence of Christ makes each one of us his “house” and all together we form his Church, the spiritual building of which St Peter speaks. “Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious”; the Apostle writes, “and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 2: 4-5). St Augustine remarks, developing, as it were, this beautiful metaphor that through faith people are like the wood and stones collected in the forests and on the mountains for building; then through Baptism, catechesis and preaching they are rough-shaped, squared, and polished; but they become houses of the Lord only when they are put together with love. When believers are interconnected in accordance with a specific order, mutually close and cohesive, when they are joined by love, they truly become a dwelling of God that is in no danger of collapsing (cf. Serm., 336).

Homily, Mass and Dedication of the new Altar, Cathedral of Albano, 21 September, 2008.

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The Eucharist is the Sacrament in which the whole work of Redemption is concentrated: in Jesus as Eucharist we can contemplate the transformation of death into life, of violence into love. Hidden beneath the veils of the bread and the wine, we recognize through the eyes of faith the same glory that was manifested to the Apostles after the Resurrection.

Homily, Vespers on the occasion of the recently restored Pauline Chapel in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, 4 July 2009.

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Jesus transforms the bread, he no longer gives earthly bread, but communion with himself. This transformation, though, seeks to be the start of the transformation of the world – into a world of resurrection, a world of God. Yes, it is about transformation – of the new man and the new world that find their origin in the bread that is consecrated, transformed, transubstantiated.

Homily, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Basilica of St John Lateran, Holy Thursday, 9 April 2009.

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How very significant is the bond between the Church’s mission and the Eucharist. In fact, missionary and evangelizing action is the apostolic diffusion of love that is, as it were, concentrated in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Angelus, 23 October 2005.

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The beauty and the harmony of churches, destined to render praise to God, invites us human beings too, though limited and sinful, to convert ourselves to form a “cosmos”, a well-ordered construction, in close communion with Jesus, who is the true Holy of Holies. This reaches its culmination in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia” that is, the community of baptized finds itself again united to listen to the Word of God and nourish itself on the Body and Blood of Christ. Gathered around this twofold table, the Church of living stones builds herself up in truth and in love and is moulded interiorly by the Holy Spirit, transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself ever more to her Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, thus becomes a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.

Angelus, 9 November 2008.

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Dear brothers and sisters, what happened in Mary also applies in ways that are different yet real to every man and to every woman because God asks each one of us to welcome him, to put at his disposal our heart and our body, our entire existence, our flesh the Bible says so that he may dwell in the world. He calls us to be united with him in the sacrament of the Eucharist, Bread broken for the life of the world, to form together the Church, his Body in history. And if we say “yes”, like Mary, indeed to the extent of our “yes”, this mysterious exchange is also brought about for us and in us. We are taken up into the divinity of the One who took on our humanity. The Eucharist is the means, the instrument of this reciprocal transformation which always has God as its goal, and as the main actor. He is the Head and we are the limbs, he is the Vine and we the branches. Whoever eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, letting himself be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death: naturally he dies like everyone and also shares in the mystery of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, but he is no longer a slave to death and will rise on the Last Day to enjoy the eternal celebration together with Mary and with all the Saints.

Angelus, 16 August 2009.

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Jesus makes himself our travelling companion in the Eucharist, and the Eucharist – as I said in my Homily at the concluding celebration, borrowing from physics a well known image – induces “nuclear fission” into the very heart of being (Homily, Holy Mass, Marienfeld Esplanade, Cologne, 21 August 2005; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 August 2005, p. 11). Only this innermost explosion of good that overcomes evil can give life to other transformations that are necessary to change the world.

Audience, 24 August 2005.

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As the one Mediator of salvation Christ is Head of the Church and mystically united with her to the point that Augustine could say: “We have become Christ. For, if he is the Head, we, the members; he and we together are the whole man” (In Iohannis evangelium tractatus, 21, 8).

People of God and house of God: the Church in Augustine’s vision is therefore closely bound to the concept of the Body of Christ, founded on the Christological reinterpretation of the Old Testament and on the sacramental life centred on the Eucharist, in which the Lord gives us his Body and transforms us into his Body. It is then fundamental that the Church, the People of God in a Christological and not a sociological sense, be truly inserted into Christ, who, as Augustine says in a beautiful passage, “prays for us, prays in us and prays by us; he prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, and he prays by us as our God: let us therefore recognize him as our voice and ourselves as his” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 85, 1).

Audience, 30 January 2008.

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This synthesis forms the background of the Roman Canon in which we pray for this offering to become “rationabile” for spiritual worship to be made. The Church knows that in the Holy Eucharist Christ’s gift of himself, his true sacrifice, becomes present. However, the Church prays that the community celebrating may truly be united with Christ and transformed; she prays that we may become what we cannot be with our own efforts: a “rational” offering that is acceptable to God. Thus the Eucharistic Prayer interprets St Paul’s words correctly. St Augustine explained all this marvellously in the 10th chapter of his “City of God”. I cite only two sentences from it.

“This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ…”. “The whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who offered Himself…” (10, 6: CCL 47, 27 ff.).

3. Further, at the end, I add just a few words on the third text of the Letter to the Romans on the new worship. St Paul thus said in chapter 15: “The grace given me by God to be “a minister’ of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service (hierourgein) of the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (15: 15ff.). I would like to emphasize only two aspects of this marvellous text, with regard to the unique terminology in the Pauline Letters. First of all, St Paul interprets his missionary activity among the world’s peoples to build the universal Church as priestly service. To proclaim the Gospel in order to unite the peoples in the communion of the Risen Christ is a “priestly” action. The apostle of the Gospel is a true priest, he does what is central to the priesthood: prepares the true sacrifice. And then the second aspect: the goal of missionary action is we can say the cosmic liturgy: that the peoples united in Christ, the world, may as such become the glory of God, an “acceptable [offering], sanctified by the Holy Spirit”. Here the dynamic aspect appears, the aspect of hope in the Pauline conception of worship: Christ’s gift of himself implies the aspiration to attract all to communion in his body, to unite the world. Only in communion with Christ, the exemplary man, one with God, does the world thus become as we all wish it to be: a mirror of divine love. This dynamism is ever present in the Eucharist this dynamism must inspire and form our life.

Audience, 7 January 2009.

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The “devotion” to the Body and Blood of Christ which Odo in the face of a widespread neglect of them which he himself deeply deplored always cultivated with conviction deserves special mention. Odo was in fact firmly convinced of the Real Presence, under the Eucharistic species, of the Body and Blood of the Lord, by virtue of the conversion of the “substance” of the bread and the wine.

He wrote: “God, Creator of all things, took the bread saying that this was his Body and that he would offer it for the world, and he distributed the wine, calling it his Blood”; now, “it is a law of nature that the change should come about in accordance with the Creator’s command”, and thus “nature immediately changes its usual condition: the bread instantly becomes flesh, and the wine becomes blood”; at the Lord’s order, “the substance changes” (Odonis Abb. Cluniac. occupatio, ed. A. Swoboda, Leipzig 1900, p. 121). Unfortunately, our abbot notes, this “sacrosanct mystery of the Lord’s Body, in whom the whole salvation of the world consists”, (Collationes, XXVIII: PL 133, 572), is celebrated carelessly. “Priests”, he warns, “who approach the altar unworthily, stain the bread, that is, the Body of Christ” (ibid., PL 133, 572-573). Only those who are spiritually united to Christ may worthily participate in his Eucharistic Body: should the contrary be the case, to eat his Flesh and to drink his Blood would not be beneficial but rather a condemnation (cf. ibid., XXX, PL 133, 575). All this invites us to believe the truth of the Lord’s presence with new force and depth. The presence in our midst of the Creator, who gives himself into our hands and transforms us as he transforms the bread and the wine, thus transforms the world.

Audience, 2 September 2009.

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A fertile writer, Rupert left numerous works, still today of great interest because he played an active part in various important theological discussions of his time. For example, he intervened with determination in the Eucharistic controversy, which in 1077 led to his condemnation by Berengarius of Tours. Berengarius had given a reductive interpretation of Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, describing it as merely symbolic. In the language of the Church the term “transubstantiation” was as yet unknown but Rupert, at times with daring words, made himself a staunch supporter of the Eucharistic reality and, especially in a work entitled De divinis officiis (On divine offices), purposefully asserted the continuity between the Body of the Incarnate Word of Christ and that present in the Eucharistic species of the bread and the wine. Dear brothers and sisters, it seems to me that at this point we must also think of our time; today too we are in danger of reappraising the Eucharistic reality, that is, of considering the Eucharist almost as a rite of communion, of socialization alone, forgetting all too easily that the Risen Christ is really present in the Eucharist with his Risen Body which is placed in our hands to draw us out of ourselves, to incorporate us into his immortal body and thereby lead us to new life. This great mystery that the Lord is present in his full reality in the Eucharistic species is a mystery to be adored and loved ever anew! I would like here to quote the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which bear the fruit of 2,000 years of meditation on the faith and theological reflection: “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique and incomparable…. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ… is truly, really, and substantially contained’…. It is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present… by the Eucharistic species of the bread the wine” (cf. n. 1374). Rupert too contributed with his reflections to this precise formulation.

Audience, 9 December 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday we celebrated the great Feast of Mary taken up into Heaven, and today we read these words of Jesus in the Gospel: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6: 51).

One cannot but be struck by this parallel that rotates around the symbol of “Heaven”: Mary was “taken up” to the very place from which her Son had “come down”. Of course, this language, which is biblical, expresses in figurative terms something that never completely coincides with the world of our own concepts and images. But let us pause for a moment to think! Jesus presents himself as the “living bread”, that is, the food which contains the life of God itself which it can communicate to those who eat it, the true nourishment that gives life, which is really and deeply nourishing. Jesus says: “if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6: 51). Well, from whom did the Son of God take his “flesh”, his actual, earthly humanity? He took it from the Virgin Mary. In order to enter our mortal condition, God took from her a human body. In turn, at the end of her earthly life, the Virgin’s body was taken up into Heaven by God and brought to enter the heavenly condition. It is a sort of exchange in which God always takes the full initiative but, in a certain sense, as we have seen on other occasions, he also needs Mary, her “yes” as a creature, her very flesh, her actual existence, in order to prepare the matter for his sacrifice: the Body and the Blood, to offer them on the Cross as a means of eternal life and, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as spiritual food and drink.

Dear brothers and sisters, what happened in Mary also applies in ways that are different yet real to every man and to every woman because God asks each one of us to welcome him, to put at his disposal our heart and our body, our entire existence, our flesh the Bible says so that he may dwell in the world. He calls us to be united with him in the sacrament of the Eucharist, Bread broken for the life of the world, to form together the Church, his Body in history. And if we say “yes”, like Mary, indeed to the extent of our “yes”, this mysterious exchange is also brought about for us and in us. We are taken up into the divinity of the One who took on our humanity. The Eucharist is the means, the instrument of this reciprocal transformation which always has God as its goal, and as the main actor. He is the Head and we are the limbs, he is the Vine and we the branches. Whoever eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, letting himself be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death: naturally he dies like everyone and also shares in the mystery of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, but he is no longer a slave to death and will rise on the Last Day to enjoy the eternal celebration together with Mary and with all the Saints.

Angelus, 16 August 2009.

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The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is closely linked to Easter and Pentecost: the death and Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are its premises. Furthermore, it is directly linked to the Feast of the Trinity that was celebrated last Sunday. It is only because God himself is relationship that there can be a relationship with him; and only because he is love can he love and be loved. Thus, Corpus Christi is a manifestation of God, an attestation that God is love.

This feast speaks to us in a unique and special way of divine love, of what it is and of what it does. It tells us, for example, that it is regenerated in self-giving, that it is received in self-giving, that it is never lacking nor can it be consumed as a hymn by St Thomas Aquinas sings: “nec sumptus consumitur”. Love transforms all things and we therefore understand that the centre of today’s Feast of Corpus Christi is the mystery of transubstantiation, a sign of Jesus Christ who transforms the world. Looking at him and worshipping him, we say: “yes, love exists and because it exists things can change for the better and we can hope”. It is hope that comes from Christ’s love which gives us the strength to live and to deal with difficulties. For this reason let us sing as we carry the Most Holy Sacrament in procession; let us sing and praise God who revealed himself concealing himself in the sign of the Bread broken. We are all in need of this Bread, as the journey to freedom, justice and peace is long and difficult.

Angelus, 14 June 2009.

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In the Upper Room the mystery of grace and salvation, of which we are recipients and also heralds and ministers, can be expressed only in terms of love. Because he has loved us first and continues to do so, we can respond with love (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 2). Our life as Christians is not simply a human effort to live the demands of the Gospel imposed upon us as duties. In the Eucharist we are drawn into the mystery of divine love. Our lives become a grateful, docile and active acceptance of the power of a love which is given to us. This transforming love, which is grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:17), prompts us, as individuals and communities, to overcome the temptation to turn in upon ourselves in selfishness or indolence, isolation, prejudice or fear, and to give ourselves generously to the Lord and to others.

Regina Caeli, Upper Room, Jerusalem, 12 May 2009.

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To speak of the Eucharist, Ephrem used two images, embers or burning coal and the pearl. The burning coal theme was taken from the Prophet Isaiah (cf. 6: 6). It is the image of one of the seraphim who picks up a burning coal with tongs and simply touches the lips of the Prophet with it in order to purify them; the Christian, on the other hand, touches and consumes the Burning Coal which is Christ himself:

“In your bread hides the Spirit who cannot be consumed; in your wine is the fire that cannot be swallowed. The Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine: behold a wonder heard from our lips.
“The seraph could not bring himself to touch the glowing coal with his fingers, it was Isaiah’s mouth alone that it touched; neither did the fingers grasp it nor the mouth swallow it; but the Lord has granted us to do both these things.

“The fire came down with anger to destroy sinners, but the fire of grace descends on the bread and settles in it. Instead of the fire that destroyed man, we have consumed the fire in the bread and have been invigorated”
(Hymn De Fide 10: 8-10).

Audience, 28 November 2007.

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Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Christ in the Eucharist in Holy Mass on Sunday is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to pay frequent visits to the Lord present in the Tabernacle! In gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of God’s love, we discover Jesus’ Passion and Cross and likewise his Resurrection. It is precisely through our gazing in adoration that the Lord draws us towards him into his mystery in order to transform us as he transforms the bread and the wine.

The Saints never failed to find strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. Let us repeat before the Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament the words of the Eucharistic hymn “Adoro te devote”: [Devoutly I adore Thee]: Make me believe ever more in you, “Draw me deeply into faith, / Into Your hope, into Your love”.

Audience [St Juliana of Cornillon], 17 November 2010.

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On Good Friday we shall commemorate the Passion and death of the Lord. Jesus wanted to give his life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins, choosing to this end the most brutal and humiliating death: crucifixion. There is an inseparable connection between the Last Supper and Jesus’ death. At the Last Supper Jesus gives his Body and his Blood, that is, his earthly existence, himself, anticipating his death and transforming it into an act of love. Thus he makes death which by its nature is the end, the destruction of every relationship an act of the communication of himself, a means of salvation and of the proclamation of the victory of love. In this way, Jesus becomes the key to understanding the Last Supper, which is an anticipation of the transformation of violent death into a voluntary sacrifice; into an act of love that redeems and saves the world.

Audience, 31 March 2010.

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Eucharist – Sunday Mass

PASTORAL VISIT
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO BARI FOR THE CLOSING OF THE
24th ITALIAN NATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Esplanade of Marisabella
Sunday, 29 May 2005

The intention of this Eucharistic Congress, which ends today, was once again to present Sunday as the “weekly Easter”, an expression of the identity of the Christian community and the centre of its life and mission.

The chosen theme – “Without Sunday we cannot live” – takes us back to the year 304, when the Emperor Diocletian forbade Christians, on pain of death, from possessing the Scriptures, from gathering on Sundays to celebrate the Eucharist and from building places in which to hold their assemblies.

In Abitene, a small village in present-day Tunisia, 49 Christians were taken by surprise one Sunday while they were celebrating the Eucharist, gathered in the house of Octavius Felix, thereby defying the imperial prohibitions. They were arrested and taken to Carthage to be interrogated by the Proconsul Anulinus.

Significant among other things is the answer a certain Emeritus gave to the Proconsul who asked him why on earth they had disobeyed the Emperor’s severe orders. He replied: “Sine dominico non possumus”: that is, we cannot live without joining together on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. We would lack the strength to face our daily problems and not to succumb.
After atrocious tortures, these 49 martyrs of Abitene were killed. Thus, they confirmed their faith with bloodshed. They died, but they were victorious: today we remember them in the glory of the Risen Christ.

The experience of the martyrs of Abitene is also one on which we 21st-century Christians should reflect. It is not easy for us either to live as Christians, even if we are spared such prohibitions from the emperor. From a spiritual point of view, the world in which we find ourselves, often marked by unbridled consumerism, religious indifference and a secularism closed to transcendence, can appear a desert just as “vast and terrible” (Dt 8: 15) as the one we heard about in the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy. God came to the aid of the Jewish people in difficulty in this desert with his gift of manna, to make them understand that “not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord” (Dt 8: 3).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has explained to us, through the gift of manna, for what bread God wanted to prepare the people of the New Covenant. Alluding to the Eucharist he said: “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and died nonetheless, the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever” (Jn 6: 58).

In taking flesh, the Son of God could become Bread and thus be the nourishment of his people, of us, journeying on in this world towards the promised land of Heaven.

We need this Bread to face the fatigue and weariness of our journey. Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a favourable opportunity to draw strength from him, the Lord of life.

The Sunday precept is not, therefore, an externally imposed duty, a burden on our shoulders. On the contrary, taking part in the Celebration, being nourished by the Eucharistic Bread and experiencing the communion of their brothers and sisters in Christ is a need for Christians, it is a joy; Christians can thus replenish the energy they need to continue on the journey we must make every week.

Moreover, this is not an arbitrary journey: the path God points out to us through his Word goes in the direction inscribed in man’s very existence. The Word of God and reason go together. For the human being, following the Word of God, going with Christ means fulfilling oneself; losing it is equivalent to losing oneself.

The Lord does not leave us alone on this journey. He is with us; indeed, he wishes to share our destiny to the point of identifying with us.

In the Gospel discourse that we have just heard he says, “He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (Jn 6: 56). How is it possible not to rejoice in such a promise?

However, we have heard that at his first announcement, instead of rejoicing, the people started to murmur in protest: “How can he give us his flesh to eat?” (Jn 6: 52). To tell the truth, that attitude has frequently been repeated in the course of history. One might say that basically people do not want to have God so close, to be so easily within reach or to share so deeply in the events of their daily life.

Rather, people want him to be great and, in brief, we also often want him to be a little distant from us. Questions are then raised that are intended to show that, after all, such closeness would be impossible.

But the words that Christ spoke on that occasion have lost none of their clarity: “Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6: 53). Truly, we need a God who is close to us. In the face of the murmur of protest, Jesus might have fallen back on reassuring words: “Friends”, he could have said, “do not worry! I spoke of flesh but it is only a symbol. What I mean is only a deep communion of sentiments”.

But no, Jesus did not have recourse to such soothing words. He stuck to his assertion, to all his realism, even when he saw many of his disciples breaking away (cf. Jn 6: 66). Indeed, he showed his readiness to accept even desertion by his apostles, while not in any way changing the substance of his discourse: “Do you want to leave me too?” (Jn 6: 67), he asked. Thanks be to God, Peter’s response was one that even we can make our own today with full awareness: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6: 68). We need a God who is close, a God who puts himself in our hands and who loves us.

(…)

Dear friends who have come to Bari from various parts of Italy to celebrate this Eucharistic Congress, we must rediscover the joy of Christian Sundays. We must proudly rediscover the privilege of sharing in the Eucharist, which is the sacrament of the renewed world.

Christ’s Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which in the Scriptures is the day of the world’s creation. For this very reason Sunday was considered by the early Christian community as the day on which the new world began, the one on which, with Christ’s victory over death, the new creation began.

As they gathered round the Eucharistic table, the community was taking shape as a new people of God. St Ignatius of Antioch described Christians as “having attained new hope” and presented them as people “who lived in accordance with Sunday” (“iuxta dominicam viventes“). In this perspective, the Bishop of Antioch wondered: “How will we be able to live without him, the One whom the prophets so long awaited?” (Ep. ad Magnesios, 9, 1-2).

“How will we be able to live without him?”. In these words of St Ignatius we hear echoing the affirmation of the martyrs of Abitene: “Sine dominico non possumus“.
It is this that gives rise to our prayer: that we too, Christians of today, will rediscover an awareness of the crucial importance of the Sunday Celebration and will know how to draw from participation in the Eucharist the necessary dynamism for a new commitment to proclaiming to the world Christ “our peace” (Eph 2: 14). Amen!

Homily, Closing of the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, Esplanade of Marisabella, Bari, 29 May 2005.

Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning with prayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into our time, all time becomes greater, roomier, richer.

Homily, Parish Church of Castel Gondolfo, Monday 15 August 2005.

Jesus’ hour seeks to become our own hour and will indeed become so if we allow ourselves, through the celebration of the Eucharist, to be drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about. The Eucharist must become the centre of our lives.

If the Church tells us that the Eucharist is an essential part of Sunday, this is no mere positivism or thirst for power. On Easter morning, first the women and then the disciples had the grace of seeing the Lord. From that moment on, they knew that the first day of the week, Sunday, would be his day, the day of Christ the Lord. The day when creation began became the day when creation was renewed. Creation and redemption belong together. That is why Sunday is so important.

It is good that today, in many cultures, Sunday is a free day, and is often combined with Saturday so as to constitute a “week-end” of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is not present.

Dear friends! Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time.

Do not be deterred from taking part in Sunday Mass, and help others to discover it too. This is because the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it.

Let us pledge ourselves to do this – it is worth the effort! Let us discover the intimate riches of the Church’s liturgy and its true greatness:  it is not we who are celebrating for ourselves, but it is the living God himself who is preparing a banquet for us.

Homily, XX World Youth Day, Marienfeld, Cologne, Germany, 21 August 2005.

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The Sabbath is a holy day, that is, a day consecrated to God on which man understands better the meaning of his life and his work. It can therefore be said that the biblical teaching on work is crowned by the commandment of rest.

Homily, Mass for all workers of the Feast of St Joseph, Rome, 19 March, 2006.

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APOSTOLIC JOURNEY
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO AUSTRIA
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 850th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE SHRINE OF MARIAZELL

EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna
Sunday, 9 September 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sine dominico non possumus!” Without the gift of the Lord, without the Lord’s day, we cannot live: That was the answer given in the year 304 by Christians from Abitene in present-day Tunisia, when they were caught celebrating the forbidden Sunday Eucharist and brought before the judge. They were asked why they were celebrating the Christian Sunday Eucharist, even though they knew it was a capital offence. “Sine dominico non possumus”: in the word dominicum/dominico two meanings are inextricably intertwined, and we must once more learn to recognize their unity. First of all there is the gift of the Lord – this gift is the Lord himself: the Risen one, whom the Christians simply need to have close and accessible to them, if they are to be themselves. Yet this accessibility is not merely something spiritual, inward and subjective: the encounter with the Lord is inscribed in time on a specific day. And so it is inscribed in our everyday, corporal and communal existence, in temporality. It gives a focus, an inner order to our time and thus to the whole of our lives. For these Christians, the Sunday Eucharist was not a commandment, but an inner necessity. Without him who sustains our lives, life itself is empty. To do without or to betray this focus would deprive life of its very foundation, would take away its inner dignity and beauty.

Does this attitude of the Christians of that time apply also to us who are Christians today? Yes, it does, we too need a relationship that sustains us, that gives direction and content to our lives. We too need access to the Risen one, who sustains us through and beyond death. We need this encounter which brings us together, which gives us space for freedom, which lets us see beyond the bustle of everyday life to God’s creative love, from which we come and towards which we are travelling.

(…)

Sine dominico non possumus!” Without the Lord and without the day that belongs to him, life does not flourish. Sunday has been transformed in our Western societies into the week-end, into leisure time. Leisure time is something good and necessary, especially amid the mad rush of the modern world; each of us knows this. Yet if leisure time lacks an inner focus, an overall sense of direction, then ultimately it becomes wasted time that neither strengthens nor builds us up. Leisure time requires a focus – the encounter with him who is our origin and goal. My great predecessor in the see of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Faulhaber, once put it like this: Give the soul its Sunday, give Sunday its soul.

Because Sunday is ultimately about encountering the risen Christ in word and sacrament, its span extends through the whole of reality. The early Christians celebrated the first day of the week as the Lord’s day, because it was the day of the resurrection. Yet very soon, the Church also came to realize that the first day of the week is the day of the dawning of creation, the day on which God said: “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). Therefore Sunday is also the Church’s weekly feast of creation – the feast of thanksgiving and joy over God’s creation. At a time when creation seems to be endangered in so many ways through human activity, we should consciously advert to this dimension of Sunday too. Then, for the early Church, the first day increasingly assimilated the traditional meaning of the seventh day, the Sabbath. We participate in God’s rest, which embraces all of humanity. Thus we sense on this day something of the freedom and equality of all God’s creatures.

Homily, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Sunday 9 September 200.

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And what can be said of the Eucharistic Celebration, especially Sunday Mass? The Lord’s Day is rightly at the centre of the Italian Bishops’ attention: the Christian root of Sunday must be rediscovered, starting with the celebration of the Risen Lord, encountered in the Word of God and recognized in the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread.

Homily, Mass, Savona, 17 May 2008.

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I entrust the City of Genoa and all its inhabitants to the Lord at this solemn Eucharistic concelebration which, as on every Sunday, invites us to take part as a community in the double table of the Word of Truth and the Bread of Eternal Life.

Homily, Mass, Genoa, 18 May 2008.

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May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honour Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.

Homily (live broadcast via satellite), for the Closing of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada, 22 June 2008.

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In particular, each parish is called to rediscover the beauty of Sunday, the Lord’s Day, in which the disciples of Christ renew, in the Eucharist, communion with the One who gives meaning to the joys and hardships of each day.

“Without Sunday we cannot live”: thus professed the first Christians, even at the cost of their lives, and this is what we are called to repeat today.

Angelus, 22 May 2005.

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One of the recurring themes in this special Eucharistic period is that of Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a topic that was also at the heart of the recent Italian Eucharistic Congress held in Bari.
At the closing celebration, I too emphasized how participation in Sunday Mass must not be felt as an imposition or burden by Christians, but rather as a necessity and joy. Gathering together with our brothers and sisters to listen to the Word of God and to be nourished by Christ, sacrificed for us, is a beautiful experience that gives life meaning and imbues our hearts with peace. We Christians cannot live without Sunday.

Parents, therefore, are called to help their children to discover the value and importance of responding to the invitation of Christ, who summons the whole Christian family to Sunday Mass.

Angelus, 12 June 2005.

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Every Christian is called to enter into profound communion with the Crucified and Risen Lord, to adore him in prayer, meditation and above all, in devout participation in the Eucharist, at least on Sunday, the little “weekly Easter”. In this way one truly becomes his disciple, ready to proclaim and to witness at every moment to the Gospel’s beauty and power of renewal.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 31 July 2005.

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I am confident that with the commitment of Pastors and faithful, there will be an increasingly assiduous and fervent participation in the Eucharist in every community. Today in particular, I would like to urge people to sanctify with joy the “Lord’s Day”, Sunday, a holy day for Christians.

Angelus,4  September 2005.

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Faithful participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration helps one to feel a living part of the Ecclesial Community even when one is outside his or her own parish. Wherever we find ourselves, we always need to be nourished by the Eucharist.
Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 13 August 2006.

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The joy of these days extends throughout the liturgical year and is renewed especially on Sunday, the day dedicated to the memory of the Lord’s Resurrection. On Sunday, as it were, the “little Easter” of every week, the liturgical assembly gathered for Holy Mass proclaims in the Creed that Jesus rose on the third day, adding that we wait for “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”.

This shows that the event of Jesus’ death and Resurrection constitutes the centre of our faith and that it is on this proclamation that the Church is founded and develops.

Audience, 19 April 2006.

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On Sunday morning, I then celebrated the solemn Eucharist in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. In my Homily, I wanted in particular to delve into the meaning and value of Sunday, to support the Alliance in Defence of Free Sundays Movement. Non-Christian people and groups also belong to this movement.

As believers, we of course have deep reasons for living the Lord’s Day, just as the Church has taught us. “Sine dominico non possumus!”:  Without the Lord and without his Day we cannot live, declared the Martyrs of Abitene (present-day Tunisia) in 304 A.D.

Nor can we Christians of the third millennium live without Sunday:  a day that gives meaning to work and rest, that actualizes the meaning of Creation and Redemption, expresses the value of freedom and of service to neighbour….

Sunday is all this:  far more than a precept! If the peoples of the ancient Christian civilization abandon this meaning and allow Sunday to be reduced to a weekend or an opportunity for worldly and commercial interests, they have decided to renounce their own culture.

Audience, 12 September 2007.

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In the Holy Eucharist, in the encounter with his Word, we too can meet and know Jesus at this two-fold Table of the Word and of the consecrated Bread and Wine. Every Sunday the community thus relives the Lord’s Passover and receives from the Saviour his testament of love and brotherly service.

Audience, 26 March 2008.

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The Via Crucis[Way of the Cross] to Calvary that we walked with Jesus in the Sacred Triduum has become the comforting “Via lucis” [way of light]. Seen from the Resurrection we can say that this way of suffering is a path of light and spiritual renewal, of inner peace and firm hope. After the weeping, after the bewilderment of Good Friday, followed by the silence laden with expectation of Holy Saturday, at dawn on the “first day after the Sabbath” the proclamation of Life that triumphed over death resounded: “Dux vitae mortuus/regnat vivus the Lord of life was dead; but he is now alive and triumphant!”. The overwhelming newness of the Resurrection is so important that the Church never ceases to proclaim it, prolonging its commemoration especially every Sunday: every Sunday, in fact, is the “Lord’s Day” and the weekly Easter of the People of God. As if to highlight this mystery of salvation that invests our daily life, our Eastern brothers and sisters call Sunday, in Russian, “the day of the Resurrection” (voskrescénje).

Audience, 15 April 2009.

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I would like to end the presentation of this great “churchman” by quoting some of his words in which his basic conviction is clearly reflected: “Those who are negligent in contemplation (“qui vacare Deo negligit”), deprive themselves of the vision of God’s light; then those who let themselves be indiscreetly invaded by worries and allow their thoughts to be overwhelmed by the tumult of worldly things condemn themselves to the absolute impossibility of penetrating the secrets of the invisible God” (Lib I, PL 112, col. 1263 A). I think that Rabanus Maurus is also addressing these words to us today: in periods of work, with its frenetic pace, and in holiday periods we must reserve moments for God. We must open our lives to him, addressing to him a thought, a reflection, a brief prayer, and above all we must not forget Sunday as the Lord’s Day, the day of the Liturgy, in order to perceive God’s beauty itself in the beauty of our churches, in our sacred music and in the word of God, letting him enter our being. Only in this way does our life become great, become true life.

Audience, 3 June 2009.

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In today’s celebration of the Eucharist, the Son of God has also been given to us. Those who have received Holy Communion, in a special way, carry the Risen Lord within themselves. Just as Mary bore him in her womb – a defenceless little child, totally dependent on the love of his Mother – so Jesus Christ, under the species of bread, has entrusted himself to us, dear brothers and sisters. Let us love this Jesus who gives himself so completely into our hands! Let us love him as Mary loved him! And let us bring him to others, just as Mary brought him to Elizabeth as the source of joyful exultation!  The Virgin gave the Word of God a human body, and thus enabled him to come into the world as a man. Let us give our own bodies to the Lord, and let them become ever more fully instruments of God’s love, temples of the Holy Spirit! Let us bring Sunday, and its immense gift, into the world!

Angelus, Vienna, 9 September 2007.

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This day that has brought us together here in Birmingham is a most auspicious one. In the first place, it is the Lord’s day, Sunday, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and changed the course of human history for ever, offering new life and hope to all who live in darkness and in the shadow of death. That is why Christians all over the world come together on this day to give praise and thanks to God for the great marvels he has worked for us. This particular Sunday also marks a significant moment in the life of the British nation, as it is the day chosen to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. For me as one who lived and suffered through the dark days of the Nazi regime in Germany, it is deeply moving to be here with you on this occasion, and to recall how many of your fellow citizens sacrificed their lives, courageously resisting the forces of that evil ideology. My thoughts go in particular to nearby Coventry, which suffered such heavy bombardment and massive loss of life in November 1940. Seventy years later, we recall with shame and horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms. Yet there is another, more joyful reason why this is an auspicious day for Great Britain, for the Midlands, for Birmingham. It is the day that sees Cardinal John Henry Newman formally raised to the altars and declared Blessed.
Homily [Birmingham, England], 19 September 2010.

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Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Christ in the Eucharist in Holy Mass on Sunday is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to pay frequent visits to the Lord present in the Tabernacle! In gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of God’s love, we discover Jesus’ Passion and Cross and likewise his Resurrection. It is precisely through our gazing in adoration that the Lord draws us towards him into his mystery in order to transform us as he transforms the bread and the wine.

The Saints never failed to find strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. Let us repeat before the Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament the words of the Eucharistic hymn “Adoro te devote”: [Devoutly I adore Thee]: Make me believe ever more in you, “Draw me deeply into faith, / Into Your hope, into Your love”.

Audience [St Juliana of Cornillon], 17 November 2010.

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Perhaps this language of the Second Vatican Council is a little too solemn for us, perhaps we should say things even more simply. What is the essential? The essential means never leaving a Sunday without an encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an additional burden but is light for the whole week. It means never beginning and never ending a day without at least a brief contact with God. And, on the path of our life it means following the “signposts” that God has communicated to us in the Ten Commandments, interpreted with Christ, which are merely the explanation of what love is in specific situations. It seems to me that this is the true simplicity and greatness of a life of holiness: the encounter with the Risen One on Sunday; contact with God at the beginning and at the end of the day; following, in decisions, the “signposts” that God has communicated to us, which are but forms of charity.

Audience, 13 April 2011.

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Eucharist – Mass – Eschatology

« Jesus’ “hour” is the Cross; his definitive hour will be his return at the end of time. He continually anticipates also this definitive hour in the Eucharist, in which, even now, he always comes to us. And he does this ever anew through the intercession of his Mother, through the intercession of the Church, which cries out to him in the Eucharistic prayers: “Come, Lord Jesus! ».

Homily, Eucharistic Celebration, Kapellplatz, Alotting, 11 September 2006.

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On the eve of his Passion, during the Passover meal, the Lord took the bread in his hands – as we heard a short time ago in the Gospel passage – and, having blessed it, he broke it and gave it to his Disciples, saying: “Take this, this is my body”. He then took the chalice, gave thanks and passed it to them and they all drank from it. He said: “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out on behalf of many” (Mk 14: 22-24).

The entire history of God with humanity is recapitulated in these words. The past alone is not only referred to and interpreted, but the future is anticipated – the coming of the Kingdom of God into the world. What Jesus says are not simply words. What he says is an event, the central event of the history of the world and of our personal lives.

These words are inexhaustible.

Homily, Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, St John Lateran, 15 June 2006.

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In the liturgy Jesus prays with us, we pray with Jesus, and so we enter into real contact with God, we enter into the mystery of eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity.
Jesus speaks to the Father:  this is the source and centre of all Jesus’ activities; we see his preaching, his cures, his miracles and lastly the Passion, and they spring from this centre of his being with the Father.

Homily, Parish of Saint Anne in the Vatican, 5 February 2006

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Let us rejoice in the Lord, on this day when we contemplate another marvel of God, who in his admirable providence allows us to taste a trace of his presence in this act of self-giving Love that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.

Homily, Canonization of Frei Antionio de Sant’Ana Galvao, O.F.M., Sao Paolo, Brazil, 11 May 2007.

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As we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for his chosen soul we remember the unforgettable devotion with which he celebrated the Holy Mysteries and adored the Sacrament of the Altar, the centre of his life and of his untiring mission.

Mass on the Second Anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, John Paul II, St Peter’s Square, 2 April 2007.

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We are celebrating Christ in the Eucharist, the greatest gift that flowed from his divine and human Heart, the Bread of Life, broken and shared to enable us to become one with him and with one another.

Homily, Mass, Brindisi, 15 June 2008.

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The Eucharist is not a meal with friends. It is the mystery of a covenant. “The prayers and rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice revive the whole history of salvation continuously before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle and make us enter its significance ever more deeply” (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein], Wege zu inneren Stille, Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of a covenant by conforming our lives ever more closely each day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7). In a certain way, it is a “heavenly liturgy”, an anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, announcing the death and Resurrection of Christ “until he comes” (1 Cor 11: 26).

Homily (live broadcast via satellite), for the Closing of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada, 22 June 2008.

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The Eucharist – the centre of our Christian being – is founded on Jesus’ sacrifice for us; it is born from the suffering of love which culminated in the Cross. We live by this love that gives itself. It gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for him in this world, knowing that in this very way our life becomes great and mature and true.

Homily, Celebration of First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul for the opening of the Pauline Year, Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, 28 June 2008.

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We are about to celebrate the dedication of the new altar of this venerable cathedral. As its sculpted frontal powerfully reminds us, every altar is a symbol of Jesus Christ, present in the midst of his Church as priest, altar and victim (cf. Preface of Easter V). Crucified, buried and raised from the dead, given life in the Spirit and seated at the right hand of the Father, Christ has become our great high priest, eternally making intercession for us. In the Church’s liturgy, and above all in the sacrifice of the Mass consummated on the altars of the world, he invites us, the members of his mystical Body, to share in his self-oblation. He calls us, as the priestly people of the new and eternal covenant, to offer, in union with him, our own daily sacrifices for the salvation of the world.

Homily, Mass, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, 19 July 2008.

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At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, “one body, one spirit in Christ”.

Homily, Mass on the occasion of the 23rd World Youth Day, Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, 20 July 2008.

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The bread that we break is a communion with the Body of Christ. The cup of blessing which we bless is a communion with the Blood of Christ. This extraordinary revelation comes to us from Christ and has been transmitted to us by the Apostles and by the whole Church for almost two thousand years: Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist on the evening of Holy Thursday. He wanted his sacrifice to be presented anew, in an unbloody manner, every time a priest repeats the words of consecration over the bread and wine. Millions of times over the last twenty centuries, in the humblest chapels and in the most magnificent basilicas and cathedrals, the risen Lord has given himself to his people, thus becoming, in the famous expression of Saint Augustine, “more intimate to us than we are to ourselves” (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11).

Brothers and sisters, let us give the greatest veneration to the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Blessed Sacrament of the real presence of the Lord to his Church and to all humanity. Let us take every opportunity to show him our respect and our love! Let us give him the greatest marks of honour! Through our words, our silences, and our gestures, let us never allow our faith in the risen Christ, present in the Eucharist, to lose its savour in us or around us! As Saint John Chrysostom said magnificently, “Let us behold the ineffable generosity of God and all the good things that he enables us to enjoy, when we offer him this cup, when we receive communion, thanking him for having delivered the human race from error, for having brought close to him those who were far away, for having made, out of those who were without hope and without God in the world, a people of brothers, fellow heirs with the Son of God” (Homily 24 on the First Letter to the Corinthians, 1). “In fact”, he continues, “what is in the cup is precisely what flowed from his side, and it is of this that we partake” (ibid.). There is not only partaking and sharing, there is “union”, says the Doctor whose name means “golden mouth”.

The Mass is the sacrifice of thanksgiving par excellence, the one which allows us to unite our own thanksgiving to that of the Saviour, the Eternal Son of the Father.

(…)

To raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, is that not the very best way of “shunning idols”, as Saint Paul asks us to do? Every time the Mass is celebrated, every time Christ makes himself sacramentally present in his Church, the work of our salvation is accomplished. Hence to celebrate the Eucharist means to recognize that God alone has the power to grant us the fullness of joy and teach us true values, eternal values that will never pass away. God is present on the altar, but he is also present on the altar of our heart when, as we receive communion, we receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He alone teaches us to shun idols, the illusions of our minds.

Now, dear brothers and sisters, who can raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord in the name of the entire people of God, except the priest, ordained for this purpose by his Bishop? At this point, dear inhabitants of Paris and the outlying regions, but also those of you who have come from the rest of France and from neighbouring countries, allow me to issue an appeal, confident in the faith and generosity of the young people who are considering a religious or priestly vocation: do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to give your life to Christ! Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests at the heart of the Church! Nothing will ever replace a Mass for the salvation of the world!

Homily, Mass at the Esplanade des Invalides, Paris, 13 September 2008.

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On this altar he will continue to sacrifice himself in the sacrament of the Eucharist, for our salvation and for that of the whole world.

Jesus makes himself truly present in the Eucharistic Mystery, which is renewed on every altar. His is a dynamic presence that takes hold of us to make us his, to liken us to him. He attracts us with the force of his love, bringing us out of ourselves to be united with him, making us one with him.

The Real Presence of Christ makes each one of us his “house” and all together we form his Church, the spiritual building of which St Peter speaks. “Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious”; the Apostle writes, “and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 2: 4-5). St Augustine remarks, developing, as it were, this beautiful metaphor that through faith people are like the wood and stones collected in the forests and on the mountains for building; then through Baptism, catechesis and preaching they are rough-shaped, squared, and polished; but they become houses of the Lord only when they are put together with love. When believers are interconnected in accordance with a specific order, mutually close and cohesive, when they are joined by love, they truly become a dwelling of God that is in no danger of collapsing (cf. Serm., 336).

Homily, Mass and Dedication of the new Altar, Cathedral of Albano, 21 September, 2008.

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Eschatological dimension of the Mass:

The altar of the sacrifice becomes in a certain way the meeting point between Heaven and earth; the centre, we might say, of the One Church that is heavenly yet at the same time a pilgrim on this earth where, amidst the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, disciples of the Lord proclaim his Passion and his death until he comes in glory (cf. Lumen Gentium,n. 8). Indeed, every Eucharistic Celebration already anticipates Christ’s triumph over sin and over the world and in the mystery shows the radiance of the Church, “the spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb. It is she whom Christ loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her'” (ibid., n. 6).

Homily, Mass and Dedication of the new Altar, Cathedral of Albano, 21 September, 2008.

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The banquet of the Eucharist is an anticipation of the final feast in Heaven, to which the Lord invites us every day and in which we must take part, clothed in the wedding garment of his grace.
Homily, Canonization Mass, 12 October, 2008.

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In the Eucharist, Christ himself receives us as friends and gives himself to us in the banquet of Bread and the Word, entering into deep communion with each one.

Homily, Canonization Mass, 12 October, 2008.

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In the Sacrament of the Eucharist he gives himself to us – he gives us a life that reaches into eternity.

Homily, Midnight Mass, 25 December, 2008.

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Upon the Eucharistic table, nuptial feast of the New Covenant, Christ as the Paschal Lamb makes of himself food for us; destroys death; and gives us his life, life without end.

Homily, Mass in suffrage for Cardinals and Bishops who have died in the last year, Vatican Basilica,5 November 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have great joy in being able to break the Bread of the Word of God and of the Eucharist with you here, in the heart of the Diocese of Brescia,

Homily, Mass, Brescia, 8 November, 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we live in faith the mystery that is fulfilled on the altar, that is, we take part in the supreme act of love that Christ accomplished with his death and Resurrection.

Homily, Mass, Pentecost, Vatican Basilica, 31 May 2009.

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The Eucharist, the privileged place in which the Church recognizes “the Author of life” (Acts 3: 15) is “the breaking of the bread”, as it is called in the Acts of the Apostles. In it, through faith, we enter into communion with Christ, who is “the priest, the altar, and the lamb of sacrifice” (cf. Preface for Easter, 5) and is among us. Let us gather round him to cherish the memory of his words and of the events contained in Scripture; let us relive his Passion, death and Resurrection. In celebrating the Eucharist we communicate with Christ, the victim of expiation, and from him we draw forgiveness and life. What would our lives as Christians be without the Eucharist? The Eucharist is the perpetual, living inheritance which the Lord has bequeathed to us in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood and which we must constantly rethink and deepen so that, as venerable Pope Paul vi said, it may “impress its inexhaustible effectiveness on all the days of our earthly life” (Insegnamenti, V [1967], p. 779). Nourished with the Eucharistic Bread, the Saints we are venerating today brought their mission of evangelical love to completion with their own special charisms in the various areas in which they worked.

Homily, Mass of Canonization of five new Saints, 26 April 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Epiphany, the “manifestation” of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is a many-facetted mystery. The Latin tradition identifies it with the visit of the Magi to the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem and thus interprets it above all as a revelation of the Messiah of Israel to the Gentiles. The Eastern tradition on the other hand gives priority to the moment of Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan when he manifested himself as the Only-Begotten Son of the heavenly Father, consecrated by the Holy Spirit. John’s Gospel, however, also invites us to consider as an “epiphany” the Wedding at Cana, during which, by changing the water into wine, Jesus “manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn 2: 11). And what should we say, dear brothers and sisters, especially we priests of the New Covenant who are every day witnesses and ministers of the “epiphany” of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist? The Church celebrates all the mysteries of the Lord in this most holy and most humble Sacrament in which he both reveals and conceals his glory. “Adoro te devote, latens Deitas” in adoration, thus we pray along with St Thomas Aquinas.

Homily, Mass, Solemnity of the Epiphany, 6 January 2009.

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Every Holy Mass, in fact, actualizes the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. “Every priest who celebrates Holy Mass”, our beloved John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “together with the Christian community which takes part in it, is led back in spirit” to Golgotha and to the “hour” of his death on the Cross (n. 4).

The Eucharist is therefore the memorial of the entire Paschal Mystery: the passion, death, descent into hell, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven; and the Cross is the moving manifestation of the act of infinite love with which the Son of God saved humankind and the world from sin and death.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 11 September 2005.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the Year of the Eucharist draws to a close, I would like to return to a particularly important subject that was also very dear to my Predecessor, John Paul II: the relationship between holiness, the way and destination of the Church and of every Christian, and the Eucharist.

I am thinking in particular today of priests, in order to emphasize that the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist. By virtue of sacred Orders, the priest receives the gift of and commitment to repeating in the Sacrament the gestures and words with which Jesus instituted the memorial of his Pasch at the Last Supper.

This great miracle of love, which the priest is called ever more faithfully to witness and proclaim (cf. Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 30), is renewed in his hands. This is the reason why the priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist, starting from the very moment in which he celebrates it.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 18 September 2005.

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the central mystery of the faith: the Incarnation of Redemption, of which the Eucharist is the living presence.

Angelus, 23 October 2005.

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Indeed, in every Eucharistic Celebration God enters history in Jesus Christ in his Word and in his Body, giving himself in that love which enables us to serve humanity in its concrete existence.

Homily, Celebration of First Vespers with university students of Rome, 17 December 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of Easter we shall often hear Jesus’ words resound: “I am risen and I am with you always”. Echoing this good news, the Church proclaims exultantly: “Yes, we are certain! The Lord is truly risen, alleluia! The power and the glory are his, now and forever”. The whole Church rejoices, expressing her sentiments by singing: “This is the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. In fact, in rising from the dead, Jesus inaugurated his eternal day and has opened the door to our joy, too. “I will not die”, he says, “but will have everlasting life”. The crucified Son of man, the stone rejected by the builders, has now become the solid foundation of the new spiritual edifice which is the Church, his mystical Body. The People of God, which has Christ as its invisible Head, is destined to grow in the course of the centuries until the complete fulfilment of the plan of salvation. Then the whole of humanity will be incorporated into him and every existing reality will be penetrated with his total victory. Then, as St Paul writes, he will be “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (cf. Eph 1: 23), and “God may be everything to every one” (1 Cor 15: 28).

Thus it is right for the Christian community to rejoice all of us because the Resurrection of the Lord assures us that the divine plan of salvation, despite all the obscurity of history, will certainly be brought about. This is why his Passover truly is our hope. And we, risen with Christ through Baptism, must now follow him faithfully in holiness of life, advancing towards the eternal Passover, sustained by the knowledge that the difficulties, struggles and trials of human life, including death, henceforth can no longer separate us from Him and his love. His Resurrection has formed a bridge between the world and eternal life over which every man and every woman can cross to reach the true goal of our earthly pilgrimage.

“I am risen and I am with you always”. This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil. He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven.

Regina Caeli, 13 April 2009.

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The desire that dwells in our hearts is to hasten the day of full communion, when all the disciples of our one Lord will at last be able to celebrate the Eucharist together, the divine sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world.

Audience, 21 January 2009.

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I am risen and I am with you always”. This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil. He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven.

Regina Caeli, 13 April 2009.

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The celebration of the Eucharist, carried out with due dignity, helps us to realize the immense grandeur of God’s gift to us in the Holy Mass.

Angelus, Vienna, 9 September 2007.

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Unfortunately, my Visit is very short and it is entirely concentrated in this Eucharistic celebration; but here we find everything: the Word and the Bread of Life that nourishes faith, hope and charity; and we renew the bond of communion that makes us the one Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(…)

The Eucharist which we are celebrating, the Sacrament of Love, recalls to us the essential: charity, the love of Christ that renews men and women and the world.

Homily [Carpineto Romano, Italy], 5 September 2010.

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In speaking of the sacraments, St Thomas reflects in a special way on the Mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had such great devotion, the early biographers claim, that he would lean his head against the Tabernacle, as if to feel the throbbing of Jesus’ divine and human heart. In one of his works, commenting on Scripture, St Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes: “Since this [the Eucharist] is the sacrament of Our Lord’s Passion, it contains in itself the Jesus Christ who suffered for us. Thus, whatever is an effect of Our Lord’s Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of Our Lord’s Passion to us” (cf. Commentary on John, chapter 6, lecture 6, n. 963). We clearly understand why St Thomas and other Saints celebrated Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord who gave himself as a sacrifice for us, tears of joy and gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves with this Body and Blood of Our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine Grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation!

Audience [St Thomas Aquinas (III)], 23 June 2010.

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In this Year for Priests, I would also like to recall a piece of advice that Francis gave to priests: “When you wish to celebrate Mass, in a pure way, reverently make the true sacrifice of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, 399). Francis always showed great deference towards priests, and asserted that they should always be treated with respect, even in cases where they might be somewhat unworthy personally. The reason he gave for this profound respect was that they receive the gift of consecrating the Eucharist. Dear brothers in the priesthood, let us never forget this teaching: the holiness of the Eucharist appeals to us to be pure, to live in a way that is consistent with the Mystery we celebrate.

Audience [St Francis of Assisi], 27 January 2010.

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Holy Communion

« The Lamb, Jesus, leads men and women to the sources of life. Among these sources are the Sacred Scriptures, in which God speaks to us and tells us the how to live in the right way. But there is more to these sources: in truth the authentic source is Jesus himself, in whom God gives us his very self. He does this above all in Holy Communion. There we can, as it were, drink directly from the source of life: he comes to us and makes each of us one with him.

(…)

This is how we should receive Holy Communion: seeing it as an encounter with Jesus, an encounter with God himself, who leads us to the sources of true life. »

Homily, Celebration of Vespers, Cathedral of Munich, 10 September 2006.

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The Eucharist is the food reserved for those who in Baptism were delivered from slavery and have become sons; it is the food that sustained them on the long journey of the exodus through the desert of human existence.

Like the manna for the people of Israel, for every Christian generation the Eucharist is the indispensable nourishment that sustains them as they cross the desert of this world, parched by the ideological and economic systems that do not promote life but rather humiliate it. It is a world where the logic of power and possessions prevails rather than that of service and love; a world where the culture of violence and death is frequently triumphant.

Yet Jesus comes to meet us and imbues us with certainty: he himself is “the Bread of life” (Jn 6: 35, 48). He repeated this to us in the words of the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the living bread from Heaven, if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever” (cf. Jn 6: 51).

Homily, Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, St John Lateran, 7 June 2007.

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Thus, the berakah, Israel’s prayer of blessing and thanksgiving, has become our Eucharistic celebration in which the Lord blesses our gifts – the bread and wine – to give himself in them.
Let us pray to the Lord that he will help us to understand this marvellous mystery ever more profoundly, to love it more and more, and in it, to love the Lord himself ever more.
Let us pray that he will increasingly draw us to himself with Holy Communion. Let us pray that he will help us not to keep our life for ourselves but to give it to him and thus to work with him so that people may find life: the true life which can only come from the One who himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

Homily, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday, Basilica of St John Lateran, 5 April 2007.

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Intimate and persevering sacramental communion with the Body and Blood of Christ brings about a profound transformation of the person. The fruit of this inner process, which involves the whole person, is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Mihi vivere Christus est” (Phil 1: 21).

Homily, Funeral Mass of Cardinal Antonio Maria Javierre Ortas, S.D.B, Altar of the Chair, St Peter’s Basilica, 2 February 2007.

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With the gift of himself in the Eucharist the Lord Jesus sets us free from our “paralyses”, he helps us up and enables us to “proceed “, that is, he makes us take a step ahead and then another step, and thus sets us going with the power of the Bread of Life. As happened to the Prophet Elijah who had sought refuge in the wilderness for fear of his enemies and had made up his mind to let himself die (cf. I Kgs 19: 1-4). But God awoke him from sleep and caused him to find beside him a freshly baked loaf: “Arise and eat”, the angel said, “else the journey will be too great for you” (I Kgs 19: 5,7).

Homily, Mass, Esplanade in front of Basilica of St John Lateran, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 22 May 2008.

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Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – by this we mean deepening our Communion, preparing for it and prolonging it – is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength “of unity with God and with one another” (St Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11: 11; cf. St Augustine, Sermo 577). We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and St Albert the Great have all said, following St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 10: 17), the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Church’s unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head.

Homily (live broadcast via satellite), for the Closing of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada, 22 June 2008.

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In the Eucharist, Christ himself receives us as friends and gives himself to us in the banquet of Bread and the Word, entering into deep communion with each one.

Homily, Canonization Mass, 12 October, 2008.

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In the Sacrament of the Eucharist he gives himself to us – he gives us a life that reaches into eternity.

Homily, Midnight Mass, 25 December, 2008.

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Mary, present on Calvary beneath the Cross, is also present with the Church and as Mother of the Church in each one of our Eucharistic Celebrations (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 57). No one better than she, therefore, can teach us to understand and live Holy Mass with faith and love, uniting ourselves with Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. When we receive Holy Communion, like Mary and united to her, we too clasp the wood that Jesus with his love transformed into an instrument of salvation, and pronounce our “Amen”, our “Yes” to Love, crucified and risen.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 11 September 2005.

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In the Eucharist the Lord gives himself to us in his body, soul and divinity, and we become one with him and with others. Our response to his love must then be concrete and expressed in an authentic conversion to love, in forgiveness, in welcoming one another and being attentive to the needs of everyone.

The kinds of service that we can render to our neighbour in everyday life, with a bit of attention, are many and varied. The Eucharist thus becomes the source of spiritual energy that renews our life each day, and in this way also renews the world in Christ’s love.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 25 September 2005.

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This is the beauty of the Christian truth: the Creator and Lord of all things makes himself a “grain of wheat” to be sown in our land, in the furrows of our history. He made himself bread to be broken, shared, eaten. He made himself our food to give us life, his same divine life. He was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “House of bread”, and when he began to preach to the crowds he revealed that the Father had sent him into the world as “living bread come down from heaven”, as the “bread of life”.

Angelus, 25 May 2008.

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In the Eucharist, Jesus nourishes us, he unites us with himself, with his Father, with the Holy Spirit and with one another. This network of unity that embraces the world is an anticipation of the future world in our time.

Audience, 29 March 2006.

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The second important aspect of the teaching on the Eucharist appears in the same First Letter to the Corinthians where St Paul says: “the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (10: 16-17). In these words the personal and social character of the Sacrament of the Eucharist likewise appears. Christ personally unites himself with each one of us, but Christ himself is also united with the man and the woman who are next to me. And the bread is for me but it is also for the other. Thus Christ unites all of us with himself and all of us with one another. In communion we receive Christ. But Christ is likewise united with my neighbour: Christ and my neighbour are inseparable in the Eucharist. And thus we are all one bread and one body. A Eucharist without solidarity with others is a Eucharist abused. And here we come to the root and, at the same time, the kernel of the doctrine on the Church as the Body of Christ, of the Risen Christ.

We also perceive the full realism of this doctrine. Christ gives us his Body in the Eucharist, he gives himself in his Body and thus makes us his Body, he unites us with his Risen Body. If man eats ordinary bread, in the digestive process this bread becomes part of his body, transformed into a substance of human life. But in holy Communion the inverse process is brought about. Christ, the Lord, assimilates us into himself, introducing us into his glorious Body, and thus we all become his Body. Whoever reads only chapter 12 of the First Letter to the Corinthians and chapter 12 of the Letter to the Romans might think that the words about the Body of Christ as an organism of charisms is only a sort of sociological and theological parable. Actually in Roman political science this parable of the body with various members that form a single unit was used referring to the State itself, to say that the State is an organism in which each one has his role, that the multiplicity and diversity of functions form one body and each one has his place. If one reads only chapter 12 of the First Letter to the Corinthians one might think that Paul limited himself to transferring this alone to the Church, that here too it was solely a question of a sociology of the Church. Yet, bearing in mind this chapter 10, we see that the realism of the Church is something quite different, far deeper and truer than that of a State organism. Because Christ really gives his Body and makes us his Body. We really become united with the Risen Body of Christ and thereby are united with one another. The Church is not only a corporation like the State is, she is a body. She is not merely an organization but a real organism.

Audience, 10 December 2008.

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We can imagine with what great faith and love Our Lady must have received and adored the Blessed Eucharist in her heart! For her it must have been every time like reliving the whole mystery of her Son Jesus: from his Conception to his Resurrection. The “Woman of the Eucharist”, my venerable and beloved Predecessor John Paul II called her. Let us learn from her to renew our communion with the Body of Christ ceaselessly so that we may love one another as he loved us.

Angelus, 14 June 2009.

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In today’s celebration of the Eucharist, the Son of God has also been given to us. Those who have received Holy Communion, in a special way, carry the Risen Lord within themselves. Just as Mary bore him in her womb – a defenceless little child, totally dependent on the love of his Mother – so Jesus Christ, under the species of bread, has entrusted himself to us, dear brothers and sisters. Let us love this Jesus who gives himself so completely into our hands! Let us love him as Mary loved him! And let us bring him to others, just as Mary brought him to Elizabeth as the source of joyful exultation!  The Virgin gave the Word of God a human body, and thus enabled him to come into the world as a man. Let us give our own bodies to the Lord, and let them become ever more fully instruments of God’s love, temples of the Holy Spirit! Let us bring Sunday, and its immense gift, into the world!

Angelus, Vienna, 9 September 2007.

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where is the source of Christian joy to be found if not in the Eucharist, which Christ left us as spiritual Food while we are pilgrims on this earth?
The Eucharist nurtures in believers of every epoch that deep joy which makes us one with love and peace and originates from communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

Angelus, 18 March 2007.

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Last Tuesday the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatiswas presented. Its theme, precisely, is the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission. I wrote it gathering the fruits of the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October 2005.

I mean to return to this important text, but I want to emphasize from this moment that it is an expression of the universal Church’s faith in the Eucharistic Mystery and is in continuity with the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of my venerable Predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II.

In this Document, I wanted among other things to highlight its connection with the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: that is why I chose as its title Sacramentum Caritatis, taking up St Thomas Aquinas’ beautiful definition of the Eucharist (cf. Summa Th. III, q. 73, a. 3, ad 3), the “Sacrament of charity”.

Yes, in the Eucharist Christ wanted to give us his love, which impelled him to offer his life for us on the Cross. At the Last Supper, in washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus left us the commandment of love: “even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13: 34).

However, since this is only possible by remaining united to him like branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15: 1-8), he chose to remain with us himself in the Eucharist so that we could remain in him.

When, therefore, we nourish ourselves with faith on his Body and Blood, his love passes into us and makes us capable in turn of laying down our lives for our brethren (cf. I Jn 3: 16) and not to grasp it for ourselves. From this flows Christian joy, the joy of love and the joy to be loved.

Mary is the “Woman of the Eucharist” par excellence, a masterpiece of divine grace: the love of God has made her immaculate, “holy and blameless before him” (cf. Eph 1: 4).
At her side, as Custodian of the Redeemer, God placed St Joseph, whose liturgical Solemnity we will be celebrating tomorrow. I invoke this great Saint, my Patron, in particular so that by believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic Mystery with faith, the People of God will be pervaded by Christ’s love and spread its fruits of joy and peace to all humanity

Angelus, 18 March 2007.

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Catherine also belongs to the throng of Saints devoted to the Eucharist with which I concluded my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94). Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, to strengthen our hope and to inflame our charity, to make us more and more like him.

Audience [St Catherine of Siena], 24 November 2010.

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Eucharist – General

“My Pontificate begins in a particularly meaningful way as the Church is living the special Year dedicated to the Eucharist. How could I fail to see this providential coincidence as an element that must mark the ministry to which I am called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the Church’s evangelizing mission, cannot but constitute the permanent centre and source of the Petrine ministry that has been entrusted to me.

The Eucharist makes constantly present the Risen Christ who continues to give himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of his Body and his Blood. From full communion with him flows every other element of the Church’s life:  first of all, communion among all the faithful, the commitment to proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel, the ardour of love for all, especially the poorest and lowliest.

This year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi must be celebrated with special solemnity. Subsequently, the Eucharist will be the centre of the World Youth Day in Cologne in August, and in October, also of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, whose theme will be:  “The Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church”. I ask everyone in the coming months to intensify love and devotion for Jesus in the Eucharist, and to express courageously and clearly faith in the Real Presence of the Lord, especially by the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.

I ask this especially of priests, whom I am thinking of with deep affection at this moment. The ministerial Priesthood was born at the Last Supper, together with the Eucharist, as my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II so frequently emphasized. “All the more then must the life of a priest be “shaped’ by the Eucharist” (Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2005, n. 1; ORE, 23 March, p. 4). In the first place, the devout, daily celebration of Holy Mass, the centre of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this goal.”

MISSA PRO ECCLESIA

FIRST MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
AT THE END OF THE EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION
WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS
IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Ignatius, for his part, while remaining Bishop of Antioch, was also heading for the martyrdom that he was to suffer in Rome. In his Letter to the Romans, he refers to the Church of Rome as “She who presides in love”, a deeply meaningful phrase. We do not know with any certainty what Ignatius may have had in mind when he used these words. But for the ancient Church, the word love, agape, referred to the mystery of the Eucharist. In this mystery, Christ’s love becomes permanently tangible among us. Here, again and again he gives himself. Here, again and again his heart is pierced; here he keeps his promise, the promise which, from the Cross, was to attract all things to himself.

In the Eucharist, we ourselves learn Christ’s love. It was thanks to this centre and heart, thanks to the Eucharist, that the saints lived, bringing to the world God’s love in ever new ways and forms. Thanks to the Eucharist, the Church is reborn ever anew! The Church is none other than that network – the Eucharistic community! – within which all of us, receiving the same Lord, become one body and embrace all the world.

Presiding in doctrine and presiding in love must in the end be one and the same: the whole of the Church’s teaching leads ultimately to love. And the Eucharist, as the love of Jesus Christ present, is the criterion for all teaching. On love the whole law is based, and the prophets as well, the Lord says (cf. Mt 22: 40). Love is the fulfilment of the law, St Paul wrote to the Romans (cf. 13: 10).

Homily, Mass of Possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome, Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome, Saturday, 7 May 2005.

Today’s liturgy invites us to contemplate the Eucharist as the source of holiness and spiritual nourishment for our mission in the world: this supreme “gift and mystery” manifests and communicates to us the fullness of God’s love.

The Word of the Lord, just proclaimed in the Gospel, has reminded us that all of divine law is summed up in love. The dual commandment to love God and neighbour contains the two aspects of a single dynamism of the heart and of life. Jesus thus brings to completion the ancient revelation, not by adding an unheard-of commandment, but by realizing in himself and in his work of salvation the living synthesis of the two great commands of the Old Covenant: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart…” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (cf. Dt 6: 5; Lv 19: 18).

In the Eucharist we contemplate the Sacrament of this living synthesis of the law: Christ offers to us, in himself, the complete fulfilment of love for God and love for our brothers and sisters. He communicates his love to us when we are nourished by his Body and Blood.

Homily, Conclusion of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and Year of the Eucharist. Canonisation of 5 Blesseds. World Mission Sunday, St Peter’s Square, 23 October 2005.

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[refers to:] the Eucharist, the source and school of love.

Homily, Visit to Rome’s Prison for Minors ‘Casal del Marmo’, Chapel of the Merciful Father, 18 March 2007.

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In the Message for Lent I extended the invitation to live these 40 days of special grace as a “Eucharistic” time. Drawing from the inexhaustible font of love that the Eucharist is, in which Christ renews the redemptive sacrifice of the Cross, each Christian can persevere on the journey that we solemnly begin today.

The works of charity (almsgiving), prayer, fasting, together with every sincere effort of conversion, find their most lofty significance and value in the Eucharist, centre and culmination of the life of the Church and the history of salvation.

Homily, Mass, Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, Ash Wednesday, 21 February 2007.

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The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure. It is the Sacrament par excellence; it ushers us into eternal life in advance; it contains the entire mystery of our salvation; it is the source and summit of the action and life of the Church as the Second Vatican Council recalled (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 8). It is therefore particularly important that pastors and faithful be constantly committed to deepening their knowledge of this great Sacrament.

Homily (live broadcast via satellite), for the Closing of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada, 22 June 2008.

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Dear brothers and sisters, in this Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of life and hope, of personal and social renewal,

Homily, Mass, Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii, 19 October, 2008.

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In the Sacrament of the Eucharist he gives himself to us – he gives us a life that reaches into eternity.

Homily, Midnight Mass, 25 December, 2008.

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The Eucharist is the Sacrament in which the whole work of Redemption is concentrated: in Jesus as Eucharist we can contemplate the transformation of death into life, of violence into love. Hidden beneath the veils of the bread and the wine, we recognize through the eyes of faith the same glory that was manifested to the Apostles after the Resurrection.

Homily, Vespers on the occasion of the recently restored Pauline Chapel in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, 4 July 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the heart of my pilgrimage to this place where everything speaks of the life and holiness of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, I have the joy of celebrating for you and with you the Eucharist, a mystery that was the centre of his whole life, the origin of his vocation, the power of his witness, the consecration of his sacrifice.

Homily, Mass outside the Church of St Pio of Pietrelcina, 21 June 2009.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we live in faith the mystery that is fulfilled on the altar, that is, we take part in the supreme act of love that Christ accomplished with his death and Resurrection.

Homily, Mass, Pentecost, Vatican Basilica, 31 May 2009.

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The Year of the Eucharist is now reaching its end. It will close this coming month of October with the celebration in the Vatican of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops whose theme will be: “The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church”.

It was our beloved Pope John Paul II who desired this special year dedicated to the Mystery of the Eucharist in order to reawaken in the Christian people faith, wonder and love for this great Sacrament, which constitutes the true treasure of the Church. How deep was the devotion with which he celebrated Holy Mass, the centre of every one of his days! And how much time he used to spend in silent, adoring prayer before the Tabernacle!

In his last months, illness brought him ever more closely to resemble the suffering Christ. It is a striking thought that at the moment of his death he must have found himself uniting the offering of his own life with that of Christ’s in the Mass being celebrated at his bedside. His earthly existence ended during the Octave of Easter in the very heart of this Year of the Eucharist, in which the passage from his great Pontificate to my own occurred.

Angelus,4  September 2005.

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In the Eucharist the Lord gives himself to us in his body, soul and divinity, and we become one with him and with others. Our response to his love must then be concrete and expressed in an authentic conversion to love, in forgiveness, in welcoming one another and being attentive to the needs of everyone.

The kinds of service that we can render to our neighbour in everyday life, with a bit of attention, are many and varied. The Eucharist thus becomes the source of spiritual energy that renews our life each day, and in this way also renews the world in Christ’s love.

Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 25 September 2005.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Only a little while ago in St Peter’s Basilica, we concluded the Eucharistic celebration at which we inaugurated the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world with experts and other delegates, will live for the next three weeks, together with the Successor of Peter, a privileged time of prayer, reflecting on the theme: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.

Why this theme? Is it not an already taken-for-granted topic that is fully understood?

In reality, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, authoritatively defined at the Council of Trent, needs to be received, experienced and transmitted by the Ecclesial Community ever anew and adapted to the times.

The Eucharist can also be considered as a “lens” through which to verify continually the face and the road of the Church, which Christ founded so that every person can know the love of God and find in him fullness of life.

For this reason, the beloved Pope John Paul II wished to dedicate an entire year to the Eucharist, which will close after three weeks with the end of the Synodal Assembly on Sunday, 23 October, when we will celebrate World Mission Sunday.

Such a coincidence helps us to contemplate the Eucharistic mystery from a missionary perspective. The Eucharist, in effect, is the driving force of the Church’s entire evangelizing action, a little like the heart in the human body.

Christian communities without the Eucharistic celebration, in which one is nourished at the double table of the Word and the Body of Christ, would lose their authentic nature: only those that are “eucharistic” can transmit Christ to humanity, and not only ideas or values which are also noble and important.

Angelus, 2 October 2005.

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the central mystery of the faith: the Incarnation of Redemption, of which the Eucharist is the living presence.

Angelus, 23 October 2005.

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How very significant is the bond between the Church’s mission and the Eucharist. In fact, missionary and evangelizing action is the apostolic diffusion of love that is, as it were, concentrated in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Angelus, 23 October 2005.

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This is the beauty of the Christian truth: the Creator and Lord of all things makes himself a “grain of wheat” to be sown in our land, in the furrows of our history. He made himself bread to be broken, shared, eaten. He made himself our food to give us life, his same divine life. He was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “House of bread”, and when he began to preach to the crowds he revealed that the Father had sent him into the world as “living bread come down from heaven”, as the “bread of life”.

Angelus, 25 May 2008.

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The beauty and the harmony of churches, destined to render praise to God, invites us human beings too, though limited and sinful, to convert ourselves to form a “cosmos”, a well-ordered construction, in close communion with Jesus, who is the true Holy of Holies. This reaches its culmination in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia” that is, the community of baptized finds itself again united to listen to the Word of God and nourish itself on the Body and Blood of Christ. Gathered around this twofold table, the Church of living stones builds herself up in truth and in love and is moulded interiorly by the Holy Spirit, transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself ever more to her Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, thus becomes a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.

Angelus, 9 November 2008.

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BENEDICT XVI

REGINA CÆLI

Courtyard of the Papal Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Easter Monday, 13 April 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of Easter we shall often hear Jesus’ words resound: “I am risen and I am with you always”. Echoing this good news, the Church proclaims exultantly: “Yes, we are certain! The Lord is truly risen, alleluia! The power and the glory are his, now and forever”. The whole Church rejoices, expressing her sentiments by singing: “This is the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. In fact, in rising from the dead, Jesus inaugurated his eternal day and has opened the door to our joy, too. “I will not die”, he says, “but will have everlasting life”. The crucified Son of man, the stone rejected by the builders, has now become the solid foundation of the new spiritual edifice which is the Church, his mystical Body. The People of God, which has Christ as its invisible Head, is destined to grow in the course of the centuries until the complete fulfilment of the plan of salvation. Then the whole of humanity will be incorporated into him and every existing reality will be penetrated with his total victory. Then, as St Paul writes, he will be “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (cf. Eph 1: 23), and “God may be everything to every one” (1 Cor 15: 28).

Thus it is right for the Christian community to rejoice all of us because the Resurrection of the Lord assures us that the divine plan of salvation, despite all the obscurity of history, will certainly be brought about. This is why his Passover truly is our hope. And we, risen with Christ through Baptism, must now follow him faithfully in holiness of life, advancing towards the eternal Passover, sustained by the knowledge that the difficulties, struggles and trials of human life, including death, henceforth can no longer separate us from Him and his love. His Resurrection has formed a bridge between the world and eternal life over which every man and every woman can cross to reach the true goal of our earthly pilgrimage.

“I am risen and I am with you always”. This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil. He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven.

Regina Caeli, 13 April 2009.

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Jesus makes himself our travelling companion in the Eucharist, and the Eucharist – as I said in my Homily at the concluding celebration, borrowing from physics a well known image – induces “nuclear fission” into the very heart of being (Homily, Holy Mass, Marienfeld Esplanade, Cologne, 21 August 2005; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 August 2005, p. 11). Only this innermost explosion of good that overcomes evil can give life to other transformations that are necessary to change the world.

Audience, 24 August 2005.

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In the Eucharist, Jesus nourishes us, he unites us with himself, with his Father, with the Holy Spirit and with one another. This network of unity that embraces the world is an anticipation of the future world in our time.

Audience, 29 March 2006.

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Tomorrow, the Feast of Corpus Christi, we will celebrate Holy Mass at 7: 00 p.m., as we do every year, in the Square of St John Lateran. It will be followed by the solemn procession along Via Merulana to St Mary Major. I ask the Christian Community to gather in this act of profound faith in the Eucharist which is the most precious treasure of the Church and of humanity.

 Audience, 14 June 2006.

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In the Holy Eucharist, in the encounter with his Word, we too can meet and know Jesus at this two-fold Table of the Word and of the consecrated Bread and Wine. Every Sunday the community thus relives the Lord’s Passover and receives from the Saviour his testament of love and brotherly service.

Audience, 26 March 2008.

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The next stage was the Eucharistic procession with thousands of the faithful, including, as always, numerous sick people. Before the Blessed Sacrament, our spiritual communion with Mary became even more intense and profound, because she gives us eyes and a heart that can contemplate her Divine Son in the Holy Eucharist.

Audience, 17 September 2008.

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The desire that dwells in our hearts is to hasten the day of full communion, when all the disciples of our one Lord will at last be able to celebrate the Eucharist together, the divine sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world.

Audience, 21 January 2009.

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The purpose of this Year for Priests, as I wrote in my Letter addressed to priests for this occasion, is therefore to encourage every priest in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, and first and foremost to help priests and with them the entire People of God to rediscover and to reinforce their knowledge of the extraordinary, indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained minister represents for those who have received it, for the whole Church and for the world which would be lost without the Real Presence of Christ.

Audience, 24 June 2009.

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The pastoral methods of St John Mary Vianney might hardly appear suited to the social and cultural conditions of the present day. Indeed, how could a priest today imitate him in a world so radically changed? Although it is true that times change and many charisms are characteristic of the person, hence unrepeatable, there is nevertheless a lifestyle and a basic desire that we are all called to cultivate. At a close look, what made the Curé of Ars holy was his humble faithfulness to the mission to which God had called him; it was his constant abandonment, full of trust, to the hands of divine Providence. It was not by virtue of his own human gifts that he succeeded in moving peoples’ hearts nor even by relying on a praiseworthy commitment of his will; he won over even the most refractory souls by communicating to them what he himself lived deeply, namely, his friendship with Christ. He was “in love” with Christ and the true secret of his pastoral success was the fervour of his love for the Eucharistic Mystery, celebrated and lived, which became love for Christ’s flock, for Christians and for all who were seeking God. His testimony reminds us, dear brothers and sisters, that for every baptized person and especially for every priest the Eucharist is not merely an event with two protagonists, a dialogue between God and me. Eucharistic Communion aspires to a total transformation of one’s life and forcefully flings open the whole human “I” of man and creates a new “we” (cf. Joseph Ratzinger, La Comunione nella Chiesa, p. 80).

Audience, 5 August 2009.

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We too, each one of us in our own way, can encounter the Lord Jesus who ceaselessly accompanies us on our way, makes himself present in the Eucharistic Bread and in his Word for our salvation.

Audience, 9 December 2009.

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To speak of the Eucharist, Ephrem used two images, embers or burning coal and the pearl. The burning coal theme was taken from the Prophet Isaiah (cf. 6: 6). It is the image of one of the seraphim who picks up a burning coal with tongs and simply touches the lips of the Prophet with it in order to purify them; the Christian, on the other hand, touches and consumes the Burning Coal which is Christ himself:

“In your bread hides the Spirit who cannot be consumed; in your wine is the fire that cannot be swallowed. The Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine: behold a wonder heard from our lips.
“The seraph could not bring himself to touch the glowing coal with his fingers, it was Isaiah’s mouth alone that it touched; neither did the fingers grasp it nor the mouth swallow it; but the Lord has granted us to do both these things.

“The fire came down with anger to destroy sinners, but the fire of grace descends on the bread and settles in it. Instead of the fire that destroyed man, we have consumed the fire in the bread and have been invigorated”
(Hymn De Fide 10: 8-10).

Audience, 28 November 2007.

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Last Tuesday the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatiswas presented. Its theme, precisely, is the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission. I wrote it gathering the fruits of the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October 2005.
I mean to return to this important text, but I want to emphasize from this moment that it is an expression of the universal Church’s faith in the Eucharistic Mystery and is in continuity with the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of my venerable Predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II.

In this Document, I wanted among other things to highlight its connection with the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: that is why I chose as its title Sacramentum Caritatis, taking up St Thomas Aquinas’ beautiful definition of the Eucharist (cf. Summa Th. III, q. 73, a. 3, ad 3), the “Sacrament of charity”.

Yes, in the Eucharist Christ wanted to give us his love, which impelled him to offer his life for us on the Cross. At the Last Supper, in washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus left us the commandment of love: “even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13: 34).

However, since this is only possible by remaining united to him like branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15: 1-8), he chose to remain with us himself in the Eucharist so that we could remain in him.
When, therefore, we nourish ourselves with faith on his Body and Blood, his love passes into us and makes us capable in turn of laying down our lives for our brethren (cf. I Jn 3: 16) and not to grasp it for ourselves. From this flows Christian joy, the joy of love and the joy to be loved.

Mary is the “Woman of the Eucharist” par excellence, a masterpiece of divine grace: the love of God has made her immaculate, “holy and blameless before him” (cf. Eph 1: 4).
At her side, as Custodian of the Redeemer, God placed St Joseph, whose liturgical Solemnity we will be celebrating tomorrow. I invoke this great Saint, my Patron, in particular so that by believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic Mystery with faith, the People of God will be pervaded by Christ’s love and spread its fruits of joy and peace to all humanity

Angelus, 18 March 2007.

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After the Regina Caeli:

I address a special greeting to the Brazilian people that will be gathering in Brasília, the capital, to celebrate the 16th National Eucharistic Congress, from next Thursday to Sunday, with the presence of my special representative, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes. The theme of the Congress is taken from the words of the two disciples at Emmaus who said, “Stay with us, Lord” an expression of the desire vibrant in the heart of every human being. May you all, pastors and faithful alike, rediscover that the heart of Brazil is the Eucharist! And it is precisely in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar that Jesus shows his will to be known, to live in us, to give himself to us. In adoring him, let us recognize the primacy of God, since he alone can transform human hearts, raising human beings to union with Christ in one Body. Indeed, in receiving the Body of the Risen Lord we experience communion with a Love that we cannot keep to ourselves: it demands to be communicated to others, so that we may thereby build together a more just society. Lastly, as we approach the conclusion of the Year for Priests, I invite all priests to foster a profoundly Eucharistic spirituality, after the example of the Holy Curé d’Ars who, in seeking to unite his personal sacrifice to that of Jesus, actualized on the altar, exclaimed: “How good it is for a priest to offer himself in sacrifice to God every morning!” And as I invoke through the intercession of Nossa Senhora Aparecida the abundant graces so that priests may be nourished by the Eucharist, bread of unity, to become true missionary disciples, I impart a heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to all.

Regina Caeli, 9 May 2010.

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If we are united to Christ, we can truly love in this way. Loving others as Jesus loved us is only possible with that power which is communicated to us in the relationship with him, especially in the Eucharist, in which his Sacrifice of love that generates love becomes really present: this is the true newness in the world and the power of a permanent glorification of God who is glorified in the continuity of the love of Jesus in our love.

Homily [Turin], 2 May 2010.

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St Augustine expresses this process magnificently (cf. Sermon 272). He reminds us that bread is not made from a single grain of wheat but from a multitude of grains. Before all these grains become a loaf of bread they must be ground. Here he is alluding to the exorcism to which catechumens had to submit prior to their Baptism. Each one of us who belongs to the Church needs to emerge from the closed world of his or her own individuality and to accept the “companionship” of others who “share the bread” with us. We must no longer think of “me” but, rather, of “us”. This is the reason why, every day, we pray “Our Father” for our daily bread. Breaking down the barriers between ourselves and our neighbours is the prerequisite for entering the divine life to which we are called. We need to be liberated from all that encloses and isolates us: fear and defiance in our relations with others, greed and selfishness, unwillingness to expose ourselves to the risk of vulnerability to which we are susceptible when we open ourselves to love.

Once the grains of wheat have been ground, they are kneaded into dough and baked. Here St Augustine is referring to immersion in the waters of Baptism followed by the sacramental gift of the Holy Spirit which kindles the fire of God’s love in the hearts of the faithful. This process that unites and transforms the separate grains into a single loaf conveys to us an evocative image of the unifying action of the Holy Spirit on the members of the Church, eminently achieved through the celebration of the Eucharist. Those who take part in this important sacrament become the ecclesial Body of Christ, while they are nourished by his Body in the Eucharist. “Be what you can see”, St Augustine said, encouraging them, “and accept what you are”.

These strong words invite us to respond generously to the appeal to “be Christ” for those around us. We are now his Body on earth. To paraphrase a famous remark attributed to St Teresa of Avila, we are the eyes with which his compassion looks at those in need, we are the hands he holds out to bless and to heal, we are the feet he uses to go and do good and we are the lips through which his Gospel is proclaimed. However, it is important to realize that when we participate in his salvation in this way we do no more than pay tribute to the memory of a dead hero by prolonging what he has done: on the contrary, Christ is alive within us, his Body, the Church, his priestly People. By nourishing ourselves with him in the Eucharist and by receiving the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we truly form the Body of Christ that we have received, we are truly in communion with him and with each other and genuinely become his instruments, bearing witness to him before the world. “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4: 32). In the first Christian community, nourished at the Lord’s Table, we see the effects of the Holy Spirit’s unifying action. They shared their goods in common, all material attachment being overcome by love for the brethren. They found equitable solutions to their differences, as we see for example in the resolution of the dispute between Hellenists and Hebrews over the daily distribution (cf. Acts 6: 1-6). As one observer commented at a later date: “See how these Christians love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another” (Tertullian, Apology, 39). Yet their love was by no means limited to their fellow believers. They never saw themselves as exclusive, privileged beneficiaries of divine favour, but rather as messengers, sent to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to the ends of the earth. And so it was that the message entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Lord was spread throughout the Middle East, and outwards from there across the whole of the world.

Homily [Nicosia, Cyprus], 6 June 2010.

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Unfortunately, my Visit is very short and it is entirely concentrated in this Eucharistic celebration; but here we find everything: the Word and the Bread of Life that nourishes faith, hope and charity; and we renew the bond of communion that makes us the one Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(…)

The Eucharist which we are celebrating, the Sacrament of Love, recalls to us the essential: charity, the love of Christ that renews men and women and the world.

Homily [Carpineto Romano, Italy], 5 September 2010.

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Saint Juliana of Cornillon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning too I would like to introduce a female figure to you. She is little known but the Church is deeply indebted to her, not only because of the holiness of her life but also because, with her great fervour, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important solemn Liturgies of the year: Corpus Christi.

She is St Juliana de Cornillon, also known as St Juliana of Liège. We know several facts about her life, mainly from a Biography that was probably written by a contemporary cleric; it is a collection of various testimonies of people who were directly acquainted with the Saint.

Juliana was born near Liège, Belgium between 1191 and 1192. It is important to emphasize this place because at that time the Diocese of Liège was, so to speak, a true “Eucharistic Upper Room”. Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and, again in Liège, there were groups of women generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Guided by exemplary priests, they lived together, devoting themselves to prayer and to charitable works.

Orphaned at the age of five, Juliana, together with her sister Agnes, was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns at the convent and leprosarium of Mont-Cornillon.
She was taught mainly by a sister called “Sapienza” [wisdom], who was in charge of her spiritual development to the time Juliana received the religious habit and thus became an Augustinian nun.

She became so learned that she could read the words of the Church Fathers, of St Augustine and St Bernard in particular, in Latin. In addition to a keen intelligence, Juliana showed a special propensity for contemplation from the outset. She had a profound sense of Christ’s presence, which she experienced by living the Sacrament of the Eucharist especially intensely and by pausing frequently to meditate upon Jesus’ words: “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

When Juliana was 16 she had her first vision which recurred subsequently several times during her Eucharistic adoration. Her vision presented the moon in its full splendour, crossed diametrically by a dark stripe. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth, the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast for whose institution Juliana was asked to plead effectively: namely, a feast in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to increase in faith, to advance in the practice of the virtues and to make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.

Juliana, who in the meantime had become Prioress of the convent, kept this revelation that had filled her heart with joy a secret for about 20 years. She then confided it to two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who lived as a hermit, and Isabella, who had joined her at the Monastery of Mont-Cornillon. The three women established a sort of “spiritual alliance” for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament.

They also chose to involve a highly regarded Priest, John of Lausanne, who was a canon of the Church of St Martin in Liège. They asked him to consult theologians and clerics on what was important to them. Their affirmative response was encouraging.

What happened to Juliana of Cornillon occurs frequently in the lives of Saints. To have confirmation that an inspiration comes from God it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer to wait patiently, to seek friendship and exchanges with other good souls and to submit all things to the judgement of the Pastors of the Church.
It was in fact Bishop Robert Torote, Liège who, after initial hesitation, accepted the proposal of Juliana and her companions and first introduced the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in his diocese. Later other Bishops following his example instituted this Feast in the territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

However, to increase their faith the Lord often asks Saints to sustain trials. This also happened to Juliana who had to bear the harsh opposition of certain members of the clergy and even of the superior on whom her monastery depended.

Of her own free will, therefore, Juliana left the Convent of Mont-Cornillon with several companions. For 10 years — from 1248 to 1258 — she stayed as a guest at various monasteries of Cistercian sisters.

She edified all with her humility, she had no words of criticism or reproach for her adversaries and continued zealously to spread Eucharistic worship.

She died at Fosses-La-Ville, Belgium, in 1258. In the cell where she lay the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to her biographer’s account, Juliana died contemplating with a last effusion to love Jesus in the Eucharist whom she had always loved, honoured and adored. Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes was also won over to the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Christi during his ministry as Archdeacon in Lièges. It was he who, having become Pope with the name of Urban iv in 1264, instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast of precept for the universal Church.

In the Bull of its institution, entitled Transiturus de hoc mundo, (11 Aug. 1264), Pope Urban even referred discreetly to Juliana’s mystical experiences, corroborating their authenticity. He wrote: “Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we deem it fitting that at least once a year it be celebrated with greater honour and a solemn commemoration.
“Indeed we grasp the other things we commemorate with our spirit and our mind, but this does not mean that we obtain their real presence. On the contrary, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, even though in a different form, Jesus Christ is present with us in his own substance. While he was about to ascend into Heaven he said ‘And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Matthew 28:20)”.

The Pontiff made a point of setting an example by celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi in Orvieto, the town where he was then residing. Indeed, he ordered that the famous Corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle which had occurred in Bolsena the previous year, 1263, be kept in Orvieto Cathedral — where it still is today.
While a priest was consecrating the bread and the wine he was overcome by strong doubts about the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. A few drops of blood began miraculously to ooze from the consecrated Host, thereby confirming what our faith professes.

Urban iv asked one of the greatest theologians of history, St Thomas Aquinas — who at that time was accompanying the Pope and was in Orvieto — to compose the texts of the Liturgical Office for this great feast. They are masterpieces, still in use in the Church today, in which theology and poetry are fuse. These texts pluck at the heartstrings in an expression of praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the mind, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the Living and Real Presence of Jesus, of his Sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.

Although after the death of Urban iv the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi was limited to certain regions of France, Germany, Hungary and Northern Italy, it was another Pontiff, John xxii, who in 1317 re-established it for the universal Church. Since then the Feast experienced a wonderful development and is still deeply appreciated by the Christian people.
I would like to affirm with joy that today there is a “Eucharistic springtime” in the Church: How many people pause in silence before the Tabernacle to engage in a loving conversation with Jesus! It is comforting to know that many groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, London. I pray that this Eucharistic “springtime” may spread increasingly in every parish and in particular in Belgium, St Juliana’s homeland.

Venerable John Paul II said in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned” (n. 10).

In  remembering St Juliana of Cornillon let us also renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic Species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man” (n. 282).
Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Christ in the Eucharist in Holy Mass on Sunday is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to pay frequent visits to the Lord present in the Tabernacle! In gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of God’s love, we discover Jesus’ Passion and Cross and likewise his Resurrection. It is precisely through our gazing in adoration that the Lord draws us towards him into his mystery in order to transform us as he transforms the bread and the wine.

The Saints never failed to find strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. Let us repeat before the Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament the words of the Eucharistic hymn “Adoro te devote”: [Devoutly I adore Thee]: Make me believe ever more in you, “Draw me deeply into faith, / Into Your hope, into Your love”.

Audience [St Juliana of Cornillon], 17 November 2010.

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Her faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was so great that twice a miracle happened. Simply by showing to them the Most Blessed Sacrament distanced the Saracen mercenaries, who were on the point of attacking the convent of San Damiano and pillaging the city of Assisi.

Audience [St Clare of Assisi], 15 September 2010.

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Dear altar servers, St Tarcisius’ testimony and this beautiful tradition teach us the deep love and great veneration that we must have for the Eucharist: it is a precious good, a treasure of incomparable value; it is the Bread of life, it is Jesus himself who becomes our nourishment, support and strength on our daily journey and on the open road that leads to eternal life; the Eucharist is the greatest gift that Jesus bequeathed to us.

Audience, 4 August 2010.

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In speaking of the sacraments, St Thomas reflects in a special way on the Mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had such great devotion, the early biographers claim, that he would lean his head against the Tabernacle, as if to feel the throbbing of Jesus’ divine and human heart. In one of his works, commenting on Scripture, St Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes: “Since this [the Eucharist] is the sacrament of Our Lord’s Passion, it contains in itself the Jesus Christ who suffered for us. Thus, whatever is an effect of Our Lord’s Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of Our Lord’s Passion to us” (cf. Commentary on John, chapter 6, lecture 6, n. 963). We clearly understand why St Thomas and other Saints celebrated Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord who gave himself as a sacrifice for us, tears of joy and gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves with this Body and Blood of Our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine Grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation!

Audience [St Thomas Aquinas (III)], 23 June 2010.

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Eucharist and Eschatology:

On Good Friday we shall commemorate the Passion and death of the Lord. Jesus wanted to give his life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins, choosing to this end the most brutal and humiliating death: crucifixion. There is an inseparable connection between the Last Supper and Jesus’ death. At the Last Supper Jesus gives his Body and his Blood, that is, his earthly existence, himself, anticipating his death and transforming it into an act of love. Thus he makes death which by its nature is the end, the destruction of every relationship an act of the communication of himself, a means of salvation and of the proclamation of the victory of love. In this way, Jesus becomes the key to understanding the Last Supper, which is an anticipation of the transformation of violent death into a voluntary sacrifice; into an act of love that redeems and saves the world.

Audience, 31 March 2010.

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