Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Holy Father on the Eucharist

The Eucharist: gift of God for the life of the world" - the Holy Father said: "The Eucharist is our most precious treasure. ... It is the Sacrament par excellence ... It contains all the mystery of our salvation, it is the source and the summit of the activity and the life of the Church".

"It is, then", he continued, "particularly important that pastors and faithful should always seek a more profound understanding of this great Sacrament. Each will thus be able to strengthen his faith and better achieve his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling the fecundity of the Eucharist for his personal life, and for the life of the Church and the world".

"Participation in the Eucharist", said Pope Benedict, "does not distance us from our fellow man; quite the contrary, being the most exalted expression of God's love, it calls us to commit ourselves alongside our brothers and sisters to facing the challenges of the present and to making the planet a pleasant place to live. To this end, we must struggle tirelessly so that all people may be respected from conception to natural death, that our rich societies may welcome the poorest and restore their dignity, that everyone may feed themselves and their family, and that peace and justice may shine out on all continents".

The Pope, who had been speaking French, then pronounced a few words in English: "I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognise the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it".

After encouraging pastors and faithful "to renew their concern for their preparation for receiving the Eucharist", the Pope said that "despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wishes to dwell within us. ... For this reason we must do everything possible to receive Him with a pure heart, ever seeking to regain - through the Sacrament of Confession - the purity that sin has blemished".

Benedict XVI pointed out that "sin, and especially grave sin, opposes the action of Eucharistic grace in us. ... People who because of their situation cannot take communion, will find strength and salvific effectiveness in a unity of desire and in participation in Mass", he said.

"The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of alliance", said the Pope. "We are called to enter this mystery of alliance, conforming our everyday lives to the gift received in the Eucharist".

The Pope called on people to ask God for new priests for the Church, and to pass this invitation on to the young, "that they may joyfully and fearlessly respond to Christ. They will not be disillusioned. May families be the birthplace and the cradle of vocations".

Before concluding his remarks, the Holy Father called on everyone "to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin".

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