Popes on the Holy Eucharist
PAPAL EXCERPTS AND LINKS
“Give you them to eat. (Lk 9:13)”: discipleship, fellowship and
Homily, May 30, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the Gospel we have just heard, there is an expression of Jesus
that always strikes me: “Give you them to eat. (Lk 9:13)” Starting
from this sentence, I let myself be guided by three words:
discipleship, fellowship and sharing.
1. First of all: who are those to whom we are to give to eat? The
answer is found at the beginning of the Gospel: it is the crowd, the
multitude. Jesus is in the midst of the people: He welcomes them,
talks to them, He cures them, He shows them the mercy of God. In
their midst, he chooses the twelve Apostles to be with Him, and like
Him, to immerse themselves in the concrete situations of the world.
People follow Him, listen to Him, because Jesus speaks and acts in a
new way, with the authority of someone who is authentic and
consistent, who speaks and acts with truth, who gives the hope that
comes from God, who is revelation of the face of a God who is love -
and the people with joy, bless God.
This evening we are the crowd of [which] the Gospel [tells]: let us
also strive to follow Jesus to listen to him, to enter into
communion with Him in the Eucharist, to accompany Him and in order
that He accompany us. Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow Jesus?
Jesus speaks in silence in the Mystery of the Eucharist and every
time reminds us that to follow Him means to come out of ourselves
and make of our own lives, not a possession, but a gift to Him and
2. Let us take a step forward: whence is born the invitation that
Jesus makes to his disciples to feed the multitude themselves? It is
born from two elements: first, the crowd, having followed Jesus, now
finds itself in the open, away from inhabited areas, as evening
falls, and then, because of the concern of the disciples, who asked
Jesus to dismiss the crowd, that they might seek food and lodging in
the nearby towns (cf. Lk 9:12). Faced with the neediness of the
crowd, the solution of the disciples is that every man should take
care of himself: “Dismiss the crowd!” [the disciples say]. How many
times do we Christians have this temptation! We do not care for the
needs of others, dismissing them with a pitiful, “God help you.”
Jesus’ solution, on the other hand, goes in another direction, a
direction that surprises the disciples: [He says], “You give them
something to eat.”
But how is it that we are to feed a multitude? “We have only five
loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these
people.” But Jesus is not discouraged. He asks the disciples to seat
people in communities of fifty people, He raises his eyes to heaven,
recites the blessing, breaks the loaves, and gives them to the
disciples for distribution.
It is a moment of profound communion: the crowd, whose thirst has
been quenched by the word of the Lord, is now nourished by His bread
of life – and they all ate their fill, the Evangelist tells us.
This evening, we too are gathered around the Lord’s table, the table
of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which He gives us once again His
body, makes present the one sacrifice of the Cross. It is in
listening to his Word, in nourishing ourselves with his Body and his
Blood, that He makes us go from being a multitude to being a
community, from [being strangers] to being [in] communion. The
Eucharist is the sacrament of communion, which brings us out from
individualism to live together our journey in His footsteps, our
faith in Him. We ought, therefore, to ask ourselves before the Lord:
How do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment
of true communion with the Lord, [and] also with many brothers and
sisters who share this same table? How are our Eucharistic
3. A final element: whence is born the multiplication of the loaves?
The answer lies in the invitation of Jesus to his disciples: “You
yourselves give [to them]...,” “give,” share. What do the disciples
share? What little they have: five loaves and two fishes. But it is
precisely those loaves and fishes that in God’s hands feed the whole
And it is the disciples, bewildered by the inability of their means,
by the poverty of what they have at their disposal, who invite the
people to sit down, and – trusting the Word of Jesus – distribute
the loaves and fishes that feed the crowd. This tells us that in the
Church, but also in society, a keyword that we need not fear is
“solidarity,” that is, knowing how to place what we have at God’s
disposal: our humble abilities, because [it is] only in the sharing,
in the giving of them, that our lives will be fecund, will bear
fruit. Solidarity: a word upon which the spirit of the world looks
Tonight, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread which is
His body, He makes a gift of Himself. We, too, are experiencing the
“solidarity of God” with man, a solidarity that never runs out, a
solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God draws near to us; in
the sacrifice of the Cross He lowers Himself, entering into the
darkness of death in order to give us His life, which overcomes
evil, selfishness, death.
Jesus this evening gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our
same journey – indeed, He becomes food, real food that sustains our
life even at times when the going is rough, when obstacles slow down
our steps. The Lord in the Eucharist makes us follow His path, that
of service, of sharing, of giving – and what little we have, what
little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God,
which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.
Let us ask ourselves this evening, adoring the Christ truly present
in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let
the Lord who gives Himself to me, guide me to come out more and more
from my little fence, to get out and be not afraid to give, to
share, to love Him and others?
Discipleship, communion and sharing. Let us pray that participation
in the Eucharist move us always to follow the Lord every day, to be
instruments of communion, to share with Him and with our neighbor
who we are. Then our lives will be truly fruitful. Amen.
The new priesthood and the new sacrifice of Jesus Christ
Homily, June 3, 2010
The priesthood of the New Testament is closely linked to the
Eucharist. For this reason today, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and almost at the end
of the Year for Priests, we are invited to meditate on the relationship
between the Eucharist and the priesthood of Christ. ... It is the
joy of community, the joy of the whole Church which, contemplating
and adoring the Most Holy Sacrament, recognizes in It the real and
permanent presence of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest.
The first thing that is always to remember is that Jesus was
not a priest in accordance with Jewish tradition. He did not come from a family of priests
He did not belong to the lineage of Aaron but rather that of Judah
and was therefore legally barred from taking the path of the priesthood.
Jesus of Nazareth himself and His activities do not follow in the wake
of the ancient priests but rather in that of the prophets. And in this
line Jesus took His distance from the ritual conception of religion,
criticizing the structure that gave value to human precepts linked to
ritual purity rather than to the observance of God’s commandments:
namely, love of God and of one’s neighbor which, as the Lord says,
“is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices”
Even in the Temple of Jerusalem, a sacred place par excellence,
Jesus makes an exquisitely prophetic gesture when He drives out the
money changers and livestock vendors, all things that served for
offering the traditional sacrifices. Thus Jesus was not recognized
as a priestly but rather as a prophetic and royal Messiah. Even His
death, which we Christians rightly call a “sacrifice,” had nothing
to do with the ancient sacrifices; indeed, it was quite the opposite;
it was the execution of a death sentence by crucifixion, the most
ignominious punishment, which took place outside the walls of Jerusalem.
In what sense, therefore, was Jesus a priest? The Eucharist Itself
tells us. We can start with the simple words that describe Melchizedek:
He “brought out bread and wine” (Genesis
14:18). This is what Jesus did at the Last Supper: He offered bread
and wine and in that action recapitulated the whole of Himself and His
whole mission. That gesture, the prayer that preceded it and the words
with which He accompanied it contain the full meaning of the mystery of
Christ, as the Letter to the Hebrews expresses it in a crucial passage
that we should quote: “In the days of His flesh,” the author writes of
Our Lord, “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries
and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard
for His godly fear. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through
what He suffered; and being made perfect He became the source of eternal
salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after
the order of Melchizedek” (5:8-10).
In this text, which clearly alludes to the spiritual agony of Gethsemane,
Christ’s Passion is presented as a prayer and an offering. Jesus faces
His “hour” which leads Him to death on the Cross, immersed in a profound
prayer that consists of the union of His own will with that of the Father.
This dual yet single will is a will of love. Lived in this prayer, the
tragic trial that Jesus faces is transformed into an offering, into a
The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus “was heard.”
In what sense? In the sense that God the Father liberated Him from
death and restored Him to life. He was heard precisely because of
His total abandonment of Himself to the Father’s will:
God’s plan of love could be perfectly fulfilled in Jesus who,
having obeyed to the end, to His death on the Cross, became a
“cause of salvation” for all who obey Him.
In other words, He became the High Priest for having taken upon Himself
all the sin of the world, as the “Lamb of God.” It is the Father who
confers this priesthood upon Him at the very moment in which Jesus
passes over from His death to His Resurrection. He is not a priest
according to the Mosaic law (cf.
Lev 8-9), but “after the order of Melchizedek,”
according to a prophetic order, dependent only on His special
relationship with God.
Let us return to the words of the Letter to the Hebrews which say:
“Although He was a Son He learned obedience through what He suffered.” [Heb
5:8] Christ’s priesthood entailed suffering. Jesus truly
suffered and did so for our sake. He was the Son and did not need
to learn obedience but we do, we did need to and we always will.
Therefore the Son took upon Himself our humanity and for our sake
He let Himself be “taught” obedience in the crucible
of suffering, He let Himself be transformed by it like the grain
of wheat that has to die in the earth in order to bear fruit. By
means of this process Jesus was “made perfect” in Greek,
teleiotheis. We must pause to reflect on this term because
it is very important. It indicates the fulfillment of a journey,
that is, the very journey and transformation of the Son of God
through suffering, through His painful Passion. It is through
this transformation that Jesus Christ became the “high
priest” and can save all who entrust themselves to Him.
The term teleiotheis, correctly translated by the words
“made perfect,” belongs to a verbal root which, in
the Greek version of the Pentateuch, that is, the first five
Books of the Bible, is always used to mean the consecration of
the ancient priests. This discovery is very valuable because it
tells us that for Jesus the Passion was like a priestly consecration.
He was not a priest according to the Law but became one
existentially in His Pasch of Passion, death and Resurrection:
He gave himself in expiation and the Father, exalting Him above
every creature, made Him the universal Mediator of salvation.
Let us return in our meditation, to the Eucharist that will shortly
be the focus of our liturgical assembly. In it, Jesus anticipated
His Sacrifice, a non-ritual but a personal sacrifice. At the Last
Supper His actions were prompted by that “eternal spirit”
with which He was later to offer Himself on the Cross (cf.
Heb 9:14). Giving thanks and blessing, Jesus transforms
the bread and the wine. It is divine love that transforms them: the
love with which Jesus accepts, in anticipation, to give the whole of
Himself for us. This love is none other than the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the
Father and the Son, who consecrates the bread and wine, and changes
their substance into the Body and Blood of the Lord, making present
in the Sacrament the same sacrifice that later takes place in a
cruel manner on the Cross.
We may therefore conclude that Christ was the real and effective
priest, because he was full of the strength of the Holy Spirit, was
filled with the fullness of God's love, and this, precisely, “in the
night he was betrayed,” precisely in the “hour of darkness” (cf.
It is this divine power, the same power that realized the
Incarnation of the Word, which transforms the extreme violence and
extreme injustice into the supreme act of love and justice.
This is the work of the priesthood of Christ, which the Church has
inherited and carried through history, in the twofold form of the
common priesthood of the baptized and that of ordained ministers, in
order to transform the world with the love of God. Let us all,
priests and faithful, nourish ourselves with the same Eucharist, let
us all prostrate ourselves to adore It, because in it our Master and
Lord is present, the true Body of Jesus is present in It, the Victim
and the Priest, the salvation of the world.
Come let us exult with joyful songs! Come, let us adore him! Amen.
A Eucharist without solidarity with others is a Eucharist abused
General Audience, December 10, 2008
[An] 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 neighbor: Christ and my neighbor
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
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.
The Eucharist transforms us, opens us to God and our neighbor
Address, Meeting with the parish priests and the clergy of the Diocese of Rome, February 26, 2009
This celebration [of the Holy Eucharist], at which God not only
comes close to us but also enters the very fabric of our existence,
is fundamental to being able truly to live with God and for God and
to carry the light of God in this world. ...[I]t brings me to God
and God to me.
And it brings me to the other because the other receives the same
Christ. Therefore if the same Christ is in him and in me, the two of
us are no longer separate individuals. Here emerges the doctrine of
the Body of Christ, because we are all incorporated if we receive
worthily the Eucharist in the same Christ. Therefore our neighbor is
truly near: no longer are we two separate “selves” but we are united
in the same “self” of Christ. In other words, Eucharistic and
sacramental catechesis must really reach the heart of our existence.
It must be an education that opens us to God’s voice, that lets us
be opened so that the original sin of selfishness may be broken,
that in the depths of our existence we may become open, in order to
also become truly just. In this regard I think we must always learn
the liturgy better not as something exotic but as the heart of our
Christian being, which, while not easily accessible to one who is
distant, is, in fact, exactly that openness to the other, to the
We must all work together to celebrate the Eucharist ever
more profoundly: not only as a rite, but as an existential process
that touches me in the very depths of my being, more than any other
thing, and changes me, transforms me. And in transforming me, it
also begins the transformation of the world that the Lord desires
and for which he wants to make us his instruments.
The three actions of the Corpus Christi procession: Gathering, walking, kneeling
Homily, Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of St. Mary
Solemnity of Corpus Christi, May 22, 2008
What is the precise significance of today’s Solemnity, of the Body
and Blood of Christ? The answer is given to us in the fundamental
actions of this celebration we are carrying out: first of all we
gather around the altar of the Lord, to be together in his
presence; secondly, there will be the procession, that is
walking with the Lord; and lastly, kneeling before the Lord,
adoration, which already begins in the Mass and accompanies the
entire procession but culminates in the final moment of the
Eucharistic Blessing when we all prostrate ourselves before the One
who stooped down to us and gave his life for us. Let us reflect
briefly on these three attitudes, so that they may truly be an
expression of our faith and our life.
Gathering in the Lord’s presence
The first action, therefore, is to gather together in the
Lord’s presence. This is what in former times was called “statio.”
Let us imagine for a moment that in the whole of Rome there were
only this one altar and that all the city’s Christians were invited
to gather here to celebrate the Savior who died and was raised. This
gives us an idea of what the Eucharistic celebration must have been
like at the origins, in Rome and in many other cities that the
Gospel message had reached. In every particular Church there was
only one Bishop and around him, around the Eucharist that he
celebrated, a community was formed, one, because one was the blessed
Cup and one was the Bread broken, as we heard in the Apostle Paul’s
words in the Second Reading (cf.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
That other famous Pauline expression comes to mind: “There is
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is
neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians
3:28). “You are all one”! In these words the truth and power of
the Christian revolution is heard, the most profound revolution of
human history, which was experienced precisely around the Eucharist:
here people of different age groups, sex, social background, and
political ideas gather together in the Lord’s presence.
The Eucharist can never be a private event, reserved for people
chosen through affinity or friendship. The Eucharist is a public
devotion that has nothing esoteric or exclusive about it. Here too,
this evening, we did not choose to meet one another, we came and
[thus we] find ourselves next to one another, brought together by
faith and called to become one body, sharing the one Bread which is
Christ. We are united over and above our differences of nationality,
profession, social class, political ideas: we open ourselves to one
another to become one in him. This has been a characteristic of
Christianity from the outset, visibly fulfilled around the
Eucharist, and it is always necessary to be alert to ensure that the
recurring temptations of particularism, even if with good
intentions, do not go in the opposite direction.
Therefore Corpus Christi reminds us first of all of this:
that being Christian means coming together from all parts of the
world to be in the presence of the one Lord and to become one with
him and in him.
Walking with the Lord
The second constitutive aspect is walking with the Lord.
This is the reality manifested by the procession that we shall
experience together after Holy Mass, almost as if it were naturally
prolonged by moving behind the One who is the Way, the Walking-Path.
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.
1 Kings 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” (1
Kings 19:5, 7). The Corpus Christi procession teaches us
that the Eucharist seeks to free us from every kind of despondency
and discouragement, wants to raise us, so that we can set out on the
journey with the strength God gives us through Jesus Christ.
It is the experience of the People of Israel in the exodus from
Egypt, their long wandering through the desert, as the First Reading
8:2-3, 14b-16a] relates. It is an experience which was
constitutive for Israel but is exemplary for all humanity. Indeed
the saying: “Man does not live by bread alone, but... by everything
that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy
8:3), is a universal affirmation which refers to every man or
woman as a person. Each one can find his own way if he encounters
the One who is the Word and the Bread of Life and lets himself be
guided by his friendly presence. 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.
Indeed, it is not enough to move onwards, one must also see where
one is going! “Progress” does not suffice, if there are no criteria
as reference points. On the contrary, if one loses the way one risks
coming to a precipice, or at any rate more rapidly distancing
oneself from the goal. God created us free but he did not leave us
alone: he made himself the “way” and came to walk together with us
so that in our freedom we should also have the criterion we need to
discern the right way and to take it.
Kneeling before the Lord
At this point we cannot forget the beginning of the “Decalogue,”
the Ten Commandments, where it is written: “I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
bondage. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus
20:2-3). Here we find the meaning of the third constitutive
element of Corpus Christi: kneeling in adoration before the
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.
John 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.
This is why gathering, walking and adoring together fills us with
joy. In making our own the adoring attitude of Mary, whom we
especially remember in this month of May, let us pray for ourselves
and for everyone; let us pray for every person who lives in this
city, that he or she may know you, O Father and the One whom you
sent, Jesus Christ and thus have life in abundance. Amen.
Sent forth as heralds of hope
Homily, Votive Mass for the Universal Church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, April 19, 2008
The spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the
skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis,
they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise
to God. As we celebrate this Eucharist, let us thank the Lord for allowing us
to know him in the communion of the Church, to cooperate in building up his
Mystical Body, and in bringing his saving word as good news to the men and
women of our time. And when we leave this great church, let us go forth as
heralds of hope in the midst of this city, and all those places where God’s
grace has placed us. In this way, the Church in America will know a new
springtime in the Spirit, and point the way to that other, greater city, the
new Jerusalem, whose light is the Lamb (Rev 21:23). For there God is even now
preparing for all people a banquet of unending joy and life. Amen.
O Saving Victim, opening wide the gates of heaven
Responses to the questions posed by the U.S. bishops (as prepared),
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., April 16, 2008, n. 2.
Salvation — deliverance from the reality of evil,
and the gift of new life and freedom in Christ — is at the heart of
the Gospel.... It is in the Church’s liturgy, and above all in the
sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities are most powerfully
expressed and lived in the life of believers.
“There can be no room for purely private religion”
Responses to the questions posed by the U.S. bishops (as delivered),
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,
D.C., April 16, 2008, n. 2.
Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the
coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely
private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body
and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal
munera, we cannot
separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church
and, with the Church, the extension of his Kingdom.
Listening, adoring, participating in the work of Jesus:
A ministry of hope for humanity
Address, Meeting with Young People and Seminarians, St. Joseph Seminary,
Yonkers, New York, April 19, 2008.
There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation.
Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s revelation we must first listen, then
respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf.
1 John 1:2-3;
Dei Verbum, 1). Have we
perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling
you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore
him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.
In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of
God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church”
n. 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his
Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension — what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to
the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because
this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus”
is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we
catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when
you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through
the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes
love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your
faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world — saints and sinners
alike — open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf.
Proclaiming the mystery of the Holy Eucharist from the housetops
Homily, Mass and procession to St. Mary Major, Corpus Christi, June 7, 2007.
Corpus Christi is ... a renewal of the mystery of
Holy Thursday, as it were, in obedience to Jesus’ invitation to proclaim from
“the housetops” what he told us in secret (cf. Mt 10: 27). It was the Apostles
who received the gift of the Eucharist from the Lord in the intimacy of the Last
Supper, but it was destined for all, for the whole world. This is why it should
be proclaimed and exposed to view: so that each one may encounter “Jesus who
passes” as happened on the roads of Galilee, Samaria and Judea; in order that
each one, in receiving it, may be healed and renewed by the power of his love.
Dear friends, this is the perpetual and living heritage that Jesus has
bequeathed to us in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. It is an
inheritance that demands to be constantly rethought and relived so that, as
venerable Pope Paul VI said, its “inexhaustible effectiveness may be impressed
upon all the days of our mortal life.”
... If the close relationship between the Last Supper and the mystery of Jesus’
death on the Cross is emphasized on Holy Thursday, today, the Feast of Corpus
Christi, with the procession and unanimous adoration of the Eucharist,
attention is called to the fact that Christ sacrificed himself for all humanity.
His passing among the houses and along the streets of our city will be for those
who live there an offering of joy, eternal life, peace and love.
The food of pilgrims (panis viatorum, from the
for Corpus Christi)
Homily, Mass and procession to St. Mary Major, Corpus Christi, June 7, 2007.
The Eucharist is the food reserved for those who in Baptism were
delivered from slavery and have become sons; it is the food that sustains 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” (John
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
The Sacrament of Charity
Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation
Sacramentum caritatis, February 22, 2007.
The Holy Eucharist: Our Lord’s gift of Himself
sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that
Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite
love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest
that “greater” love which led him to “lay down his life for his
friends” (John 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them “to the end” (John
13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ’s act of
immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel
around himself and washed the feet of his disciples.
The Eucharistic mystery awakens wonder in our own hearts
In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist,
to love us “to the end,” even to offering us his body and his blood.
What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the
Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the
Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!
Our companion along the way
2. In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women
created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:27), and becomes
our companion along the way. In this sacrament, the Lord truly
becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom.
Since only the truth can make us free (cf. John 8:32), Christ
becomes for us the food of truth. With deep human insight, Saint
Augustine clearly showed how we are moved spontaneously, and not by
constraint, whenever we encounter something attractive and
desirable. Asking himself what it is that can move us most deeply,
the saintly Bishop went on to say: “What does our soul desire more
passionately than truth?” (Tract on the Gospel of John) Each of us has an innate and
irrepressible desire for ultimate and definitive truth.
The food of truth that satisfies our yearning hearts
The Lord Jesus, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6),
speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts, our hearts yearning for the
source of life, our hearts longing for truth. Jesus Christ is the
Truth in person, drawing the world to himself. “Jesus is the
lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for
without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated
and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself.” (address)
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us in particular the
truth about the love which is the very essence of God. It is this
evangelical truth which challenges each of us and our whole being.
For this reason, the Church, which finds in the Eucharist the very
center of her life, is constantly concerned to proclaim to all, opportune importune (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2), that God is love. (address)
Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the
Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept
A mystery to be believed, celebrated, and lived
94. … This most holy mystery ... needs to be firmly believed,
devoutly celebrated, and intensely lived in the Church. Jesus’ gift
of himself in the sacrament which is the memorial of his passion
tells us that the success of our lives is found in our participation
in the Trinitarian life offered to us truly and definitively in him.
The celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near
to God’s love and to persevere in that love until we are united with
the Lord whom we love.
The offering of our lives, our fellowship with the whole community
of believers and our solidarity with all men and women are essential
aspects of that logiké latreía, spiritual worship, holy and pleasing
to God (cf. Romans 12:1), which transforms every aspect of our human
existence, to the glory of God....
Walk joyfully, witness with hearts filled with wonder
97. … The Eucharist makes us discover that Christ, risen from the
dead, is our contemporary in the mystery of the Church, his body. Of
this mystery of love we have become witnesses. Let us encourage one
another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder, towards our
encounter with the Holy Eucharist, so that we may experience and
proclaim to others the truth of the words with which Jesus took
leave of his disciples: “Lo, I am with you always, until the end of
the world” (Matthew 28:20).
The Signs of Bread and Wine
Homily from the Mass of the
Solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 15, 2006.
... Jesus, as a sign of his presence, chose bread and wine. With
each one of the two signs he gives himself completely, not only in
part. The Risen One is not divided. He is a person who, through
signs, comes near to us and unites himself to us.
Each sign however, represents in its own way a particular aspect of
his mystery and through its respective manifestation, wishes to
speak to us so that we learn to understand the mystery of Jesus
Christ a little better.
During the procession and in adoration we look at the consecrated
Host, the most simple type of bread and nourishment, made only of a
little flour and water. In this way, it appears as the food of the
poor, those to whom the Lord made himself closest in the first
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....
Bread made of many grains contains also an event of union: the
ground grain becoming bread is a process of unification. We
ourselves, many as we are, must become one bread, one body, as St
Paul says (cf.
I Cor 10: 17). In this way the sign of bread becomes
both hope and fulfillment.
In a very similar way the sign of wine speaks to us. However, while
bread speaks of daily life, simplicity and pilgrimage, wine
expresses the exquisiteness of creation: the feast of joy that God
wants to offer to us at the end of time and that already now and
always anticipates anew a foretaste through this sign.
But, wine also speaks of the Passion: the vine must be repeatedly
pruned to be purified in this way; the grapes must mature with the
sun and the rain and must be pressed: only through this passion does
a fine wine mature.
On the feast of Corpus Christi we especially look at the sign of
bread. It reminds us of the pilgrimage of Israel during the 40 years
in the desert. The Host is our manna whereby the Lord nourishes us -
it is truly the bread of heaven, through which he gives himself.
In the procession we follow this sign and in this way we follow
Christ himself. And we ask of him: Guide us on the paths of our
history! Show the Church and her Pastors again and again the right
path! Look at suffering humanity, cautiously seeking a way through
so much doubt; look upon the physical and mental hunger that
torments it! Give men and women bread for body and soul! Give them
work! Give them light! Give them yourself! Purify and sanctify all
of us! Make us understand that only through participation in your
Passion, through “yes” to the cross, to self-denial, to the
purifications that you impose upon us, our lives can mature and
arrive at true fulfillment. Gather us together from all corners of
the earth. Unite your Church, unite wounded humanity! Give us your
Rediscovering the joy of Eucharistic adoration
Address to members of the Roman clergy, Hall of Blessings,
March 2, 2006.
Thanks be to God that after the Council, after a period in which the
sense of Eucharistic adoration was somewhat lacking, the joy of this
adoration was reborn everywhere in the Church, as we saw and heard
at the Synod on the Eucharist. Of course, the conciliar constitution
on the liturgy enabled us to discover to the full the riches of the
Eucharist in which the Lord’s testament is accomplished: He gives
himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to him.
We have now rediscovered, however, that without adoration as an act
consequent to Communion received, this center which the Lord gave to
us, that is, the possibility of celebrating his sacrifice and thus
of entering into a sacramental, almost corporeal, communion with
him, loses its depth as well as its human richness.
Adoration means entering the depths of our hearts in communion with
the Lord, who makes himself bodily present in the Eucharist. In the
monstrance, he always entrusts himself to us and asks us to be
united with his Presence, with his risen Body.
Make participation in the Eucharist the heart of your life
Message to Dutch Catholic youth, November 21, 2005.
Dear friends, Jesus is your true friend and Lord; enter into a
relationship of true friendship with him! He is expecting you and in
him alone will you find happiness.
How easy it is to be content with the superficial pleasures that
daily life offers us; how easy it is to live only for oneself,
apparently enjoying life! But sooner or later we realize that this
is not true happiness, because true happiness is much deeper: we
find it only in Jesus.
As I said in
Cologne, “The happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have
a right to enjoy, has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth.”
I therefore invite you every day to seek the Lord, who wants nothing
more than for you to be truly happy. Foster an intense and constant
relationship with him in prayer and, when possible, find suitable
moments in your day to be alone in his company. If you do not know
how to pray, ask him to teach you, and ask your heavenly Mother to
pray with you and for you.
The recitation of the Rosary can help you learn the art of prayer
with Mary’s simplicity and depth. It is important that you make
participation in the Eucharist, in which Jesus gives himself for us,
the heart of your life. He who died for the sins of all desires to
enter into communion with each one of you and is knocking at the
doors of your hearts to give you his grace.
Go to the encounter with him in the Blessed Eucharist, go to adore
him in the churches, kneeling before the Tabernacle: Jesus will fill
you with his love and will reveal to you the thoughts of his Heart.
If you listen to him, you will feel ever more deeply the joy of
belonging to his Mystical Body, the Church, which is the family of
his disciples held close by the bond of unity and love.
Walking with Jesus — a journey made together
Catechetical meeting with children who had received their First
Communion during the year, St. Peter’s Square, October 15, 2005.
[A]t the heart of my joyful and beautiful memories [of First Holy
Communion] is this one...: I understood that Jesus had entered my heart, he had actually
visited me. And with Jesus, God himself was with me. And I realized
that this is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the
other things that life can give.
So on that day I was really filled with great joy, because Jesus
came to me and I realized that a new stage in my life was beginning,
I was 9 years old, and that it was henceforth important to stay
faithful to that encounter, to that communion. I promised the Lord
as best I could: “I always want to stay with you,” and I prayed to
him, “but above all, stay with me.” So I went on living my life like
that; thanks be to God, the Lord has always taken me by the hand and
guided me, even in difficult situations.
Thus, that day of my First Communion was the beginning of a journey
made together. I hope that for all of you too, the First Communion
you have received in this Year of the Eucharist will be the
beginning of a lifelong friendship with Jesus, the beginning of a
journey together, because in walking with Jesus we do well and life
What is Eucharistic adoration?
Catechetical meeting with children who had received their First
Communion during the year, St. Peter’s Square, October 15, 2005.
[W]e will say prayers, we will sing, kneel, and in this way we will
be in Jesus’ presence.
...adoration is recognizing that Jesus is my Lord, that Jesus shows
me the way to take, and that I will live well only if I know the
road that Jesus points out and follow the path he shows me.
Therefore, adoration means saying: “Jesus, I am yours. I will follow
you in my life, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion
with you.” I could also say that adoration is essentially an embrace
with Jesus in which I say to him: “I am yours, and I ask you, please
stay with me always.”
In the Holy Eucharist Christ draws us into His self-giving love,
to unite us and to work through us
Encyclical Deus caritas est on Christian love, December 25, 2005.
12. ...[Jesus’] death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in
which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in
its most radical form [cf.
15:13]. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf.
we can understand the starting-point of
this Encyclical Letter: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). It is there that this
truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must
begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his
life and love must move.
13. Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of
the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by
giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood
as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33). The ancient world had dimly perceived
that man’s real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the
Logos, eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for
us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation. More than
just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very
dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and
Israel is now realized in a way previously
inconceivable: it had meant standing in God’s presence, but now it becomes union
with God through sharing in Jesus’ self-gift, sharing in his body and blood. The
sacramental “mysticism,” grounded in God’s condescension towards us, operates at
a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything
that any human mystical elevation could ever
14. Here we need to consider yet another aspect: this sacramental “mysticism” is
social in character, for in sacramental communion I become one with the Lord,
like all the other communicants. As Saint Paul says, “Because there is one
bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1
Cor 10:17). Union with Christ is also union with all those to
whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to
him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own.
Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with
all Christians. We become “one body,” completely joined in a single existence.
Love of God and love of neighbor are now truly united: God incarnate draws us
all to himself. We can thus understand how agape [love] also became a term for
the Eucharist: there God’s own agape comes to us bodily, in order to
continue his work in us and through us. Only by keeping in mind this
Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus’ teaching
on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the
twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbor, and his grounding the whole
life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of
morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and
its sacramental re-actualization. Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven
as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God’s agape.
Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart.
“Worship” itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being
loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into
the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. Conversely, as we
shall have to consider in greater detail below, the “commandment” of love is
only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be “commanded”
because it has first been
Christ’s self-giving love:
The transformation that renews the world
Homily at World Youth Day, Cologne (Marienfeld), Germany, August
“This is my Body, given in sacrifice for you.
This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood....” By making the
bread into his Body and the wine into his Blood, [Jesus]
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, 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.
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
This first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of
death into life, brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine
becomes 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.
The Greek word [for adoration] refers to the
gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure,
supplying the norm that we choose to follow.... The Latin word for
adoration [means] 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....
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 center 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 “weekend” of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is
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. Through your love for the Eucharist you will also rediscover
the sacrament of Reconciliation, in which the merciful goodness of
God always allows us to make a fresh start in our lives....
Once again, I must return to the Eucharist. “Because
there is one bread, we, though many, are one body”, says St.
Cor 10: 17). By this he meant: since we receive
the same Lord and he gathers us together and draws us into
himself, we ourselves are one.
This must be evident in our lives. It must be seen
in our capacity to forgive. It must be seen in our sensitivity to
the needs of others. It must be seen in our willingness to share.
It must be seen in our commitment to our neighbors, both those
close at hand and those physically far away, whom we nevertheless
consider to be close.
Today, there are many forms of voluntary
assistance, models of mutual service, of which our society has
urgent need. We must not, for example, abandon the elderly to
their solitude, we must not pass by when we meet people who are
suffering. If we think and live according to our communion with
Christ, then our eyes will be opened. Then we will no longer be
content to scrape a living just for ourselves, but we will see
where and how we are needed.
Living and acting thus, we will soon realize that
it is much better to be useful and at the disposal of others than
to be concerned only with the comforts that are offered to us.
I know that you as young people have great
aspirations, that you want to pledge yourselves to build a better
world. Let others see this, let the world see it, since this is
exactly the witness that the world expects from the disciples of
Jesus Christ; in this way, and through your love above all, the
world will be able to discover the star that we follow as
Let us go forward with Christ and let us live our
lives as true worshippers of God! Amen
The Magi lead a procession of virgins to adore
who is enthroned upon Mary and flanked by angels.
Nave mosaic, Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy
The great procession of the faithful called the Church,
The inner pilgrimage called adoration
Address at World Youth Day Vigil, Cologne (Marienfeld), Germany,
August 20, 2005.
...“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,”
said Jesus to Philip (Jn 14:9). In Jesus Christ, who allowed his
heart to be pierced for us, the true face of God is seen. We will
follow him together with the great multitude of those who went
before us. Then we will be traveling along the right path.
This means that we are not constructing a private God, a private
Jesus, but that we believe and worship the Jesus who is manifested
to us by the sacred Scriptures and who reveals himself to be alive
in the great procession of the faithful called the Church, always
alongside us and always before us. There is much that could be
criticized in the Church. We know this and the Lord himself told
us so: It is a net with good fish and bad fish, a field with wheat
and darnel. Pope John Paul II, as well as revealing the true face
of the Church in the many saints that he canonized, also asked
pardon for the wrong that was done in the course of history
through the words and deeds of members of the Church. In this way
he showed us our own true image and urged us to take our place,
with all our faults and weaknesses, in the procession of the
saints that began with the Magi from the East.
...So we are glad to belong to this great family; we are glad to
have brothers and friends all over the world. Here in Cologne we
discover the joy of belonging to a family as vast as the world,
including heaven and earth, the past, the present, the future and
every part of the earth. In this great band of pilgrims we walk
side by side with Christ, we walk with the star that enlightens
“Going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother,
and they fell down and worshipped him” (Matt 2:11). Dear
friends, this is not a distant story that took place long ago. It
is with us now. Here in the sacred Host he is present before us
and in our midst. As at that time, so now he is mysteriously
veiled in a sacred silence; as at that time, it is here that the
true face of God is revealed. For us he became a grain of wheat
that falls on the ground and dies and bears fruit until the end of
the world (cf.
Jn 12:24). He is present now as he was then in
Bethlehem. He invites us to that inner pilgrimage which is called
adoration. Let us set off on this pilgrimage of the spirit and let
us ask him to be our guide. Amen.
Like the Magi, we encounter our happiness and life at every
Address, World Youth Day Papal Welcoming Ceremony on the Poller Rheinwiesen
bank in Cologne, August 18, 2005.
...[I]n every Mass the liturgy of the Word
introduces us to our participation in the mystery of the Cross and
Resurrection of Christ and hence introduces us to the Eucharistic
Meal, to union with Christ. Present on the altar is the One whom
the Magi saw lying in the manger: Christ, the living Bread who
came down from heaven to give life to the world, the true Lamb who
gives his own life for the salvation of humanity. Enlightened by
the Word, it is in Bethlehem—the “House of Bread”—that we can
always encounter the inconceivable greatness of a God who humbled
himself even to appearing in a manger, to giving himself as food
on the altar.
We can imagine the awe which the Magi experienced before the Child
in swaddling clothes. Only faith enabled them to recognize in the
face of that Child the King whom they were seeking, the God to
whom the star had guided them. In him, crossing the abyss between
the finite and the infinite, the visible and the invisible, the
Eternal entered time, the Mystery became known by entrusting
himself to us in the frail body of a small child. “The Magi are
filled with awe by what they see; heaven on earth and earth in
heaven; man in God and God in man; they see enclosed in a tiny
body the One whom the entire world cannot contain” (St. Peter Chrysologus). In these days, during this “Year of the Eucharist,”
we will turn with the same awe to Christ present in the Tabernacle
of mercy, in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness
you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of
Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of
life to humanity! With Mary, say your own “yes” to God, for he
wishes to give himself to you. I repeat today what I said at the
beginning of my Pontificate: “If we let Christ into our lives, we
lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free,
beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of
life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential
of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we
experience beauty and liberation” (Homily at the Mass of
Inauguration, April 24, 2005). Be completely convinced of this:
Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but
brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the
happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world.
Sunday: Bread and companions for the journey
Homily, "Without Sunday we cannot live," closing of 24th Italian National
Eucharistic Congress, Bari, Italy, May 29, 2005; cf. John Paul II, apostolic
Dies domini and
Mane nobiscum Domine.
...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 favorable opportunity to draw strength from him, the Lord of
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
"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
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....
Christ is truly present among us in the Eucharist. His presence
is not static. It is a dynamic presence that grasps us, to make us his own, to
make us assimilate him. Christ draws us to him, he makes us come out of
ourselves to make us all one with him. In this way he also integrates us in the
communities of brothers and sisters, and communion with the Lord is always also
communion with our brothers and sisters. And we see the beauty of this communion
that the Blessed Eucharist gives us.
The Eucharistic life
Angelus, closing of 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, Bari, Italy,
May 29, 2005.
...Let us learn to always live in communion with the Crucified
and Risen Christ, allowing ourselves to be led by his and our heavenly Mother.
In this way, nourished by the Word and Bread of Life, our existence will become
entirely Eucharistic and thanks will be given to the Father through Christ in
the Holy Spirit.
Adoration and procession: Two responses to communion with the Lord
Homily, Corpus Christi Mass and Procession, St. John Lateran Square, Rome,
May 26, 2005.
...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 him 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
From the Eucharist flows every other element of the life
of the Church
Message delivered at the end of the Mass concelebrated with the members of
the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, April 20, 2005.
...The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ
constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us,
calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His
Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element
of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among
the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the
Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the
poor and the smallest.
In this year [the Year of the Eucharist, October
2004-October 2005], therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus
Christi must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The
Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in
Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of
Bishops which will take place on the theme “The Eucharist, Source
and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.” I ask everyone
to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic
Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real
presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the
correctness of the celebrations.
I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom
I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly
ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as
my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times.
“The priestly life must have in a special way a Eucharistic form,”
he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily
celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of
every priest, contributes to this end.
Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but
feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ
hoped in the Cenacle. Peter’s Successor knows that he must take on
this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special
way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening
REFLECTIONS FROM EARLIER WRITINGS
The depth and dynamism of the Holy Eucharist transforms the world
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI),
The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. by John Saward
Ignatius Press, 2000). Posted with permission of
The Blessed Sacrament contains a dynamism, which has the goal of
transforming mankind and the world into the New Heaven and New Earth, into the
unity of the risen Body.... Only the true Body [of the Lord] in the Sacrament can
build up the true Body of the new City of
God.... The Lord Himself is present, the Indivisible One, the risen Lord, with
Flesh and Blood, with Body and Soul, with Divinity and Humanity. The whole
Christ is there. (p. 88)
Communion only reaches its true depths when it is supported and surrounded by
adoration. (p. 90)
The changes in the Middle Ages ... unfolded the magnitude of the mystery instituted
at the Last Supper and enabled it to be experienced with a new fullness. How
many saints—yes, including saints of love of neighbor—were nourished and led to
the Lord by this experience! (pp. 90, 91)
Kneeling before the Lord: a counter-cultural and cosmic act
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), "Kneeling
The Spirit of the Liturgy,
trans. by John Saward (San Francisco:
Ignatius Press, 2000), pp.
“At the name of Jesus every knee
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into
existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture,
which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and
experience of God....
The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it
bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the center of
authentic culture — the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which we fall at
the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life of the cosmos....
It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture — insofar as it is a
culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the
One before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary
gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a
liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has
been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in
fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos,
indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.
Walking with the Lord in the Corpus Christi
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI),
God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life (San Francisco:
Ignatius, 2003), pp. 110-112; previously published with a different English
translation in Seek That Which is Above (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986),
pp. 89-91. Posted with permission of
The Corpus Christi procession ... is a walking with the Lord; it is itself an
element of eucharistic celebration, one dimension of the eucharistic event. The
Lord who has become our bread is thus showing us the way, is in fact our way, as
he leads us.
In this fashion the Church offered a new interpretation of the Exodus story, of
Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, about which we heard in the reading.
Israel travels through the wilderness. And it is able to find a path in the
pathless wilderness because man does not live by bread alone but by every word
that proceeds from the mouth of God. And so in this story of
Israel’s journey through the wilderness the
underlying meaning of all human history is revealed. This Israel was able to
find a country and was able to survive after the loss of that country because it
did not live from bread alone, but found in the Word the strength to live on
through all the pathless and homeless wilderness of the centuries. And this is
thus an enduring sign set up for us all. Man finds his way only if he will let
himself be led by him who is Word and bread in one.
Only in walking with the Lord can we endure the peregrinations of our history.
Thus Corpus Christi expounds the meaning of our whole life, of the whole history
of the world: marching toward the promised land, a march that can keep on in the
right direction only if we are walking with him who came among us as bread and
Word. Today we know better than earlier ages that indeed the whole life of this
world and the history of mankind is in movement, an incessant transformation,
and moving onward. The word progress has acquired an almost magical ring.
Yet we know, at the same time, that progress can be a meaningful term only if we
know where we want to go. Mere movement in itself is not progress. It can just
as well represent a rapid descent into the abyss. So if there is to be progress,
we must ask how to measure it and what we are aiming at, certainly not merely an
increase in material production.
Corpus Christi expounds the meaning of history.
It offers the measure, for our wandering through the world, of Jesus Christ, who
became man, the eucharistic Lord who shows us the way. Not every problem, of
course, is solved thereby. That just is not the way God goes about things. He
gives us our freedom and our capacities so that we ca make efforts, discover
things, and struggle with things. But the basic yardstick has been laid down.
And whenever we look to him as the measure and the goal of our path, then a
criterion has been given that makes it possible to distinguish the right path
from the wrong: walking with the Lord, as the sign and as the duty of this day.
Witnessing to the world-embracing power of
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The Feast of Faith: Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy, trans. by
G. Harrison, (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986). Posted with permission of Ignatius Press.
Our relationship to God needs not only the
inward aspect; it also needs to be expressed. And as well as speech, singing and
silence, standing, sitting and kneeling, expression also calls for this
celebratory walking along together in the community of the faithful, together
with the God in whom we believe. (pp. 132-33)
So the liturgy opens out into everyday life,
into our earthly life and cares; it goes beyond the church precincts because it
actually embraces heaven and earth, present and future. How we need this sign!
Liturgy is not the private hobby of a particular group; it is about the bond
which holds heaven and earth together, it is about the human race and the entire
created world. In the Corpus Christi procession, faith’s link with the earth,
with the whole of reality, is represented “in bodily form,” by the act of
walking, of treading the ground, our ground…we carry the Lord himself, the
Creator, over the ground—the Lord who willed to give himself in the grain of the
wheat and the fruit of the vine. (pp. 134-35)
[The Corpus Christi procession is a] solemn
profession of faith in the world-embracing power of Jesus Christ’s redeeming
love. Therefore when we walk our streets with the Lord on Corpus Christi, we do
not need to look anxiously over our shoulders at our theological theories to see
if everything is in order and can be accounted for, but we can open ourselves
wide to the joy of the redeemed: sacris sollemniis iuncta sint gaudia—in
joy let us celebrate the holy feasts. (p. 135)
Return to Corpus Christi Procession home page