Eucharist: "A Glimpse of Heaven Appearing on Earth"

Descriptions of the Sacrament Found in New Encyclical

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2003 ( «Ecclesia de Eucharistia,» the latest encyclical published by John Paul II, is characterized by the personal style with which the Pope presents the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

This is reflected in the following descriptions of the Eucharist, offered by the Pope in the encyclical.

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— «Truly the Eucharist is a mysterium fidei, a mystery which surpasses our understanding and can only be received in faith» (No. 15).

— «The Eucharist is a true banquet, in which Christ offers himself as our nourishment» (No 16).

— «The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ. It is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the ‘pledge of future glory'» (No. 18).

— «The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth» (No. 19).

— «It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey» (No. 19).

— «The Eucharist thus appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit» (No. 22).

— «The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace» (No. 25).

— «If the Eucharist is the center and summit of the Church’s life, it is likewise the center and summit of priestly ministry. For this reason, with a heart filled with gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, I repeat that the Eucharist ‘is the principal and central raison d’être of the sacrament of priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist'» (No. 31).

— «If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition» (No. 54).

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