VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address John Paul II delivered today before praying the midday Angelus at St. Peter’s Square.
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1. Corpus Christi, the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, is being celebrated today in Italy and in other countries. It is the feast of the Eucharist, sacrament in which Jesus left us the living memorial of his Pasch, central event of the history of humanity.
It is beautiful that on this day the faithful gather around the Most Blessed Sacrament to adore it, that they accompany it in procession through the streets, that they express faith in the living Christ and the joy of his presence with so many signs of devotion.
2. Last Thursday, precisely when celebrating Corpus Christi with the Diocese of Rome, I announced that in the coming month of October, coinciding with the International Eucharistic Congress of Guadalajara, Mexico, a special Year of the Eucharist will begin, which will end in October 2005 with 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.”
The Year of the Eucharist takes place in the framework of the pastoral project that I presented in the apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” in which I invited the faithful to “start afresh from Christ” (Nos. 29ff). Contemplating more assiduously the countenance of the Incarnate Word, really present in the Sacrament, they will be able to exercise themselves in the art of prayer (see No. 32) and commit themselves in that “high degree” of the Christian life (see No. 31) which is the indispensable condition to develop in an effective manner the new evangelization.
The Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. In it, Christ offers himself to the Father for us, making us participants of his sacrifice itself, and he gives himself to us as bread of life for our journey on the paths of the world.
3. From now on, I entrust this new initiative to the Virgin Mary, “Eucharistic woman” (see encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” Nos. 53-58). May she, who in the Year of the Rosary helped us with her look and her heart to contemplate Christ (see “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” Nos. 10-17), in the Year of the Eucharist make every community grow in faith and love toward the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
[Translation by ZENIT]