VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said he convoked the “Year of the Eucharist” because the program he presented to the Church at the start of the millennium is based on “starting afresh from Christ.”
Noting that many countries were celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi today — it was observed last Thursday in Rome — the Pope dedicated his traditional greeting to pilgrims to highlight the central character of the Eucharist for Christians.
“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,'” he said before praying the Angelus.
“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 and commit themselves in that ‘high degree’ of the Christian life, which is the indispensable condition to develop in an effective manner the new evangelization,” the Holy Father continued.
This is why, when celebrating Corpus Christi last Thursday, the Pope convoked the Year of the Eucharist for next October, on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress of Guadalajara, Mexico.
The “year” 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 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,” the Pontiff said from the window of his study overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
Addressing a crowd of thousands, the Holy Father said that this Year of the Eucharist seeks to “make every community grow in faith and love toward the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”