John Paul II's Secret Was Eucharist, Says Benedict XVI

Reflects on Reasons for the Year Dedicated to This Sacrament

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 4, 2005 ( Benedict XVI says that the secret of Pope John Paul II’s spiritual life was his relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.

When praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI noted that the Year of the Eucharist, called by his predecessor, will close in October.

«This year especially dedicated to the Eucharistic mystery was called by Pope John Paul II to reawaken in Christian people faith, wonder and love for this sacrament which is the authentic treasure of the Church,» Benedict XVI asserted.

«With how much devotion he celebrated Holy Mass, the center of each one of his days! How much time he spent in adoring and silent prayer before the tabernacle!» the Pope exclaimed.

Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was one of John Paul II’s closest aides.

Hour of death

«In the last months, his illness assimilated him ever more to the suffering Christ,» Benedict XVI recalled of his predecessor. «It is moving to know that at the hour of his death he united the giving up of his life with that of Christ in the Mass that was being celebrated next to his bed.»

The vigil Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy, was presided over April 2 by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, then John Paul II’s secretary.

Later, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls announced that viaticum was administered to John Paul II during the Mass and, once again, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. John Paul II died at 9:37 that night of April 2.

Benedict XVI noted that John Paul II’s «earthly existence closed in the Easter octave, precisely in the heart of this Eucharistic Year, in which the passing of his great pontificate to mine took place.»

«With joy, therefore, from the beginning of this service that the Lord has asked of me, I reaffirm the central character of the sacrament of the real presence of Christ in the life of the Church and of every Christian,» said Benedict XVI.

The Year of the Eucharist will close with the Synod of Bishops next month.

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