On the Final Phase of Year of the Eucharist

«Central Character of the Sacrament of the Real Presence»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, before and after reciting the midday Angelus with the crowd that gathered at the papal summer residence.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Year of the Eucharist is now approaching its final phase. It will close this coming month of October, with the holding of the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican, which will have as its theme: «The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.»

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 great sacrament which is the authentic treasure of the Church. 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!

In the last months, his illness assimilated him ever more with the suffering Christ. 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. His 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.

In view of the October synodal assembly, the bishops who will attend are studying the «working document» prepared for this occasion. I request, however, that the whole ecclesial community feel involved in this phase of immediate preparation, and that it participate with prayer and reflection, taking advantage of every occasion, event and meeting. Also in the recent World Youth Day there were many references to the mystery of the Eucharist. I remember, for example, the thought-provoking Saturday night vigil, on August 20, in Marienfeld, which had its culminating moment in Eucharistic adoration: a courageous choice, which made the glance and hearts of young people converge on Jesus, present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I remember, moreover, that during those memorable days, in some churches of Cologne, Bonn and Duesseldorf there was continuous adoration, day and night, with the attendance of many young people, which in this way were able to discover together the beauty of contemplative prayer.

I trust that, thanks to the commitment of pastors and faithful, participation in the Eucharist will be ever more assiduous and fervent in every community. Today, in particular, I would like to urge sanctifying with joy the «Lord’s Day,» Sunday, a sacred day for Christians. In this context, I am happy to recall the figure of St. Gregory the Great, whose liturgical memorial we celebrated yesterday. That great Pope made a contribution of historical importance to the promotion of the liturgy in its different aspects, in particular, to the appropriate celebration of the Eucharist. May his intercession, together with that of Mary Most Holy, help us to live in fullness every Sunday the joy of Easter and the encounter with the risen Lord.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father added:]

In these days, we all feel saddened because of the disaster caused by the hurricane in the United States of America, especially in New Orleans. I want to assure my prayer for the deceased and their relatives, for the injured and the people who have lost their homes, for the sick, children, and the elderly. I bless all those involved in the difficult operations of rescue and reconstruction. I have asked Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum,» to witness my solidarity to the populations affected.

I am also thinking of the Iraqis, who last Wednesday saw hundreds of fellow citizens die, victims of the uncontrollable panic, mostly elderly people, women and children, gathered in Baghdad for a religious commemoration. May the Almighty touch the hearts of all, so that at last a climate of reconciliation and reciprocal trust will be established in that tormented country.

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims in today’s Angelus. In a special way our hearts turn to all those suffering the devastating consequences of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. As the extent of the tragedy unfolds, I ask you to join me in praying for the victims, their loved ones and all those affected. May the grieving families experience the consolation of God’s presence and rescue workers be assured of our deep concern and support.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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