On the Eucharist and the Cross

«Each Mass Actualizes Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the midday Angelus, to the crowds gathered at the papal summer residence.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Next Wednesday, Sept. 14, we celebrate the liturgical feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In the year dedicated to the Eucharist, this celebration has a particular significance: It invites us to meditate on the profound and indissoluble bond that unites the Eucharistic celebration with the mystery of the cross. Each holy Mass, in fact, actualizes Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. To Golgotha and to the «hour» of the death on the cross — wrote our beloved John Paul II in the encyclical «Ecclesia de Eucharistia,» returns «[e]very priest who celebrates Holy Mass, together with the Christian community which takes part in it» (No. 4).

The Eucharist is therefore the memorial of the whole paschal mystery: passion, death, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension to heaven, and the cross is the tangible manifestation of the infinite act of love with which the Son of God has saved man and the world from sin and death. Because of this the sign of the cross is the fundamental gesture of the Christian’s prayer. To make the sign of the cross is to pronounce a visible and public yes to him who died for us and who is risen, to the God who in the humility and weakness of his love is omnipotent, stronger than all the power and intelligence of the world.

After the consecration, the assembly of faithful, conscious of being in the real presence of the crucified and risen Christ, acclaims thus: «We proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.» With the eyes of faith the community acknowledges the living Jesus with the signs of his passion and, together with Thomas, full of wonder, can repeat: «My Lord and my God!» (John 20:28). Like the cross, the Eucharist is mystery of death and glory, which is not a passing incident, but the passage through which Christ entered into his glory (see Luke 24:26) and reconciled the whole of humanity, overcoming all enmity. Because of this the liturgy invites us to pray with confident hope: «Mane nobiscum Domine!» Stay with us, Lord, who by your holy cross have redeemed the world!

Mary, present on Calvary by the cross, is equally present with the Church and as Mother of the Church, in each of our Eucharistic celebrations (see «Ecclesia de Eucharistia,» No. 57). Because of this, no one better than she can teach us to understand and live with faith the holy Mass, uniting us to Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. When we receive holy Communion we also, as Mary and united to her, embrace the wood, which Jesus with his love has transformed into instrument of salvation, and pronounce our «Amen,» our «yes» to crucified and risen Love.

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

Next Wednesday will begin at the United Nations in New York the summit of heads of state and government which will address important topics concerning world peace, respect for human rights, the promotion of development and the reinforcement of the United Nations. The Holy See, as usual, was also invited, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, will represent me.

My fervent hope is that the political leaders gathered there will find suitable solutions to achieve the great objectives fixed beforehand, in a spirit of concord and generous solidarity. In particular, I wish them success in implementing effective concrete measures to respond to the most urgent problems posed by extreme poverty, sickness and famine, which afflict so many peoples.

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

I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. Today, Sept. 11, we remember the victims of terrorist violence throughout the world. May God inspire men and women of good will everywhere to renounce hatred and to build a world of justice, solidarity and peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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