On the Synod of the Eucharist

«The Motor of the Church’s Evangelizing Action»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus and after celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The celebration of the Eucharist just ended in St. Peter’s Basilica, with which we opened the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The synodal fathers, from all parts of the world, with experts and other delegates, will live over the next three weeks, together with the Successor of Peter, a privileged time of prayer, reflecting on the theme: «The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.»

Why this theme? Isn’t it an argument that is taken for granted — a given? In fact, the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist, defined authoritatively by the Council of Trent, must be received, lived and transmitted to the ecclesial community in an ever new way, appropriate to the times.

The Eucharist might also be considered as a «lens» with which to constantly examine the face and path of the Church, which Christ founded so that all men may know the love of God and find in him the fullness of life. For this reason, our beloved Pope John Paul II wished to dedicate to the Eucharist a whole year, which closes precisely with the end of the Synodal Assembly on Oct. 23, when World Mission Sunday will be observed.

This coincidence helps us to contemplate the Eucharistic mystery from the missionary perspective. The Eucharist, in fact, is the motor of the whole of the Church’s evangelizing action, as the heart is in the human body. Christian communities — without the Eucharistic celebration, where they are nourished at the dual table of the Word and body of Christ — would lose their authentic nature: Only in the measure that they are «Eucharistic» can they transmit Christ to men, and not just ideas or values regardless of how noble or important they are.

The Eucharist has molded notable missionary apostles in all states of life: bishops, priests, religious, laity, and saints of active and contemplative life. Let us think, on one hand, of St. Francis Xavier, whose love of Christ took him to the Far East to proclaim the Gospel; and on the other hand, of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, young Carmelite, whose feast in fact we celebrated yesterday. She lived in the cloister her ardent apostolic spirit, meriting being proclaimed, together with St. Francis Xavier, patron of the Church’s missionary activity.

Let us invoke their intercession on the works of the synod, as well as that of the Guardian Angels, whom we remember today. With confidence, let us entrust ourselves above all to the Virgin Mary, whom we will venerate next Oct. 7 with the title Virgin of the Rosary. The month of October is dedicated to the holy rosary, singular contemplative prayer with which, led by the Lord’s heavenly Mother, we fix our gaze on the Redeemer’s face to be conformed in his mystery of joy, light, suffering and glory.

This ancient prayer is undergoing a providential new flowering, thanks in part to the example and teaching of our beloved Pope John Paul II. I invite you to reread his apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae» and to put into practice his indications at the personal, family and community level. We entrust to Mary the works of the synod: May she lead the whole Church to an ever clearer awareness of her mission at the service of the redeemer, really present in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present, and in these days I ask you to pray for the synod fathers as they reflect on the Eucharist in the Church’s life and mission. May Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament inspire you in fidelity to the Gospel and its saving truth. God bless you and your families!

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