On Corpus Christi

“Yes, Love Exists, and Since It Exists, Things Can Change”

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, in different countries, Italy among them, we celebrate “Corpus Domini,” the feast of the Eucharist, in which the sacrament of the Lord’s Body is carried solemnly in procession.

What does this feast mean for us? It does not make us think only of the liturgical aspect; in reality, “Corpus Domini” is a day that involves the cosmic dimension, heaven and earth. It evokes, first of all — at least in our hemisphere — this beautiful and fragrant season in which spring finally begins the turn toward summer, the sun shines brilliantly in the heavens and the wheat matures in the fields. The seasons of the Church — like the Jewish ones — have to do with the rhythm of the solar year, of planting and harvesting. This dimension comes to the foreground especially in today’s solemnity, in which the sign of bread, fruit of earth and of heaven, is at the center. This is why the Eucharistic bread is the sign of him in whom heaven and earth, God and man, become one. And this shows that the relationship with the seasons is not something that is merely external to the liturgical year.

The solemnity of “Corpus Domini” is intimately linked to Easter and Pentecost: The death and resurrection of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit are its presuppositions. It is, furthermore, linked to the feast of the Trinity, which we celebrated last Sunday. Only because God himself is relation can there be relation with him; and only because he is love can he love and be loved. In this way “Corpus Domini” is a manifestation of God, an attestation that God is love. In a unique and peculiar way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, of what it is and what it does. It tells us, for example, that it regenerates itself in giving itself, it receives itself in giving itself, it does not run out and is not used up; thus we hear in a hymn of St. Thomas Aquinas: “nec sumptus consumitur” (it is not used up in being consumed).

Love transforms every thing, and so we understand that the mystery of transubstantiation, the sign of Jesus-Charity, which transforms the world, is at the center of today’s feast of “Corpus Domini.” Looking upon him and worshiping him, we say: Yes, love exists, and since it exists, things can change for the better and we can hope. It is the hope that comes from Christ’s love that gives us the strength to live and to face every difficulty. This is why we sing while we carry the most Blessed Sacrament in procession; we sing and praise God, who reveals himself hidden in the sign of broken bread. We all have need of this bread, because the road to freedom, justice and peace is long and wearisome.

We can imagine with what faith and love the Madonna would have received and worshiped the Holy Eucharist in her heart! Each time it was for her like receiving the whole mystery of her Son Jesus: from the conception to the resurrection. My venerable and beloved predecessor, John Paul II, called her the “Eucharistic Woman.” Let us learn from her to continually renew our communion with the Body of Christ, to love each other as he loved us.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. Here is a translation of the some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

At the United Nations in New York June 24-26 there will be a conference on the economic and financial crisis and its impact on development. I pray for the spirit of wisdom and human solidarity for the participants in this conference and for those who are responsible for the “res publica” and the fate of the planet so that the current crisis is transformed into an opportunity to focus greater attention on the dignity of every human person and to promote an equal distribution of decisional power and resources, with particular attention to the number of those living in poverty, which, unfortunately, is always growing.

On this day in which we celebrate, in Italy and many other nations, the feast of “Corpus Domini,” the bread of life, as I just mentioned, I would like to especially remember the hundreds of millions of persons who suffer from hunger. It is an absolutely unacceptable reality that is hard to control despite the efforts of recent decades. I hope, therefore, that at the upcoming U.N. conference and in the headquarters of international institutions the joint measures are taken by the entire international community and the strategic decisions are made — which are sometimes difficult to accept — that are necessary to ensure that everyone, in the present and the future, will have basic nourishment and a dignified life.

Next Friday, the solemnity of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Day of Priestly Sanctification, will begin the Year for Priests, which I wanted to have observed together with the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy Curé of Ars. I entrust to your prayers this new spiritual initiative that follows the Pauline Year, which is now concluding. May this new jubilee year be a propitious occasion to reflect on the value and importance of the priestly mission and to ask the Lord to make a gift of many priests to his Church.

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, the Holy Father said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ invites us to acknowledge the Lord’s saving presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of reconciliation, in which the Risen Lord is truly and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, confirm the Church in faith, unity and holiness as she awaits his future coming in glory. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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