Eucharist Is Not Understood, Laments Pope

Says Well-Celebrated Mass Is Best Catechesis

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ROME, JUNE 17, 2010 ( The doctrine of the Eucharist — and its relevance for believers — is not sufficiently understood and must be a catechetical priority, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this Wednesday when he went to the Basilica of St. John Lateran to address participants at the convention for the Diocese of Rome.

The Holy Father told his diocese that a «more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord» is a necessity for the communities of Rome.

«At the same time,» he added, «in the missionary spirit that we wish to nourish, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim such Eucharistic faith, so that every man will encounter Jesus Christ who has revealed the ‘close’ God, friend of humanity, and to witness it with an eloquent life of charity.»

The Pontiff went on to give a reflection on the Eucharistic mystery, considering Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and how it is memorialized. He acknowledged that «sacrifice» is no longer a popular word.

«However, properly understood,» he said, «[sacrifice] is and remains fundamental, because it reveals to us with what love God loves us in Christ.»

Entering a reality

Benedict XVI affirmed that Mass itself, «celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures,» fosters and promotes Eucharistic faith.

«In the Eucharistic celebration,» he said, «we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: We go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us.»

It is because of this, the Holy Father affirmed, that liturgical prescriptions are not mere «external things» but «express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ.»

Hence, he contended, the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, well celebrated.

Individual altars

Later in his address, the Bishop of Rome noted how the Eucharistic celebration must lead to charity.

«Feeding on him we are freed from the bonds of individualism and, through communion with him, we ourselves become, together, one thing, his Mystical Body,» he said. This surmounts the differences of profession, class and nationality to form «one great family, that of the children of God.»

«When we receive Christ,» the Pope added, «the love of God expands in our innermost self, modifies our heart radically and makes us capable of gestures that, by the expansive force of good, can transform the life of those that are next to us. […] A celebrated Eucharist imposes on us and at the same time renders us capable of becoming, in our turn, bread broken for brothers, coming to meet their needs and giving ourselves.

«Because of this, a Eucharistic celebration that does not lead to meet men where they live, work and suffer, to take to them the love of God, does not manifest the love it encloses. To be faithful to the mystery that is celebrated on the altars we must, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, offer our bodies, ourselves, in spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God in those circumstances that require dying to our ‘I’ and constitute our daily ‘altar.'»

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