On Corpus Christi

«No one knew more and better than Mary how to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of faith»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, in Italy and in many other countries, Corpus Domini is celebrated, that is, the solemn feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Eucharist. It is an ever living tradition on this day to hold solemn processions with the Most Holy Sacrament along streets and in the piazzas. In Rome this procession already took place at the diocesan level on Thursday, the exact date of this celebration, which every year renews in Christians the joy and gratitude for the eucharistic presence of Jesus in our midst.

The feast of Corpus Domini is a great act of public worship of the Eucharist, the Sacrament in which the Lord remains present even outside the time of the liturgy, to be with us always as the hours and days pass by. Already St. Justin, who has left us one of the most ancient testimonies to the eucharistic liturgy, states that after the distribution of communion to those present, the consecrated bread was brought by the deacons to those who were absent (cf. Apologia, 1, 65). Thus the most sacred place in churches is the place where the Eucharist is reserved. I cannot in this regard not think without emotion of the numerous churches that have been gravely damaged by the recent earthquake in Emilia Romagna and of the fact that the eucharistic Body of Christ too, in the tabernacle, has remained under the rubble. I pray for the communities with affection who must gather with their priests for Holy Mass outdoors or in tents; I thank them for their witness and for what they are doing for all those affected by the disaster. It is a situation that once again brings to the fore the importance of being united in the Lord’s name and the power that comes from the eucharistic Bread, which is also called the “bread of pilgrims.” The capacity to share life and goods, to bear each others’ burdens, to be hospitable and welcoming are also born and renewed from the sharing of this Bread.

The solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord also reproposes the value of eucharistic adoration to us. The Servant of God Paul VI observed that the Catholic Church professes the worship of the Eucharist “not only during the Mass but also outside of it by taking the greatest possible care of consecrated Hosts, by exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and by carrying them about in processions to the joy of great numbers of the people” (Mysterium Fidei, 56). The prayer of adoration can be accomplished both personally, pausing before the tabernacle in recollection, and communally, with Psalms and songs too, but always privileging the silence in which we listen interiorly to the Lord who is living and present in the Sacrament. The Virgin Mary is also the teacher of this prayer, because no one knew more and better than her how to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of faith and welcome the intimate resonances of his human and divine presence in the heart. By her intercession may an authentic and deep faith in the eucharistic Mystery spread and grow in every ecclesial community.

[After praying the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to recall that next Thursday, June 14, is World Blood Donor Day, promoted by the World Health Organization. I express my keen appreciation for those who practice this form of solidarity, which is indispensable for the life of many sick people.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present for this Angelus prayer. Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ celebrates the Lord’s saving presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of forgiveness and reconciliation strengthen the Church in faith, unity and holiness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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