Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Corpus Christi Angelus of Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today, in Italy and in other countries, the solemnity of Corpus Christi is being celebrated, which already had its intense moment in Rome in the city's procession on Thursday.

It is the solemn and public feast of the Eucharist, sacrament of the body and blood of Christ: On this day, the mystery instituted in the Last Supper and commemorated every year on Holy Thursday, is presented to all, surrounded by the faith and devotion of the ecclesial community.

The Eucharist is, in fact, the "treasure" of the Church, the precious heritage that her Lord has left her. And the Church guards this heritage with the greatest care, celebrating it daily in the holy Mass, adoring it in churches and chapels, distributing it to the sick, and as viaticum to those on their last journey.

However, this treasure, which is destined for those who are baptized, does not exhaust its radius of action in the ambit of the Church: the Eucharist is the Lord Jesus who gives himself "for the life of the world" (John 6:51). At all times and in all places, he wishes to encounter man and give him God's life.

And not only this -- the Eucharist also has cosmic value: The transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ constitutes, in fact, the principle of divinization of creation itself. This is why the feast of Corpus Christi is characterized particularly by the tradition of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession, a gesture full of meaning.

By carrying the Eucharist through the streets and squares, we wish to submerge the bread descended from heaven in the everyday of our lives; we want Jesus to walk where we walk; to live where we live. Our world, our lives, must become his temple.

On this feast day, the Christian community proclaims that the Eucharist is everything for it, that it is its very life, the source of love that triumphs over death. From communion with Christ arises the charity that transforms our lives and supports all on the journey toward the heavenly homeland.

For this reason, the liturgy invites us to sing: "Good shepherd, true bread … You who know all and can do everything, who nourish us on earth, lead your brothers to the table of heaven, in the glory of your saints."

Mary is the "Eucharistic woman," as Pope John Paul II described her in his encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia." Let us pray to the Virgin that all Christians may deepen their faith in the Eucharistic mystery, so that they live in constant communion with Jesus and are his valid witnesses.