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Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2002

Pope Saint John Paul II's Homily at Mass
Basilica of St John Lateran
before Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament & a Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major
Thursday, 30 May 2002 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem, lauda ducem et pastorem in hymnis et canticis": "Praise your Saviour, Zion, praise with hymns and canticles, Christ, your king and shepherd".

With faith and devotion we have sung these words of the traditional Sequence that forms part of the liturgy of Corpus Christi.

Today is a solemn feast, a feast on which we relive the first Sacred Supper. With a public and solemn act, we glorify and adore the Bread and the Wine become the true Body and true Blood of the Redeemer. "Signs not things are all we see", the Sequence stresses, but "here beneath these signs lie hidden priceless things".

2. "Special theme for glad thanksgiving is the lifegiving Bread set before you today."

Today we are celebrating a solemn feast that expresses the awesome wonder of the People of God: a wonder filled with gratitude for the gift of the Eucharist. In the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus wanted to perpetuate his living presence in our midst in the same form in which he gave himself to the Apostles in the Upper Room. He left to us what he did at the Last Supper and we faithfully renew his action.

According to established custom, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi consists of two moments: the Mass, in which the offering of the Sacrifice takes place and the procession, that manifests the public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

3. "Obedient to his command, we consecrate the bread and wine, our sacrifice of salvation". Above all, we renew the memorial of Christ's Passover.

Days, years and centuries go by, but this most holy act in which Jesus condensed his entire Gospel of love does not pass away. He never ceases to offer himself, the Lamb immolated and risen, for the salvation of the world. With this memorial the Church responds to the command of God's Word, which we heard in the First Reading: "Remember ... Do not forget" (Dt 8, 2, 14).

The Eucharist is our living Memorial. In the Eucharist, as the Council recalls, "is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh - that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ ..." (Presbyterorum ordinis, n 5).

From the Eucharist, "the source and the summit of all preaching of the Gospel" (ibid), even our Church of Rome must daily draw the strength and enthusiasm for her missionary action and for every form of Christian witness in the world.

4. "Good shepherd, True Bread, have mercy on us, nourish and defend us".

Good Shepherd, you will shortly pass through the streets of our city. On this feast, every city, metropolis or small village, becomes spiritually Zion, the Jerusalem who praises the Saviour:  they are the new People of God, gathered from every nation and nourished with the one Bread of life.

This People has need of the Eucharist. Indeed, it is the Eucharist that makes the People a missionary Church. But is it possible without priests, who renew the Eucharistic mystery?

This is why, on this solemn day, I invite you to pray for the success of the diocesan ecclesial convocation to be held in the Basilica of St John starting on Monday (3 June), that will give special attention to the theme of vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life.

Young Romans! I repeat to you the words I addressed to the young people gathered at Tor Vergata during the World Youth Day 2000. "If any of you, dear young men and women hear the Lord's inner call to give yourselves completely to him in order to love him "with an undivided heart'" (cf I Cor 7, 34) do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say "yes' with courage and without reserve, trusting him who is faithful to his promises" (cf Homily, n 6).

5. "Ave verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine"
("Hail true Body, born of the Virgin Mary").

We adore you, our Holy Redeemer, who became incarnate in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary. To the most important Marian church of the West, the Basilica of St Mary Major, we will move in solemn procession.

We give you thanks, Lord, for your Eucharistic presence in the world. For us you accepted suffering and on the cross you manifested your love for all humanity to the very end. We adore you, daily viaticum for us, all pilgrims on earth.

"You who know and can do all things, who nourish us on earth, lead your brothers and sisters to the table of heaven to be fellow heirs and guests with your saints forever." Amen."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Sunday, 2 June 2002 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today in Italy and in some other countries the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is being celebrated. The Christian community gathers round the Eucharist and in it adores its most precious treasure: Christ really present under the appearances of bread and wine.

The whole People of God comes out of the churches and carries the Blessed Sacrament through the streets and squares of the city. The Risen Christ walks the highways of humanity and continues to offer his "flesh" to human beings as the true "Bread of Life" (cf Jn 6, 48.51). Just as was the case 2000 years ago, "this is a hard saying" (Jn 6, 60) for human intelligence which is overwhelmed by the mystery.

To explore the fascinating depths of Christ's presence under the "signs" of the bread and the wine, faith is necessary, or rather faith animated by love. Only those who believe and love can understand something of this ineffable mystery through which God draws close to our littleness, seeks to save our weakness, and reveals himself for what he is: infinite, saving love.

2. For this reason the Eucharist is the beating heart of the community. From the very outset, ever since the primitive community of Jerusalem, Christians have gathered on the Lord's Day to renew at Mass the memorial of Christ's Death and Resurrection. "Sunday" is the day of rest and praise, but without the Eucharist it loses its real meaning. Therefore, in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, I again proposed as a primary pastoral commitment the recovery of the value of Sunday and of the Eucharistic celebration on the day: "it is a fundamental duty, to be fulfilled not just in order to observe a precept but as something felt as essential to a truly informed and consistent Christian life" (n 36).

3. In adoring the Eucharist we can only think with gratitude of the Virgin Mary. The famous Eucharistic hymn that we often sing suggests this:  "Ave verum corpus / natum de Maria Virgine" (Hail true Body, born of the Virgin Mary). Today, let us ask the Mother of the Lord to obtain that everyone may taste the sweetness of communion with Jesus and, thanks to the Bread of eternal life, receive a share in his mystery of salvation and holiness."

After the recitation of the Angelus:

"Saluto con affetto tutti gli italiani e formulo loro i migliori auguri per l'odierna festa nazionale. Dio conceda all'Italia pace e prosperità!

Un affettuoso saluto rivolgo poi al gruppo di Ucraini delle comunità greco-cattoliche di Napoli e Roma, che di cuore benedico insieme ai loro familiari in Ucraina. Carissimi, la fede vi sostenga sempre nella vita di ogni giorno.

Nel salutare i pellegrini di lingua italiana presenti in questa Piazza, ricordo che il mese di giugno è tradizionalmente dedicato al Sacro Cuore di Gesù. Possa ciascuno attingere da questa sorgente inesauribile di grazia costante aiuto per progredire nell'amore e nel generoso servizio del prossimo.

Saludo también con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, especialmente a los feligreses de la Parroquia de San José de Madrid. Invito a todos a formar una sola familia, unida en torno a la mesa de la Eucaristía.

Saluto anche i pellegrini giunti dalla Polonia: il Liceo di Ostroleka, la schola di Milanówek e i pellegrini venuti singolarmente. Dio vi benedica tutti!

A tutti auguro una buona domenica."




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