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Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2003

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, 19 June 2003 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit" - "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist". The encyclical letter on the Eucharist, which I signed last Holy Thursday during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, begins with these words. Today's Solemnity of "Corpus Christi" recalls that evocative celebration and at the same time makes us relive the intense atmosphere of the Last Supper.

"Take; this is my body... This is my blood" (Mk 14, 22-24). Let us listen again to Jesus' words while he offers his disciples the bread that has become his Body and the wine that has become his Blood. In this way he inaugurates the new paschal rite: the Eucharist is the sacrament of the new and eternal Covenant.

With those acts and words, Christ brings to fulfilment the long ordinances of the ancient rites, mentioned just now in the First Reading (cf Ex 24, 3-8).

2. The Church returns constantly to the Upper Room as to the place of her birth. She returns to it because the Eucharistic gift establishes a mysterious "oneness in time" between the Passover of the Lord and the perennial making present of the paschal mystery in the world and in every generation (cf Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 5).

This evening too, with deep gratitude to God, let us reflect in silence before the mystery of faith - mysterium fidei. Let us contemplate it with that profound feeling which, in the encyclical, I called "Eucharistic amazement" (ibid, 6): immense and grateful wonder at the Sacrament in which Christ wanted "to concentrate" forever his entire mystery of love (cf ibid, 5).

Let us contemplate the Eucharistic face of Christ, as did the Apostles and, later, the saints of all the centuries. Let us contemplate him above all by learning at the school of Mary, "woman "of the Eucharist' in her whole life" (ibid, 53), the One who was "the first "tabernacle' in history" (ibid, 55).

3. This is the meaning of the beautiful tradition of Corpus Christi which is renewed this evening. With it, the Church that is in Rome also shows her constitutive link with the Eucharist, and professes joyfully that she "draws her life from the Eucharist".

Her Bishop, the Successor of Peter, and his Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood also draw their life from the Eucharist; men and women Religious, consecrated lay people and the baptized all draw their life from the Eucharist.

Christian families in particular, to whom a few days ago the Diocesan Ecclesial Convention was dedicated, draw their life from the Eucharist. Dear families of Rome! May the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist foster the grace of marriage in you and allow you to progress on the path of conjugal and family holiness. Draw from this wellspring the secret of your unity and love, imitating the example of the Blessed husband and wife, Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrochi, who began their days by partaking in the Eucharistic Banquet.

4. After Holy Mass, we will set out praying and singing for the Basilica of St Mary Major. With this procession we want to express symbolically our existence as pilgrims, "viatores", bound for the heavenly homeland.

We are not alone on our pilgrimage: Christ, the Bread of life, walks with us: "panis angelorum, factus cibus viatorum" - "Lo the angel's food is given to the pilgrim..." (Sequence).

May Jesus, the spiritual food that nourishes the hope of believers, sustain us on this journey towards Heaven and strengthen our communion with the heavenly Church.

The Most Holy Eucharist, a glimpse of Heaven appearing on earth, pierces the clouds of our history. A glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem, it lights up our journey (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 19).

5. "Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine": Hail, true Body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary!

The soul melts into wonder and adoration before so sublime a Mystery.

"Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine". From your death on the Cross, O Lord, flows life for us which never dies.

"Esto nobis praegustatum mortis in examine". O Lord, obtain that each one of us, nourished by you, may face all of life's trials with confident hope, until the day when you will be our viaticum for the last journey to the Father's house.

"O Iesu dulcis! O Iesu pie! O Iesu, fili Mariae! - O sweet Jesus, O pious Jesus! O Jesus, Son of Mary!""

St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass with the Beatification of Ivan Merz in Banja Luka
Bosnia Herzegovina, Corpus Christi Sunday, 22 June 2003
- in Croatian, English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "You are the light of the world". Jesus today repeats these words for us, dear brothers and sisters, for our liturgical assembly. They are not simply a moral exhortation. They are a statement of fact which expresses an essential requirement flowing from the reception of Baptism.

By virtue of this Sacrament the human being becomes a member of the Mystical Body of Christ (cf Rom 6:3-5). The Apostle Paul states: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). Saint Augustine rightly exclaimed: "Let us rejoice and give thanks: we have become not only Christians but Christ himself… Marvel and rejoice, for we have become Christ" (In Ioann. Evang. Tract. 21:8, CCL 36:216).

Christ is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9). Christians for their part are called to become a reflection of this Light by following and imitating Jesus. For this reason they will listen to and meditate on Christ’s word, take conscious and active part in the Church’s liturgical and sacramental life, and carry out the commandment of love by serving their brothers and sisters, especially the helpless, the poor and the suffering.

2. I greet with affection the Bishop of Banja Luka and President of the Episcopal Conference, the Most Reverend Franjo Komarica, and I thank him for his cordial words of greeting at the beginning of this Eucharistic celebration. My respectful greeting also goes to the other Bishops of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and in particular to Cardinal Vinko Pulijć, the Archbishop of Vhrbosna and a native of this diocese, and to the other Cardinals and Bishops who join us. I greet in the Lord all the pilgrims who have gathered here from different parts of this country and from neighbouring nations.

I send a fraternal greeting to His Beatitude Patriarch Pavle and the Members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The new vitality recently gained in our journey towards mutual understanding, reciprocal respect and fraternal solidarity is a cause for joy and hope for this region.

My greetings go also to the members of the other Ecclesial Communities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to the members of the Jewish community and the Islamic community.

I greet the Honourable Members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina and all the other civil and military Authorities. I very much appreciate your presence and I thank you for all that you have contributed to the organization of my visit to your country.

Finally to you, the beloved sons and daughters of this pilgrim Church in Bosnia-Hercegovina, I open wide my arms in order to embrace you and tell you that you have an important place in the Pope’s heart. He constantly brings before the Lord in prayer the sufferings which still burden your journey and he shares with you in hope the expectation of better days.

From this city, marked in the course of history by so much suffering and bloodshed, I ask Almighty God to have mercy on the sins committed against humanity, human dignity and freedom also by children of the Catholic Church, and to foster in all the desire for mutual forgiveness. Only in a climate of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and their sacrifice not be in vain, but encourage everyone to build new relationships of fraternity and understanding.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, the just man, surrounded by divine light, becomes in turn a lamp which radiates light and gives warmth. This is what we learn today from the figure of Ivan Merz.

A gifted young man, he made a good return on his rich natural talents and obtained great human success: it can be said that he had a very successful life. But that is not the reason why he is today declared Blessed. What makes him one of the choir of the Beati is his success in God’s eyes. The great aspiration of his whole life was "never to forget God, to desire always to be one with him". In all his activities Ivan Merz sought "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" and he allowed Christ to make him his own (cf Phil 3:8,12).

4. At the school of the liturgy, the source and summit of the Church’s life (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), Ivan Merz grew to the fullness of Christian maturity and became one of the principal promotors of the liturgical renewal in his country.

Taking part in Mass and drawing nourishment from the Body of Christ and the Word of God, he drew the inspiration to become an apostle of young people. It was not by chance that he chose as his motto "Sacrifice – Eucharist – Apostolate". Conscious of the vocation he had received in Baptism, he made his whole life a "race" towards holiness, the "high standard" of Christian life (cf Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). For this reason, as the First Reading says, "his memory will not disappear, and his name will live through all generations" (Sir 39:9).

5. The name of Ivan Merz has meant in the past a programme of life and of activity for an entire generation of young Catholics. Today too it must do the same! Your country and your Church, dear young people, have experienced difficult times and now there is a need to work together so that life on all levels will fully return to normal. I therefore appeal to each of you; I invite you not to step back, not to yield to the temptation to become discouraged, but to multiply initiatives which will make Bosnia-Hercegovina once more a land of reconciliation, encounter and peace.

The future of this land depends also on you! Do not seek a more comfortable life elsewhere, do not flee from your responsibilities and expect others to resolve problems, but resolutely counter evil with the power of good.

Like Blessed Ivan, strive for a personal encounter with Christ which sheds new light on life. May the Gospel be the great ideal guiding your approaches and your decisions! Thus you will become missionaries in word and deed, signs of God’s love and credible witnesses of the merciful presence of Christ. Never forget: "one does not light a lamp and put it under a bushel" (cf Mt 5:15).

6. Dear brothers and sisters who take part with such fervour in this celebration, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, keep your heart and your spirit in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!

This is the prayer and the wish which, through the intercession of Blessed Ivan Merz, the Pope today offers for you and for all the peoples of Bosnia-Hercegovina."

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at the Angelus
- in Croatian, English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. An important source of strength in the life of Blessed Ivan Merz was, along with the Eucharist, his tender devotion to the Mother of the Lord.

At the conclusion of this liturgy, we too lift our eyes to the Virgin Mary and we join the whole Church in repeating the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel and in contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. We ask Mary to help us "to contemplate the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 1),

2. 2. Herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Auf die Fürsprache des neuen Seligen Ivan Merz gewähre euch der Herr Glaubensstärke, eine feste Hoffnung und wahren Eifer in der Liebe. Gottes Gnade begleite euch!

Kedves vajdasági magyar testvéreim, szívbôl köszöntelek Titeket. Kívánom, hogy az isteni kegyelem világítsa meg lépteiteket és egész életeteket. Szeretettel adom áldásomat.

Nel ricordo dell’impegno del Beato Ivan Merz per l’Azione Cattolica, saluto i fedeli di lingua italiana. Il suo esempio di laico cristiano aiuti ciascuno a rispondere con coerenza alla vocazione ricevuta. Tutti di cuore benedico.

Леп поздрав, заедно са благосовом, шаем и свим верницима кои су допли из Србие и Црне Горе. Предраги, заговор Пресвете Богородице и блаженог ована Мерца свима измолии обие Божие благодети.

Srdačno pozdravljam sve hodočasnike pristigle iz Hrvatske, koji su počašćeni što su Crkvi dali jednoga novog blaženika. Ljubljeni, neka vas njegov primjer vodi na putovima Gospodnjim! Sve vas blagoslivljem.

3. To the Mother of the Lord I entrust my prayer for all of you and my heartfelt gratitude for the cordial welcome you have given me.

And one final prayer: by her powerful intercession, may the Virgin Mary obtain for you from her Son Jesus the grace of preserving the integrity of your faith, the firmness of your hope and at all times the fervour of your charity."