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Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2004

Pope Saint John Paul II's Homily at Mass
Piazza outside the Basilica of St John Lateran
before Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament & a Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major
Thursday, 10 June 2004 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (I Cor 11, 26).

With these words St Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that the "Lord's Supper" is not only a convivial meeting but also - and above all - the memorial of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Those who take part in it - the Apostle explains - are united with the mystery of the death of the Lord, they become in fact 'heralds' of it.

Thus there is a very close relationship between "doing the Eucharist" and proclaiming Christ. Entering into communion with Him in the memorial of Easter means, at the same time, becoming missionaries of the event which this rite actualizes; in a certain sense, it means rendering it contemporary to each epoch, until the Lord comes again.

2. Dearest Brothers and Sisters, we are reliving this wonderful reality in today's Solemnity of Corpus Christi, on which the Church not only celebrates the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the Sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.

Grateful for this immense gift, she gathers round the Most Blessed Sacrament, because there is the source and summit of her very being and action. Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit! The Church lives of the Eucharist and knows that this truth not only expresses a daily experience of faith, but encapsulates the nucleus of the mystery that she herself is (cf Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucaristia, 1).

3. Ever since at Pentecost, the People of the New Covenant "began its pilgrim path towards the heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark its days, filling them with confident hope". Thinking precisely of this, I wanted to dedicate the first Encyclical of the new millennium to the Eucharist and I am now pleased to announce a special Year of the Eucharist. It will begin with the World Eucharistic Congress, planned to take place from 10 to 17 October 2004 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and will end with the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, that will be held in the Vatican from 2 to 29 October 2005 and whose theme will be: "The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church."

Through the Eucharist, the ecclesial Community is built up as a new Jerusalem, a principle of unity in Christ among different persons and peoples.

4. "Give them yourselves something to eat" (Lk 9, 13).

The Gospel passage we have just heard offers us a vivid image of the intimate connection existing between the Eucharist and this universal mission of the Church. Christ, "the living bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6, 51; cf Gospel Acclamation), is the only one who can satisfy the hunger of man in every time and in every corner of the earth.

However, He does not want to do this alone, and so, as in the multiplication of the loaves, he involves the disciples: "Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd" (Lk 9, 16). This miraculous sign is the symbol of the greatest mystery of love which is renewed every day at Holy Mass: through the ordained ministers, Christ gives his Body and his Blood for the life of humanity. And whoever, with dignity, nourishes themselves at his Table, becomes living instruments of his presence of love, of mercy and of peace.

5. "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem!... - Sion, praise the Saviour / your guide, your pastor / with hymns and canticles".

It is with deep emotion that we hear resonating in our hearts this invitation to praise and to joy. At the end of Holy Mass we will carry the Divine Sacrament in procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major. Looking at Mary, we will understand better the transforming force that the Eucharist possesses. By listening to her, we will find in the Eucharistic mystery the courage and the vigour to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve him in our brothers."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Sunday, 13 June 2004 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Today, Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, is being celebrated in Italy and in other countries. It is the feast of the Eucharist, the sacrament in which Jesus left us the living memorial of his Pasch, a central event in the history of humanity.

It is beautiful that on this day the faithful cluster round the Blessed Sacrament to adore him, accompany him in procession through the streets and, with many signs of devotion, express their faith in the living Christ and their joy in his presence.

2. Last Thursday, precisely when I was celebrating Corpus Christi with the Diocese of Rome, I announced that to coincide with the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, a special "Year of the Eucharist" will begin this October, which will end in October 2005 with the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Its theme will be: "The Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church".

The "Year of the Eucharist" fits into the context of the pastoral project that I pointed out in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which I invited the faithful to "start afresh from Christ" (n 29ff). By contemplating with greater perseverance the Face of the Incarnate Word, truly present in the Sacrament, they will train themselves in the art of prayer (cf n 32) and undertake that high standard of Christian living (cf n 31), an indispensable condition for effectively developing the new evangelization.

The Eucharist is the centre of the Church's life. In it Christ offers himself to the Father for our sake, making us sharers in his own sacrifice, and gives himself to us as the bread of life for our journey on the highways of the world.

3. From this moment I entrust to the Virgin Mary, "Woman of the Eucharist" (cf Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n 53-58), this new initiative. May the one who in the Year of the Rosary helped us to contemplate Christ with her eyes and her heart (cf Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n 10-17), enable every community in the Year of the Eucharist to grow in faith and love for the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord."

After the recitation of the Angelus:

"Tomorrow we will celebrate World Day of Blood Donors. Giving one's blood voluntarily and as a free gift is an act of great moral and civic value. It is "a gift for life", as the motto of this Day says. May blood donors, who deserve the gratitude of all, increase in number in every part of the world.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, de modo particular a los alumnos y profesores del Colegio San José de Reus. ¡Qué la Eucaristía sea el centro de vuestra vida! ¡Feliz domingo!

Prisrčno pozdravljam slovenske romarje, ki so prišli iz Jurišinec in Maribora. Vam, predragi, in vašim družinam podeljujem svoj apostolski blagoslov.

Voglio salutare oggi il benemerito Movimento Luce-Vita, le "oasi" che festeggiano a Jasna Góra il loro giubileo. Dio vi benedica e io vi ringrazio cordialmente per la grande opera evangelizzatrice nella terra polacca.

Saluto anche i pellegrini venuti individualmente presenti in piazza San  Pietro e coloro che si uniscono a noi nella preghiera. Dio benedica tutti!




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