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Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2009

Pope Benedict XVI'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, 11 June 2009 - in English, French, GermanItalian, Portuguese & Spanish

"This is my Body.... This is my Blood".

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper are repeated every time that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is renewed. We have just heard them in Mark's Gospel and they resonate with particular evocative power today on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. They lead us in spirit to the Upper Room, they make us relive the spiritual atmosphere of that night when, celebrating Easter with his followers, the Lord mystically anticipated the sacrifice that was to be consummated the following day on the Cross. The Institution of the Eucharist thus appears to us as the anticipation and acceptance on the part of Jesus of his death. St Ephrem the Syrian writes about this: during the Supper Jesus sacrificed himself; on the Cross He was sacrificed by others (cf Hymn on the Crucifixion, 3, 1).

"This is my Blood". Here the reference to the sacrificial language of Israel is clear. Jesus presents himself as the true and definitive sacrifice, in which was realized the expiation of sins which, in the Old Testament rites, was never fully accomplished. Two other very important expressions follow on from this one. First of all, Jesus Christ says that his Blood "is poured out for many" with a comprehensible reference to the songs of the Servant of God that are found in the Book of Isaiah (cf ch 53). With the addition - "blood of the Covenant"-  Jesus also makes clear that, thanks to his death, the prophesy of the new Covenant is realized, founded on the fidelity and infinite love of the Son made man, an alliance therefore stronger than all the sins of humanity. The old Covenant had been sealed on Sinai with a sacrificial rite of animals, as we heard in the first reading, and the chosen people, set free from slavery in Egypt, had promised to obey all the commandments given by the Lord (cf Ex 24: 3).

In truth, Israel straight away, with the construction the golden calf, showed that it was incapable of remaining faithful to this promise and thus to the divine Covenant, which indeed it subsequently violated very often, adapting to its heart of stone the Law that should have taught it the way of life. However, the Lord did not fail to keep his promise and, through the prophets, sought to recall the inner dimension of the Covenant and announced that he would write a new law on the hearts of his faithful (cf Jer 31: 33), transforming them with the gift of the Spirit (cf Ez 36: 25-27). And it was during the Last Supper that he made this new Covenant with his disciples and with humanity, confirming it not with animal sacrifices as had happened in the past, but indeed with his own blood, which became the "blood of the New Covenant". Thus he founded it on his own obedience, stronger, as I said, than all our sins.

This is well illustrated in the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, in which the sacred author declares that Jesus is the "mediator of a new covenant" (9: 15). He became so thanks to his blood, or, more exactly, through the gift of himself, which gives full value to the outpouring of his blood. On the Cross, Jesus is at the same time victim and priest: victim worthy of God because without blemish, and High Priest who offers himself, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and intercedes for the whole of humanity. The Cross is therefore the mystery of love and of salvation which purifies us - as the Letter to the Hebrews states - from "dead works", that is from sins, and sanctifies us by engraving the New Covenant on our hearts; the Eucharist, by rendering present the sacrifice of the Cross, renders us capable of living faithfully communion with God.

Dear brothers and sisters - whom I greet with affection, starting with the Cardinal Vicar and the other Cardinals and Bishops present - like the Chosen People gathered on Sinai, we too this evening want to reaffirm our fidelity to the Lord. A few days ago, in opening the annual Diocesan Convention [of Rome] I recalled the importance of remaining, as Church, attentive to the Word of God in prayer and by exploring the Scriptures, especially through the practice of lectio divina, that is through the meditative and adoring reading the Bible. I know that in this respect many initiatives which enrich our diocesan community have been promoted in parishes, seminaries and religious communities, in confraternities and in apostolic associations and movements. I address my fraternal greeting to the members of this multiplicity of Church bodies. Your numerous presence at this celebration, dear friends, highlights the fact that our community, characterized by a plurality of cultures and by different experiences, God moulds as "his" People, as the one Body of Christ, thanks to our sincere participation in the twofold banquet of the Word and of the Eucharist. Nourished by Christ, we, his disciples, receive the mission to be "the soul" of this city of ours, a leaven of renewal, bread "broken" for all, especially for those in situations of hardship, poverty or physical and spiritual suffering. Let us become witnesses of his love.

I address you in particular, dear priests, whom Christ has chosen so that together with him you may be able to live your life as a sacrifice of praise for the salvation of the world. Only from union with Jesus can you draw that spiritual fruitfulness which is the generatrix of hope in your pastoral ministry. St Leo the Great recalls that "our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ aspires to nothing other than to become that which we receive." If this is true for every Christian, it is even more the reason for us priests. To become the Eucharist! May precisely this be our constant desire and commitment, so that the offering of the body and blood of the Lord which we make on the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our existence. Every day, we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord that free and pure love which renders us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses of his joy. This is what the faithful expect of the priest: the example, that is, of an authentic devotion to the Eucharist; they like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus as did the Holy Curé d'Ars, whom we shall remember in a particular way during the upcoming Year for Priests.

St John Mary Vianney loved to say to his parishioners: "Come to communion.... It is true that you are not worthy of it, but you need it." With the awareness of being inadequate because of sins, but needful of nourishing ourselves with the love that the Lord offers us in the eucharistic Sacrament, let us this evening renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This faith should not be taken for granted! Today there is a risk of secularization creeping also into the Church, which can result in formal and empty eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking this participation of the heart which is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy. The temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hasty moments, letting ourselves be overwhelmed by activity and earthly concerns. When shortly we recite the Our Father, the prayer par excellence, we will say: "Give us this day our daily bread", thinking naturally of the bread of each day for us and for all men. This request, however, contains something more profound. The Greek term epioúsios, which we translate as "daily", can also allude to the "super-stantial" bread, the bread "of the world to come". Some Fathers of the Church saw here a reference to the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life, of the new world, which is already given to us in Holy Mass, so that from this moment the future world has a beginning in us. With the Eucharist, therefore, Heaven comes on earth, the tomorrow of God falls into the present and time is as though embraced by divine eternity.

Dear brothers and sisters, as happens every year, at the end of Holy Mass, the traditional eucharistic procession will set out and with prayer and hymns we shall raise a choral entreaty to the Lord present in the consecrated host. We shall say in the name of the entire City: Stay with us Jesus, make a gift of yourself and give us the bread which nourishes us for eternal life! Free this world from the poison of evil, from violence and from hatred which pollute consciences, purify it with the power of your merciful love. And you, Mary, who were the "eucharistic" woman throughout your whole life, help us to walk united towards the heavenly goal, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, bread of eternal life and medicine of divine immortality. Amen!"

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Sunday, 14 June 2009 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, today in various countries, among them Italy, Corpus Christi is celebrated, the feast of the Eucharist in which the Sacrament of the Body of the Lord is solemnly carried in procession. What does this feast mean to us? It does not make us think of the liturgical aspect alone; in reality, Corpus Christi is a day which involves the cosmic dimension, heaven and earth. It evokes first of all - at least in our hemisphere - this season so beautiful and fragrant, in which Spring is already turning into Summer, the sun is high in the sky and the wheat is ripening in the fields. The feasts of the Church - like the Jewish ones - have to do with the rhythm of the solar year, of sowing and reaping. In particular, this stands true n today's Solemnity, at the centre of which is the sign of bread, fruit of the earth and of heaven. Thus the eucharistic Bread is the visible sign of the One in whom heaven and earth, God and man became one single thing. And this shows that the relationship with the seasons is not something merely external for the liturgical year.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is intimately linked to Easter and to Pentecost: the death and resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are its premises. Furthermore, it is immediately connected to the Feast of the Trinity, celebrated last Sunday. Only because God himself is relationship, is it possible to ave a rapport with Him; and only because He is love, is it possible to love and be loved. Thus, Corpus Christi is a manifestation of God, an attestation that God is love. In a unique and special way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, of what it is and of what it does. It tells us, for example, that it is regenerated in self-giving, that it is received in self-giving, that it is never lacking nor can it be consumed - as a hymn by St Thomas Aquinas sings: "nec sumptus consumitur". Love transforms all things and thus we understand that at the centre of today's feast of Corpus Christi is the mystery of transubstantiation, sign of Jesus-Charity who transforms the world. Looking at Him and worshipping Him, we say: yes, love exists and because it exists, things can change for the better and we can hope. t is hope that comes from the love of Christ o give us the force to live and to face difficulties. For this reason let us sing, as we carry the Most Holy Sacrament in procession; let us sing and praise God who revealed himself concealing himself in the sign of the bread broken. We are all in need of this Bread, as the path to freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring.

We can imagine with what great faith and love Our Lady received and adored the Blessed Eucharist in her heart! Each time was or her like reliving the whole mystery of her Son Jesus: from his Conception to his Resurrection. "Eucharistic woman" my venerable and beloved Predecessor John Paul II called her. Let us learn from her to renew our communion with the Body of Christ ceaselessly, so as to love one another as He has loved us."

After the Angelus:
Nei giorni 24-26 di questo mese si terrà a New York la Conferenza delle Nazioni Unite sulla crisi economica e finanziaria ed il suo impatto sullo sviluppo. Invoco sui partecipanti alla Conferenza, come pure sui responsabili della cosa pubblica e delle sorti del pianeta, lo spirito di sapienza e di umana solidarietà, affinché l’attuale crisi si trasformi in opportunità, capace di favorire una maggiore attenzione alla dignità di ogni persona umana e promuovere un’equa distribuzione del potere decisionale e delle risorse, con particolare attenzione al numero, purtroppo sempre crescente, dei poveri.

In questo giorno, in cui in Italia e in molte altre Nazioni si celebra la festa del Corpus Domini, “Pane della vita”, come ho appena menzionato, desidero ricordare specialmente le centinaia di milioni di persone che soffrono la fame. E’ una realtà assolutamente inaccettabile, che stenta a ridimensionarsi malgrado gli sforzi degli ultimi decenni. Auspico, dunque, che in occasione della prossima Conferenza ONU e in sede delle istituzioni internazionali siano assunti provvedimenti condivisi dall’intera comunità internazionale e vengano compiute quelle scelte strategiche, talvolta non facili da accettare, che sono necessarie per assicurare a tutti, nel presente e nel futuro, gli alimenti fondamentali e una vita dignitosa.

Venerdì prossimo, solennità del Sacratissimo Cuore di Gesù, Giornata di Santificazione Sacerdotale, avrà inizio l’Anno Sacerdotale da me voluto in coincidenza con il 150° anniversario della morte del Santo Curato d’Ars. Affido alle vostre preghiere questa nuova iniziativa spirituale, che seguirà l’Anno Paolino ormai avviato verso la sua conclusione. Possa questo nuovo anno giubilare costituire un’occasione propizia per approfondire il valore e l’importanza della missione sacerdotale e per domandare al Signore di far dono alla sua Chiesa di numerosi e santi sacerdoti.

Je vous salue cordialement, chers pèlerins francophones. En ce dimanche, de nombreux pays célèbrent la solennité du Saint-Sacrement du Corps et du Sang du Christ. Ce don que le Seigneur fait de lui-même pour la vie du monde est la source de tout amour. C’est un précieux héritage que nous sommes invités à accueillir pour en vivre nous-mêmes. Prenez le temps de le recevoir avec ferveur comme un trésor et d’y adorer le Christ réellement présent. Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ invites us to acknowledge the Lord’s saving presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of reconciliation, in which the Risen Lord is truly and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, confirm the Church in faith, unity and holiness as she awaits his future coming in glory. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

Von Herzen heiße ich alle deutschsprachigen Besucher willkommen, heute besonders die Pilger aus Neuhofen an der Ybbs in Niederösterreich. In diesen Tagen feiern wir zwei bedeutende kirchliche Hochfeste – Fronleichnam und das Herz-Jesu-Fest – die uns die Liebe Christi besonders vor Augen führen. Der Herr schenkt sich uns in der Eucharistie und zeigt uns seine grenzelose Hingabe im geöffneten Herzen. Lernen wir von Jesus Christus, der gütig und von Herzen demütig ist, damit wir seine Liebe annehmen und an unsere Mitmenschen weiter verschenken können. Gottes Geist geleite euch auf allen Wegen!

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española presentes en esta oración mariana. En este día, en el que en muchas partes se celebra la solemnidad del Santísimo Cuerpo y Sangre de Cristo, os invito a rendir público testimonio de fe y piedad hacia este excelso sacramento, memorial de la pasión del Señor. Que la veneración de este sagrado misterio nos haga experimentar constantemente el fruto de la redención. Feliz domingo.

Srdečne pozdravujem grécko-katolíckych pútnikov zo Slovenska. Bratia a sestry, spolu s vami chcem ďakovať Bohu za nového grécko-katolíckeho arcibiskupa, vášho rodáka, ktorého som menoval za sekretára Kongregácie pre Východné cirkvi a ktorý dnes popoludní prijme biskupsku vysviacku v Pápežskej bazilike Santa Maria Maggiore. Podporujte ho svojimi modlitbami. Prajem vám požehnaný pobyt v Ríme. S láskou vás žehnám. Sláva Isusu Christu!

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruję do Polaków. Ewangelia dzisiejszej liturgii przypomina, że wzrost Królestwa Bożego następuje powoli, niezauważalnie, ale skutecznie. Tak działa łaska uświęcająca w sercu każdego i każdej z nas. Niech ta świadomość napełnia nas nadzieją. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!

Saluto infine con affetto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare i fedeli provenienti da Latina, Ginosa e Massafra, i ragazzi di Vertova con i catechisti e alcuni familiari, la scuola della Fondazione “Romano Guardini” di Napoli, i volontari del Centro “Beata Savina” di Vittoria. Saluto inoltre i Presidenti e gli alti dirigenti di alcune grandi Aziende internazionali, che incoraggio ad affrontare la sfida di un’economia sostenibile ed etica. A tutti auguro una buona domenica."





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