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Eucharistic Liturgy: IV) Communion

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Holy Mass
General Audience, Wednesday 21 March 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
And today is the first day of Spring: Happy Spring! But what happens in Spring? Plants blossom, trees flower. I will ask you some questions. Can a sick tree or plant fully blossom if it is sick? No! Can a tree, a plant which is not watered by rain or artificially, blossom nicely? No. And can a tree and a plant whose roots have been removed or which have no roots flower? No. Without roots, can they flower? No! And this is a message: Christian life has to be a life that must blossom in works of charity, in doing what is good. But if you have no roots, you cannot blossom, and who is the root? Jesus! If you are not with Jesus, there in the roots, you will not blossom. If you do not water your life with prayer and the sacraments, will you bear Christian flowers? No! Because prayer and the sacraments water the roots and our life blossoms. I hope that your Spring may be bloom beautifully, as blooming as Easter will be; blossoming with good works, virtue and doing good to others. Remember this, this is a very beautiful verse from my country: “What blossoms a tree bears come from what lies underneath it”. Never cut off Jesus’ roots.

And let us now continue with the catechesis on the Holy Mass. The celebration of Mass which we have been reviewing in stages is organized around Communion, that is, in being united to Jesus; the Sacramental Communion: not spiritual communion which you can have in your own home by saying: “Jesus I would like to receive you spiritually”. Not, Sacramental Communion, with the Body and the Blood of Christ. We celebrate the Eucharist to nourish ourselves of Christ who gives himself both in Word and in the Sacrament of the Altar, in order to conform us to him. The Lord himself says this: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”. (Jn 6:56). In fact, Jesus’ gesture of giving his Body and Blood to his disciples at the Last Supper, still continues today through the ministry of the priests and deacons; ordinary ministers of the distribution of the Bread of life and the Cup of salvation, to the brothers and sisters.

During Mass, after breaking the consecrated Bread, that is the Body of Christ, the priest shows it to the faithful, inviting them to participate in the Eucharistic banquet. We know the words that ring out from the sacred altar: “Happy are those who are called to his Supper. This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Inspired by a passage in the Book of Revelation — “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9): it says “marriage” because Jesus is the Spouse of the Church — this invitation calls us to experience intimate union with Christ, the source of joy and holiness. It is an invitation which brings happiness and at the same time spurs us to an examination of conscience enlightened by faith. If in fact, on the one hand we can see the distance which separates us from the sanctity of Christ, on the other, we believe that his Blood is “shed for the forgiveness of sins”. We were all forgiven at Baptism and we are all forgiven or will be forgiven when we approach the sacrament of Reconciliation. And do not forget: Jesus always forgives. Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. In fact it is in considering the salvific value of this Blood that Saint Ambrose exclaimed: “If I sin continually, I must always have a remedy” (De Sacramentis, iv, 6, 28: pl 16, 446a). In this faith, we too turn our gaze to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and we invoke him: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. We say this at every Mass.

Although we are the ones who stand in procession to receive Communion; we approach the altar in a procession to receive communion, in reality it is Christ who comes towards us to assimilate us in him. There is an encounter with Jesus! To nourish oneself of the Eucharist means to allow oneself to be changed by what we receive. Saint Augustine helps us understand this when he talks about the light he received when he heard Christ say to him: “I am the food of strong men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me" (Confessions VII, 10, 16: pl 32, 742). Each time we receive Communion, we resemble Jesus more; we transform ourselves more fully into Jesus. As the Bread and the Wine are converted into the Body and Blood of the Lord, so too those who receive it with faith are transformed into a living Eucharist. You reply “Amen” to the priest who distributes the Eucharist saying “the Body of Christ”; that is, you recognize the grace and the commitment involved in becoming the Body of Christ. Because when you receive the Eucharist, you become the Body of Christ. This is beautiful; it is very beautiful. As it unites us to Christ, tearing us away from our selfishness, Communion opens us and unites us to all those who are a single thing in him. This is the wonder of Communion: we become what we receive!

The Church strongly desires that the faithful also receive the Lord’s Body with Hosts consecrated at the same Mass; and the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more fully expressed when Holy Communion is received under the two Species, even though we know that Catholic doctrine teaches us that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one Species, (cf. girm, 85:281-282). According to ecclesiastical norms, the faithful normally approach the Eucharist in a processional manner, as we have said, and receive Communion standing with devotion, or on their knees as established by the Episcopal Conference, receiving the Sacrament either on the tongue or in the hand, if allowed, as preferred (cf. girm 160-161). After Communion, silence, silent prayer helps us treasure in our hearts the gift which we have received. To slightly extend that moment of silence, speaking to Jesus in our hearts, helps us a great deal, as does singing a psalm or a hymn of praise (cf. girm 88) that can help us be with the Lord.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist ends with the prayer after Communion. On behalf of everyone, with that prayer the priest turns to God to thank him for having shared the banquet and to ask that what was received may transform our lives. The Eucharist makes us strong in order to produce fruit in good works to live as Christians. Today’s prayer is significant: we ask the Lord that “the participation in his Sacrament may be for us a heavenly medicine, heal us from sin and reaffirm us in his friendship” (cf. Roman Missal, Wednesday, Fifth week of Lent). Let us approach the Eucharist: receiving Jesus who transforms us into him makes us stronger. The Lord is so good and so great!"


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française en particulier les jeunes venus de Suisse et de France. Alors que la fête de Pâques se fait plus proche, je vous invite à redoubler de ferveur, notamment par une participation active à la messe et par les œuvres de charité, afin que la grâce de la résurrection transforme vraiment toute notre vie. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Wales, Ireland, Norway, Japan and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the Irish pilgrims accompanying the icon of the Ninth World Meeting of Families, to be celebrated in Dublin in August. With prayerful good wishes that this Lenten season will be a time of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Herzlich heiße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache willkommen. Unter ihnen grüße ich die vielen Schülerinnen und Schüler, die in dieser Audienz anwesend sind, besonders die Schüler des Gymnasiums Haus Overbach aus Jülich, die ihr 100-jähriges Gründungsjubiläum feiern. Vergesst nie: Der Herr ist in der heiligen Eucharistie gegenwärtig – für euch. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en modo particular a los grupos provenientes de España y América Latina. Exhorto a la comunión frecuente, haciendo presente el misterio de amor que se encierra en el Sacramento, para que la unidad con Cristo y con su Iglesia se manifieste en nuestro actuar cotidiano y testimonie nuestra vida nueva en Cristo. Gracias.

Queridos amigos de língua portuguesa, que hoje tomais parte neste Encontro, obrigado pela vossa presença e sobretudo pelas vossas orações! A todos vos saúdo, especialmente aos alunos, professores e familiares dos Colégios Pedro Arrupe e Senhora da Boa Nova, desejando-vos que a peregrinação ao túmulo dos Santos Apóstolos Pedro e Paulo fortaleça, nos vossos corações, o sentir e o viver em Igreja, sob o terno olhar da Virgem Mãe. Sobre vós e vossas famílias, desça a Bênção do Senhor!

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصّةً بالقادمينَ من الشّرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، في الإفخارستيا يأتي يسوع للقائنا ليجعلنا شبيهين به؛ لنسمح للرب أن يحوِّلنا إلى إفخارستيا حيّة ولنُدرك النعمة والإلتزام اللذين يتضمّنهما تحوُّلنا إلى جسد المسيح. ليُباركْكُم الربّ!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, nasze uczestnictwo we Mszy św. jest pełne, gdy przyjmujemy Ciało i Krew Pana w Komunii eucharystycznej. Jest to najgłębsze zjednoczenie z Chrystusem. On daje się nam grzesznikom jako pokarm, który nas uzdrawia, napełnia świętością i pozwala żyć życiem samego Boga. Przyjmujcie ten pokarm, aby napełniał was świętością! Z serca wam błogosławię.

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I am planning to travel to Dublin on 25-26 August this year for the World Meeting of Families. As of now, I thank the civil authorities, the Bishops, the Archbishop of Dublin and all those who are working together to prepare this journey. Thank you.

Porgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana.

Sono lieto di accogliere i Fratelli dell’Istruzione Cristiana di Ploermel, in occasione del loro Capitolo generale; le Religiose che frequentano il Corso di Formazione dell’USMI; gli aderenti al Movimento dei Focolari e i gruppi parrocchiali, specialmente quelli di Viterbo e di Sant’Andrea del Pizzone. Il pellegrinaggio alla Sede di Pietro vi aiuti a coltivare quella sapienza che solo Dio può donare.

Saluto i partecipanti al Convegno per i Familiari dei “Caduti in teatro operativo nelle Missioni di supporto alla Pace” – questi sono eroi: eroi della Patria ed eroi dell’umanità! Grazie –, accompagnati dell’Ordinario Militare per l’Italia, Mons. Santo Marcianò; la Federazione nazionale dei Consorzi di Bacino Imbrifero Montano; la Federazione nazionale Cooper e i gruppi di studenti, specialmente quelli di Roma, di Solofra e di Prato. Auguro di svolgere un gioioso e generoso servizio al bene comune.

I offer a special thought to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. We are coming to the end of the Lenten time of grace. Never tire of asking for God’s forgiveness in Confession and, in your suffering, unite yourselves ever more to that of the Cross of Christ, imitating it in forgiveness and reciprocal help."