GENERAL AUDIENCE 2000 26
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The mystery of Christ's Passover involves the history of humanity, but at the same time it transcends it. Thought itself and human language can in some way grasp and communicate this mystery, but do not exhaust it. For this reason, the New Testament, although speaking of "resurrection", as attested by the ancient Creed which Paul himself received and passes on in his First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1Co 15,3-5), also uses another expression to explain the meaning of Easter. Especially in John and Paul it is presented as the exaltation or glorification of the Crucified One. Thus, for the fourth Evangelist, the Cross of Christ is already the royal throne which stands on earth but penetrates the heavens. Christ is seated on it as the Saviour and Lord of history.
Jesus, in fact, exclaims in the Gospel of John: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32; cf. Jn 3,14 Jn 8,28). In the hymn inserted in the Letter to the Philippians, Paul, after describing the profound humiliation of the Son of God in his death on a cross, celebrates Easter in this way: "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Ph 2,9-11).
2. Christ's Ascension into heaven, recounted by Luke as the seal to his Gospel and the beginning of his second work, the Acts of the Apostles, should be understood in this same light. It is Jesus' final appearance which "ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 659). Heaven is the sign of divine transcendence par excellence. It is the cosmic realm that lies above the earthly horizon within which human existence unfolds.
After walking the paths of history and entering even the darkness of death, the limits of our finitude and the wages of sin (cf. Rm 6,23), Christ returns to the glory which he shares from eternity (cf. Jn 17,5) with the Father and the Holy Spirit. And he takes redeemed humanity with him. In fact, the Letter to the Ephesians says that "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, ... made us alive together with Christ ... and made us sit with him in the heavenly places" (Ep 2,4-6). This applies first of all to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whose Assumption is the first-fruits of our ascension into glory.
3. We pause before the glorious Christ of the Ascension to contemplate the presence of the whole Trinity. We know that Christian art, in the so-called Trinitas in cruce, has often depicted the crucified Christ with the Father leaning over him as if in an embrace, while the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers between them (for example, Masaccio in the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence). In this way the Cross is a unifying symbol that joins humanity and divinity, death and life, suffering and glory.
In a similar way we can glimpse the presence of the three divine Persons in the Ascension scene. Luke, on the last page of his Gospel, before presenting the Risen One who, as the priest of the New Covenant, blesses his disciples and is lifted up from the earth to be taken into heavenly glory (cf. Lc 24,50-52), recalls his farewell discourse to the Apostles. In it we see above all the saving plan of the Father, who in the Scriptures had foretold the Death and Resurrection of the Son, the source of forgiveness and liberation (cf. Lc 24,45-47).
4. But in those same words of the Risen One we also glimpse the Holy Spirit, whose presence will be the source of strength and apostolic witness: "I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (Lc 24,49). If in John's Gospel the Paraclete is promised by Christ, for Luke the gift of the Spirit is also part of a promise made by the Father himself.
The whole Trinity is therefore present at the moment when the time of the Church begins. This is what Luke emphasizes in the second account of Christ's Ascension, in the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus, in fact, exhorts his disciples "to wait for the promise of the Father", that is, to "be baptized with the Holy Spirit", at Pentecost which is now imminent (cf. Ac 1,4-5).
5. The Ascension, then, is a Trinitarian epiphany which indicates the goal to which personal and universal history is hastening. Even if our mortal body dissolves into the dust of the earth, our whole redeemed self is directed on high to God, following Christ as our guide.
Sustained by this joyful certainty, we turn to the mystery of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit, which is revealed in the glorious Cross of the risen Christ, with the adoring prayer of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity: "O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in you as still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.... Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and your resting place.... O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you ..., until I depart to contemplate in your light the abyss of your greatness" (Prayer to the Blessed Trinity, 21 November 1904).
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I warmly greet the students of the Pontifical Beda College who will be ordained to the Diaconate tomorrow, and are here today with their families. May God strengthen and guide you in your service of the Church. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Finland, India, Australia, Japan and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The Christian Pentecost, a celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, presents various aspects in the writings of the New Testament. We will start with the one we have just heard described in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles. It is the most obvious one in everyone's mind, in the history of art and in the liturgy itself.
In his second work, Luke situates the gift of the Spirit within a theophany, that is, a solemn divine revelation, whose symbols refer to Israel's experience at Sinai (cf. Ex 19). The roar, the driving wind and the lightening-like fire exalt the divine transcendence. In reality, it is the Father who gives the Spirit through the intervention of the glorified Christ. Peter says so in his address: Jesus, "being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, has poured out this which you see and hear" (Ac 2,33). At Pentecost, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the Holy Spirit is "manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person.... On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed" (CEC 731-732).
2. The whole Trinity, in fact, is involved in the inbreaking of the Spirit, who is poured out upon the first community and upon the Church in every age as the seal of the New Covenant foretold by the prophets (cf. Jr 31,31-34 Ez 36,24-27), to support its witness and as a source of unity in plurality. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles proclaim the Risen One, and all believers, in the diversity of their languages and thus of their cultures and historical events, profess the same faith in the Lord, "telling ... the mighty works of God" (Ac 2,11).
It is significant to note that a Jewish commentary on Exodus, recalling chapter 10 of Genesis, which sketches a map of the 70 nations which were then thought to comprise humanity as a whole, leads them back to Sinai to hear the word of God: "At Sinai the Lord's voice was divided into 70 languages, so that all the nations could understand" (Exodus Rabba' 5, 9). So too in the Lucan Pentecost, the Word of God is addressed to humanity through the Apostles, in order to proclaim "the mighty works of God" (Ac 2,11) to all peoples even with their differences.
3. In the New Testament, however, there is another account that we could call the Johannine Pentecost. In the fourth Gospel, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit actually takes place on the very evening of Easter and is closely connected to the Resurrection. In John we read: "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you!'. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you'. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'" (Jn 20,19-23).
The glory of the Trinity also shines out in this Johannine account: the glory of the risen Christ who appears in his glorious body, of the Father, who is the source of the apostolic mission, and of the Spirit poured out as the gift of peace. This fulfils the promise which Christ had made between these same walls in his farewell discourse to the disciples: "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14,26). The Spirit's presence in the Church is intended for the forgiveness of sins, for remembering and carrying out the Gospel in life, for the ever deeper achievement of unity in love.
The symbolic act of breathing is meant to recall the action of the Creator who, after forming man's body from the dust of the ground, "breathed into his nostrils" to give him "the breath of life" (Gn 2,7). The risen Christ communicates another breath of life, "the Holy Spirit". Redemption is a new creation, a divine work with which the Church is called to collaborate through the ministry of reconciliation.
4. The Apostle Paul does not offer us a direct account of the outpouring of the Spirit but describes its fruits with such intensity that one could speak of a Pauline Pentecost, which is also marked by the Trinity. According to two parallel passages in the Letters to the Galatians and to the Romans, in fact, the Spirit is the gift of the Father, who makes us his adoptive children, giving us a share in the very life of the divine family. Paul therefore says: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!', it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rm 8,15-17 cf. Ga 4,6-7).
29 With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can address God with the familiar name abba, the name Jesus himself used with his heavenly Father (cf. Mc 14,36). Like him, we must walk according to the Spirit in profound inner freedom: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Ga 5,22).
Let us end our contemplation of the Trinity at Pentecost with an invocation from the liturgy of the East: "Come, peoples, let us adore the Divinity in three Persons: the Father in the Son with the Holy Spirit. For the Father begets from eternity a coeternal Son who lives and reigns with him, and the Holy Spirit is in the Father, glorified with the Son, one power, one substance, one divinity.... Holy Trinity, glory to you!" (Vespers of Pentecost).
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I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Finland, South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Greeting to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lviv
I extend a particular greeting to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lviv present at today's audience. I greet Archbishop Marian Jaworski, Metropolitan of Lviv, Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw Padewski, the priests, religious and all the faithful.
1. You come to Rome, to the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul in the Year of the Great Jubilee, to express through them your gratitude to God above all for the gift of faith received in holy Baptism and to ask for it to be strengthened. You are well aware of the value of this gift. For decades you paid for your fidelity to God with suffering and various forms of humiliation; you were discriminated against and endured painful persecutions.
I am deeply moved in thinking of the great numbers of lay people and clergy who had the courage and strength to persevere to the very end on the side of Christ and his Church, depite imprisonment, deportation to concentration camps and forced labour. How many of them paid with their lives for this fidelity to God, to the Catholic Church and to the Apostolic See. Today the Church thanks you and your brethren of the Eastern rite.
I ask you to remember deeply the witness of these martyrs and to pass it on to the generations to come. For they are signs of that love which never shrinks from any danger or sacrifice. They are thus part of the Church's great heritage of faith in your lands. May their witness be an example and an encouragement to you on the path of the new millennium.
2. Dear brothers and sisters, your presence in the Eternal City is linked with the tradition started by the Servant of God Archbishop Józef Bilczewski, who often came on pilgrimage to Rome with his faithful to emphasize Lviv's deep bond with the Apostolic See. Let us thank almighty God that this beautiful custom has been restored, and today's meeting is proof of it. I would like to tell you with real emotion that I am delighted by your presence in St Peter's Square and am grateful to all who have prepared this pilgrimage. For we are witnesses to the great works of God and to the great signs of divine Providence. Praised be the Most Holy Trinity for this!
3. My thoughts also turn to Our Lady of Grace. I entrust your entire Archdiocese to her. May she always be present in your life. May she watch over you and implore from her Son the graces you need. May she open hearts to hearing God's truth and fulfilling his will.
Once again, I cordially greet all those who have come here and hope that the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will strengthen your faith, confirm your hope and fill you with a love that is always ready to serve others.
May God bless you and all your dear brothers and sisters of the beloved Archdiocese of Lviv. Praised be Jesus Christ!
1. In this Jubilee year our catechesis has been reflecting with pleasure on the theme of the glorification of the Trinity. After contemplating the glory of the three divine Persons in creation, in history and in the mystery of Christ, our gaze now turns to man, to discern there the gleaming rays of God's action.
"In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mankind" (Jb 12,10). Job's evocative words reveal the radical link that unites human beings to the "Lord who loves the living" (Sg 11,26). Inscribed within the rational creature is an intimate relationship with the Creator, a fundamental bond established first of all by the gift of life. This gift is bestowed by the Trinity itself and includes two principal dimensions, as we will now seek to illustrate in the light of God's Word.
2. The first fundamental dimension of the life we have been given is physical and historical, that "soul" (nefesh)and that "breath" (ruah) to which Job referred. The Father comes on the scene as the source of this gift at the very dawn of creation, when he solemnly proclaims: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gn 1,26-27). With the Catechism of the Catholic Church we can draw this conclusion: "The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the union of the divine Persons among themselves" (CEC 1702). In this communion of love and in the human couple's procreative capacity there is a reflection of the Creator. In marriage man and woman continue God's creative work, sharing in his supreme fatherhood in the mystery which Paul invites us to contemplate when he exclaims: "one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Ep 4,6).
The effective presence of God, whom the Christian pray to as Father, is already revealed at the beginning of every person's life and then expands throughout his days. This is attested by an extraordinarily beautiful strophe of Psalm 139, which can be rendered in the form closest to the original in this way: "Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.... Nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance (golmî); in your book they are all written; my days were limited before one of them existed" (Ps 139,13 Ps 139,15-16).
3. The Son is also present at the Father's side as we come into existence, he who took on our own flesh (cf. Jn 1,14) to the point that he could be touched by our hands, be heard with our ears and be seen and looked upon with our eyes (cf. 1Jn 1,1). Indeed, Paul reminds us that "there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1Co 8,6). Every living creature, then, is also entrusted to the breath of God's Spirit, as the Psalmist sings: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created" (Ps 104,30). In the light of the New Testament, we can read these words as foretelling the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Therefore, at the source of our life there is a Trinitarian intervention of love and blessing.
4. As I have mentioned, there is another dimension to the life offered to the human creature. We can express it in three theological categories of the New Testament. First of all there is the zoe aionios, that is, "the eternal life" extolled by John (cf. Jn 3,15-16 Jn 17,2-3), to be understood as a sharing in the "divine life". Then there is the Pauline kaine ktisis, the "new creation" (cf. 2Co 5,17 Ga 6,15), produced by the Spirit who bursts into human creatureliness, transforming it and granting it a "new life" (cf. Rm 6,4 Col 3,9-10 Ep 4,22-24). This is the paschal life: "for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1Co 15,22). Finally, there is the life of the children of God, the hyiothesia (cf. Rm 8,15 Ga 4,5), which expresses our communion of love with the Father, through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit: "The proof that you are sons is the fact that God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of his Son which cries out "Abba!' ("Father!'). You are no longer a slave but a son! And the fact that you are a son makes you an heir by God's design" (Ga 4,6-7).
5. Through grace this transcendent life instilled in us opens us to the future, beyond the limits of our frailty as creatures. This is what Paul says in his Letter to the Romans, once again referring to the Trinity as the source of this paschal life: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead (that is, the Father) dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rm 8,11).
"Eternal life is therefore the life of God himself and at the same time the life of the children of God. As they ponder this unexpected and inexpressible truth which comes to us from God in Christ, believers cannot fail to be filled with ever new wonder and unbounded gratitude (cf. 1Jn 3,1-2).... The dignity of this life is linked not only to its beginning, to the fact that it comes from God, but also to its final end, to its destiny of fellowship with God, in knowledge and love of him. In the light of this truth St Irenaeus qualifies and completes his praise of man: "the glory of God' is indeed, "man, living man', but "the life of man consists in the vision of God'" (Evangelium vitae EV 38 cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, IV, 20, 7).
Let us end our reflection with the prayer of an Old Testament sage to the living God who loves life: "You love all things that exist, and have loathing for none of the things which you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord who loves the living. For your immortal Spirit is in all things" (Sg 11,24-12,1).
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I extend a special welcome to the National Italian American Foundation, as well as to the FADICA group: the Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. Upon all the English- speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland and the United States of America, I invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. On her pilgrimage to full communion of love with God, the Church appears as "a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". St Cyprian's marvellous definition (De Orat. Dom. 23; cf. Lumen gentium LG 4) takes us into the mystery of the Church, which has been made a community of salvation by the presence of God the Trinity. Like the ancient People of God, she is guided on her new Exodus by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, symbols of God's constant presence. In this perspective, let us contemplate the glory of the Trinity which makes the Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
2. First of all the Chuch is one. The baptized, in fact, are mysteriously united to Christ and form his Mystical Body by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Second Vatican Council says: "The highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (Unitatis redintegratio UR 2). Although in the past this unity has suffered the painful trial of many divisions, the Church's inexhaustible Trinitarian source spurs her to live ever more deeply that koinonia, or communion, which was resplendent in the first community of Jerusalem (Ac 2,42 Ac 4,32).
Ecumenical dialogue draws light from this perspective, since all Christians are aware of the Trinitarian foundations of communion: we stress "the God-givenness of the koinonia and its Trinitarian character. The point of departure is the baptismal initiation into the Trinitarian koinonia by faith, through Christ in his Spirit. The Spirit-given means to sustain this koinonia are the Word, ministry, sacraments, charisms" (Perspectives on Koinonia, Report from the third quinquennium, 1985-89, of the Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue, n. 31). In this regard the Council reminds all the faithful that "the closer their union with the Father, the Word and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love" (Unitatis redintegratio UR 7).
3. The Church is also holy. In biblical language, even before being an expression of the moral and existential holiness of the faithful, the concept of "holy" refers to the consecration wrought by God through the election and the grace offered to his people. It is the divine presence, then, which "sanctifies" the community of believers "in the truth" (Jn 17,17 Jn 17,19).
The loftiest sign of this presence is constituted by the liturgy, which is the epiphany of the consecration of God's People. In it there is the Eucharistic presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord, but also "our "Eucharist', that is to say, our giving God thanks, our praise of him for having redeemed us by his death and made us sharers in immortal life through his Resurrection. This worship, given therefore to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, above all accompanies and permeates the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. But it must fill our churches also" and the life of the Church (Dominicae Cenae, n. 3). And precisely, "if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity ... we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church and will share in a foretaste of the liturgy of perfect glory" (Lumen gentium LG 51).
32 4. The Church is catholic, sent to proclaim Christ to the whole world in the hope that all leaders of the peoples will gather with the people of the God of Abraham (cf. Ps 47,9 Mt 28,19). As the Second Vatican Council says: "The Church on earth is by her very nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This plan flows from "fountain-like love', the love of God the Father. As the principle without principle from whom the Son is generated and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son, God in his great and merciful kindness freely creates us and graciously calls us to share in his life and glory. He generously pours out, and never ceases to pour out, his divine goodness, so that he who is Creator of all things might at last become "all in all' (1Co 15,28), thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our happiness" (Ad gentes AGD 2).
5. Lastly, the Church is apostolic. In accordance with Christ's command, his Apostles must go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that he has commanded them (cf. Mt 28,19-20). This mission is extended to the whole Church, which through the Word is made living, luminous and effective by the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, and thus "fulfils God's plan, to which Christ lovingly and obediently submitted for the glory of the Father who sent him in order that the whole human race might become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one Temple of the Holy Spirit" (Ad gentes AGD 7).
The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. These three biblical images point to the Trinitarian dimension of the Church. In this dimension are found all disciples of Christ, who are called to live it ever more deeply and in an ever more intense communion. Ecumenism itself finds its solid foundation in this reference to the Trinity, because the Spirit "binds the faithful to Christ, the mediator of all salvific gifts, and who through him gives them access to the Father, whom they may invoke as "Abba, Father', in the same Spirit" (Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, Church and Justification, n. 64). In the Church, then, we find a magnificent epiphany of Trinitarian glory. Let us therefore accept the invitation which St Ambrose extends to us: "Rise, you who were lying fast asleep.... Rise and hurry to the Church: here is the Father, here is the Son, here is the Holy Spirit" (In Lucam, VII).
Holy Father appealed to the nations which have yet to adopt adequate laws for refugees not to delay in making legal provision for these people:
On 16 June next, various non-governmental organizations that work for refugees will observe International Refugee Day, while the annual African Refugee Day, sponsored by the Organization for African Unity (OAU), will be held on 20 June.
In the spirit of the recent Jubilee of Migrants, I would like to thank everyone who is working on behalf of those millions of forced migrants who are refugees and asylum-seekers. In this Jubilee Year I make a heartfelt appeal to the nations which have yet to adopt adequate laws for the protection of these persons, not to delay in providing for them.
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I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Nigeria, Singapore, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1. "Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the World, Bread for New Life": this is the theme of the 47th International Eucharistic Congress, which opened last Sunday and will end next Sunday with the Statio Orbis in St Peter's Square.
The Congress puts the Eucharist at the centre of the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation and expresses all its spiritual, ecclesial and missionary depth. It is from the Eucharist, in fact, that the Church and every believer draw the indispensable strength to proclaim and bear witness before all to the Gospel of salvation. The celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the Lord's Passover, is in itself a missionary event, which plants the fertile seed of new life in the world.
This missionary aspect of the Eucharist is explicitly recalled by St Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians: "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Co 11,26).
2. The Church repeats St Paul's words in the doxology after the consecration. The Eucharist is a "missionary" sacrament not only because the grace of mission flows from it, but also because it contains in itself the principle and eternal source of salvation for all. The celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is therefore the most effective missionary act that the Ecclesial Community can perform in the history of the world.
Every Mass ends with the missionary mandate "Go", an invitation to the faithful to bring the message of the risen Lord to their families, workplaces and societies throughout the world. It was for this reason that in my Letter Dies Domini I invited the faithful to imitate the example of the disciples of Emmaus who, once they had recognized the risen Christ "in the breaking of the bread" (cf. Lc 24,30-32), felt the need to return immediately to share with all their brethren the joy of meeting the Lord (cf. n. 45). The "bread that is broken" opens the life of Christians and of the entire community to sharing and to self-giving for the life of the world (cf. Jn 6,51). The Eucharist brings about that unbreakable bond between communion and mission, which makes the Church the sacrament of the unity of the whole human race (cf. Lumen gentium LG 1).
3. Today it is particularly necessary for every Christian community to draw from the celebration of the Eucharist the inner conviction and spiritual strength to come out of itself and open itself to other poorer communities in need of support in the areas of evangelization and missionary cooperation, by encouraging that fruitful exchange of reciprocal gifts which enriches the whole Church.
It is also very important to discern, on the basis of the Eucharist, missionary vocations and ministries. After the example of the early community in Antioch, engaged together "in the liturgy of the Lord", every Christian community is called to listen to the Spirit and to accept his invitations, setting apart for the universal mission the best energies of its children, sent out joyfully into the world and accompanied by the prayer and the spiritual and material support they need (cf. Ac 13,1-3).
The Eucharist is also a permanent school of charity, justice and peace for renewing the surrounding world in Christ. From the presence of the Risen One, believers draw the courage to be artisans of solidarity and renewal, committed to transforming the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times entire peoples are entangled (cf. Dies Domini, n. 73).
4. Lastly, this reflection on the meaning and missionary content of the Eucharist cannot fail to mention those outstanding "missionaries" and witnesses to the faith and love of Christ who are the martyrs. The relics of the martyrs, preserved since antiquity beneath the altars where the memorial of the "Victim whose death has reconciled us" is celebrated, are a clear sign of the power flowing from Christ's sacrifice. This spiritual energy spurs all who are nourished by the Body of the Lord to offer their lives for him and for their brothers and sisters by giving themselves without reserve and, if necessary, even by shedding their blood.
May the International Eucharistic Congress, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Christ offered in sacrifice for us, help to make believers more conscious of the missionary responsibility that stems from their participation in the Eucharist. The "Body given" and the "Blood poured out" (cf. Lc 22,19-20) are the highest criterion they must always use in giving themselves for the world's salvation.
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To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, the Philippines, Hong Kong and the United States of America. Though the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood, may you be renewed in faith, hope and charity, and may you willingly undertake the task of witnessing to the Gospel in your daily lives.
GENERAL AUDIENCE 2000 26