S. John Paul II Homil. 774
774 4. Bearing in mind that the human soul hesitates to welcome the word of God, let us address the Spirit with this ardent liturgical prayer:
Veni Creator Spiritus
Mentes tuorum visitas,
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti pectora.
Come, O Creator Spirit,
Visit the souls of those who belong to you;
Fill with your grace from on high
The hearts which you have made.
In this prayer we open our hearts, imploring the Spirit to fill them with light and life.
Spirit of God, make us ready to receive your visit. Make faith in the word which saves grow in us. Be the living source of the hope which blossoms in our lives. Be in us the breath of love which transforms us, and the fire of charity which impels us to give ourselves to the service of our brothers and sisters.
775 You whom the Father has sent, teach us all things and make us grasp the richness of the word of Christ. Strengthen our inner being, make us pass from fear to confidence, so that the praise of your glory may burst forth from us.
Be the light that fills people's hearts and gives them the courage to seek you unceasingly. You, Spirit of truth, lead us to the entire Truth, so that we may firmly proclaim the mystery of the living God who is active in our history. Enlighten us as to the ultimate meaning of this history.
Take away the unfaithfulness which separates us from you. Cast out from us all resentment and division. Make the spirit of brotherhood and unity grow in us, so that we may know how to build the city of man in the peace and solidarity that come from God.
Help us to discover that love is the most intimate part of divine life, and that we are called to share in it. Teach us how to love one another as the Father has loved us by giving us his Son (cf. Jn Jn 3,16).
May all peoples know you, God, Father of all, whom your Son Jesus has come to reveal to us, you who have sent us your Spirit in order to give us the fruits of redemption!
5. This morning I cordially greet the members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who organize the International Youth Forum which has brought you together for this time of reflection and prayer. I thank all those who have ensured the success of this encounter, particularly the persons responsible for the École Polytechnique, who have hosted it with willing generosity.
Dear friends, yesterday in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris, I beatified Frédéric Ozanam, a laymen and young person like yourselves. I gladly recall this in this church of Saint-Étienne du Mont, since it was here that he initiated his first activities with other young people in favour of the poor of the neighbourhood. Enlightened by the Spirit of Christ and faithful to daily meditation on the word, Blessed Frédéric provides us with an ideal of holiness for today, that of the gift of self at the service of the most needy in society. I hope that in your memories of this Twelfth World Youth Day he will stand out as a friend and model for you in your witness as Christian young people!
6. During the course of the intense days which you have spent here, you too have gone in search of Christ and you have let yourselves be penetrated by the Word, so that it may blossom and bear fruit. Having had an exceptional experience of the universality of the Church and of the patrimony common to all the disciples of Christ, you have given thanks for the marvels which God brings about in the heart of humanity. You have also shared the sufferings, anxieties, hopes and longings of the people of today.
This morning, the Holy Spirit sends you like "a letter from Christ", to proclaim in each of your countries the works God has done, and to be ardent witnesses of the Gospel of Christ among people of good will to the ends of the earth. The mission which has been entrusted to you requires that, throughout the whole of your lives, you take the time needed for your spiritual and doctrinal formation, in order that you may deepen your own faith and, in turn, deepen the faith of others. Thus you will answer the call "to growth and to a continual process of maturation, of always bearing much fruit" (Christifideles Laici CL 57).
May this time of spiritual renewal which you have lived together commit you to advance with all your Christian brothers and sisters in the search of the unity which Christ wishes. May he lead you with fraternal charity to meet the men and women who have other religious or intellectual convictions, so as to advance in the authentic knowledge and mutual respect which lead us to grow in our humanity. The Spirit of God sends you with your brothers and sister of the whole world to be builders of a reconciled civilization founded on fraternal love. At the advent of the Third Millennium, I invite you to be attentive to the voice and the signs of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world. Contemplating and imitating the Virgin Mary, model of living faith, you will then be true disciples of Christ, her divine Son, the foundation of hope, the source of life. My very dear young people, the Church has need of you; she needs your commitment at the service of the Gospel. The Pope too counts on you. Receive the fire of the Spirit of the Lord to become fervent heralds of the Good News!
776 Sunday, 24 August 1997
1. "Teacher, where are you staying?" (Jn 1,38). This is the question which Jesus was asked one day by two young men. This happened on the banks of the Jordan. Jesus had gone there to receive the baptism of John. But the Baptist, when he saw Jesus coming towards him, said: "Behold, the Lamb of God" (Jn 1,36). These prophetic words indicated the Redeemer, the one who was to give his life for the salvation of the world. And so, even from the baptism in the Jordan, John pointed out the Crucified One. In fact, two disciples of John, upon hearing these words, followed Jesus. Is this not significant? When Jesus asks them: "What do you seek?" (Jn 1,38), they answer him with a question of their own: "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" (ibid.). Jesus replies: "Come and see". "They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day" (Jn 1,39). They became the first disciples of Jesus. One of them was Andrew, who also brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus.
Dear friends, I am happy to be able to meditate upon this Gospel with you, together with the Cardinals and Bishops who have joined us. I am pleased to greet them, especially Cardinal Eduardo Pironio who has worked so hard for the World Youth Days. I am grateful to Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger for his welcome, to Bishop Michel Dubost and to the Bishops of France and those from many countries of the world who are accompanying you and who have guided your reflections. My cordial greeting also goes to the concelebrating priests, the men and women religious, and the leaders of your movements and diocesan groups.
I thank our brothers and sisters from other Christian communities, as well as the civil authorities, for their presence and for their participation in this liturgical celebration.
In greeting you again, I wish in particular to express affection and encouragement to the handicapped among you; we are all grateful that you are with us and have brought your testimony of faith and hope.
In the name of all present, I would also like to express gratitude to the many volunteers who have worked so hard and so effectively in organizing this gathering.
2. The few lines of the Gospel of John which we have just heard sum up the programme of World Youth Day: it is an exchange of questions, and then an answer which is also an appeal. In presenting this encounter with Jesus, today's liturgy wants to show that which counts most in your lives. As the Successor of Peter, I too have come to invite you to ask Christ: "Where are you staying?". If you ask him this question sincerely, you will be able to hear his response and receive from him the courage and strength to carry it out.
The question is born of a quest. Men and women seek God. Young people realize in the depths of their being that this quest is the inner law of their lives. Human beings seek their way in the visible world and, through the visible world, they seek the unseen world at every stage of their spiritual journey. Each of us can repeat the words of the Psalmist: "Your face, Lord, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (Ps 27,8-9). We all have our personal history and an innate desire to see God, a desire which makes itself felt at the same time as we discover the created world. This world is wonderful and rich; it sets before us countless treasures; it enchants us; it attracts both our reason and our will. But in the end it does not satisfy our spirit. Man realizes that this world, with all its many riches, is superficial and precarious; in a sense, it is destined for death. Nowadays, we are more aware of the fragility of our earth, too often degraded by the hand of man himself, to whom the Creator entrusted it.
As regards man himself, each person comes into the world, is born from a mother's womb, grows and matures. We discover our vocation and develop our personality throughout our years of activity; then the moment comes when we must leave this world. The longer we live, the more we realize how precarious life is, and the more we wonder about immortality: what exists beyond the frontiers of death? Then, from the depths of our being, there arises the same question asked of the one who conquered death: "Rabbi, where are you staying?". Teacher, you who love and respect the human person, you who have shared in human suffering, you who illumine the mystery of human existence, help us to discover the true meaning of our life and vocation! "Your face, Lord, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (Ps 27,8-9).
3. On the banks of the Jordan, and much later still, the disciples failed to realize who Jesus truly was. It took them a long time to understand the mystery of the Son of God. We too have an innate desire to know the one who reveals the face of God. Christ answered the question of his disciples by way of his entire messianic mission. He taught and, in order to confirm the truth of what he proclaimed, he worked great miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead, calming the storms of the sea. But this whole extraordinary journey reached its fulfilment on Golgotha. It is by contemplating Christ on the Cross, with the eyes of faith, that we can "see" who the Saviour really is: the one who bore our sufferings, the just man who made his life a sacrifice and who would bring righteousness to many (cf. Is Is 53,4).
Saint Paul sums up the highest wisdom in today's second reading with these striking words: "The word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart' . . . Since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe . . . We preach Christ crucified" (1Co 1,18-23). The Apostle was speaking to the people of his time, to the children of Israel who had received God's revelation on Mount Sinai and to the Greeks who had developed an impressive human wisdom, a great philosophy. But now, the unsurpassable culmination of wisdom is the Crucified Christ, not only because of his words, but because he delivered himself up for the salvation of humanity.
777 With his remarkable fervour, Saint Paul repeats: "We preach Christ Crucified". He whom the world considered as nothing but weakness and folly is the one whom we proclaim as Power and Wisdom, the fulness of Truth. It is true that our confidence has its highs and lows. Certainly our vision of faith is often darkened by doubt and by our own weakness. Humble and poor sinners that we are, let us accept the message of the Cross. In order to answer our question: "Rabbi, where are you staying?", Christ summons us: come and see; in the Cross you will see the radiant sign of the world's redemption, the loving presence of the living God. Because Christians realize that the Cross dominates history, they place the crucifix in their churches and along roadsides, or they wear it near their hearts. For the Cross is a genuine sign of the presence of the Son of God; by this sign he is revealed as the Redeemer of the world.
4. "Rabbi, where are you staying?". Each day the Church responds: Christ is present in the Eucharist, in the sacrament of his death and resurrection. In and through the Eucharist, you acknowledge the dwelling-place of the living God in human history. For the Eucharist is the sacrament of the love which conquers death; it is the sacrament of the Covenant, pure gift of love for the reconciliation of all humanity. It is the gift of the real presence of Jesus the Redeemer, in the bread which is his body given up for us, in the wine which is his blood poured out for all. Thanks to the Eucharist, constantly renewed among all the peoples of the world, Christ continues to build his Church: he brings us together in praise and thanksgiving for salvation, in the communion which only infinite love can forge. Our worldwide gathering now takes on its fullest meaning, through the celebration of Mass. Dear young friends, may your presence here mean a true commitment in faith! For Christ is now answering your own question and the questions of all those who seek the living God. He answers by offering an invitation: this is my Body, take it and eat. To the Father he entrusts his supreme desire: that all those whom he loves may be one in the same communion.
5. The response to the question "Teacher, where do you live?" involves many aspects. It has an historical, paschal and sacramental dimension. Today's first reading suggests yet another aspect of the answer to the question which is the theme of the World Youth Day: Christ dwells among his People. This is the people mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy in relation to the history of Israel: "It is because the Lord loves you . . . that [he] has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of bondage . . . Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps his covenant . . . to a thousand generations" (Dt 7,8-9). Israel is the people whom God chose for himself and with whom he made a covenant.
In the New Covenant, God's election has been extended to all the peoples of the earth. In Jesus Christ, God has chosen all humanity for his own. Through the Redemption he has revealed the universality of his election. In Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek, nor slave or free; all are now one (cf. Gal Ga 3,28). Everyone is called to share in God's life, thanks to the death and resurrection of Christ. Does not our encounter at this World Youth Day reflect this truth? All of you, assembled here from many countries and continents, bear witness to the universal vocation of the People of God redeemed by Christ! The ultimate answer to the question "Teacher, where are you staying?" should then be understood as: I live in all the human beings who have been saved. Yes, Christ dwells in his People, the People which has struck root among all the peoples of the earth, the People which follows him, the Crucified and Risen Lord, the Redeemer of the world, the Teacher who has the words of everlasting life, the one who is "the head of the new and universal people of the children of God" (Lumen Gentium LG 13). The Second Vatican Council has said it wonderfully: "Christ has shared with us his Spirit who, being one and the same being in head and members, gives life to, unifies and moves the whole body" (ibid., 7). Thanks to the Church which gives us a share in the very life of the Lord, all of us can now repeat Peter's words to Jesus: "To whom shall we go? To whom else shall we go? (cf. Jn Jn 6,68).
6. Dear young people, your journey does not end here. Time does not come to a halt. Go forth now along the roads of the world, along the pathways of humanity, while remaining ever united in Christ's Church!
Continue to contemplate God's glory and God's love, and you will receive the enlightenment needed to build the civilization of love, to help our brothers and sisters to see the world transfigured by God's eternal wisdom and love.
Forgiven and reconciled, be faithful to the Baptism which you have received! Be witnesses to the Gospel! As active and responsible members of the Church, be disciples and witnesses of Jesus Christ who reveals the Father! And abide always in the unity of the Spirit who is the giver of life!
23rd ITALIAN NATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS
Saturday, 27 September 1997
1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (Col:1,2b).
The Apostle’s greeting, which we have just heard in the "short reading" from these First Vespers of Sunday, introduces us to a vision of hope: "the hope", says St Paul, "laid up for you in heaven". "Of this", he adds, "you have heard before in the word of the truth, the Gospel which has come to you" (Col 1,5-6).
778 Dear brothers and sisters, this is the day of beatification for the priest Bartholomew Mary Dal Monte. The entire Church and in particular the Christian community of Bologna, whose son he was, rejoice because today his name is solemnly written in the "book of life" (Ap 21,27).
The new blessed spent his short earthly life proclaiming the "words of truth of the Gospel" (Col 1,5). The Lord made use of him and his fidelity to reach many searching people with these integral, living and life-giving words. Thus Jesus’ promise, "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20), was fulfilled through him personally.
2. Dear people of Bologna, Fr Bartholomew Mary Dal Monte is the most recent jewel which has come to enhance the sanctoral cycle of your Archdiocese. It is a book that is already rich in exemplary Gospel witnesses: Apollinaris, Zama, Vitalis, Agricola, Proculus, Felix, Petronius, Lucy of Settefonti, Guarinus, Dominic, Diana, Cecilia, Amata, Imelda Lambertini, Nicholas Albergati, Catherine de’ Vigri, Mark of Bologna, Louis Morbioli, James of Ulm, Arcangelo Canetoli, Helen Duglioli, Clelia Barbieri, Elia Facchini and many others.
In this book of saints and blesseds is sketched the truest identity of Christian Bologna and of your land, rich in art and culture. A book whose value all should esteem: believers and non-believers alike. A book to love, just as one loves one’s most authentic identity.
The face of Bologna is also that of its saints, who drew from the truth and charity of the Gospel inspiration for their words and actions among the men and women of this city, whose original features they fashioned and which can still be seen today.
We give thanks to the Lord this evening in the context of the National Eucharistic Congress because Bologna can present herself for the appointment of the third millennium with her characteristic features: a human and Christian face, which enables her to face with serene trust the difficult challenges of our time. She knows she can count on her saints who with the "words of truth" and the exuberance of their charity, all the more effective the more it was hidden, have enabled her to survive the most difficult periods of her history.
3. Precious in God’s eyes, holiness is not useless to the world. It does not only build up the Body of Christ, but leaves an indelible mark on the succession of events and in the diversified formation of society itself.
Although Bartholomew Mary Dal Monte’s earthly activity was marked by a typically intra-ecclesial dedication such as the preaching of missions to the people and the formation of priests, it had a powerful influence on the civil fabric of the nation, helping effectively to promote the elements of justice, concord and peace. It is also through the work of missionaries in their homeland, like that of the new blessed, that the Italian people were able down the centuries to preserve that heritage of human and Christian values which is its most precious treasure and the most significant contribution it can make to building the new Europe.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, the beatification of Bartholomew Mary Dal Monte is providentially a part of the celebrations of the Eucharistic Congress because it fully emphasizes the connection between a conscious, lived Eucharistic spirituality and the personal and ecclesial commitment to evangelization.
In 18th-century Italy situations of widespread religious ignorance and the phenomena of a worrying dechristianization infecting cities and villages were faced in an amazing way by those holy priests who generously dedicated themselves to popular missions. These also include St Leonard of Port Maurice who was personally acquainted with Fr Bartholomew Mary and encouraged him to undertake this pastoral work.
The fame of Fr Bartholomew's effective missions to the people and of his holiness and generosity spread so rapidly that he was barely able to comply with all the requests. When he died, at the age of only 52, he had preached missions to the people and courses of spiritual exercises in more than 60 Italian Dioceses.
779 In an age when a long seminary course was not a part of formation for the priesthood, Fr Bartholomew Mary foresaw the need of diocesan priests who, in full communion with their Bishop, would be totally available for preaching. To prepare them properly he established the "Pious Society for the Missions", which became a real source of apostles. He was convinced that it was impossible to be self-taught in the difficult way of holiness. He was therefore concerned to provide adequate formation structures for his co-workers, dedicating interesting spiritual writings to them which were written in his own hand.
5. But from where did Fr Bartholomew Mary draw such dynamism and vigour for this exceptional ministry? Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession were at the centre of his life, his missionary activity and his spirituality. We find frequent traces of this Eucharistic piety in his writings, where we see his daily concern to save souls, the priority of his ascetic and pastoral efforts.
His whole life was modeled on Christ’s ministry, intransigent in proclaiming the Truth and in censuring sin, but welcoming and merciful to sinners.
He thus became a living icon of the One who is "rich in mercy" (Ep 2,4).
The new blessed also loved the Virgin Mother of God with deep feeling. Born and raised in a city honoured by the special protection of the "Madonna of St Luke", Fr Bartholomew Mary showed her tender devotion. He venerated her and invoked her under the title of "Mater Misericordiae — Mother of Mercy". He liked to repeat: "Every thought, every impulse, every word: yes, I did it all for Mary".
6. This evening Bl. Dal Monte shines brightly before us as a witness to Christ who was particularly sensitive to the demands of the modern age. He encourages everyone to face the challenges of the new evangelization with zeal and trust. A vast field of missionary work lies before us on the threshold of the third Christian millennium.
May the example of the new blessed sustain and encourage you all, dear brothers and sisters present here, whom I greet with affection. May he be an example to you, venerable Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Pastor of this diocesan community; may he be an example for you all, dear Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood who come from the city of Bologna and from all over Italy. May his tireless apostolic zeal be an encouragement and a support for you, men and women religious, consecrated persons called to a give a special witness in Christ’s Church; may he be for you, dear young people, the hope of a world renewed by love; for you, dear families, little domestic churches; for you, dear sick people, who are more intensely associated with Christ’s sufferings.
The new evangelization is the responsibility of every believer. Be conscious of it, all you who are gathered at this Vespers for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. God calls us to keep the "word of truth of the Gospel" (Col 1,5). The missionary fervour that consumed the life of Bl. Bartholomew Mary Dal Monte is the model which the Church presents to her children today.
May his intercession, together with that of Mary most holy, especially venerated in the image of the Madonna of St Luke, the "Hodegetria", she who shows the way, help us to imitate him humbly, faithfully and courageously.
The "way" is Jesus. On this path we want to walk without wavering until our definitive meeting with him. Amen!
23rd ITALIAN NATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS
780 Sunday, 28 September 1997
1. "Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?" (Mc 14,14).
This is what Jesus asks on Holy Thursday in Jerusalem. Having found the place where they could eat the Passover meal, the disciples go to prepare everything as the Teacher had arranged, and there, in that privileged room, the Last Supper takes place, the Passover supper at which Christ institutes the Eucharist, the supreme sacrament of the New Covenant.
Taking the bread, he blesses it and gives it to the disciples, saying: "Take; this is my body". He then does the same with the cup of wine; after blessing it he gives it to the disciples, saying: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many; do this in memory of me" (cf. Mk Mc 14,22-24).
Today we enter Jerusalem in spirit, the venerable room where the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist took place. At the same time we enter so many other places in every part of the world, countless other "Upper Rooms". Down through history, during periods of persecution, it was sometimes necessary to prepare these rooms in the catacombs. Unfortunately, even today there are situations where Christians have to celebrate the Eucharist in hiding, as in the time of the catacombs. But wherever the Supper is celebrated, in marvellous cathedrals rich in history or in the small chapels of mission countries, the Last Supper in Jerusalem is always re-enacted.
2. The places where the paschal Supper is renewed are very numerous, especially in this Italy of ours. Today we must make all the "Eucharistic rooms", all the "Upper Rooms" of this land of ancient Christian traditions converge symbolically here. Indeed, this is the meaning of the National Eucharistic Congress, which in the marvellous choreography of this celebration represents a special "Passover room", a new "Cenacle", where the great Mystery of faith is solemnly made present. The Eucharist of the Church is celebrated as a gift and mystery, The great prayer of thanksgiving of the Italian people, who have taken part in the Eucharistic banquet for almost 2,000 years, is raised to heaven.
I am thinking of the beginnings of the Church, of the Apostles Peter and Paul, of the martyrs of the early centuries and, after Constantine’s edict, of the era of the holy Fathers, the doctors, the founders of orders and religious congregations down to our times. There is a ceaseless memorial of the great Eucharist, which contains the thanksgiving of history, because Christ "by his holy Cross has redeemed the world".
For the Italian people, this will be the last Congress of the century: a century that has seen man attacked in the truth of his being on a global scale. This century, in the name of totalitarian and deceitful ideologies, has sacrificed millions of human lives. In the name of a self-will called freedom, innocent unborn human beings continue to be killed. In the name of a prosperity that cannot maintain the prospects of happiness it promises, many have thought they could do without God. Thus it is a century marked by dark shadows, but one which has also preserved the faith handed down by the Apostles, enhancing it with the radiance of holiness.
On the spiritual pilgrimage taking us to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, this Eucharistic Congress is an important stage for the Churches in Italy.
This is also attested by the large number of Bishops who are here today to celebrate the Eucharist with me and by the many faithful who have come from every part of the country. I address my cordial greetings to each of them and, in particular, to my venerable Brother, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, who has welcomed me on this extraordinary occasion; to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, my Legate to this Congress. I also greet the many Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, priests and religious present. I address a cordial thought to the young people with whom I spent yesterday evening here in this square, to the families and to the sick, who are united in a special way with the Eucharistic mystery through their physical and moral suffering. I greet the Prime Minister, the Honourable Romano Prodi, who is from Bologna, and the other civil and military authorities who have wished to join our celebration.
Gathered here together at this liturgical assembly which represents the whole Christian community of Italy, let us acclaim: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again".
781 3. "And you shall remember all the way which the Lord has led you these forty years in the wilderness" (Dt 8,2).
In the first reading, today’s liturgy refers to the history of Israel, the chosen people whom God led out of Egypt, out of slavery, and for 40 years guided through the wilderness into the promised land. That 40-year journey is not only a historical fact; it is a great symbol, with a significance that is in some way universal. All humanity, all peoples and nations are on a journey, like Israel, through the desert of this world.
Of course, all the world’s regions have their characteristics of culture and civilization which make them interesting and pleasing. Nevertheless, from a more profound point of view, every land is always a desert through which man passes on his way to the promised land, to the Father’s house.
On this pilgrimage the leader is Christ crucified and risen, who by his Death and Resurrection continually confirms the ultimate direction of the human path through history. In itself, the desert of this world is a place of death; the human being is born, grows and dies there. Down the centuries how many generations have met death in this desert! The only exception is Christ. He alone conquered death and revealed life. It is thanks to him alone that those who died will be able to rise again, because he alone can lead man through the desert of time into the promised land of eternity. He has already done so with his Mother; he will do so with all who believe in him and belong to the new People on their way to the heavenly homeland.
4. During the 40 years they spent in the desert, the people needed manna in order to survive. Indeed, the desert could not be cultivated and the people traveling through it could not be fed: manna, the bread that came down from heaven, was essential. Christ, the new Moses, nourishes the People of the New Covenant with a quite particular manna. His Body is the true food under the appearance of bread; his Blood is the true drink under the appearance of wine. We are kept alive by this Eucharistic food and drink.
The second lesson, from the Letter to the Hebrews, leads us into the mystery of the Blood. The Apostle writes: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come... he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking ... his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.... Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant" (He 9,11-12,15).
The Apostle reserves a special place for the mystery of Christ’s Blood, of which a Eucharistic hymn proclaims: "Blood most holy, Blood of the Redemption, you heal the wounds of sin". This truth is precisely enunciated by the inspired author: "... the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, [shall] purify your conscience from dead works" (He 9,14).
5. These two meanings of the Eucharist should be linked in a close and special way in our reflection today. The Eucharist is nourishment; it is food and drink. At the same time, the Eucharist, as the "Body given" and the "Blood shed", is the source of our purification.
Through the Eucharist Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, the one Saviour of the world, not only remains among us but also within us. With his grace he remains in us "yesterday, today and for ever" (He 13,8).
This Eucharistic Congress seeks to express all these points in a unanimous and significant way for the glory of God, for the renewal of the human conscience and for the comfort of God's People. It seeks to emphasize that the Eucharist is God’s supreme gift to man, the basis of all authentic solidarity.
At the end of the Congress, so well prepared by the Church which has hosted it and by the city which has welcomed it, I would like to say to all the believers of this beloved country: look with trust to Christ; renew your love for him present in the Eucharistic sacrament! He is the divine Guest of the soul, the support for every weakness, the strength for every trial, the consolation for every sorrow, the Bread of life, the supreme destiny of every human being.
782 From the Eucharist springs the strength to be equal always and everywhere to the demands of truth and the duty of consistency. The National Eucharistic Congresses have marked a long tradition of service to mankind: a tradition which is handed on from Bologna today to the Christianity of the third millennium.
With our gaze focused on the Eucharist, the central mystery of our faith, we pray: Lord Jesus, Word of God incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, guide the steps of the Italian people on the ways of justice and solidarity, of reconciliation and peace!
Enable Italy to preserve intact that heritage of human and Christian values that has made her great down the ages. From the countless tabernacles scattered about the country gleams the light of that truth and the warmth of that love which contain the hope of the future for this people, as for every other people of the world.
S. John Paul II Homil. 774