Benedict XVI Homilies 15805



Cologne - Marienfeld Sunday, 21 August 2005

Prior to Mass, the Pope said the following:

Dear Cardinal Meisner,
Dear Young People,

I would like to thank you, dear Confrčre in the Episcopate, for the touching words you have addressed to me which introduced us so appropriately into the Eucharistic celebration.

I would have liked to tour the hill in the Popemobile and to be closer to each one of you, individually. Unfortunately, this has proved impossible, but I greet each one of you from the bottom of my heart. The Lord sees and loves each individual person and we are all the living Church for one another, and let us thank God for this moment in which he is giving us the gift of the mystery of his presence and the possibility of being in communion with him.

We all know that we are imperfect, that we are unable to be a fitting house for him. Let us therefore begin Holy Mass by meditating and praying to him, so that he will take from us what divides us from him and what separates us from each other and enable us to become familiar with the holy mysteries.

Dear Young Friends,

Yesterday evening we came together in the presence of the Sacred Host, in which Jesus becomes for us the bread that sustains and feeds us (cf.
Jn 6,35), and there we began our inner journey of adoration. In the Eucharist, adoration must become union.

At the celebration of the Eucharist, we find ourselves in the "hour" of Jesus, to use the language of John's Gospel. Through the Eucharist this "hour" of Jesus becomes our own hour, his presence in our midst. Together with the disciples he celebrated the Passover of Israel, the memorial of God's liberating action that led Israel from slavery to freedom. Jesus follows the rites of Israel. He recites over the bread the prayer of praise and blessing.

But then something new happens. He thanks God not only for the great works of the past; he thanks him for his own exaltation, soon to be accomplished through the Cross and Resurrection, and he speaks to the disciples in words that sum up the whole of the Law and the Prophets: "This is my Body, given in sacrifice for you. This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood". He then distributes the bread and the cup, and instructs them to repeat his words and actions of that moment over and over again in his memory.

What is happening? How can Jesus distribute his Body and his Blood?

By making the bread into his Body and the wine into his Blood, he anticipates his death, he accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence - the Crucifixion - from within becomes an act of total self-giving love. This is the substantial transformation which was accomplished at the Last Supper and was destined to set in motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world when God will be all in all (cf. 1Co 15,28).

In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world. Here now is the central act of transformation that alone can truly renew the world: violence is transformed into love, and death into life.

Since this act transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within, the Resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded, so that it can no longer have the last word.

To use an image well known to us today, this is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being - the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little will change the world.

All other changes remain superficial and cannot save. For this reason we speak of redemption: what had to happen at the most intimate level has indeed happened, and we can enter into its dynamic. Jesus can distribute his Body, because he truly gives himself.

This first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life, brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood.

But it must not stop there; on the contrary, the process of transformation must now gather momentum. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood.

We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. In this way, adoration, as we said earlier, becomes union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world.

I like to illustrate this new step urged upon us by the Last Supper by drawing out the different nuances of the word "adoration" in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word is proskynesis.It refers to the gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure, supplying the norm that we choose to follow. It means that freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good. This gesture is necessary even if initially our yearning for freedom makes us inclined to resist it.

We can only fully accept it when we take the second step that the Last Supper proposes to us. The Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio - mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love. Submission becomes union, because he to whom we submit is Love. In this way submission acquires a meaning, because it does not impose anything on us from the outside, but liberates us deep within.

Let us return once more to the Last Supper. The new element to emerge here was the deeper meaning given to Israel's ancient prayer of blessing, which from that point on became the word of transformation, enabling us to participate in the "hour" of Christ. Jesus did not instruct us to repeat the Passover meal, which in any event, given that it is an anniversary, is not repeatable at will. He instructed us to enter into his "hour".

We enter into it through the sacred power of the words of consecration - a transformation brought about through the prayer of praise which places us in continuity with Israel and the whole of salvation history, and at the same time ushers in the new, to which the older prayer at its deepest level was pointing.

The new prayer - which the Church calls the "Eucharistic Prayer" - brings the Eucharist into being. It is the word of power which transforms the gifts of the earth in an entirely new way into God's gift of himself, and it draws us into this process of transformation. That is why we call this action "Eucharist", which is a translation of the Hebrew word beracha - thanksgiving, praise, blessing, and a transformation worked by the Lord: the presence of his "hour". Jesus' hour is the hour in which love triumphs. In other words: it is God who has triumphed, because he is Love.

Jesus' hour seeks to become our own hour and will indeed become so if we allow ourselves, through the celebration of the Eucharist, to be drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about. The Eucharist must become the centre of our lives.

If the Church tells us that the Eucharist is an essential part of Sunday, this is no mere positivism or thirst for power. On Easter morning, first the women and then the disciples had the grace of seeing the Lord. From that moment on, they knew that the first day of the week, Sunday, would be his day, the day of Christ the Lord. The day when creation began became the day when creation was renewed. Creation and redemption belong together. That is why Sunday is so important.

It is good that today, in many cultures, Sunday is a free day, and is often combined with Saturday so as to constitute a "week-end" of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is not present.

Dear friends! Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time.

Do not be deterred from taking part in Sunday Mass, and help others to discover it too. This is because the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it.

Let us pledge ourselves to do this - it is worth the effort! Let us discover the intimate riches of the Church's liturgy and its true greatness: it is not we who are celebrating for ourselves, but it is the living God himself who is preparing a banquet for us.

Through your love for the Eucharist you will also rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which the merciful goodness of God always allows us to make a fresh start in our lives.

Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.

In vast areas of the world today there is a strange forgetfulness of God. It seems as if everything would be just the same even without him.

But at the same time there is a feeling of frustration, a sense of dissatisfaction with everyone and everything.

People tend to exclaim: "This cannot be what life is about!". Indeed not. And so, together with forgetfulness of God there is a kind of new explosion of religion. I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon. There may be sincere joy in the discovery. But to tell the truth, religion often becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it.

But religion sought on a "do-it-yourself" basis cannot ultimately help us. It may be comfortable, but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves.

Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ! Let us seek to know him better and better, so as to be able to guide others to him with conviction.

This is why love for Sacred Scripture is so important, and in consequence, it is important to know the faith of the Church which opens up for us the meaning of Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church as her faith grows, causing her to enter ever more deeply into the truth (cf. Jn 16,13).

Beloved Pope John Paul II gave us a wonderful work in which the faith of centuries is explained synthetically: the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I myself recently presented the Compendium of the Catechism, also prepared at the request of the late Holy Father. These are two fundamental texts which I recommend to all of you.

Obviously books alone are not enough. Form communities based on faith!

In recent decades, movements and communities have come to birth in which the power of the Gospel is keenly felt. Seek communion in faith, like fellow travellers who continue together to follow the path of the great pilgrimage that the Magi from the East first pointed out to us. The spontaneity of new communities is important, but it is also important to preserve communion with the Pope and with the Bishops. It is they who guarantee that we are not seeking private paths, but instead are living as God's great family, founded by the Lord through the Twelve Apostles.

Once again, I must return to the Eucharist. "Because there is one bread, we, though many, are one body", says St Paul (1Co 10,17). By this he meant: since we receive the same Lord and he gathers us together and draws us into himself, we ourselves are one.

This must be evident in our lives. It must be seen in our capacity to forgive. It must be seen in our sensitivity to the needs of others. It must be seen in our willingness to share. It must be seen in our commitment to our neighbours, both those close at hand and those physically far away, whom we nevertheless consider to be close.

Today, there are many forms of voluntary assistance, models of mutual service, of which our society has urgent need. We must not, for example, abandon the elderly to their solitude, we must not pass by when we meet people who are suffering. If we think and live according to our communion with Christ, then our eyes will be opened. Then we will no longer be content to scrape a living just for ourselves, but we will see where and how we are needed.

Living and acting thus, we will soon realize that it is much better to be useful and at the disposal of others than to be concerned only with the comforts that are offered to us.

I know that you as young people have great aspirations, that you want to pledge yourselves to build a better world. Let others see this, let the world see it, since this is exactly the witness that the world expects from the disciples of Jesus Christ; in this way, and through your love above all, the world will be able to discover the star that we follow as believers.

Let us go forward with Christ and let us live our lives as true worshippers of God! Amen.


Vatican Basilica Sunday, 2 October 2005

Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The reading from the Prophet Isaiah and today's Gospel set before our eyes one of the great images of Sacred Scripture: the image of the vine. In Sacred Scripture, bread represents all that human beings need for their daily life. Water makes the earth fertile: it is the fundamental gift that makes life possible. Wine, on the other hand, expresses the excellence of creation and gives us the feast in which we go beyond the limits of our daily routine: wine, the Psalm says, "gladdens the heart". So it is that wine and with it the vine have also become images of the gift of love in which we can taste the savour of the Divine. Thus, the reading from the Prophet that we have just heard begins like a canticle of love: God created a vineyard for himself - this is an image of the history of love for humanity, of his love for Israel which he chose. This is therefore the first thought in today's readings: God instilled in men and women, created in his image, the capacity for love, hence also the capacity for loving him, their Creator. With the Prophet Isaiah's canticle of love God wants to speak to the hearts of his people - and to each one of us. "I have created you in my image and likeness", he says to us. "I myself am love and you are my image to the extent that the splendour of love shines out in you, to the extent that you respond lovingly to me". God is waiting for us. He wants us to love him: should not our hearts be moved by this appeal? At this very moment when we are celebrating the Eucharist, in which we are opening the Synod on the Eucharist, he comes to meet us, he comes to meet me. Will he find a response? Or will what happened to the vine of which God says in Isaiah: "He waited for it to produce grapes but it yielded wild grapes", also happen to us? Is not our Christian life often far more like vinegar than wine? Self-pity, conflict, indifference?

With this we have automatically come to the second fundamental thought in today's readings.
As we have heard, they speak first of all of the goodness of God's creation and of the greatness of the choice by which he seeks us out and loves us. But they then also speak of the story that was successively lived out - of the "fall" of man. God had planted the very best vines, yet they yielded wild grapes. Let us ask ourselves: what do wild grapes consist of? The good grapes that God was hoping for, the Prophet sings, would have been justice and righteousness. Wild grapes instead bring violence, bloodshed and oppression that make people groan under the yoke of injustice. In the Gospel, the image changes: the vine produces good grapes, but the tenants keep them for themselves. They are not willing to hand them over to the owner of the vineyard. They beat and kill his messengers and kill his son. Their motive is simple: they themselves want to become owners; they take possession of what does not belong to them. In the foreground of the Old Testament is the accusation of the violation of social justice, of contempt for human beings by human beings. In the background, however, it appears that with contempt for the Torah, for the law given by God, it is God himself who is despised. All people want is to enjoy their own power. This aspect is fully highlighted in Jesus' Parable: the tenants do not want to have a master - and these tenants are also a mirror of ourselves. We men and women, to whom creation is as it were entrusted for its management, have usurped it. We ourselves want to dominate it in the first person and by ourselves. We want unlimited possession of the world and of our own lives. God is in our way. Either he is reduced merely to a few devout words, or he is denied in everything and banned from public life so as to lose all meaning. The tolerance that admits God as it were as a private opinion but refuses him the public domain, the reality of the world and of our lives, is not tolerance but hypocrisy. But nowhere that the human being makes himself the one lord of the world and owner of himself can justice exist. There, it is only the desire for power and private interests that can prevail. Of course, one can chase the Son out of the vineyard and kill him, in order selfishly to taste the fruits of the earth alone. However, in no time at all the vineyard then reverts to being an uncultivated piece of land, trampled by wild boar as the Responsorial Psalm tells us (cf.
Ps 80,14 [79]: 14).

Thus, we reach a third element of today's readings. In the Old and New Testaments, the Lord proclaims judgment on the unfaithful vineyard. The judgment that Isaiah foresaw is brought about in the great wars and exiles for which the Assyrians and Babylonians were responsible. The judgment announced by the Lord Jesus refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. Yet the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general. With this Gospel, the Lord is also crying out to our ears the words that in the Book of Revelation he addresses to the Church of Ephesus: "If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place" (Ap 2,5). Light can also be taken away from us and we do well to let this warning ring out with its full seriousness in our hearts, while crying to the Lord: "Help us to repent! Give all of us the grace of true renewal! Do not allow your light in our midst to blow out! Strengthen our faith, our hope and our love, so that we can bear good fruit!".

At this point, however, we ask ourselves: "But is there no promise, no word of comfort in today's readings and Gospel? Is the threat the last word?". No! There is a promise, and this is the last, the essential word. We hear it in the Alleluia verse from John's Gospel: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly" (Jn 15,5). With these words of the Lord, John illustrates for us the final, true outcome of the history of God's vineyard. God does not fail. In the end he wins, love wins. A veiled allusion to this can already be found in the Parable of the Tenants presented by today's Gospel and in the concluding words. There too, the death of the Son is not the end of history, even if the rest of the story is not directly recounted. But Jesus expresses this death through a new image taken from the Psalm: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone..." (cf. Mt 21,42 Ps 118,22 [117]: 22). From the Son's death springs life, a new building is raised, a new vineyard. He, who at Cana changed water into wine, has transformed his Blood into the wine of true love and thus transforms the wine into his Blood. In the Upper Room he anticipated his death and transformed it into the gift of himself in an act of radical love. His Blood is a gift, it is love, and consequently it is the true wine that the Creator was expecting. In this way, Christ himself became the vine, and this vine always bears good fruit: the presence of his love for us which is indestructible.

These parables thus lead at the end to the mystery of the Eucharist, in which the Lord gives us the bread of life and the wine of his love and invites us to the banquet of his eternal love. We celebrate the Eucharist in the awareness that its price was the death of the Son - the sacrifice of his life that remains present in it. Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes, St Paul says (cf. 1Co 11,26). But we also know that from this death springs life, because Jesus transformed it into a sacrificial gesture, an act of love, thereby profoundly changing it: love has overcome death. In the Holy Eucharist, from the Cross, he draws us all to himself (cf. Jn 12,32) and makes us branches of the Vine that is Christ himself. If we abide in him, we will also bear fruit, and then from us will no longer come the vinegar of self-sufficiency, of dissatisfaction with God and his creation, but the good wine of joy in God and of love for our neighbour. Let us pray to the Lord to give us his grace, so that in the three weeks of the Synod which we are about to begin, not only will we say beautiful things about the Eucharist but above all, we will live from its power. Let us invoke this gift through Mary, dear Synod Fathers whom I greet with deep affection as well as the various Communities from which you come and which you represent here, so that, docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, we may help the world become in Christ and with Christ the fruitful vine of God. Amen.


Altar of the Chair, St Peter's Basilica Tuesday, 18 October 2005


"Do not let your hearts be troubled... I [am] going to prepare a place for you" (
Jn 14,1-2).

The words of the Lord Jesus enlighten and comfort us, dear and venerable Brothers, at this time of sorrowful prayer as we gather round the mortal remains of the late Cardinal Giuseppe Caprio, to whom we are offering our last farewell.

He left us last Saturday, at the end of a long earthly pilgrimage that led him from a little village in Irpinia to various parts of the world and especially here to Rome, to serve the Holy See for which he spent his life.

In his testament we find the serene trust that Christ invites his disciples to make their own. At the very beginning the Cardinal wrote: "I thank the Most Blessed Trinity for having created and redeemed me and for causing me to be born into a family poor in material means but rich in Christian virtue, which, from the earliest years of my childhood, taught me to love God and to obey his holy law".

"I thank the Most Blessed Trinity...". Do not these words sum up, as it were, a Christian's life? At the end of the earthly day, the soul recollects in an attitude of intimate and moved gratitude, recognizing everything as a gift and preparing for the definitive embrace with God-Love.

This is the same sentiment as the intimate trust in the Lord mentioned in the first reading from the Book of Sirach: "You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy... trust him... hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy" (Si 2,7-9). Fear of the Lord is the beginning and fullness of wisdom (cf. Si 1,12 Si 1,14).

From this flows peace (cf. Si 1,16), a synonym in turn for that complete, eternal happiness that is a fruit of divine mercy. Whoever lives in holy fear of the Lord finds true peace and, as Sirach says further, "even on the day of his death... will be blessed" (Si 1,11). May God in his mercy forgive any possible sin of beloved Cardinal Caprio and welcome him into his kingdom of light and peace, for this brother of ours sought to serve holy Church faithfully.

"My son, when you come to serve the Lord... cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great" (Si 2,1 Si 2,3). The young Giuseppe Caprio, who came from Lapio, presented himself at the Seminary of Benevento to serve the Lord. There he began his studies which he continued in Rome at the Gregorian University, where he obtained a licence in theology and a doctorate in canon law. In 1938 he was ordained a priest.

We read in his testament: "I thank [God] with my heart full of emotion and gratitude for having called me to the priesthood".We too, in our prayer, join in his thanksgiving as we pray, preparing to offer for his soul the Eucharistic sacrifice, the centre and form of priestly life. I like to think, especially during these days when the whole Church is as it were focused on the Eucharistic mystery, that precisely there, on the altar, Cardinal Caprio's life and ministry - the various posts to which the diplomatic service of the Holy See took him - would have found their deepest point of convergence.

He went from Rome to Nanking, Brussels, Saigon, Taipei, New Delhi, and lastly, back to Rome. The presence of the Risen Christ was certainly his comfort in his most difficult moments, such as, in particular, the period he spent under house arrest in the Nunciature at Nanking in 1951, and the subsequent order to leave China.

In his testament he notes: "I raise my grateful and devout thoughts to the Supreme Pontiff, who granted me the distinguished honour of representing him in so many countries, and whom I have always served with fidelity and filial love".

Might it not have been from the Eucharist that Cardinal Caprio was able to draw the spiritual energy to accept the mission entrusted to him by his superiors day after day, and to carry it out with love to the very end?

"Pax in virtute": the late Cardinal Caprio chose this motto when, in 1961, Bl. Pope John XXIII appointed him Archbishop. After taking part in the Second Vatican Council, he spent another brief period as Pro-Nuncio in India, and then returned to Rome to serve the Apostolic See directly in important offices, such as Substitute of the Secretariat of State and President of the Administration of the Patrimony.

His global view of the Church's problems and his constant concern to consider the administrative aspects in relation to superior interests, totally faithful to the Spirit of the Council, received recognition.

"Christ is now raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Co 15,20). The light of the Risen Jesus illuminates the shadows of death, the "last enemy" (1Co 15,26), to which we must pay the due contracted with original sin but which no longer holds sway over believers, for the Lord has conquered it once and for all.

In Christ all will receive life; each one in proper order: first Christ, who is the first fruits; then, at his coming, all those who belong to him (cf. 1Co 15,22-23).

The liturgy applies this Pauline passage to the Virgin Mary on the Solemnity of her Assumption into Heaven. I am pleased to witness here to Cardinal Giuseppe Caprio's Marian devotion, as it stands out in his testament: "I entrust my soul", he wrote, "to the Virgin Most Holy of Pompei, so that in presenting it to her Son Jesus Christ, she may obtain forgiveness and mercy for me".

Let us make this prayer of his our own in this moment of sorrow and of lively hope. Let us accompany with affection and gratitude this brother of ours on his last journey towards the true East, that is, towards Christ, the sun that never sets, with full trust that God will welcome him with open arms, keeping for him the place he prepares for his friends, faithful servants of the Gospel and of the Church.



Saint Peter's Square World Mission Sunday, 23 October 2005

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, our Eucharistic celebration is enriched for various reasons that impel us to give thanks to God.

The Year of the Eucharist and the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated precisely to the mystery of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church, have concurrently come to an end. And in a short while, five Blesseds will be canonized: Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski; Gaetano Catanoso, Zygmunt Gorazdowski and Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, priests; and Felix of Nicosia, a Religious Capuchin Friar.

Furthermore, today is "World Mission Sunday", a yearly appointment that reawakens missionary ardour in the Ecclesial Community.

With joy I greet all who are present; first, the Synod Fathers, and then, the pilgrims who have come from various nations, together with their Pastors, to celebrate the new Saints.

Today's liturgy invites us to contemplate the Eucharist as the source of holiness and spiritual nourishment for our mission in the world: this supreme "gift and mystery" manifests and communicates to us the fullness of God's love.

The Word of the Lord, just proclaimed in the Gospel, has reminded us that all of divine law is summed up in love. The dual commandment to love God and neighbour contains the two aspects of a single dynamism of the heart and of life. Jesus thus brings to completion the ancient revelation, not by adding an unheard-of commandment, but by realizing in himself and in his work of salvation the living synthesis of the two great commands of the Old Covenant: "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart..." and "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (cf.
Dt 6,5 Lv 19,18).

In the Eucharist we contemplate the Sacrament of this living synthesis of the law: Christ offers to us, in himself, the complete fulfilment of love for God and love for our brothers and sisters. He communicates his love to us when we are nourished by his Body and Blood.

In this way, St Paul's words to the Thessalonians in today's Second Reading are brought to completion in us: "You turned to God from idols, to serve him who is the living and true God" (1Th 1,9). This conversion is the beginning of the walk of holiness that the Christian is called to achieve in his own life.

The saint is the person who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his perfect truth as to be progressively transformed by it. Because of this beauty and truth, he is ready to renounce everything, even himself. Love of God is enough for him, experienced in humble and disinterested service to one's neighbour, especially towards those who cannot give back in return.

In this perspective, how providential it is today that the Church points out to all her members five new saints who, nourished by Christ, the Living Bread, were converted to love; this marked their entire life!

In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and their neighbour as themselves, so as to become "a model for all believers" (1Th 1,6-7).

St Jozef Bilczewski was a man of prayer. The Holy Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, meditation, the Rosary and other pious practices formed part of his daily life. A particularly long time was dedicated to Eucharistic adoration.

St Zygmunt Gorazdowski also became famous for his devotion founded on the celebration and adoration of the Eucharist. Living Christ's offering urged him toward the sick, the poor and the needy.

The deep knowledge of theology, faith and Eucharistic devotion of Jozef Bilczewski made him an example for priests and a witness for all the faithful.

In founding the Association of Priests, the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph and many other charitable institutions, Zygmunt Gorazdowski always allowed himself to be guided by the spirit of communion, fully revealed in the Eucharist.

"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart.... You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22,37 Mt 22,39). This was the programme of life of St Alberto Hurtado, who wished to identify himself with the Lord and to love the poor with this same love. The formation received in the Society of Jesus, strengthened by prayer and adoration of the Eucharist, allowed him to be won over by Christ, being a true contemplative in action. In love and in the total gift of self to God's will, he found strength for the apostolate.

He founded El Hogar de Cristo for the most needy and the homeless, offering them a family atmosphere full of human warmth. In his priestly ministry he was distinguished for his simplicity and availability towards others, being a living image of the Teacher, "meek and humble of heart". In his last days, amid the strong pains caused by illness, he still had the strength to repeat: "I am content, Lord", thus expressing the joy with which he always lived.

St Gaetano Catanoso was a lover and apostle of the Holy Face of Jesus. "The Holy Face", he affirmed, "is my life. He is my strength". With joyful intuition he joined this devotion to Eucharistic piety.

He would say: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus..., we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host".

Daily Mass and frequent adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar were the soul of his priesthood: with ardent and untiring pastoral charity he dedicated himself to preaching, catechesis, the ministry of confession, and to the poor, the sick and the care of priestly vocations. To the Congregation of the Daughters of St Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, which he founded, he transmitted the spirit of charity, humility and sacrifice which enlivened his entire life.

St Felix of Nicosia loved to repeat in all situations, joyful or sad: "So be it, for the love of God". In this way we can well understand how intense and concrete his experience was of the love of God, revealed to humankind in Christ.

This humble Capuchin Friar, illustrious son of the land of Sicily, austere and penitent, faithful to the most genuine expressions of the Franciscan tradition, was gradually shaped and transformed by God's love, lived and carried out in love of neighbour.

Bro. Felix helps us to discover the value of the little things that make our lives more precious, and teaches us to understand the meaning of family and of service to our brothers and sisters, showing us that true and lasting joy, for which every human heart yearns, is the fruit of love.

Dear and venerable Synod Fathers, for three weeks we have lived together an atmosphere of renewed Eucharistic fervour. Now I would like, with you and in the name of the entire Episcopacy, to extend a fraternal greeting to the Bishops of the Church in China.

With deep sorrow we felt the absence of their representatives. Nevertheless, I want to assure all of the Chinese Bishops that, in prayer, we are close to them and to their priests and faithful. The painful journey of the communities entrusted to their pastoral care is present in our heart: it does not remain fruitless, because it is a participation in the Paschal Mystery, to the glory of the Father.

The work of the Synod enabled us to deepen the important aspects of this mystery, given to the Church from the beginning. Contemplation of the Eucharist must urge all the members of the Church, priests in the first place, ministers of the Eucharist, to revive their commitment of faithfulness. The celibacy that priests have received as a precious gift and the sign of undivided love towards God and neighbour is founded upon the mystery of the Eucharist, celebrated and adored.

For lay persons too, Eucharistic spirituality must be the interior motor of every activity, and no dichotomy is acceptable between faith and life in their mission of spreading the spirit of Christianity in the world.

With the closing of the Year of the Eucharist, how can we not give thanks to God for the many gifts granted to the Church during this time? And how can we not take up once again the invitation of our beloved Pope John Paul II to "start afresh from Christ"?

Like the disciples of Emmaus, whose hearts were kindled by the words of the Risen One and enlightened by his living presence recognized in the breaking of the bread, who hurriedly returned to Jerusalem and became messengers of Christ's Resurrection, we too must take up the path again, enlivened by the fervent desire to witness to the mystery of this love that gives hope to the world.

It is in this Eucharistic perspective that today's World Mission Sunday is well situated, to which the venerated Servant of God John Paul II gave as the theme for reflection: Mission: bread broken for the life of the world.

When the Ecclesial Community celebrates the Eucharist, especially on Sunday, the Day of the Lord, it better understands that Christ's sacrifice is "for all" (Mt 26,28), and that the Eucharist urges Christians to be "bread broken" for others, to commit themselves to a more just and fraternal world.

Even today, faced with the crowds, Christ continues to exhort his disciples: "Give them something to eat yourselves" (Mt 14,16), and in his Name, missionaries proclaim and witness to the Gospel, sometimes with the sacrifice of their lives.

Dear friends, we must all start afresh from the Eucharist. Mary, Woman of the Eucharist, will help us to "fall in love" with it, she will help us to "remain" in Christ's love, to be deeply renewed by him.

Docile to the Spirit's action and attentive to the needs of others, the Church will be evermore a beacon of light, of true joy and hope, fully achieving its mission as "sign and instrument... of unity among all men" (Lumen Gentium LG 1).


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