06/10/2004, 00.00
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Pope declares a Special Year of the Eucharist

It will end in October 2005, with the Synod of Bishops,the topic of which will be "The Eucharist as source and summit of the life and mission of the Church." 
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pope has announced a special Year of the Eucharist, which will begin in a few months.  He said that "this year will begin with the World Eucharistic Congress, scheduled from October 10th to the 17th, 2004, in Guadalajara, Mexico.  It will end with the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in the Vatican from October 2nd to 29th, 2005, the topic of which will be "The Eucharist as source and summit of the life and mission of the Church."  John Paul II made the announcement during the Mass, celebrated in the square in front of the basilica of St. John in Lateran, of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.  At the end of the Mass thousands of the faithful participated in the Eucharistic procession to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

 

The following is the text of the homily given by the Holy Father (translation by AsiaNews)

Every time that you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26)

With these words St. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that the "Lord's supper" is not only a moment of fellowship, but also—and above all—the memorial of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ.  Whoever takes part in it—the Apostle explains—unites himself to the mystery of the death of the Lord, in fact, he becomes its "proclaimer."

There is therefore an intimate connection between "celebrating the Eucharist" and proclaiming Christ.  Entering into communion with him in the memorial of the paschal mystery means, at the same time, becoming missionaries of the event that the rite makes present.  In a certain sense,  it means to make it a contemporary event in every age, until the Lord comes again.

Dear brothers and sisters, we relive this stupendous reality in today's solemnity of Corpus Cristi, in which the Church not only celebrates the Eucharist but solemnly carries the Host in procession, publicly announcing that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the entire world.

Grateful for this immense gift, the Church gathers around the Blessed Sacrament because there she finds the summit and source of her being and her action.  Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit!  The Church lives from the Eucharist, and knows that this truth expresses not only a daily experience of faith, but summarizes in a synthetic manner the nucleus of the mystery that she herself is (see the encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 1). 

From the day of Pentecost when the People of the New Covenant "began its pilgrim journey toward its heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark its days, filling them with a confident hope" (ivi).  It is for this reason that I wanted to dedicate the first encyclical of the new millennium to the Eucharist, and I am now happy to announce a special Year of the Eucharist.  This year will begin with the World Eucharistic Congress, scheduled from October 10th to the 17th, 2004, in Guadalajara, Mexico.  It will end with the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in the Vatican from October 2nd to 29th, 2005, the topic of which will be "The Eucharist as source and summit of the life and mission of the Church."

Through the Eucharist, the Church community is built up as the new Jerusalem, the principle of unity in Christ among different individuals and peoples. 

"Give them yourselves something to eat" (Lk. 9:13)

The passage of the Gospel that we have just heard offers a striking image of the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the universal mission of the Church.  Christ, the "living bread come down from heaven" (Jn. 6:51, see the Gospel acclamation), is the only one who can satisfy man's hunger in every age and in every part of the world. 

However, he does not want to do it by himself.  As in the episode of the multiplication of the loaves, he involves the disciples:  "He took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising his eyes to heaven, blessed them, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the crowd" (Lk. 9:16).  This miraculous sign is an image of the still greater mystery of love that is renewed every day in the Holy Mass: through the ordained ministers Christ gives his body and his blood for the life of humanity.  All those who nourish themselves worthily at this table become living instruments of his presence bringing love, mercy, and peace.

"Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem..! – Zion, praise your Savior / your guide, your pastor / with hymns and canticles."  We are deeply moved as we feel this invitation to praise and to joy echo in our hearts.  At the end of the Holy Mass we will process with the Blessed Sacrament  to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.  Looking at Mary, we understand better the transforming power that the Eucharist possesses.  By listening to her will find in the mystery of the Eucharist the courage and the strength to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve him in our brothers.  

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