Friday, June 8, 2012

Full Text of Pope Benedict's 2012 Corpus Christi Homily

Unlike many places of the World the United States has the  Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ not on Thursday but has moved it to Sunday.

A full translation of Pope Benedicts Homily can be seen here and I reproduce it below.

The Pope made some interesting remarks on some recent unfortunate errors that came into vogue after Vatican II regarding Eucharistic practice. I might hit on that later. I hope to have a series of Corpus Christi posts throughout the weekend.

Dear brothers and sisters,

This evening, I wish to meditate with you on two linked aspects of the Eucharistic mystery: Worship of the Eucharist and its sacredness. It is important to take them into consideration in order to safeguard them from the incomplete view of the mystery itself as that which we have encountered in the recent past.

First of all, a reflection on the value of Eucharistic worship, especially the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament - the experience that we shall have tonight after the Mass, before the procession, during the procession and at its end.

A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has taken its toll on this dimension, restricting the Eucharist, in practice, to the moments of celebration.

In fact, it has been very important to recognize the centrality of the celebration, when the Lord convokes his people, gathers them together around the two-fold table of the Word and the Bread of Life, nourishes and unites them to himself in the offering of the Sacrifice.

This appreciation of the liturgical assembly, in which the Lord works and realizes his mystery of communion, obviously remains valid, but it must be seen in its right equilibrium. Indeed, as often happens, in order to underscore one aspect, we can end up sacrificing the other.

In this case, the accent placed on the celebration of the Eucharist has been at the expense of Adoration as an act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus, who is really present in the Sacrament on the altar.

This disequilibrium has had repercussions even on the spiritual life of the faithful. Indeed, concentrating all our relationship with Jesus Eucharist only at Holy Mass, we risk being deprived of his presence the rest of the time and in existential space.

Thus, there is a less perceptible sense of the constant presence of Jesus among us and with us - a presence that is concrete and near, in our homes, as 'the pulsing heart' of the city, of the nation, of the territory with its various expressions and activities.

The Sacrament of the charity of Christ should permeate all of daily life. In reality, it is wrong to counterpose Eucharistic celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition. It is exactly the opposite: Worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament constitutes the spiritual environment in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and truly.

Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration can the liturgical action express its full significance and value.

The encounter with Jesus in the Holy Mass takes place truly and fully when the community is able to recognize that in the sacrament, he is 'at home', he awaits us, he invites us to his table, and later, after the assembly has dispersed, he remains with us, with his discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices and offering them to the Father.

In this respect, I wish to underscore the experience that we shall experience together tonight. At the moment of adoration, we are all on the same level, on our knees before the Sacrament of love. The common and ministerial priesthoods are united in Eucharistic worship. It is an experience that is very beautiful and significant, which we have lived several times in St. {eter's Basilica, and in the unforgettable prayer vigils with young people - I recall, for instance, those in Cologne, Sydney, London, Zagreb, and Madrid.

It is evident to everyone that all these moments of Eucharistic vigil are a preparation for the celebration of Holy Mass, preparing hearts for the encounter, so that this may be even more fruitful.

To be together in prolonged silence before the Lord who is present in his Sacrament is one of the most authentic experiences of 'being Church', which is complemented by celebrating the Eucharist, listening to the Word of God, coming together at the table of the Bread of Life.

Communion and contemplation cannot be separated - they go together. In order to communicate with another person, we need to know him, to be able to be next to him in silence, to listen to him, to look at him with love.

True love and true friendship always live off this reciprocity of looks, of intense silences that are eloquent, full of respect and veneration, such that the encounter can be lived profoundly, in a personal way, not superficially.

Unfortunately, if this dimension is lacking, even sacramental communion can become, on our part, a superficial gesture. In true communion, prepared by a colloquium between prayer and living, we can tell the Lord words of confidence, such as those that we heard just now in the responsorial psalm: "LORD, I am your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds. will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the LORD" (Ps 115[116],16-17).

Now I wish to pass briefly to the second aspect: the sacredness of the Eucharist. Even here, we have heard in the recent past of a certain misunderstanding of the authentic message of Sacred Scripture. The Christian novelty regarding worship has been influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the 1960s and 1970s.

Yet it is true, and this is always valid, that the center of the worship is no longer the ancient rites and sacrifices, but Christ himself, his person, his life, his Paschal mystery.

And from this fundamental novelty, one must not conclude that the sacred no longer exists, but that it has found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of Divine Love.

The Letter to the Hebrews, that we heard in the second reading, speaks to us precisely of the novelty of the priesthood of Christ, 'high priest of good things' (Heb 9,11), but it does not say that priesthood is over. Christ is 'the mediator of a new covenant' (Heb 9,15), established in his blood, which "cleanses our consciences from dead works" (Heb 9,14).

He did not abolish the sacred, but he brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship that is fully spiritual. But nonetheless, as long as we are journeying through time, it still makes use of signs and rites, and will not do anything less until the end, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will no longer be any temples (cfr Ap 21,22).

Thanks to Christ, sacredness is truer, more intense, and as with the commandments, even more demanding. Ritual observance is not enough - true sacredness demands purification of the heart and the involvement of life itself.

I also wish to underscore that the sacred has an educational function, and its disappearance will inevitably impoverish culture, especially the formation of the new generations. If, for instance, in the name of a secularized faith that no longer needs sacred signs, this citizens' procession of Corpus Domini should be abolished, the spiritual profile of Rome would be 'flattened', and our personal and communitarian consciousness would be weakened.

Or let us think of a mother and father who, in the name of a desacralized faith, deprive their children of every religious rituality - in truth, they would end up leaving them free prey to to so many surrogates in the society of consumership, to other rites and other signs which can more easily become idols.

God, our Father, did not do that to man. He sent his Son to the world not to abolish but to achieve fulfillment of the sacred. At the climax of this mission, at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, the memorial of his Paschal sacrifice.

Doing so, he himself took the place of the ancient sacrifices, but he did it within a rite, which he commanded his Apostles to perpetuate as a supreme sign of the truly Sacred, which is He himself.

With this feast, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate the Eucharistic mystery today and every day, and we adore the Eucharist as the center of our life and heart of the world. Amen.

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