WE ADORE GOD PRESENT AMONG US
Pope John Paul II
Eucharistic devotion outside of Mass is both a preparation and a continuation of the sacrifice, says the Holy Father
After the recitation of the Angelus in Seville on Saturday, 12 June, the Holy Father went into the cathedral where he took part in the Eucharistic adoration. After spending some time in silent prayer and the reading of the Gospel the Holy Father preached the homily in Spanish…The following is a translation of the Pope's homily.
Adoremus in aeternum Sanctissimum Sacramentum!
United with the angels and saints of the heavenly Church, let us adore the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Prostrate, we adore this great mystery that contains God's new and definitive covenant with humankind in Christ.
1. Dear Brother Bishops, Priests and Religious,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It gives me great joy to kneel with you before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in an act of humble and fervent adoration, in praise of the merciful God, in thanksgiving to the giver of all good gifts and in prayer to the One who "lives forever to make intercession" for us (cf. Heb 7:25).
We have just heard the words, "remain in me as I remain in you" (Jn 15:4), in the Gospel reading on the allegory of the vine and the branches. How well this passage can be understood from the mystery of the living and life-giving presence of Christ in the Eucharist!
Christ is the vine, planted in the chosen vineyard, which is the People of God, the Church. Through the mystery of the Eucharistic bread the Lord can say to each of us: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (Jn 6:56). His life flows to us as the life-giving sap of the vine flows to its branches to make them live and bear fruit. Without true union with Christ—in whom we believe and who nourishes us—there can be neither supernatural life in us, nor fruit.
2. The continual adoration ofJesus in the Host was the leitmotiv of all the work of this International Eucharistic Congress. Therefore I express my congratulations and thanks to those who, with great pastoral concern and apostolic commitment, assumed responsibility for the Congress. In fact, the continual adoration—which took place in many churches throughout the city, and in some even at night—was an enriching feature that distinguished this Congress. If only this form of adoration, which ends tonight in a solemn Eucharistic vigil, would continue in the future too, so that in all the parishes and Christian communities the custom of some form of adoration of the Eucharist might take root.
Here in Seville we must not fail to remember the man who was a priest of this Archdiocese, the Archpriest of Huelva, later Bishop of Malaga and subsequently of Palencia: Don Manuel González, the Bishop of the abandoned tabernacles. He strove to remind everyone of Jesus' presence in the tabernacle, to which we sometimes respond so poorly. By his word and example, he never ceased to repeat that in the tabernacle of each church we possess a shining beacon, through contact with which our lives may be illuminated and transformed.
3. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, it is important for us to live and teach others how to live the total mystery of the Eucharist: the sacrament of Sacrifice,of the Banquet and of the abiding Presence of Jesus Christ the Saviour. You know well that the various forms of Eucharistic devotion are both an extension of the sacrifice and of Communion and a preparation for them. Is it necessary to stress once again the deep theological and spiritual motivations which underlie devotion to the Blessed Sacrament outside the celebration of Mass? It is true that the reservation of the Sacrament was begun in order to take Communion to the sick and those absent from the celebration. However, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "to deepen faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church is aware of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species" (n. 1379).
4. "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20). These are the words of the risen Christ before his ascension into heaven. Jesus Christ is truly Emmanuel, God-with-us, from his incarnation to the end of time. And he is so in a specially intense and close way in the mystery of his abiding presence in the Eucharist. What strength, what consolation, what staunch hope the contemplation of the Eucharistic mystery gives rise to! It is God with us who enables us to share his life and sends us into the world to evangelize it and make it holy!
Eucharist and evangelization was the theme of the 45th International Eucharistic Congress in Seville. You have reflected on it intensely over the past few days and during its long preparation. The Eucharist really is "the source and culmination of all evangelization" (Presbyterorum ordinis,n. 5) It is the horizon and the goal of the entire proclamation of Christ's Gospel. We are constantly journeying towards it through the word of Truth, the proclamation of the message of salvation. Thus every liturgical celebration of the Eucharist according to the spirit and the norms of the Church has great evangelizing force. Indeed, the celebration of the Eucharist develops an essential and effective teaching of the Christian mystery: the believing community is summoned and gathered as a family and the People of God, the Body of Christ; it is doubly nourished at the table of the Word and of the sacrificial Banquet of the Eucharist; it is sent as a means of salvation into the world. All this is in praise and thanksgiving to the Father.
Join me in asking Jesus Christ the Lord, who died for our sins and rose for our salvation, that as a result of this Eucharistic Congress the whole Church may be strengthened for the new evangelization which the whole world needs: new, also because of its explicit and deep reference to the Eucharist as the centre and source of Christian life, as the seed and requisite of fellowship, justice, and service to all humanity, starting with those who are most needy in body and in spirit. Evangelization through the Eucharist, in the Eucharist and from the Eucharist: these are three inseparable aspects of how the Church lives the mystery of Christ and fulfils her mission of communicating it to all people.
5. May God cause many vocations, of apostles, of missionaries, to spring from intimacy with Christ in the Eucharist, in order to bring this Gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. While the celebrations of the fifth centenary of the evangelization of America are still fresh in our minds, I urge Spanish priests and religious—according to the needs and circumstances of the present time—to be ready, as in other eras, to offer their fraternal service to their sister Churches in Latin America in the urgent commitment of evangelization, along the lines of the spirit and the reflections of the Fourth General Assembly of the Latin American Bishops, held last October in Santo Domingo. Today the whole Church is demanding a new missionary outreach, a vibrant spirit of evangelization "new in its zeal, in its methods and in its expressions".
6. "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth" (Jn 4: 23), Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar. Adoration of the Eucharist "is the contemplation and recognition of the true Presence of Christ under the sacred species outside the celebration of the Mass.... It is a true encounter of dialogue, ... through which we become open to the experience of God.... It is also a gesture of solidarity with the needs and the needy of the whole world" (Basic Document of the Congress, n. 25). And through its own spiritual dynamic, this Eucharistic adoration should lead to the service of love and justice for and with our brothers and sisters.
Before the real, mysterious presence of Christ in the Eucharist—a "veiled" presence, for he is invisible except to the eyes of faith—we understand with new light the words of the Apostle John, who knew so much about the love of Christ: "Whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 Jn 4:20). This is why it was hoped that this Congress would have a clear impact of evangelization and witness on all the contexts of life and society. I have the firm hope that the desire to evangelize will awaken in Christians a sincere consistency between faith and life and lead to a greater commitment to justice and charity, to the promotion of more equitable relations between individuals and peoples. Especially for the Church in Spain, this Congress should give renewed strength to Christian life on the basis of a fresh education in the faith. How important it is in today's social environment that is gradually being secularized, to promote the renewal of the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and respect for the Lord's Day! The commemoration of the Lord's resurrection and the celebration of the Eucharist must fill our Sundays with religious content that is truly humanizing. The Sunday rest from work, attention to the family, the cultivation of spiritual values and sharing in the life of the Christian community will contribute to making a better world, one richer in moral values, with greater solidarity and less consumerism.
7. May the Lord, the Light of the nations—who during these days is generously sowing the seeds of Truth in so many hearts—multiply the fruits of this Congress with his divine fertility. And one of these, perhaps the most important, will be the resurgence of vocations. Let us ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to gather in his harvest (cf. Mt 9: 38): there is a great dearth of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life.And each of us, by word and the example of generous self-giving, should become an "apostle of apostles", a promoter of vocations. From the Eucharist, Christ today is calling many young people insistently: "Come with me, I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4:19). May you priests and religious be joyful and convincing heralds of this call from the Lord.
May the Virgin Mary, who in Seville and in this cathedral is honoured by the name of Nuestra Señora de los Reyes,impel us and guide us to the encounter with her Son in the Eucharistic mystery. May she, who was the true Ark of the New Covenant, the living Tabernacle of God made man, teach us to act with pure intention, humility and fervent devotion to Jesus Christ her Son, present in the tabernacle. May she, the "Star of Evangelization", support us in our pilgrimage of faith to bring the light of Christ to all people, to all the nations.
Weekly Edition in English
23 June 1993, page 4
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