5 Jun 2015

Corpus Christi in Rome - "The Eucharist is not a prize for the strong" - Pope Francis

Outside the Anglophone world, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is still marked on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (60 days after Easter) so yesterday it was celebrated in Rome. The Pope presided at Mass in the basilica of St. John Lateran, then traveled by car across the city of Rome to the basilica of St. Mary Major to greet the Eucharistic procession there and join in adoration and Benediction.

In his homily at the Mass, the Pope said that the Eucharist is “the viaticum that allows us to go forward and move along.”

2015-06-05 L’Osservatore Romano

“The Eucharist is not a prize for the good, but is strength for the weak, for sinners”, the only true antidote capable of freeing mankind from corruption. Late in the afternoon on Thursday, 4 June, celebrating the Mass for Corpus Domini on the parvis of the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome, before the Eucharistic procession to the Church of St Mary Major, Pope Francis once again gave a stern admonition against the danger of corruption.

In his usual fashion, the Pontiff enhanced his prepared text with several off-the-cuff remarks, cautioning against a twofold threat, summarized by the words “to have no part in Him” and “to despair”. Regarding the first phrase, he emphasized that we have no part in Jesus “when we do not live in fraternity among ourselves, when we compete to be in first place” and “when we do not find the courage to be witnesses of charity”. On the contrary, “the Eucharist keeps us from having no part in him”. Through the Eucharist, “being nourished of him, we are included in a journey which admits no division”. Because, Pope Francis explained, Christ “commands that the power of love overcome every laceration, and at the same time that it also become communion with the poorest, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who struggle to bear the weight of daily life, and are at risk of losing their faith”.

With regard to the second term, the Pope highlighted that it means “to water down our Christian dignity”, in other words “allowing ourselves to be undermined by the idolatries of our time: appearances, consumption, egocentrism; but also competitiveness, arrogance”, and “never admitting to mistakes or to being in need”. All this, he said, “leads us to despair, making us mediocre, lukewarm, bland, pagan Christians”. From here came the exhortation that we drink at the font of the Blood of Christ in order “to be shielded from the risk of corruption. Thus we will feel the grace of transformation: we will always be poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ will free us from our sins and restore our dignity”.

Audio report from Vatican Radio here.

CNA - Pope leads Rome's Corpus Christi procession on behalf of persecuted Christians

Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis' Homily for the feast of Corpus Domini:

In the Last Supper, Jesus gives His Body and his Blood by means of the bread and the wine, to leave us the memorial of His sacrifice of infinite love. With this viaticum full to overflowing with grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, to extend the kingdom of God to everyone. Light and strength will be for them the gift that Jesus made of Himself, sacrificing Himself voluntarily on the Cross. This Bread of Life has come down to us! 
The Church is in unending awe before this reality – an awe that endlessly nourishes contemplation, adoration, memory. This is seen in a beautiful text of today’s Liturgy, the Responsory of the second reading of the Office of Readings, which says: “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from His side. Take His body, then, and eat it; take His blood and drink it, and you will become His members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness.” 
We ask ourselves what it means today, to be torn from Him, to despair – as cowards – of our sinfulness [what is this cowardliness – svilirci – of which Christ speaks to us through the Church at prayer]? 
We are torn from Him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, when we find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. The Eucharist allows us to be not torn from Him, for it is the bond of communion, is the fulfillment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and annihilated Himself for us, that we might remain united. By participating in the Eucharist and by feeding on it, we are inserted into a way that does not admit divisions. The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life. 
And what it means for us today “svilirci” – to be cowardly, to despair of our sinfulness, that is, to let our Christian dignity be watered down, [or to adulterate it ourselves]? It means to let ourselves be affected by the idolatries of our time: appearance, consumption, the self at the center of everything; but also being competitive, arrogance as the winning attitude, the idea that one never need admit to a mistake or to find oneself in need. All this demeans us, makes us mediocre, lukewarm, insipid Christians. 
Jesus shed his blood as a ransom and as a lavacrum – a cleansing agent, that we might be purified of all sins:  in order that we fall not into cowardice, despair of sinfulness, that we not become weak, let us look to him, let us drink deep draughts from His source, that we might be preserved from the risk of corruption. Then shall we experience the grace of a transformation: we will remain always poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ will deliver us from our sins and give us back our dignity. Without merit of our own, with sincere humility, we can bring to our brethren the love of our Lord and Savior. We will be His eyes that go in search of Zacchaeus and of the Magdalene; we will be His hand who helps the sick in body and spirit; we will be His heart that loves those in need of reconciliation and understanding. 
Thus does the Eucharist make present the Covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in marvelous communion with God. 
Today, the feast of Corpus Domini, we have the joy not only of celebrating this mystery, but also of praising Him and singing in the streets of our city. May the procession we will make at the end of the Mass, express our gratitude for all the journey that God has allowed us to make through  the desert of our poverty, to take us out of slavery, by nourishing us with His love through the Sacrament of his Body and the Blood. 
In a little while we shall walk along the way, let us perceive ourselves in communion with our many brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel ourselves united with them, let us sing with them, praise with them, adore with them. And we venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters from whom the sacrifice of their lives has been required for fidelity to Christ: let their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.

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