Christ renewed in Eucharist, Pope tells Congress

  • June 23, 2008

{mosimage}QUEBEC CITY  - By satellite video, Pope Benedict XVI told more than 55,000 pilgrims here June 22 about the wonders of the Eucharist.  

“The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure,” the Pope said via two giant screens that loomed over the historic Plains of Abraham at the closing Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress.

“It is the sacrament par excellence; it introduces us in advance to eternal life; it contains all the mysteries of our salvation; it is the source and summit of all the action and the life of the church,” he said in a homily delivered live in both French and English.

The Pope said the Eucharist does not separate us from our contemporaries, but, as the supreme gift of God’s love, calls us to make the world a better place.

“We must not cease to fight so that every person is respected from conception to natural death, that our rich societies welcome the poorest and restore their dignity, that every person can live and feed his family and that peace and justice radiate on all continents,” he said.

The Pope also announced Dublin would host the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2012.

Benedict urged everyone to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist “so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery.” 

“We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the cross,” the Pope said. “The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent church, the womb containing the church of every age.

“In the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed.”  

The Pope stressed proper preparation for the Eucharist. As much as possible we need to receive it with a pure heart, he said, especially through seeking the sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Sin, especially grave sin, opposes the action of the eucharistic grace in us, he said.

In addition to deepening understanding of the Eucharist and properly preparing for it, he urged more adoration to prolong communion with Christ.

Those who cannot receive communion because of their situation can find a saving force and efficacy in a communion of desire through participation in the Eucharist, he said.

The Mass took place in a park marking historic battlegrounds where, in 1760, the British defeated the French for control of Quebec. The giant screens showed not only close ups of the liturgical celebration and wide shots of the massive crowd, but also glimpses inside the Vatican of the Pope watching the proceedings on television.

Papal legate Cardinal Jozef Tomko, who acted as the Pope’s representative throughout the week-long Congress, celebrated the Eucharist at the statio orbis Mass. In his welcome, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and host of the Congress, explained the Latin words as “a kind of stopover, a prayer meeting to which all Catholics on Earth are summoned.”

A gentle rain began to fall during the opening procession as the hundreds of clergy, bishops and cardinals made their way across the soggy grass towards the altar, on a raised wooden platform with the suggestion of the prow of a ship jutting out front.

People raised umbrellas or unrolled clear plastic ponchos to ward off the rain.  On a separate raised platform a choir and a brass ensemble provided the music for the liturgy that included many sung prayers in Latin, including the Nicene Creed.

Shortly after the prayers of consecration, a drenching rain, accompanied by thunder, poured from the darkened sky.

The Pope noted Quebec’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of its founding, calling it an opportunity to recall the values of the pioneers and missionaries who founded the church here, along with a range of social and cultural institutions. 

He recalled St. Jean de Brébeuf and the other seven Canadian martyrs, along with the men and women who played key roles in developing the life of the church and building Canada’s social and cultural institutions: Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d’Youville, Marie de l’Incarnation, Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, Bishop Francois de Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Bélanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. He urged those present to learn from them, to follow their example without fear. God will accompany you and protect you, he said.

During the Congress, Tomko ordained 12 young men to the priesthood. Another 12 men who had already been ordained or would be ordained in 2008 were also invited to come forward during the ceremony June 20. Nine of the new priests come from new religious communities.

In a news conference June 21, Ouellet described the ordination as “the turning point” in a renewal of the church in Quebec.

Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and the Quebec City Mayor  Regis Labeaume were among the civic dignitaries present.                                                    

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