40 Hours Devotion Taken up in St. Mary Major

Ambassadors Come to Adore the Lord

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ROME, JUNE 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of the faithful are approaching Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where the age-old tradition of the 40 Hours Devotion has been taken up in preparation for this Thursday's feast of Corpus Christi.



The basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary is part of the Pope's traditional celebration of the feast of the Body of Christ; there, Benedict XVI will give the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament at the end of the procession that starts after Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Cardinal Bernard Law, has promoted the 40 Hours Devotion.

The period of adoration began Monday morning with a solemn Mass presided over by Cardinal Law. It will end Thursday.

"If we want to be salt of the earth, as Jesus tells us, we should be light of the world; then our 'yes' should be like that of Jesus," he said in his homily. "Above all in the Eucharistic mystery we encounter the 'yes' of the Lord Jesus. In his death, in his cross, we understand the infinite love that God has for us through the cross."

With this love, Cardinal Law added, we "thus become the salt and light of the world."

Bringing the nations

Dozens of groups and religious communities have taken an hour of adoration at the basilica. Today, ambassadors from various nations accredited to the Holy See were among the adorers.

Paraguay's ambassador, Gerónimo Narváez Torres, told ZENIT: "Today is the third time that we ambassadors are praying together. This is very important because this world that is so conflictive and full of problems among nations needs the prayer of the ambassadors from distinct parts of the world."

His wife, María Graciela, affirmed that even though not all of the ambassadors before the Holy See are Catholic, prayer brings them to find a "common point among all religions."

"This initiative is fantastic," she added. "Hopefully it continues forever."

Monsignor Adriano Pancelli, master of liturgical ceremonies at St. Mary Major, told ZENIT that the initiative aims to remind Catholics of the central role of the Eucharist.

"It's enough to look at the lives of the saints," he said. "The Eucharis is the living rock of the Church. It's about adoring the Blessed Sacrament and feeling that the Lord is present. The most sublime, most high, most true and effective mystery."