Mary Has a Place in Latest Encyclical

Pope Describes Her as "a Woman of the Eucharist"

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The last chapter of John Paul II's encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" is dedicated to the Virgin Mary -- a surprise in a document dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament.



"If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist," the Pope states in his 14th encyclical.

Although at "first glance, the Gospel is silent on this subject, Mary can guide us towards this most Holy Sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it," he writes.

For John Paul II, "Mary is a 'woman of the Eucharist' in her whole life," and "there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord."

The relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist is explained by referring to the "Eucharistic faith" that Mary already practiced "even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God's Word," the Pope explains.

Mary's sacrifice also unites her with the eucharistic mystery: In No. 56, the encyclical states that "Mary, throughout her life at Christ's side and not only on Calvary, made her own the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist."

"What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: 'This is my body which is given for you'?" the Holy Father asks. He answers that the "body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb."

Therefore, the Pontiff concludes, "Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist."

Hence the invitation to the whole Church to listen to "Mary Most Holy, in whom the Eucharistic mystery shows itself more than in any one else, as mystery of light," he states.