On the Eucharist and Love

"Source of the Spiritual Energy That Renews Our Life"

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the crowds that gathered for the praying of the midday Angelus, in the courtyard of the papal summer residence.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In this last Sunday that I spend in Castel Gandolfo, I wish to greet all the townspeople, renewing to all my heartfelt gratitude for the reception they have given me.

Continuing with the reflection on the Eucharistic mystery, heart of Christian life, today I would like to emphasize the bond between the Eucharist and charity. Love -- "agape" in Greek, "caritas" in Latin -- does not mean first of all a charitable act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit infuses in the human heart and that leads in turn to giving oneself to God himself and to one's neighbor.

The whole of Jesus earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: "Jesus, caritas" -- Jesus, love. In the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come, the divine Master gave his disciples the supreme example of love, washing their feet, and entrusted to them his precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which the whole paschal mystery is centered, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia." Take and eat, all of you, because this is my Body," "Take and drink all of you, because this is the cup of my Blood."

Jesus' words in the cenacle anticipated his death and manifested the consciousness with which he faced it, transforming it into a gift of himself, in the act of love that gives itself totally. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.

Our response to his love therefore must be concrete, and must be expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention for the needs of all. Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention. The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.

Exemplary witnesses of this love are the saints, who drew from the Eucharist the strength of an operative and often heroic charity. Now I am thinking in particular of St. Vincent de Paul, whose liturgical memorial we will celebrate day after tomorrow, who said: "What joy to serve the person of Jesus in his poor members!" and he did so with his life. I am also thinking of Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who, in the poorest of the poor, loved Jesus, received and contemplated every day in the consecrated Host.

Divine charity transformed the heart of the Virgin Mary before and more than that of all the saints. After the Annunciation, moved by the one she bore in her womb, the Mother of the Word incarnate went to visit and help her cousin Elizabeth. Let us pray so that every Christian, nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, will grow ever more in the love of God and in the generous service of his brothers.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, the day after tomorrow the World Day of Tourism will be observed, an extremely relevant social phenomenon in the contemporary world, as we know. I renew the hope that tourism will always be accompanied by respect of persons and cultures, and that it will favor dialogue and understanding.

Then, next Thursday, World Maritime Day will be observed. I take advantage of the opportunity to address a cordial greeting, accompanied by prayer for all those who work in the sea.

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus. Our thoughts go especially to those who are affected by the natural disasters in the United States and other parts of the world. I invite to join in prayers to the Lord for all who suffer, for the victims and their loved ones, and for the rescue workers. May God grant them consolation and strength in their trials.

[Speaking again in Italian, he said:]

I greet cordially the participants in the international meeting of the Benedictine Oblates [the pilgrims then interrupted the Pope with the singing of "Ubi Caritas"]. Thank you for this response to my address, thank you. Dear brothers and sisters, with the example and intercession of St. Benedict, to whom I have entrusted my pontificate, may you always be able to live in profound friendship with Christ and witness it to all.

[After a brief greeting to groups, the Pope concluded spontaneously with these words:]

Dear brothers and sisters: It is my last Sunday in Castel Gandolfo this summer; I thank you for your hospitality, for your friendship, and I give you my blessing.

[Translations by ZENIT]