Parishes Must Rediscover Value of Sundays, Says Pope

Cites Theme of Italian National Eucharistic Congress

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Every parish is called to rediscover the beauty of Sunday, the day of the Lord, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope, addressing thousands gathered today in St. Peter's Square, delivered that message as he united himself spiritually to the Italian National Eucharistic Congress which opened Saturday in the southern city of Bari. He will travel to Bari next Sunday to close out the congress.

The objective of this pontificate's first apostolic trip in Italy, as the Holy Father acknowledged in his midday Angelus message, is the adoration of the Eucharistic Christ, so that it "will kindle in the Italian Church a renewed ardor of faith, hope and charity."

Benedict XVI said he gives particular importance to the congress, as it is being celebrated in the Year of the Eucharist. The special year will close in October with a world Synod of Bishops.

The Pope hopes the Eucharistic year will serve to gather the Christian people "around Christ, present in the Most Holy Sacrament, source and summit of their life and mission."

"In particular," he said, "each parish is called to rediscover the beauty of Sunday, day of the Lord, in which Christ's disciples renew, in the Eucharist, communion with the One who gives meaning to their joys and exhaustions of each day."

Opening vigil

The theme of the Italian Eucharistic Congress -- "We Cannot Live without Sunday" -- repeats the words expressed before their death by the 49 martyrs of Abitene, a city of the Roman province of "pro-consular Africa," present-day Tunis, in the year 303, at the time of Diocletian's persecutions.

"This is what we are called to repeat today," said the Holy Father.

Before concluding, Benedict XVI entrusted to the Virgin Mary "all the children, adolescents and young people who at this time are making their first Communion or receiving the sacrament of confirmation."

The Italian National Eucharistic Congress was opened on Saturday afternoon by special papal envoy Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the Diocese of Rome, in Bari's Liberty Square with a vigil attended by some 5,000 people.

Today, Cardinal Ruini presided at the Mass in Liberty Square. In his homily, he stressed that "the Eucharist is truly the heart of the Church, nourishment, and the soul of the life of every Christian."

More than 850 journalists have been accredited to cover the Eucharistic Congress.