Pope: Eucharist Linked to Marriage

Says All Families Represent Original Cell of Society

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says there is a profound bond between the sacraments of marriage and the Eucharist.



The Pope affirmed this today in the Vatican when he received in audience participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, focused on "The Emigrant and Itinerant Family."

The Holy Father recalled how during his U.S. visit he encouraged people "to continue their commitment to welcoming those brothers and sisters who arrive there, usually from poor countries," and gave particular emphasis to "the serious problem of the reunification of families."

"The Church's solicitude toward emigrant families does not diminish her concern for itinerant families," he noted, highlighting how families of whatever condition "represent the original cell of society that must not be destroyed but courageously and patiently defended."

The family is "the community in which, from infancy, we are formed to adore and love God, learning the grammar of human and moral values, and discovering how to make good use of freedom in truth. Unfortunately, in no small number of situations this is difficult to achieve, and especially in cases of people affected by the phenomenon of human mobility," the Pope acknowledged.

Benedict XVI went on to examine the "profound bond" between the sacrament of the Eucharist and that of marriage, noting how "the liturgy places the celebration of the sacrament of marriage at the heart of the celebration of the Eucharist. [...] In their daily lives, couples must draw inspiration for their behavior from the example of Christ who 'loved the Church and gave himself up for her.'"

"This supreme gesture of love is presented anew in each celebration of the Eucharist; and it is appropriate for the pastoral care of families to refer back to this sacramental fact as a reference point of fundamental importance," he added.

"People who go to Mass -- and the celebration of Mass must also be facilitated for migrants and itinerant peoples -- find in the Eucharist a powerful allusion to their own family, their own marriage; and they are encouraged to live their lives from the point of view of faith, seeking in divine grace the strength to succeed," the Pope affirmed.

The Holy Father concluded by pointing out that "human mobility represents, in today's globalized world, an important frontier for new evangelization." In this context, he encouraged the members and consultors of the pontifical council "to continue your pastoral commitment with renewed zeal."

Creative ministry

When Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the pontifical council, inaugurated the assembly, he emphasized the importance precisely within the phenomenon of human mobility.

Some people emigrate, he said, precisely to find more favorable conditions for the life of the nuclear family, or to flee from war or persecution. Even in other less dramatic situations, the cardinal affirmed, the family often suffers. And this represents a challenge for the Church.

Cardinal Martino called for creativity and zeal in adapting pastoral plans to distinct situations, without losing the common goal, that of "carrying out the plan of God, who has wanted man and woman to form one flesh in the bond of matrimony."