Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Eucharist assimilates man into the divine life of Jesus, enabling him to more closely follow in Christ’s footsteps and become a gift to others, Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 23.
“This is the transformation that the world has most need of, because it redeems from within, opening it up to the size of the the kingdom of heaven,” Pope Benedict declared.
He was celebrating Mass in his cathedral – the basilica of St. John Lateran – before leading the traditional Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Rome to the basilica of St. Mary Major.
The Feast of Corpus Christi celebrates Jesus’ gift of his body and blood in the Eucharist.
“It all starts, you might say, from the heart of Christ, who at the Last Supper on the eve of his passion, thanked and praised God and, in doing so, with the power of his love has transformed the meaning of death,” the Pope said in his homily.
Catholics believe that the bread and wine offered by Christ at the Last Supper literally became his body and blood, and that this same miracle is repeated every time Mass is celebrated.
For the sake of love, said the Pope, Christ “takes all the passion, with its labors and it violence, to death on a cross.”
This sacrificial love is Christ’s template for the Christian life, he said.
“Everything goes through the logic of the patient and humble grain of wheat that is broken to form the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God.”
For this reason, the sacrifice of Eucharist is given to the world “to give every person the possibility of salvation.”
“For God wants to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament.”
To better explain the effect the Eucharist has on a person, the Pope quoted the 5th century theologian St. Augustine: “I am the food of the strong; grow and you shall feed on me. But you will not convert me into yourself like bodily food, but you shall be changed into me.”
The Eucharist goes beyond uniting believers to Christ and helps them open up to others, so that “we are no longer divided but one in him,” the Pope said.
“Those who recognize Jesus in the sacred also recognize him in brethren who are suffering, hungry and thirsty, who are a stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned,” he explained.
This evening’s ceremonies finished with a Corpus Christi procession along Rome’s Via Merulana, which links the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major.
The procession was led Pope Benedict, who was driven atop a canopied float and flanked by candle-bearing acolytes. The Pope knelt in adoration in front of the Eucharist for the whole procession.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims processed behind the Pope, reciting the Rosary and singing Eucharistic hymns as they as walked the mile long route in the warm Roman night.
The procession concluded outside St. Mary Major, where the Pope led a service of Benediction that finished with a blessing of the pilgrims, now kneeling, with the Eucharist.
Vatican City, Jun 23, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - “From adoration to evangelization” is the theme of a three-day conference in Rome that is drawing to a close today, the Feast of Corpus Christi.
“The Eucharist is the first missionary act of the Church. So if we want to be missionary towards a world in need of new saints and salvation, we have to be men and women of Eucharistic adoration,” Bishop Dominique Rey of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in southern France told CNA.
The Adoratio Conference 2011 was organized by Bishop Rey in conjunction with the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. The Missionaries are a new clerical community, established in France, with the specific task of promoting continuous Eucharistic adoration in parishes and communities.
“In the adoration we receive the fire of love which enables us to share our conviction and have faith about the presence of God,” said Bishop Rey.
Catholics believe that the priest’s words of consecration at Mass change bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, leaving only the accidents of bread and wine.
The practice of reserving the “Eucharist” – from the Greek word for “thanksgiving” – outside of Mass developed in the early Church. In the following centuries, Christians began to pray in front of the reserved Eucharist. Bishop Rey said that a 21st century revival of the practice is underway.
“I think in a society with too many words and too many noise, many people look for silence, look for interiority, and adoration now is very important among different groups, particularly among young Catholics.”
Over the last three days, conference attendees from 38 different countries have heard the insights and teachings of many renowned speakers, including Monsignor Guido Marini, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“This conference is seeking to contribute to the renewal of the Church - especially its missionary thrust - by going to the very center and source of its mission – Jesus Christ and his existence in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist,” Cardinal Ranjith said to CNA.
When he became Archbishop of Sri Lanka’s capital city in 2009, Cardinal Ranjith made Eucharistic adoration his top priority.
“As soon as I went to the diocese I felt that we needed to work for a true spiritual renewal of my people and, as a result, I declared a special year of the Eucharist.”
“Now in every parish, Eucharistic chapels have sprung up and more adoration has become a common practice. I have also insisted that people must receive Holy Communion in a reverential manner, especially by kneeling and receiving on the tongue.”
Cardinal Ranjith said the results have been startling, with “many people who were drifting or who were even moving towards Christian fundamentalism” remaining in the Church.”
Appropriately, the conference concludes today on the Feast of Corpus Christi – from the Latin for ‘Body of Christ’ - when the Catholic Church around the world reaffirms its belief in the Eucharist.
Saltillo, Mexico, Jun 23, 2011 (CNA) - The San Elredo Community, which is backed by Bishop Raul Vera of Saltillo, Mexico, plans to request that civil unions between same-sex couples from now on be referred to as “marriage.”
Noe Ruiz, the coordinator of the community, said they would call on the new congress and governor of the State of Coahuila to establish policies that “respect” homosexuals, according to the June 16 edition of the Mexican newspaper Vanguardia.
The community is backed by Saltillo's bishop despite its open opposition to Catholic teachings on homosexuality.
Ruiz added that his group plans to propose that same-sex couples be allowed to adopt and receive social security benefits, and that civil unions between them be called “marriage.”
The Diocese of Saltillo
Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of the Diocese of Saltillo has repeatedly expressed support for same-sex unions.
In March of this year, Bishop Vera Lopez published a statement on the diocesan website expressing support for the “sexual, family and religious diversity forum.” The event was aimed at “eradicating what some sectors of the Church believe about homosexuality” — especially the belief “that homosexual acts are contrary to God.”
Fr. Robert Coogan, the American priest who founded San Elredo, told CNA, “The only answer the Catechism gives is to tell (homosexual persons) to be celibate, and that is not enough.” He voiced his own support for the legalization of same-sex unions and adoptions and said the community “has the strong support of the bishop.”
Noe Ruiz told CNA the purpose of the forum was to show that “two men or two women can raise a child and live normally like everyone else.”
Pro-family groups in Saltillo, such as the Familias Mundi Association, disagreed with that argument. “We do not agree with forming same-sex families because families come from marriage, and marriage is a vocation that occurs between two people of the opposite sex who complement one another.”
CNA also interviewed Fr. Leopoldo Sanchez, who until a few months ago was the spiritual director for Courage Latino in Mexico, a ministry for homosexuals who wish to live according to the Church’s teachings. “The Church reminds us that the right path is the path of love, a love that is lived in chastity, and absolutely all Christians are called to this, regardless of whether they have same-sex attraction or not,” he said.
Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2011 (CNA) - The mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia has granted permission for the first Corpus Christi procession to take place in the city since 1918.
The announcement was confirmed by the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, reported Vatican Radio. The procession will take place on Sunday, June 26, through the Prospettiva Nevsky Avenue, the city’s main street.
The avenue has traditionally been called the “way of confessional tolerance,” as it is lined with Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Armenian churches. According to archdiocesan officials, the last time a Corpus Christ procession took place on the avenue was in 1918.
Now, 93 years later, Catholics will return to the Prospettiva Nevsky Avenue led by Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Moscow.
Boston, Mass., Jun 23, 2011 (CNA) - Iraqi Sister Olga Yaqob is beginning a women's religious order in the Boston archdiocese this year, to carry out the Church's mission to evangelize.
“Our main spirituality will focus on Jesus, and then carry His presence out into the world,” Sr. Olga of the Eucharist told CNA on June 21.
“I have seen a lot of spiritual poverty in our country – people who are spiritually hungry,” she said. “They don't know what kind of loving Father we have, what kind of beautiful faith our Catholic Church has.”
The 44 year-old sister – known for her tireless energy and beloved by her students – responded to an invitation from Cardinal Sean O'Malley to start the new order and is leaving her current post as chaplain at Boston University.
Sr. Olga explained in a June 21 interview that the process of founding the Daughters of Mary, Our Lady of Nazareth has been three years in the making.
She said that Cardinal O'Malley was familiar with her personal story, including her conversion to the Roman Catholic Church six years ago after being a member of the Assyrian Church in Iraq and starting a women's order there in 1995.
“He knew a lot about the history of my vocation and ministry in Iraq and also here in the United States before he received me into his diocese,” she said.
After observing her work with young people at Boston University, as well as her service to parishes throughout the archdiocese, the cardinal asked Sr. Olga in 2008 if she would consider founding a new women's religious community.
“To be honest I was really sort of surprised – I never thought I would do something like this again,” she said, “and humanly speaking I was a little bit afraid as well because it takes a lot of suffering to start a new order.”
However, she said that ultimately, “it wasn't really so much questioning cardinal's discernment, it was more just to discern the timing.”
Sr. Olga noted that the decision to launch the effort this year was perfect, and that “it's really amazing to see the response since the announcement has been made.”
She said that a group of young women from Boston University have been discerning joining the community with her and she's been receiving phone calls from parishes and adult Catholic communities in the area as well as from people out of state.
“It's been really a tremendous response,” she said.
Right now, however, the main tasks at hand are drafting the order's constitutions and looking for possible locations for a convent.
“I've told everyone that until the constitutions are signed by His Eminence I won't be able to officially welcome anyone,” she said. Meanwhile, the Iraqi sister has already started the official steps “in terms of writing the constitution and other canonical steps.”
Sr. Olga said that “if everything comes together” the community will open by fall or the end of this year.
She noted that the chosen name of the order – the Daughters of Mary, Our Lady of Nazareth – has “a lot to do with the ministry that we will be doing.”
“We will be a very Eucharistic and Marian order – Eucharistic communion, daily adoration, and Marian devotion,” she said. “These will be the two lungs we will be breathing out of as religious women.”
“I personally chose the words 'daughters' instead of 'sisters' of Mary because it keeps us focused on that element of humility,” Sr. Olga said. “We always look up to our mother to teach us and guide us and lead us as we try to bring the good news of Jesus' love and mercy to the world.”
She said that the group “will be a contemplative and apostolic community,” meaning that they will base their spirituality off of contemplative prayer but still go out into the community to perform “corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”
Sr. Olga also said the order's habits will consist of a simple blue gown and veil along with a draped rosary.
She emphasized how the “presence of a religious sister wearing a habit, bringing a smile and that motherly face of the Church” serves as profound witness to the surrounding culture.
“To have that spiritual presence of a religious sister and bringing that motherhood of the Church – it's very much needed in our country,” she said.
Merrimack, N.H., Jun 23, 2011 (CNA) -
Artists in sacred art, traditional painting and architecture will discuss the guiding principles of Catholic art and its role in the Church at a June 28 special event being hosted by Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
The college says the event brings together “some of the most faithful and talented Catholic artists in our time.”
Portrait painter Henry Wingate, painter and architect David Mayernick, and Thomas More College iconographer David Clayton will take part in the discussion. They will present their own work and explain how it helps draw the viewer into a deeper appreciation of the beauty, harmony and order of the universe, and how this helps prepare them to be open to reason and the power of divine grace.
“The evening’s presentations will be conversational, and will be of interest to all who appreciate beautiful art,” organizers said.
The event is titled “Beauty and the Renewal of Culture: An Evening with Catholic Artists.” It is free and open to the public.
Fr. Thomas Kocik, author of two liturgy-related books and contributor to the New Liturgical Movement website, will chair the discussion.
The event begins at 7 p.m. in the college library’s Helm Room. Solemn Vespers and the Vigil Mass for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul will be offered at 5 p.m., followed by a light dinner in the college cafeteria and brief tours of the Way of Beauty Atelier studios in the college library.
Visit www.ThomasMoreCollege.edu for more information.