.- Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the diocesan congress of Rome in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The congress, which is being held June 15-17, has as its theme this year, “'Their eyes were opened, they recognized Him and announced Him:' The Sunday Eucharist and the witness of charity.”
“The faith,” said the Pope, "can never be taken for granted, because each generation needs to receive this gift through announcement of the Gospel and knowledge of the truth that Christ revealed to us. Thus the Church constantly strives to present the heritage of the faith to everyone. This also includes the doctrine on the Eucharist."
Unfortunately, he continued, this doctrine "is insufficiently understood in its profound significance and in the relevance it has for believers' lives. It is important, therefore, for people to have a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord."
Speaking about the Mass, the Pontiff explained that "when it is celebrated with respect for liturgical norms, and with adequate attention for the importance of signs and gestures, it favors and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith." He encouraged the faithful "to rediscover the fruitfulness of Eucharistic adoration, ... and to ensure that our apostolic activity is not reduced to sterile activism; rather, that it be a testament to the love of God."
"Drawing nourishment from Him, we free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. And through our communion with Him, we ourselves become, all together, a single unit, His mystical Body,” said the Pope. “Thus we overcome the differences due to profession, social class or nationality because we discover that we are all members of one large family, that of the children of God in which each individual is blessed with a specific grace for the common good."
"When we receive Christ," the Holy Father explained, "the love of God expands inside us, radically modifying our hearts and making us capable of gestures which, by the contagious power of goodness, can transform the lives of people around us."
"For the disciples of Jesus," he continued, "witness of charity is not some passing sentiment; quite the contrary, it shapes their lives in all circumstances." The Pope invited those in attendance to show "commitment in the delicate and vital area of education in charity, as a permanent dimension of individual and community life.”
"Our city of Rome," he added, "calls Christ's disciples to a renewed announcement of the Gospel and to a clearer witness of charity." He also expressed his gratitude "to the people who work in various charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and marginalized."
The Eucharist "requires us to become, and at the same time makes us capable of becoming, the bread broken for our brothers and sisters, meeting their needs and giving of ourselves. For this reason, a Eucharist celebration that does not lead us towards men and women where they live, work and suffer, to bring them the love of God, fails to express the truth it contains."
"In the present economic and social crisis, let us show solidarity with those who live in poverty, offering everyone the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of mankind," the Pope concluded.
Finally, he encouraged young people not to be afraid "to chose love as the supreme rule of life, .. to love Christ in the priesthood, ... to create Christian families that live a faithful and indissoluble love, open to life."