.- That "Jesus Christ continues alive and truly present in the consecrated host and the chalice" is the central point of the Catholic faith, Pope Benedict said on Thursday. He also warned against focusing the Mass on things other than the person of Jesus, especially adopting rites from other religions.
Benedict XVI focused primarily on the importance of the presence of Christ in the Mass during his address to Brazilian bishops from the North II Region, which marked the conclusion of their "ad Limina" visit to the Holy See.
The Eucharist, said the Holy Father, is "the center and permanent source of the Petrine ministry, the heart of the Christian life, source and summit of the Church's mission of evangelization."
He told the bishops, "You can thus understand the concern of the Successor of Peter for all that can obfuscate this most essential point of the Catholic faith: that today, Jesus Christ continues alive and truly present in the consecrated host and the chalice."
"Paying less attention at times to the rite of the Most Holy Sacrament constitutes a sign and a cause of the darkening of the Christian sense of mystery," he told the 14 Brazilian bishops, pointing to attention being given to other preoccupations and Jesus not being the focal point of the Mass as examples.
Addressing how people should participate in the liturgy, Pope Benedict said that a Christian's "primary attitude" during the liturgical celebration "is not doing, but listening, opening up, receiving ..."
"If the figure of Christ does not emerge from the liturgy ... it is not a Christian liturgy," added the Pope.
This is why, he added, "we find those who, in the name of enculturation, fall into syncretism, introducing rites taken from other religions or cultural particularities into the celebration of the Mass."
As Venerable John Paul II wrote, "the mystery of the Eucharist is 'too great a gift' to admit of ambiguities or reductions, above all when, 'stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet.'"
"True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him," said Benedict XVI.
He emphasized that "The Church lives in His presence and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world."
In concluding, the Pope expressed his wish that following in the line of the 16th National Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Brasilia on April 19, that Jesus in the Eucharist "truly be the heart of Brazil, from which comes the strength for all Brazilian men and women to recognize themselves and help one another as brothers and sisters and as members of Christ."
In his address preceding the Holy Father's words, President of the North II Region of the Brazilian Bishops Conference Bishop Jesus Maria Cizaurre Berdonces shared a variety of concerns currently facing the area. Among the issues he raised were the environmental effects of reduction of forested areas in the Amazon, concern over urban and rural violence and hope for a sustainable development for everyone, not just that which favors large companies.