At the closing of a summer seminar for his former students, the Holy Father urged gratitude for the Eucharist, remarking that the Sacrament shows how “God's style” is different than man's, given the human tendency to give “only to those who will give us something back.”
The Pope's former students gathered in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo between Aug. 27-30 for their annual seminar, which is often referred to as the "Ratzinger Schulerkreis."
According to Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano (LOR), the theme of this year's encounter focused on the Second Vatican Council. This year's gathering drew the participation of 40 priests, professors, religious and lay people.
LOR reported that the topic of the four-day seminar was chosen by the Pope himself from among several options proposed by the association of his former theology students. Also selected by the Pope was the main speaker, Archbishop Kurt Koch, the recently appointed replacement for Cardinal Walter Kasper as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Archbishop Koch's addresses to the group examined "The Second Vatican Council between tradition and innovation" and "Sacrosanctum concilium and the post-Conciliar reform of the liturgy."
Pope Benedict was present at the meeting hall, located near the Castel Gandolfo town center, for several events on the schedule. After Archbishop Koch's Friday and Saturday sessions, the Pope participated in discussions. On Sunday morning, he presided over Mass for his former students and joined them for breakfast.
“At the end of today’s Gospel,” the Pope said during his homily on Sunday, “the Lord makes us see how, in reality, we continue to live like the pagans do. We extend invitations only to those who can invite us. We give only to those who can give back.”
“But God’s style is different,” he said, adding that “we experience it in the Eucharist.”
“He invites us to His table, us, who have nothing to give Him,” the Holy Father continued. “During this event of the Eucharist, let’s let ourselves be touched above all by gratitude for the fact that God exists, that, despite our having nothing to give Him and being full of sins, He invites us to His table and wants to sit with us.”
“But,” the Pontiff noted, “we also want to be touched by guilt for being so slightly detached from the pagan style, for living so slightly the newness, God’s style.”
“And because of this,” the Holy Father concluded, “let’s start Mass by asking for forgiveness: a forgiveness that will change us, that will really make us similar to God, in His resemblance.”