.- The Pope addressed participants at the closing Mass for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, Canada via satellite from the Vatican yesterday. In his homily, the Pope encouraged to look at the Eucharist as a “mystery of alliance” and not a “meal among friends.” He also announced that the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.
Calling to mind the theme of the congress - "The Eucharist: gift of God for the life of the world" - the Holy Father, in French, recalled the importance of the Blessed Sacrament: "The Eucharist is our most precious treasure. ... It is the Sacrament par excellence ... It contains all the mystery of our salvation, it is the source and the summit of the activity and the life of the Church."
He also offered some word for pastors and the laity, calling on them to “always seek a more profound understanding of this great Sacrament. Each will thus be able to strengthen his faith and better achieve his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling the fecundity of the Eucharist for his personal life, and for the life of the Church and the world."
"Participation in the Eucharist," said Pope Benedict, "does not distance us from our fellow man; quite the contrary, being the most exalted expression of God's love, it calls us to commit ourselves alongside our brothers and sisters to facing the challenges of the present and to making the planet a pleasant place to live. To this end, we must struggle tirelessly so that all people may be respected from conception to natural death, that our rich societies may welcome the poorest and restore their dignity, that everyone may feed themselves and their family, and that peace and justice may shine out on all continents."
The Pope then turned to the English-speaking audience and exhorted the faithful “to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it."
With this heightened awareness, the Pope encouraged the audience “to renew their concern for their preparation for receiving the Eucharist, despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wishes to dwell within us. ... For this reason we must do everything possible to receive Him with a pure heart, ever seeking to regain - through the Sacrament of Confession - the purity that sin has blemished."
Benedict XVI also underscored that "sin, and especially grave sin, opposes the action of Eucharistic grace in us. ... People who because of their situation cannot take communion, will find strength and salvific effectiveness in a unity of desire and in participation in Mass.”
"The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of alliance", said the Pope. "We are called to enter this mystery of alliance, conforming our everyday lives to the gift received in the Eucharist."
The Pope invited those present to not only pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, but also to invite the young to respond to the call of Christ. He prayed “that they may joyfully and fearlessly respond to Christ. They will not be disillusioned. May families be the birthplace and the cradle of vocations."
The Holy Father concluded his homily by inviting everyone "to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin."