Pope John Paul II has declared a Year of the Eucharist for the Universal Church. It will begin with the Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2004 and end with the Synod of bishops at the Vatican in October 2005. The theme of the synod will be “The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church."
The Pope made the announcement today, on the feast of Corpus Christi, during the mass celebrated at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Following the mass, the Blessed Sacrament was carried in a procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major.
“I wanted to dedicate the first encyclical of the new millennium to the Eucharist, and I am pleased to announce to you now a special Year of the Eucharist,” he told those assembled at St. John Lateran.
“There is an intimate relationship between celebrating the Eucharist and announcing Christ,” said the Pope.
Entering into communion with Christ through the Eucharist signifies becoming missionaries of the Eucharist, he said. “In a certain sense, that means making the Eucharist contemporary in every era, until the Lord comes again,” he added.
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us relive this wonderful reality on today’s solemnity of Corpus Christi, on which the Church not only celebrates the Eucharist, but carries it solemnly in procession, announcing publicly that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world,” he said.
“Christ, ‘living bread descended from heaven,’ is the only one who can satisfy the hunger of man in every time and in every part of the world,” said the pontiff. However, Christ does not want to do this alone, the Pope said. He wants to involve his disciples.
In the mass, through ordained ministers, Christ gives his Body and his Blood for all of mankind, he said. “And those who nourish themselves at his altar, become living instruments of his presence of love, mercy and peace.”
The Pope also encouraged the faithful to entrust themselves to Mary. “Looking to Mary, we can understand better the transforming power of the Eucharist,” said the pontiff. “Being attentive to her, we will find in the mystery of the Eucharist the courage and the strength to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve him in others.”