.- Touching on key catechetical points like the true nature of the Eucharist and the need for frequent confession, Pope Benedict showed his fatherly side as he spoke to children Saturday about always keeping Jesus as the center of their lives. Some 100,000 children who received their first Communion this year, accompanied by family and catechists, gathered in St. Peterâs Square to take part in a meeting of prayer and catechesis with the Holy Father entitled: âThe bread of heaven.â
Speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope replied to questions of some of the children sitting nearby.
Responding to one question, the Pope recalled the day of his own First Communion: "It was a Sunday in March 1936, 69 years ago," he said, "the sun was shining, the church was beautiful, and there was music playing. ... But my most precious memory is that of having understood that Jesus had entered my heart, He visited me, and with Jesus, God Himself was with me.â
âThis is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the rest of life,â he said. âThat day I made the promise: 'Lord, I always want to be with You, but above all I want You to be with me."
One girl asked the Pope why she must go to confession before receiving Communion, if our sins are always the same.
Smiling, the Holy Father answered: "It is true that our sins are always the same. Yet do we not clean our house, our room, at least once a week, though the dirt is always the same? If we do not, we run the risk of the dirt accumulating, though we may not see it.â
âThe sameâ, he said, âis true of our souls. If we never confess, our souls are overlooked. I may be pleased with myself, yet I do not understand that I have to improve constantly in order to progress. Confession helps us to have a more open conscience and thus to mature in a spiritual and human way."
Answering another question about Jesus' invisible presence in the Eucharist, the Pope said: "We cannot see Him, yet there are many things we cannot see but that exist and are essential. For example, we cannot see our own reason and intelligence ... yet they exist for we can speak and think.â
âWe cannot see electricity,â he said, âbut we feel its effects, such as light. We cannot see the most profound things, but we can see and feel their effects."
To a little girl who asked him what to do if her parents did not go to Sunday Mass, Benedict suggested that she speak with them "with great love and respect" saying, "dear mummy, dear daddy, did you know there is something very important for us all, for you too? Meeting Jesus."
The meeting concluded with adoration and solemn Benediction, at which, many of the prelates from the General Synod of Bishops, currently meeting in Rome, were in attendance.
The Pope explained to the children that to adore "is to recognize that Jesus is the Lord, the center of our lives. To pray is to say: Jesus, I am Yours, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion with You. ... The absence of God, is a harmful deficiency, He is the light and the guide of our lives, of which we have need."