Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine" ("Stay with us, Lord"), on the occasion of the October 2004-October 2005 Year of the Eucharist, was presented today in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Francis Arinze, who said that the "the underlying theme of the Apostolic Letter is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus."
The Letter, which consists of an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, begins with the words "'Stay with us, for it is towards evening,'" said Cardinal Arinze. "This was the heartfelt invitation that the two disciples, walking towards Emmaus the very evening of the Resurrection, issued to the Wayfarer who had joined them along the road. Filled with sad thoughts, they could not imagine that that stranger was their very Master, by now risen."
"The Year of the Eucharist," he added, "will see the Church especially committed to living the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus continues to walk with us and to introduce us to the mysteries of God, opening us up to the deep meaning of Sacred Scriptures. At the summit of this encounter, Jesus breaks for us 'the bread of life'."
In Chapter One, "In the Wake of Vatican II and the Jubilee," said the prefect, "the Holy Father underlines that the Year of the Eucharist strongly expresses the focus on Jesus Christ and the contemplation of His face that is marking the pastoral path of the Church, especially since Vatican Council II. In Christ, the Word made flesh, not only is the mystery of God revealed, but the mystery of man is also revealed to us." The Pope writes, in fact: "Christ is at the center not only of the history of the Church, but also the history of mankind."
Chapter Two is entitled "The Eucharist, Mystery of Light." The cardinal pointed out that "Jesus spoke of Himself as 'the light of the world'. In the obscurity of faith, the Eucharist becomes for the believer a mystery of light because it introduces him to the depth of the divine mystery."
"The Eucharistic celebration nourishes the disciple of Christ with two 'meals'," he continued, "that of the Word of God and that of the Bread of Life. When minds are enlightened and hearts burn, signs speak. In the Eucharistic signs the mystery is in some way open to the eyes of the believer. The two disciples of Emmaus recognize Jesus as they break bread."
Cardinal Arinze explained Chapter Three, "'The Eucharist, Source and Sign of Communion,'" pointing out that "the disciples of Emmaus prayed the Lord to remain 'with' them. Jesus did even more. He gave Himself in the Eucharist to remain 'in' them: 'Remain in Me and I in you'.
"Eucharistic communion promotes unity among those who receive communion," he said. "The Eucharist also shows ecclesial communion and calls the members of the Church to share their spiritual and material goods. ... During this Year of the Eucharist special importance must be given to Sunday Masses in parishes."
In the final chapter, "Eucharist, Principle and Project of Mission," says the prefect, "the two disciples of Emmaus, having recognized the Lord, 'left without delay' to communicate the good news. The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist drives every Christian to give witness, to evangelize the Church. We must thank the Lord and never hesitate to show our faith in public. The Eucharist compels us to show solidarity towards others, becoming promoters of harmony, peace, and, especially, of sharing with the needy."
In the Conclusion of the letter "the Holy Father prays that this Year of the Eucharist will be for everyone a precious occasion for a renewed awareness of the incomparable treasure that Christ has entrusted to His Church," said the Cardinal. "The Holy Father does not ask for anything extraordinary, but rather that all initiatives be marked by great spiritual intensity. Priority must be given to Sunday Masses and to Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass."