.- In his last Sunday angelus prayer at the papal Castelgandolfo summer residence before his return to the Vatican later this week, Pope Benedict said yesterday that the response of the faithful in receiving the Eucharist must be one of concrete love, conversion, and forgiveness. Thousands of pilgrims had gathered to pray the Angelus in the internal courtyard of the pontifical residence and hear the Pope's continuing reflections on the Eucharistic mystery.
The Holy Father told them that charity "does not primarily mean the beneficial act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into the human heart, moving it to give itself in turn to God and to others."
He stressed that "Jesus' entire earthly existence, from conception to death on the cross, was a single act of love" and pointed to the fact that "we can sum up our faith in these words: 'Jesus Caritas,' Jesus Love."
The Pope then recalled that during the Last Supper, the Lord entrusted the disciples with "His precious legacy, the Eucharist."
"In the Eucharist", he said, "the Lord gives Himself to us with His body, His soul and His divinity, and we become one with Him and among ourselves. Our response to His love must, therefore, be a concrete response; it must be expressed in a true conversion to love, in forgiveness, in mutual acceptance and in attention to everyone's needs."
"Many and varied are the forms of service we can offer others in everyday life," he reflected. "The Eucharist thus becomes the source of spiritual energy that renews the world in the love of Christ."
The Pope then pointed to the example of the saints "who from the Eucharist drew the strength for active and not infrequently heroic charity. My thoughts go to St. Vincent de Paul", he said, "who used to affirm: 'What joy to serve the person of Christ in His poor limbs!'" He also recalled Blessed Mother Teresa, "founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, who in the poorest of the poor loved Christ, received and contemplated each day in the consecrated Host."
"Before and more than all the saints," he said however, "divine love filled the heart of the Virgin Mary. ... Let us pray that all Christians, nourishing themselves in the Body and Blood of the Lord, grow ever more in love for God and in generous service to their brothers and sisters."