“Today the liturgy invites us to cheer up, because Easter, the day of Christ’s victory over sin and death, is drawing nearer,” the Holy Father said at midday, after returning from a Mass he had celebrated at Rome’s Casal del Marmo, Juvenile Prison.
“Where is the spring of Christian joy but in the Eucharist, which Christ left as a spiritual food, while we are pilgrims on this earth?”
“This Eucharistic food,” he continued, “provides for the faithful of all ages a profound joy, which is at one with love and with peace, and which springs forth from one’s communion with God and with one’s brothers,” the Holy Father said before the Marian Prayer.
The Holy Father also spoke of his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, which was presented last Tuesday and which is written on the theme of “the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.”
The text, explained Benedict XVI, “is an expression of the faith of the universal Church in the Eucharistic Mystery, which continues the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of my revered predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II”.
Pope Benedict pointed out the connection between the post-synodal exhortation and his his first encyclical “Deus caritas est.”
“That’s why I called it ‘Sacramentum caritatis,’” he said, “taking inspiration from a fine definition of the Eucharist by St Thomas Aquinas, ‘The Sacrament of love.’”
“Yes,” he added, “in the Eucharist, Christ wanted to give us ‘His’ love, which drove Him to offer His life up for us on the Cross.”
“In His Last Supper, as he washed the Apostles’ feet, Jesus left us the Commandment of love,” he said.
But, warned the Pope, “since this is possible only if we stay bonded to Him, as shoots to a vine, He decided to stay Himself amidst us in the Eucharist, so that we could ‘stay in Him’. Therefore, as we feed on His Body and on His Blood with faith, His love enters us and enables us, in turn, to give our life for our neighbors.” This, he added, “is the spring of Christian joy, the joy of love.”
Finally, the Pope recalled that next to Mary, who he called the epitome of the “Eucharistic woman,” God placed Saint Joseph to guard the redeemer. “I particularly invoke this great Saint,” whose Feast the Church celebrates on Monday, he said, “so that by believing, celebrating, and living with faith the Eucharistic Mystery, the people of God may be infused with Christ’s love and may spread its fruits of joy and peace across the whole of mankind.”
.- Sunday, on the day when the Church celebrated “Laetare” Sunday, Pope Benedict used his weekly Angelus address to remind the Church that the Eucharist is the font of Christian Joy.