15 quotes from St. John Paul II on his love for the Eucharist

john paul ii eucharist St. John Paul II during an open-air Mass on June 9, 1991, in Warsaw, Poland. | Credit: JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Catholics worldwide remember St. John Paul II on his feast day, Oct. 22. His “secret” to life and all that he did, he said, was the Eucharist — Christ present on earth.

Born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920, the saint served as pope from 1978 until his death in 2005. During his nearly 27-year pontificate, his teachings transformed the Catholic Church. He is perhaps most remembered for his charismatic nature, his love for young people, his world travels, and his role in the fall of communism in Europe.

He was canonized a saint fewer than 10 years after his death, in 2014.

On his feast day, here are 15 quotes from the late Roman pontiff reflecting on his love for the Eucharist.

1. “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world … Let Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is he who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek him without tiring, welcome him without reserve, love him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever!” — Address to young people of Bologna, Sept. 27, 1997

2. “With the Eucharist the intimacy becomes total; the embrace between God and man reaches its apex.” — General audience, Oct. 11, 2000

3. “The Eucharist, memorial of Christ’s passover, is by its nature the bearer of the eternal and the infinite in human history.” — General audience, Oct. 25, 2000

4. “Bring to your encounter with Jesus, hidden in the Eucharist, all the enthusiasm of your age, all your hopes, all your desire to love.” — Mane Nobiscum Domine, Oct. 7, 2004

5. “Receiving the Eucharist means entering into a profound communion with Jesus. ‘Abide in me, and I in you’ (Jn 15:4). This relationship of profound and mutual ‘abiding’ enables us to have a certain foretaste of heaven on earth. Is this not the greatest of human yearnings? Is this not what God had in mind when he brought about in history his plan of salvation? God has placed in human hearts a ‘hunger’ for his word (cf. Am 8:11), a hunger which will be satisfied only by full union with him. Eucharistic communion was given so that we might be ‘sated’ with God here on earth, in expectation of our complete fulfillment in heaven.” — Mane Nobiscum Domine, Oct. 7, 2004

6. “Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation.” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

7. “In the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our strength and our food for the journey, and he enables us to become, for everyone, witnesses of hope.” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

8. “Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love.” — Dominicae Cenae, Feb. 24, 1980

9. “Jesus is not an idea, a sentiment, a memory! Jesus is a ‘person,’ always alive and present with us! Love Jesus present in the Eucharist. He is present in a sacrificial way in holy Mass, which renews the sacrifice of the cross. To go to Mass means going to Calvary to meet him, our Redeemer. He comes to us in holy Communion and remains present in the tabernacles of our churches, for he is our friend.” — Address to the Italian youth, Nov. 8, 1978

10. “Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

11. “And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion?” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

12. “Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

13. “The Church has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as one gift — however precious — among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work.” — Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003

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14. “The Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice.” — Dominicae Cenae, Feb. 24, 1980

15. “The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deeper way; it shows us, in fact, what value each person, our brother or sister, has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers himself equally to each one, under the species of bread and wine. If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person.” — Dominicae Cenae, Feb. 24, 1980

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