Sunday, June 18, 2006

Today is Corpus Christi Sunday; Pope: consecrated Host is truly Bread from heaven

As Catholic Culture reminds us, Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church's official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure.

In preparation for today's solemnity, Pope Benedict made the following remarks on June 15

Pope Benedict XVI on the solemnity of Corpus Christi: “The Host is our manna with which the Lord nourishes us, it is truly Bread from heaven, in which he gives Himself”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - On Thursday June 15 Solemnity of Corpus Christi Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open air Mass in front of the Cathedral of Rome St John’s and then presided the Procession with the Blessed Sacrament which moved to the Basilica of St Mary Major, where he imparted the Eucharistic Blessing. During the homily the Pope meditated on the signs of the bread and wine: “Jesus chose bread and wine to be a sign of his presence. In each of these signs he gives himself entirely not only part. The Risen Lord is not divided. He is a person, and through signs he comes to us and becomes one with us. However each sign, in its own typical manifestation, represents one particular aspect of His mystery and speaks to us that we may learn to understand a little more of the mystery of Jesus”.

The consecrated Host is “the simplest type of bread and food, made of a little flour and water. In this way it appears to be food for the poor, the first to whom the Lord destines his presence” the Pope explained. During Mass the bread is called “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands”, since in it is enclosed the daily labour of those who work the earth, sow and harvest and those who then make the bread. “Nevertheless the bread is not only our product, something man made; it is a fruit of the earth and therefore also a gift - the Pope said -. Because the fact that the earth produces fruit is not to our credit; only the Creator can render the soil fertile.” The water which is needed to make the bread is a gift of God: “At a time when we hear of desertification and repeated warnings that mankind and animals are in danger of dying of thirst in regions without water, at this time we are newly aware of that water is an immense! gift and just how impossible it is for us to obtain it on our own. So looking a little more closely at this small piece of white Host, this bread of the poor, we see it is a synthesis of creation”.

The sign of bread has another message: “In the bread made of ground wheat grains the mystery of the Passion is concealed - the Holy Father explained -. Flour, ground grain, presupposes the death and resurrection of the wheat grain. Since it is ground and baked it bears within itself once again the mystery of the Passion. Only through dying comes the rising, the fruit and the new life”. The early Church found in the bread yet another symbolism: “the ground grains which become bread is a process of unification. We, who are many, must become one bread and one body, Saint Paul tells us. Therefore the sign of bread becomes both a hope and a task.”

“In a very similar way the sign of wine also speaks to us - said Benedict XVI -. While bread reminds us of daily life, simplicity and pilgrimage, wine expresses the exquisiteness of creation: the joyful banquet which God plans to offer us at the end of time and to which in advance, here and now, again and again, he refers with this sign. However the wine too speaks of the Passion: the vine must be repeatedly pruned in order to be purified; the grapes must mature in the sun and the rain and then be crushed: only through this passion does a fine wine mature”.


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