As the whole Church celebrates the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are invited to turn our gaze to the mystery and gift of the Eucharist, Jesus who stays with us in His Body and Blood until the end of the world.  St. John Paul the Great crowned his pontificate with the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003).  We offer a few exerpts from the complete text as a reflection on the gift of the Eucharist, the center of our lives.

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Tabernacle and altar in our mission in Papua New Guinea

“The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfilment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity. Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the People of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey towards her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope.”  Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #1

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Eucharistic Procession in the Streets of Philadelphia

“The Church was born of the paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist, which is in an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands at the centre of the Church’s life. This is already clear from the earliest images of the Church found in the Acts of the Apostles: “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42).” Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #3

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Children and a sister pray before the Blessed Sacrament in Italy

“In the paschal event and the Eucharist which makes it present throughout the centuries, there is a truly enormous “capacity” which embraces all of history as the recipient of the grace of the redemption. This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist.” Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #5

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One of the village chapels of our mission in Tanzania

“When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop and as the Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it. I remember the parish church of Niegowić, where I had my first pastoral assignment, the collegiate church of Saint Florian in Krakow, Wawel Cathedral, Saint Peter’s Basilica and so many basilicas and churches in Rome and throughout the world.

I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares… This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! 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, #8

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Preparing the sacred vessels for the gifts and the sacrifice

“In giving his sacrifice to the Church, Christ has also made his own the spiritual sacrifice of the Church, which is called to offer herself in union with the sacrifice of Christ. This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning all the faithful: “Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life, they offer the divine victim to God, and offer themselves along with it“(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11.).” Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #13

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Daily Adoration in our convent in Washington, DC

 

“Adoro te devote, latens Deitas, we shall continue to sing with the Angelic Doctor. Before this mystery of love, human reason fully experiences its limitations. One understands how, down the centuries, this truth has stimulated theology to strive to understand it ever more deeply.” Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #15

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Mass with young adults in the Redwood Forests of California

 

“For centuries those Decrees guided theology and catechesis, and they are still a dogmatic reference-point for the continual renewal and growth of God’s People in faith and in love for the Eucharist. In times closer to our own, three Encyclical Letters should be mentioned: the Encyclical Mirae Caritatis of Leo XIII (28 May 1902), the Encyclical Mediator Dei of Pius XII (20 November 1947) and the Encyclical Mysterium Fidei of Paul VI (3 September 1965).” Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #9

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Benediction at the IVE Seminary

 

May we all grow in our love and closeness to Jesus Christ Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament this Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  May Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament draw us ever closer to her Son.