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THE EUCHARIST, THE HEART OF THE CHURCH
Posted On : 30-11-2017

Today we begin a new series of catecheses, which will direct our gaze toward the “heart” of the Church, namely, the Eucharist. It is fundamental that we Christians clearly understand the value and significance of the Holy Mass, in order to live ever more fully our relationship with God.Today we begin a new series of catecheses, which will direct our gaze toward the “heart” of the Church, namely, the Eucharist. It is fundamental that we Christians clearly understand the value and significance of the Holy Mass, in order to live ever more fully our relationship with God.

We cannot forget the great number of Christians who, throughout the world, in 2,000 years of history, have died defending the Eucharist; and how many, still today, risk their lives in order to participate in Sunday Mass. In the year 304, during the Diocletianic Persecution, a group of Christians from North Africa was surprised as they were celebrating Mass in a house, and were arrested. In the interrogation, the Roman Proconsul asked them why they had done so, knowing that it was absolutely prohibited. They responded: “Without Sunday we cannot live”, which meant: if we cannot celebrate the Eucharist, we cannot live; our Christian life would die.

Indeed, Jesus said to his disciples: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:53-54).

Those Christians from North Africa were killed because they were celebrating the Eucharist. They gave witness that one can renounce earthly life for the Eucharist, because it gives us eternal life, making us participants in Christ’s victory over death. This witness challenges us all and calls for a response as to what it means for each of us to partake in the Sacrifice of Mass and approach the Lord’s Table. Are we searching for that wellspring that “gushes forth living water” for eternal life?, that makes of our life a spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and makes of us one body in Christ? This is the most profound meaning of the Holy Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving”: thanksgiving to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who engages us and transforms us in his communion of love.

In the forthcoming catecheses I would like to answer some important questions about the Eucharist and Mass, in order to rediscover, or discover, how God’s love shines through this mystery of faith.

The Second Vatican Council was deeply inspired by the desire to lead Christians to understand the greatness of faith and the beauty of the encounter with Christ. For this reason it was necessary first of all to implement, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an appropriate renewal of the Liturgy, because the Church continually lives of it and renews herself thanks to it.

A central theme that the Council Fathers emphasized was the liturgical formation of the faithful, indispensable for a true renewal. It is precisely this renewal as well as the purpose of this series of catecheses that we are beginning today: to grow in our understanding of the great gift that God has given us in the Eucharist.

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