Catholics in south Germany celebrate Fronleichnam, the feast of Corpus Christi. A small flotilla of row boats accompany a raft on the Staffelsee in Bavaria. The festival is in honor of the Holy Eucharist.© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008All Rights Reserved, Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the square in front of Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran, then presided at the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
In his homily, the Pope spoke of the significance of today's Solemnity through the three fundamental gestures of the celebration. Firstly
"our coming together around the altar of the Lord to be together in His presence",secondly
"the procession, walking with the Lord", and finally "kneeling before the Lord in adoration".
Explaining the first of these gestures, the Holy Father quoted St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, where it is written that
"there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus'. ... In these words", said the Pope, "we feel the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound revolution in human history, which we may experience in the Eucharist where people of different ages, sexes, social conditions and political ideas come together in the presence of the Lord. The Eucharist can never be a private matter. ... The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric or exclusive about it. ... We remain united, over and above our differences, ... we open to one another in order to become a single thing in Him".
Concerning the second of these gestures, that of
"walking with the Lord",Benedict XVI affirmed that
"with the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus ... raises us up again ... and puts us on the journey with the power of this Bread of life. ... The procession of Corpus Christi teaches us that the Eucharist wants to free us from all distress and discomfort ... so that we can resume the journey with the strength God gives us in Jesus Christ.
Without the God-with-us, the God Who is near, how can we sustain the pilgrimage of life, either individually or as a society or a family of peoples?" asked the Pope. "The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God Who does not leave us to journey alone, but puts Himself at our side and shows us the way. Indeed, it is not enough to keep going, it is important to see where we are going! Progress is not enough if there are no criteria of reference".
Finally, the third element of Corpus Christi, that of
"kneeling in adoration before the Lord",is
"the most valuable and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today, ... it is a profession of freedom: those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly power, however strong",said the Pope.
"we prostrate ourselves before God, Who first bowed down towards man ... to save him and give him life, Who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet. Adoring the Body of Christ means believing that there, in that piece of bread, Christ is truly present and gives real meaning to life, to the vast universe as to the smallest of creatures, to the whole of human history as to the briefest of lives".
Following Mass, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic procession that passed along Rome's Via Merulana to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Along the way, thousands of faithful prayed and sang, accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. An open vehicle transported the Sacrament in a mostrance, before which the Holy Father prayed.