|THE REAL PRESENCE||CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST|
Our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II called us repeatedly to take up the work of the New Evangelization, that is, to bring Christ to a totally secularized world by teaching, celebrating and living our Catholic faith as if for the first time. He constantly directed us to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the saints, also of our own time, as examples of the holiness of life, to which the New Evangelization calls us for the salvation of our souls and the transformation of our world, and as friends and intercessors in meeting the many challenges of leading a holy life. He urged us to be one with our Blessed Mother and the whole communion of saints in looking upon the Face of Christ, in hearing His invitation to put out into the deep (Lk 5:4), and in putting aside our doubts and fears in order to bring Him to the world.
The last three major documents of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate form a unity in presenting to us the program of the New Evangelization and in urging us to embrace it with the enthusiasm and energy of the first disciples and the first missionaries to our continent and nation. They are the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (January 6, 2001); the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, On the Most Holy Rosary (October 16, 2002); and the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church (April 17, 2003 – Holy Thursday).
The goal of the New Evangelization is, as Pope John Paul II explains in the Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, to rekindle our loving wonder before the Holy Eucharist, the great Mystery of Faith. Let us read again his words to us:
I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic amazement by the present Encyclical Letter, in continuity with the Jubilee heritage which I have left to the Church in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte and its Marian crowning, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the “program” which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the Third Millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the New Evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize Him wherever He manifests Himself, in His many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of His Body and His Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by him she is enlightened (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 6).
The Holy Eucharist is the source at which Christ’s life is nourished within us with the incomparable food which is His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Holy Eucharist is the highest expression of our life in Christ, for it unites us sacramentally to Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross, which is made always new in the celebration of the Holy Mass.
In the last years of his pontificate, our late and beloved Pontiff directed his attention, above all else, to teaching us about the Holy Eucharist, and to restoring the discipline by which the Holy Mass is celebrated, and the Holy Eucharist is reposed in the tabernacle and worshiped outside of the Holy Mass. In the final year of his service as Vicar of Christ, he called us to observe the Year of the Eucharist (October 2004 to October 2005). The Year of the Eucharist began with the International Eucharistic Congress, held at Guadalajara in Mexico, and concluded with the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod Bishops, The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and the Mission of the Church, at which Pope John Paul II’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, presided.
As we carry forward the work of the New Evangelization, the Eucharistic Mystery is the source of our direction and strength. At the same time, the deeper knowledge and love of the Holy Eucharist, born of our loving wonder and amazement at the mystery of God’s love for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, is our goal. To assist us in reawakening and deepening our love of the Holy Eucharist, The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, an apostolate founded by the late Father John A. Hardon, S.J., tireless apostle and catechist of the Eucharist, has worked with the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum (founded to promote and deepen the veneration of the Holy Martyrs), to present, in English, the story of 126 miracles associated with faith in and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Each of the miracles is venerated at a shrine, all of which have been approved by the Diocesan Bishop and some of which have the approval of the Holy See. Cooperating with the Pontifical Academy, the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association has made available in English the Vatican International Exhibit, The Eucharistic Miracles of the World.
The miracles presented in the Vatican International Exhibit, like all miracles, are gifts from God to witness to some truth or to testify to someone’s sanctity (Father John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 352). It should not surprise us that God has granted so many miracles to deepen our knowledge and love of His greatest gift to us, the gift of the Body and Blood of His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Heavenly Food of our earthly pilgrimage and the Medicine of eternal life.
The Eucharistic Miracles of the World provides a wonderful service to the work of the New Evangelization. The popular devotion associated with each miracle is a most worthy vehicle of the New Evangelization. As Pope Paul VI taught us, in his Magna Carta on the New Evangelization, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, On Evangelization in the Modern World (December 8, 1975), popular piety, if it is well oriented, above all by a pedagogy of evangelization, offers a great good to the life of the Church. Describing the fruits of popular piety, Pope Paul VI observed:
It manifests a thirst for God which only the simple and poor can know. It makes people capable of generosity and sacrifice even to the point of heroism, when it is a question of manifesting belief. It involves an acute awareness of profound attributes of God: fatherhood, providence, loving and constant presence. It engenders interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the Cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others, devotion (Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 48d).
The piety and devotion surrounding the Eucharistic miracles down the Christian centuries has borne its richest fruit in the total love of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and in the readiness to give one’s life for love of our Eucharistic Lord. The devout study of the Eucharistic miracles inspires in us a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence with us in the Holy Eucharist.
With the publication of The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, the remarkable Vatican International Exhibit of the same title can be brought into the homes of the faithful, into parishes and schools, and into the hands of all who desire to come to know or to ponder anew the Mystery of Faith, which is inexhaustible in its richness for our life and salvation. It is my hope that the study of The Eucharistic Miracles of the World will inspire in every reader a greater holiness of life, a life patterned on and nourished by the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ. In a particular way, it is my hope that it will lead all to a deeper appreciation of the call which our Lord gives to each of us, the call to put out into the deep, especially by embracing our vocation in life with an undivided heart. For children and young people, may it lead them to reflect upon God’s call in their lives and especially to ask God whether He may be calling them to the ordained priesthood or to the consecrated life.
What can bring us greater joy and peace than to draw near to our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. May both the Vatican International Exhibit, The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, and the book which memorializes it be worthy and effective instruments of the New Evangelization. May they lead us to Christ in the Holy Eucharist, so that, one with Christ, we can bring Him to our world.
Adoremus in aeternum Sanctissimum Sacramentum.
The Most Reverend Raymond Leo Burke
Archbishop of Saint Louis
August 6, 2006 – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST
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