ROME (CNS): A misunderstanding of the Second Vatican Council has led some Catholics to think that Eucharistic adoration and Corpus Christi proces-sions are pietistic practices that pale in importance to the celebration of Mass, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has penalised this dimension” of Catholic faith, which was to recognise Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and worthy of adoration, the Pope said on June 7 during a Mass marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
The evening Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St John Lateran preceded a moment of silent adoration and the Pope’s traditional Cor-pus Christi procession with the Eucharist through the streets of Rome.
In his homily, the Pope told the thousands of people gathered on the basilica lawn that it was important to recognise the centrality of the celebration of Mass, the moment in which the Lord gathers his people, nourishes them and unites them to himself in offering his sacrifice.
But if Christ is seen as present in the Eucharist only during Mass, “this imbalance has repercussions on the spiritual life of the faithful”, who needed to be aware of “the constant presence of Jesus among us and with us”, the Pope said.
“The sacrament of the charity of Christ must permeate all one’s daily life,” he said.
Celebration and adoration were not in competition, the Pope said. “Worshipping the Blessed Sacrament constitutes something like the spiritual environment in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth,” he said.
Pope Benedict said Mass was most meaningful when the faithful recognised that in the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord was present, “awaits us, invites us to his table and then, after the assembly disperses, remains with us with his discrete and silent presence”.
Spending time in prolonged silence before the Eucharist “is one of the most authentic experiences of our being Church”, and it finds its complement at Mass when Catholics “celebrate the Eucharist, listening to the word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the bread of life”.
Truly entering into communion with someone, he said, was accompanied by “exchanging glances and intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration”. “If this dimension is missing, even sacramental communion can become a superficial gesture on our part,” the Pope said.
Pope Benedict said another misunderstanding – one influenced “by a certain secular mentality” of the 1960s and ’70s – was the idea that the Bible taught that with the coming of Christ, rituals and sacrifices no longer should have meaning; basically, he said, some people believed “the sacred no longer exists”.
It was true that Christ inaugurated a new form of worship, one tied less to a place and a ritual and more to his person, but people still needed “signs and rites”, the Pope said.
In fact, without its annual Corpus Christi procession, “the spiritual profile of Rome” would change.
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