First of all, a reflection on the value of Eucharistic
worship, in particular adoration of the Most
Blessed Sacrament. It is the experience that we will
also live after the Mass, before the procession, during
its development and at its end. A unilateral interpretation
of Vatican Council II has penalized this dimension,
restricting the Eucharist in practice to the celebratory
moment. In fact, it was very important to recognize
the centrality of the celebration, in which the Lord
convokes his people, gathers them around the twofold
table of the Word and the Bread of life, nourishes them
and unites them to Himself in the offering of the Sacrifice.
This assessment of the liturgical assembly, in
which the Lord works and realizes his mystery of communion,
remains of course valid, but it must be placed
in the right balance. In fact – as often happens – the
stressing of one aspect ends up by sacrificing another.
In this case, the accentuation placed on the celebration
of the Eucharist has been to the detriment of adoration,
as act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus,
really present in the Sacrament of the altar. This imbalance
has also had repercussions on the spiritual life of
the faithful. In fact, concentrating the whole relationship
with the Eucharistic Jesus only at the moment of
Holy Mass risks removing his presence from the rest of
time and the existential space. And thus, perceived less
is the sense of the constant presence of Jesus in our
midst and with us, a concrete, close presence among
our homes, as “beating Heart” of the city, of the country,
of the territory with its various expressions and
activities. The Sacrament of the Charity of Christ must
permeate the whole of daily life.
In reality, it is a mistake to oppose celebration
and adoration, as if they were in competition with one
another. It is precisely the contrary: the worship of the
Most Blessed Sacrament is as the spiritual
“environment” in which the community can celebrate
the Eucharist well and in truth. Only if it is preceded,
accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of
faith and adoration, can the liturgical action express its
full meaning and value. The encounter with Jesus in the
Holy Mass is truly and fully acted when the community
is able to recognize that, in the Sacrament, He dwells in
his house, waits for us, invites us to his table, then, after
the assembly is dismissed, stays with us, with his
discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with
his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices
and offering them to the Father.
Now I would like to pass briefly to the second
aspect: the sacredness of the Eucharist. Also here we
heard in the recent past of a certain misunderstanding
of the authentic message of Sacred Scripture. The
Christian novelty in regard to worship was influenced
by a certain secularist mentality of the 60s and 70s of
the past century. It is true, and it remains always
valid, that the center of worship is now no longer in
the rites and ancient sacrifices, but in Christ himself,
in his person, in his life, in his paschal mystery. And
yet, from this fundamental novelty it must not be concluded
that the sacred no longer exists, but that it has
found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, incarnate divine
Love. The Letter to the Hebrews, speaks to us precisely
of the novelty of the priesthood of Christ, “high
priest of the good things that have come” (Hebrews
9:11), but it does not say that the priesthood is finished.
Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant”
(Hebrews 9:15), established in his blood, which
purifies our “conscience from dead works” (Hebrews
9:14). He did not abolish the sacred, but brought it to
fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship, which is,
yes, fully spiritual but which however, so long as we
are journeying in time, makes use again of signs and
rites, of which there will be no need only at the end, in
the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will no longer be
a temple (cf. Revelation 21:22). Thanks to Christ, the
sacred is more true, more intense and, as happens with
the Commandments, also more exacting! Ritual observance
is not enough, but what is required is the
purification of the heart and the involvement of life.
I am also pleased to stress that the sacred has
an educational function, and its disappearance inevitably
impoverishes the culture, in particular, the formation
of the new generations. …God, our Father, has
not acted thus with humanity: he has sent his Son into
the world not to abolish, but to give fulfillment also to
the sacred. At the height of this mission, in the Last
Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body
and his Blood, the Memorial of his Paschal Sacrifice.
By so doing, he put himself in the place of the ancient
sacrifices, but he did so within a rite, which he commanded
the Apostles to perpetuate, as the supreme
sign of the true sacred, which is Himself. With this
faith, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate today and
every day the Eucharistic Mystery and we adore it as
the center of our life and heart of the world. Amen.
Pope Francis