“With the Eucharist we feel this sense of belonging to the Church,” Francis said during today’s General Audience, sparing a thought for Italy’s flood affected populations
With the Eucharist we feel this sense of belonging to the Church, the people of God.” This is why we go to Mass on Sunday. This is why “it is important that children be well prepared for First Communion and that every child make it, because it is the first strong, strong step of this belonging to Jesus Christ, after Baptism and Confirmation.” Today Francis continued his catechesis on the sacraments during his General Audience which was held in St. Peter’s Square and not indoors, in the Paul VI Hall despite the rain. This was because of the huge numbers of pilgrims that have been attending the Wednesday Audiences.
The Eucharist, “along with baptism and confirmation is at the heart of Christian initiation and constitutes the source of Church life,” the Pope said. “Jesus’ gesture made at the Last Supper is the ultimate thanksgiving to the Father for His love, for His mercy’. Thanksgiving ‘ in Greek is ‘Eucharist’ . And that is why the sacrament is called ‘Eucharist, it’ is the supreme thanksgiving to the Father, who loved us enough to give us His Son, for love.” “That’s why the term Eucharist sums up that gesture, that gesture of God and man together, a gesture of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. So the celebration of the Eucharist is much more than just a banquet: it is the memorial of the Passion of Jesus, the central mystery of salvation”. “Memorial” is not just a memory, a simple memory; it means that every time we celebrate this sacrament we share in the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.”
The Eucharist, he went on to add in an off-the-cuff comment, “is central to God’s salvation: “It is a great gift and this is why it is so important to go to Mass on Sundays, to go to Mass not only to pray, but to receive Communion, the bread which is the Body of Jesus Christ that saves us, forgives us, unites us to the Father. It is a good thing to do. And we go to Mass every Sunday because it is the day of the resurrection of their Lord. That is why Sunday is so important to us. And with the Eucharist we feel this sense of belonging to the Church, the people of God, the body of God, Jesus Christ. We will never fully grasp its value and wealth. Let us ask Him then, that this Sacrament continue to keep His presence alive in the Church and to shape our community in charity and communion, according to the Father’s heart. We continue to do this throughout our lives, but begin doing it the day of our First communion. It is important that children be well prepared for First Communion and that every child makes it, because it is the first strong, strong step of this belonging to Jesus Christ, after Baptism and Confirmation.”
Today’s General Audience went ahead despite the rain: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning, but not good day, it’s not a very nice day today…” the Pope said at the start of his catechesis. The usual jeep ride round St. Peter’s Square was shorter, as was the time he dedicated to faithful at the end of the Audience. The sick gathered in the Paul VI Hall to greet the Pope before the Audience. Francis again reminded his audience of Italy’s flood victims as he did at last Sunday’s Angelus: “I would like you to spare a special thought for the many people, brothers and sisters of ours, who are suffering as a result of the heavy rainfall in Tuscany and here in Rome.” “Let us all pray and be close to them in their efforts, showing them our solidarity and love.” Among the people Francis greeted at the end of today’s Audience were Italian Defence Minister Mario Mauro, Neapolitan writer Luciano de Crescenzo and the mother and lawyers of Victor Saldano, the Argentinean national who was sentenced to death in Texas.