the Feast of Corpus Christi,
17 June 1976 at Ecône, Switzerland
In the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear brethren,
If there is
a feast which ought to be dear to our hearts, to the heart of the
priest, to the heart of the seminarian, to the hearts of the Catholic
Faithful, it is indeed the Feast of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
What in our holy religion is more grand, more beautiful, more divine
than the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist? What could Our Lord Jesus
Christ have done to manifest His charity, His love for us more efficaciously,
more obviously, than by leaving us under the appearances of bread
and wine His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity? These things
we have just sung in the Epistle, in the Gradual, in the Alleluia,
in the Gospel. We have affirmed our faith in the Holy Eucharist—this
faith which today is turned to doubt, this faith which is turned
to doubt by the attitude, by the lack of respect that men have for
the Most Holy Eucharist, for Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself present
under the appearances of bread and wine. We then should affirm more
than ever our faith in the Most Holy Eucharist.
That is why
we are happy to gather here today, around Jesus in the Eucharist,
and to manifest to Him our faith in His Divinity, and our adoration.
It is for this that already for centuries and centuries in the Church
this custom, this tradition has existed, of adoring Our Lord Jesus
Christ in the Holy Eucharist publicly—in the villages, in the cities,
in the small cities as in the great ones—in the religious houses
and in monasteries. Everywhere the Eucharist is honored; everywhere
on this day of the Feast of the Most Blessed Sacrament, or of Corpus
Christi, the Most Blessed Sacrament is honored in a public manner.
The Council of Trent declared that we must honor Our Lord Jesus
Christ publicly so that those who see, and who observe the faith
of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist, might be attracted as well
by this homage rendered to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that finally
they might believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ present
in this great Sacrament. And the Council of Trent added, Let those
who refuse to admit the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ be struck,
struck by a punishment of God—by the blinding of their hearts—if
they refuse to honor Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what
the Council of Trent said, to encourage this custom and this tradition,
already ancient, of honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ publicly in the
streets of our cities, in the countryside, as we are doing here
today. That is why in a little while we shall make the procession,
with all our faith, repeating to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Yes, we
believe, O Jesus, that You are present in the holy Sacrament. We
believe it today twice, three times, four times as strongly, for
all those who no longer believe, for those who despise You in Your
Sacrament, for all those who commit sacrileges. We shall perform
this act of faith, asking Our Lord Jesus Christ to increase our
It is this that
is the foundation and the proof of our holy Catholic Religion, as
the Scripture says so well. Could there be a religion in which God
were nearer to man, than in the Catholic Religion? It is because
it is the true religion; because God does not believe that He is
humiliating Himself in coming to us, and in giving Himself to us
in His Flesh and in His Blood. God does not humiliate Himself, He
remains God. It is we who must manifest our respect, our adoration,
for God. It is not because God acts in simplicity, in love, in charity
towards us that we should despise Him. On the contrary, we should
thank Him for this immense charity, this infinite love, this divine
love of remaining among us!
my dear brethren, try to recall the stages of your life in which
you have felt this presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy
Eucharist. Ah, I am sure that the day of your First Communion-remember
this moment, this blessed moment of your First Communion!—you thanked
God for being able to receive His Body and His Blood. How well you
were prepared by your parents, by the priests, who loved you, and
who led you to the holy altar with an infinite respect for your
hearts, for your souls, which were about to approach, which were
about to become temples of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus
Christ! And since that day, how many times you have approached the
holy altar to ask special graces which you needed—for yourselves,
for your families, for the sick, perhaps for members of your family
who were abandoning Our Lord Jesus Christ. Then you have made a
more fervent communion, you asked Our Lord, Save them, these souls,
do not abandon them. Do this by love for them; manifest Your mercy.
And then no doubt when there was a celebration in your family, or
a birthday, or a celebration which involved one of your children,
you again felt sentiments of love and of gratitude towards Our Lord
Jesus Christ—and not only in these special circumstances, but throughout
Imagine a Christian
life without the Eucharist! What would we be, without Our Lord Jesus
Christ, without this extraordinary gift that God has given us? How
we would be orphans, how we would feel alone, as if abandoned by
God! But with the Eucharist, when we need to speak to Him, to see
Him, to tell Him that we love Him, when we need special help, we
can enter our churches, kneel down before Our Lord Jesus Christ,
perhaps alone—alone before the Blessed Sacrament, and ask God: Come,
come to my aid, succor me, I have a problem, a cross to bear; come
to the aid of my family, come to the aid of my children. . . and
then you left, you went out of the church comforted.
And you felt
these same things, I am sure, after each Sunday Mass. How beautiful
it is, the Sunday Mass, with all the faithful gathered around Our
Lord Jesus Christ, participating in His Passion, participating also
in His Body and in His Blood, returning to their homes with peace
in their souls, joy in their hearts, strength in their souls, and
ready to suffer if they must with Our Lord Jesus Christ, to bear
their trials better. How often it is our job as priests to assist
the dying. How often it is our job to carry Communion to the sick.
What a joy for these souls who were suffering to receive their God
from the hand of a priest who came to bring them Communion! What
a comfort, what a source of courage for them!
Our Lord Jesus
Christ accomplished in this Sacrament an extraordinary miracle of
His love, and consequently we too ought to manifest our love for
Him. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is truly the Sacrament of charity.
Jesus could not have done more for us. It is the Sacrament of our
Faith, first of all, the mysterium fidei — mysterium fidei —
it is the mystery of our Faith—I would say the test, the test
of our Faith. It is thus that true Catholics, that true Christians
are recognized—if they have a profound, a real, an efficacious faith
in Our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. It is thus
that the Faith of Christians is recognized. Consequently this Sacrament
is truly the mystery of our faith.
It is also the
mystery of our hope. Our Lord Himself says so: "If you eat
My flesh and drink My blood, you shall have eternal life in you.
If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you shall have this eternal
life, and one day I shall raise you up." He will be our resurrection.
The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ present in our own poor bodies
is a gauge of our resurrection. It is already eternal life that
we possess within us. This eternal life will no longer leave us,
even at the hour of our death. There will remain in our souls this
germ of the resurrection of our bodies for eternity, because we
shall have received Holy Communion, because we shall have been united
to Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. It is Our Lord Himself
who says so, and this Gospel has been chosen by the Church specifically
for the Mass of the Dead. Et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo
die. "And I shall raise you up on the last day."
Mystery of faith,
mystery of our hope, mystery of charity. This is what I have just
explained to you, but I should like to insist a little more on this
efficacity of the charity produced by the Sacrament of the Eucharist,
and which we so need. Even among ourselves, among us who believe—who
have the Faith— who wish to remain Catholic and Roman until the
last hour of our lives. We especially ought to live in charity.
This Sacrament is the sign, the symbol of charity, by the charity
of Our Lord.
But why did
Our Lord choose these elements of bread and wine? You know, for
it is a comparison which is often made, but which always needs to
be recalled to mind. The bread is the fruit of grains which are
milled together, crushed, and united to make bread. These grains
must be united in such a manner that they form but one loaf of bread.
The Eucharist, the Eucharistic bread, is precisely this image of
the union of all the faithful, in this species of bread which our
eyes behold, and which is the fruit of this union of grains of wheat.
It is the same for the wine. One must also unite all the grapes
of the vine to produce wine. It is in this union that wine is made,
that wine is produced. And so Our Lord wished to choose these elements
precisely to show us that we ought to be united, united also so
as to transform ourselves in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we have not
charity in us, if we are not united among ourselves, Our Lord Jesus
Christ will not be able to act efficaciously in us, it is not possible.
Our Lord Jesus Christ cannot enter a soul that has no charity. And
how painful it is sometimes to think that some persons who nourish
themselves daily on the Eucharist are not yet entirely dominated
by this virtue of charity. They have to criticize, to cause divisions,
to make rash judgments, to manifest their antipathy towards persons
for whom they ought to manifest only friendship.
Well, let us
make a resolution today on this Feast of the Blessed Sacrament—we
who wish to keep this tradition, who wish to keep this faith in
the Holy Eucharist—to keep as well the fruits of the Holy Eucharist.
It does not suffice to keep the faith in it, it does not suffice
to say that we are attached to the tradition of faith and hope in
the Eucharist, but it is necessary too that we feel, that we have
in ourselves all the fruits, these fruits of charity, which are
so good, which manifest in such an obvious manner the presence of
Our Lord Jesus Christ in our souls.
And this I say
especially to you, my dear future priests, who are going to be ordained
in a few days, and to you, dear seminarians who are present: this
charity you need. It must manifest itself in you. How could the
faithful who will have recourse to your ministry really think that
you are priests, that you are those whom God has chosen to consecrate
the Holy Eucharist, so that He is present on the altar in His Body
and in His Blood, the greatest manifestation of charity . . . how
could they conceive that those who are the instruments of charity
of God would not manifest this same charity towards the faithful
and towards those Christians who come to receive it? And that by
your patience, by your condescendence, by your love, by your humility,
by your simplicity. You will listen to those who will come to see
you, your heart will be full of mercy for them.
You will love
to hear confessions. The ministry of confession is one of the most
beautiful manifestations of the charity of the priest. An if you
remain for hours in the confessional, is this not what the holy
Cure of Ars and all holy priests have done, who spent their lives
in the confessional? Extraordinary manifestation of their charity,
of this charity which is found in the Holy Eucharist. These things
you will do, I am certain, my dear brethren, my dear seminarians,
because that is what all the faithful who hope in Ecône expect from
you. That is what the priest is— the holy priest is a priest who
is charitable above all, who has his heart wide open to all those
who come to consult him, to all those who seek consolation from
him, and courage and firmness of faith. You then will be such priests
as these, filled with this charity of Our Lord, and you will ask
this particularly of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
We cannot think
of the Eucharist without thinking of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
for if the Virgin Mary had not pronounced her Fiat, we would
not have the Holy Eucharist either. It is because she pronounced
her Fiat that today we have the joy, the happiness of possessing
Our Lord Jesus Christ in our tabernacles, on our altars. Let us
then ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to give us this charity which
she knew so well, which she saw in her Son, Jesus.
In the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109
Vol. II, No.
3, March 1979