The Pope also asked the faithful for their prayers during the upcoming Year for Priests, which begins on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on June 19th next, feast of priestly consecration.
“Corpus Domini –said the pope – is a manifestation of God, proof that God is love. I a unique and peculiar way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, what it is and what it does. It tells us for example that it is regenerated in the gifting of oneself to the other, that in giving we receive, it is never lacking, it never runs out – as the hymn of St Thomas Aquinas intones: ‘nec sumptus consumitur’. Love transforms all things, and therefore it is understood that at the very heart of today’s feast of Corpus Domini there is the mystery of transubstantiation, the sign of Christ-Caritas that transforms the world. Looking at Him and adoring Him we say: yes love exists, and because it exists things can change for the better and we can hope. It is the hope that comes from the Christ’s love that gives us the strength to live and to face difficulties. This is why we sing as we carry the Blessed Sacrament in procession; we sing and we praise God who revealed himself to us by hiding himself in the symbol of the broken bread. We all need this bread, because the path to freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring”.
Benedict XVI also explained the “cosmic dimension” of the feast of Corpus Domini: “Corpus Domini – he continued - is a day that involves a cosmic dimension, the heaven and the earth. It evokes firstly – at least in our hemisphere- this beautiful and fragrant season in which spring gives way to summer, the sun is strong in the sky and in the fields the crops mature. The feast days of the Church –as in the Hebrew tradition – are intertwined with the rhythm of the solar year, of sowing and reaping. This is particularly true of today’s solemnity, at the centre of which is the bread, fruit of the earth and the heavens. This is why the Eucharistic bread is a visible sign of He in who the earth and the heavens. God and man became one. And this shows that the bond between the seasons and the liturgical year in not merely exterior”.
After the Marian Prayer Benedict XVI related the “Bread of Life” that we celebrate today to the “hundreds of millions of people who suffer from hunger”. This – continued the pontiff – “is an absolutely unacceptable reality, which is difficult to overcome despite the efforts of the past decades. Therefore it is my hope that on the occasion of the next UN Conference and within international institutions, steps are taken that are shared by the entire international community and strategic choices are made, (choices that are) sometimes not easy to accept, but necessary to ensure basic nutrition and a dignified life for everyone, in the present and in the future,”.
The Pope’s appeal to the UN is urgent because as he explained: “From the 24-26 of this month a conference on the current global economic and financial crisis and its impact on development will be held in the United Nations in New York. I invoke upon all of the Conference participants, as well as those responsible for public life and the fate of the planet, the spirit of wisdom and human solidarity, so that the current crisis may become an opportunity, capable of favouring greater attention to the dignity of every human being and the promotion of an equal distribution of decisional power and resources, with particular attention to the unfortunately ever growing number of poor”.
Before greeting pilgrims in different languages, Benedict XVI also recalled the beginning of the Year for Priests, with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19th. The year, called by the Pope to support vocations to the priesthood, takes place on the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint Cure d’Ars (John Maria Vianney). “I trust in your prayers – said the pope – this new spiritual initiative, which follows on from the Pauline Year that is near to its conclusion. May this new jubilee year be a propitious occasion for deepening the value and the importance of the priestly mission and to ask the Lord to gift his Church numerous and holy priests”.