Rome (AsiaNews) - Parents who "in the name of a desacralized faith, would deprive their children of all religious rituals: in fact they would end up leaving the field open to many surrogates in the consumer society, with other rites and other signs, which more easily could become idols." It is the "educational" role of the sacred, of which Benedict XVI spoke today, celebrating, in front of the basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, the Corpus Domini. Following the liturgy, the Pope led the solemn procession (pictured) to the basilica of Saint Mary Major.
The Pope addressed the theme of the sacred by examining "two aspects, that are connected, of the mystery of the Eucharist: the worship of the Eucharist and its sacredness". A "unilateral interpretation" of Vatican II, Benedict XVI noted, has "penalized" Eucharistic adoration, "practically reducing the Eucharist to the moment of its celebration. In fact, it has been very important to recognize the centrality of the celebration, in which the Lord calls his people, he gathers it around the twofold table of the Word and the Bread of life, nourishes it and unites it to Himself in the offering of the Sacrifice. This enhancement of the liturgical assembly, in which the Lord works and realizes the mystery of communion, of course, remains valid, but it must be placed in proper balance. In fact - as often happens - to highlight one aspect, you end up sacrificing another. In this case, the emphasis placed on the celebration of the Eucharist has been to the detriment of worship, as an act of faith and prayer to the Lord Jesus, truly present in the sacrament of the altar. This imbalance has also had an impact on the spiritual life of the faithful. In fact, focusing the whole relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist only during Holy Mass, we risk emptying of his presence the rest of the time and space of existence. And so you feel less a sense of the constant presence of Jesus among us and with us, a concrete presence, nearby, including our homes, as a "beating heart" of the city, the country, the territory with its various expressions and activities. The Sacrament of the Charity of Christ must permeate all of daily life."
"In reality, it is wrong to oppose the celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with each other. It's just the opposite: the cult of the Blessed Sacrament is constituted as the spiritual 'environment' within which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth. Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this inner attitude of faith and worship, can the liturgical action express its full meaning and value. The encounter with Jesus in the Holy Mass is accomplished truly and fully when the community is able to recognize that he, in the Sacrament, inhabits his house, waiting for us, he invites us to his table, and then, after the assembly is dissolved, remains with us, with his discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices and offer them to the Father."
"Now let me turn briefly to the second aspect: the sacredness of the Eucharist. Here again we have suffered in the recent past a certain misunderstanding of the authentic message of Sacred Scripture. The Christian novelty with respect to worship has been influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the sixties and seventies of last century. It is true, and it remains valid, that the center of worship now is no longer in the rites and the ancient sacrifices, but in Christ himself, in his person, his life, in his paschal mystery. And yet from this fundamental innovation one should not conclude that the sacred no longer exists, but rather that it has found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, Divine Love Incarnate."
Jesus, "high priest of good things to come ","did not abolish the sacred, but he has brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new cult, which is so fully spiritual, but which, as long as we journey through time, still makes use of signs and rites, which will cease only at the end, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be no temple. Because of Christ, the sacredness is more real, more intense, and, as with the commandments, even more demanding! Mere ritual observance is not enough; it requires the purification of the heart and the involvement of life."
"I also like to emphasize that the sacred has an educational function, and its disappearance inevitably impoverishes culture, in particular the formation of new generations. If, for example, in the name of a secular faith that no longer needs sacred signs, this Corpus Domini procession throug the city was abolished, the spiritual profile of Rome would be "flattened", and our personal and communitarian consciousness would be weakened. Or, we may think of a mother and father who, in the name of a desacralized faith, would deprive their children of all religious rituals: in fact they would end up leaving the field open to many surrogates in the consumer society, with other rites and other signs, which more easily could become idols. God our Father, has not done so with humanity: he sent his Son into the world not to abolish, but to bring to completion even 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. In so doing he put himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but he did it within a ritual, which he commanded the apostles to perpetuate, as the supreme sign of the true Sacredness, which is He himself. With this faith, dear brothers and sisters, today and every day we celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist and worship him as the center of our lives and the heart of the world."