Angelus: the Eucharist, driving force behind the mission of Francis Xavier and Therese of Lisieux
Vatican City (AsiaNews) Before the Marian Prayer, Benedict XVI recalled the Synod of the Eucharist once again from a "missionary perspective". Looking out of the window of his study, he said the Eucharistic sacrament "is the propeller at the centre of the entire evangelizing activity of the Church". The mission offers "Christ to men and not only ideas or values, however noble and important".
The Pope also recalled the patron saints of the missions, Francis Xavier and Therese of the Child Jesus, whose life was moulded by the mystery of the Eucharist. The Synod will close on 23 October, the World Day for Missions. Benedict XVI asked all the faithful to pray to Our Lady of the Rosary for the fruits of the Synodal Assembly. In this regard, the pope said the prayer of the rosary, after some time of neglect, is spreading once again thanks to the "example and teaching" of the deceased John Paul II.
Below is the address of Benedict XVI before the Angelus prayer:
Dear brothers and sisters!
The Eucharistic Celebration with which we inaugurated the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has just concluded at the Basilica of St Peter.
The Synodal Fathers, coming from all over the world, together with experts and other delegates, will live a privileged time of prayer throughout the coming three weeks, together with the Successor of Peter. They will reflect on the theme: "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church". Why this theme? Isn't it perhaps a subject taken for granted, fully covered? In reality, Catholic doctrine about the Eucharist, defined authoritatively by the Council of Trent, asks that it be taken in, lived and transmitted by the Church Community in a way which is ever new and adapted to the times. The Eucharist could be considered also as a "lens" through which the face and the journey of the Church which Christ founded so that every man may know the love of God and find in it the fullness of life may be continuously verified. For this, the loved Pope John Paul II wanted to dedicate an entire year to the Eucharist, a year which will close with the end of the Synodal Assembly on 23 October, the Sunday in which the World Day for Missions will be celebrated.
This coincidence helps us to contemplate the Eucharistic mystery from a missionary perspective. The Eucharist, in effect, is the propeller at the centre of the entire evangelizing activity of the Church, somewhat as the heart is in the human body. Christian communities, without the Eucharistic celebration in which they are nourished by the twofold meal of the Word and the Body of Christ, would lose their authentic nature: they can only transmit Christ to men and not merely ideas or values, however noble and important in so much as they are "Eucharistic". The Eucharist has moulded outstanding missionary apostles in all status in life: bishops, priests, religious, lay people; saints in active and contemplative life. We think, on the one hand, of St Francis Xavier, who was prompted by the love of Christ to go as distant as the Far East to announce the Gospel; on the other hand, we think of St Therese of Lisieux, a young Carmelite sister, whose memory we marked only yesterday. She lived out her ardent apostolic spirit in the cloisters, deserving to be called patron of missionary activities of the Church, together with St Frances Xavier.
We invoke their protection on the synod deliberations as we do those of the Guardian Angels who we call to mind today. We pray with faith especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary who on 7 October we venerate with the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. The month of October is dedicated to the holy Rosary, a unique contemplative prayer which leads us, guided by the heavenly Mother of the Lord, to fix our gaze on the face of the Redeemer, to follow his mystery of joy, light, sorrow and glory. This ancient prayer is experiencing a providential revival, thanks also to the example and teaching of the loved Pope John Paul II. I invite you to re-read his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae and to put its suggestions into practice on personal, family and community levels. To Mary we entrust the deliberations of the Synod: let Her be the one to lead the whole Church to an ever clearer understanding of its mission at the service of the Redeemer who is really present in the sacrament of the Eucharist.