Thursday, June 23, 2011

As we approached Corpus Christi, a look at JPII's Final Encyclical on the Eucharist

Take a short tour of the last encyclical that we received from Pope John Paul II on the Eucharist, at my column this week at the Catholic Portal at Patheos...

In the encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Blessed John Paul II sought to rekindle in Catholics our Eucharistic amazement… “to contemplate the face of Christ” anew, and to receive Christ in the most intimate way possible this side of heaven.

When it was released in 2003, I wondered if Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (“On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church.”) would be his last encyclical. In frail health from advancing Parkinson’s disease, I marveled at both the unrelenting schedule and prolific output that came from John Paul II. Yet, here it was, his fourteenth encyclical. From my vantage point, the Holy Eucharist empowered and animated the ailing pope.

Blessed John Paul II not only taught the Second Vatican Council proclamation that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium, 11), ” he witnessed to it in his heroic person.

The Catholic Church celebrates Corpus Christi Sunday this coming week, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. This is a prime opportunity to examine our own relationship with the Eucharist in the microcosm of our lives… to draw our very lifeblood from Christ in the Eucharist.


In the Eucharist, we see and find and receive Jesus. Recall the disciples along the road to Emmaus in the post-Resurrection accounts. Their amazement and joy at discovering Jesus alive -- in the context of their daily lives -- was uncontained.

To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his body and his blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by him she is fed and by him she is enlightened...

Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:31). (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, par. 6.)
There's more here. 

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