In No. 6, the Pope is explicit in expressing the objectives of his 14th
"I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic 'amazement' by the present
Encyclical Letter, in continuity with the Jubilee heritage which I have left to
the Church in the Apostolic Letter 'Novo Millennio Ineunte' and its Marian
crowning, 'Rosarium Virginis Mariae,'" he says. The latter is a reference
to his apostolic letter of last October on the rosary.
"To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is
the program which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third
millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with
the enthusiasm of the new evangelization," he continues.
"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," he adds.
Therefore, the Holy Father says: "How could I not feel the need to urge
everyone to experience it ever anew?"
Lastly, in No. 10, John Paul II explains that this document was necessary
because, although "the liturgical reform inaugurated by the [Second
Vatican] Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and
fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the
faithful," unfortunately "alongside these lights, there are also
"In fact, there are places where there is almost total abandonment of
the practice of Eucharistic adoration," he writes. "To this must be
added, in different ecclesial contexts, certain abuses that contribute to darken
correct faith and Catholic doctrine on this admirable Sacrament."
"The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and
depreciation," the Holy Father concludes.
Holy See's Summary of Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia"
Issued by Vatican Press Office
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2003 (Zenit.org)
Here is a summary, issued by the
Vatican press office, of John Paul II's new encyclical, "Ecclesia de
Eucharistia," published today.
* * *
The fourteenth Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II is intended to offer a
deeper reflection on the mystery of the Eucharist in its relationship with the
Church. The document is relatively brief, but significant for its theological,
disciplinary and pastoral aspects. It will be signed on Holy Thursday, during
the Mass of the Lord's Supper, within the liturgical setting of the beginning of
the Paschal Triduum.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice, "the source and summit of the Christian
life," contains the Church's entire spiritual wealth: Jesus Christ, who
offers himself to the Father for the redemption of the world. In celebrating
this "mystery of faith," the Church makes the Paschal Triduum become
"contemporaneous" with men and women in every age.
The first chapter, "The Mystery of Faith," explains the sacrificial
nature of the Eucharist which, through the ministry of the priest, makes
sacramentally present at each Mass the body "given up" and the blood
"poured out" by Christ for the world's salvation. The celebration of
the Eucharist is not a repetition of Christ's Passover, or its multiplication in
time and in space; it is the one sacrifice of the Cross, which is re-presented
until the end of time. It is, in the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, "a
medicine of immortality, an antidote to death." As a pledge of the future
Kingdom, the Eucharist also reminds believers of their responsibility for the
present earth, in which the weak, the most powerless and the poorest await help
from those who, by their solidarity, can give them reason for hope.
"The Eucharist Builds the Church" is the title of the second
chapter. When the faithful approach the sacred banquet, not only do they receive
Christ, but they in turn are received by him. The consecrated Bread and Wine are
the force which generates the Church's unity. The Church is united to her Lord
who, veiled by the Eucharistic species, dwells within her and builds her up. She
worships him not only at Holy Mass itself, but at all other times, cherishing
him as her most precious "treasure."
The third chapter is a reflection on "The Apostolicity of the Eucharist
and of the Church." Just as the full reality of Church does not exist
without apostolic succession, so there is no true Eucharist without the Bishop.
The priest who celebrates the Eucharist acts in the person of Christ the Head;
he does not possess the Eucharist as its master, but is its servant for the
benefit of the community of the saved. It follows that the Christian community
does not "possess" the Eucharist, but receives it as a gift.
These reflections are developed in the fourth chapter, "The Eucharist
and Ecclesial Communion." The Church, as the minister of Christ's body and
blood for the salvation of the world, abides by all that Christ himself
established. Faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, united in the discipline
of the sacraments, she must also manifest in a visible manner her invisible
unity. The Eucharist cannot be "used" as a means of communion; rather
it presupposes communion as already existing and strengthens it. In this context
emphasis needs to be given to the commitment to ecumenism which must mark all
the Lord's followers: the Eucharist creates communion and builds communion, when
it is celebrated truthfully. It cannot be subject to the whim of individual or
of particular communities.
"The Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration" is the subject of the
fifth chapter. The celebration of the "Mass" is marked by outward
signs aimed at emphasizing the joy which assembles the community around the
incomparable gift of the Eucharist. Architecture, sculpture, painting, music,
literature and, more generally, every form of art demonstrate how the Church,
down the centuries, has feared no extravagance in her witness to the love which
unites her to her divine Spouse. A recovery of the sense of beauty is also
needed in today's celebrations.
The sixth chapter, "At the School of Mary, 'Woman of the
Eucharist'," is a timely and original reflection on the surprising analogy
between the Mother of God, who by bearing the body of Jesus in her womb became
the first "tabernacle," and the Church who in her heart preserves and
offers to the world Christ's body and blood. The Eucharist is given to believers
so that their life may become a continuous Magnificat in honor of the Most Holy
The Conclusion is demanding: those who wish to pursue the path of holiness
need no new "programs." The program already exists: it is Christ
himself who calls out to be known, loved, imitated and proclaimed. The
implementation of this process passes through the Eucharist. This is seen from
the witness of the Saints, who at every moment of their lives slaked their
thirst at the inexhaustible source of this mystery and drew from it the
spiritual power needed to live fully their baptismal calling.
3 Days to Relive the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ
John Paul II Reflects on the Easter Triduum
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2003 (Zenit.org)
Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today at the general
audience, during which he reflected on the mysteries of the life of Christ that
Christians relive during Holy Week.
* * *
1. Tomorrow afternoon begins, with the Holy Mass of the Lord's Supper, the
Easter triduum, fulcrum of the whole liturgical year. During these days, the
Church recollects herself in silence, to pray and meditate on the passion, death
and resurrection of the Lord.
Participating in the rites of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter
Vigil, we retrace the last hours of Jesus' earthly life, at the end of which
shines the light of the resurrection.
In the canticle just proclaimed, we heard that Christ became "obedient
to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him"
(Philippians 2:8-9). These words summarize the mysterious plan of God, which we
shall relive in the coming days, mystery that gives meaning and fulfillment to
2. While the Holy Chrism Mass, which is generally celebrated on Holy Thursday
morning, highlights particularly the ministerial priesthood, the rites of the
holy Mass of the Lord's Supper are an urgent invitation to contemplate the
Eucharist, central mystery of Christian faith and life. Precisely to underline
the importance of this sacrament, I have written the encyclical letter
"Ecclesia de Eucharistia," which I will have the joy of signing during
the Mass of the Lord's Supper. With this text I wish to offer every believer an
organic reflection on the eucharistic sacrifice, which encloses the whole
spiritual good of the Church.
In the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, the Lord instituted the
ministerial priesthood, so that his sacrifice would be actualized throughout the
centuries: "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19). He then left us the
new commandment of brotherly love. Through the washing of the feet, he taught
his disciples that love must be translated in humble and selfless service toward
3. Good Friday, a day of penance and fasting, we will recall the passion and
death of Jesus, remaining absorbed in adoration of the cross. "Ecce lignum
Crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit -- behold the wood of the Cross, from which
salvation came to the world." On Calvary, the Son of God took on the burden
of our sins, offering himself to the Father as the victim of expiation. From the
cross, source of our salvation, flows the new life of the children of God.
The drama of Friday is followed by the silence of Holy Saturday, a day
charged with waiting and hope. With Mary, the Christian community watches in
prayer next to the sepulcher, waiting for the fulfillment of the glorious event
of the Resurrection.
In the holy night of Easter, everything is renewed in the risen Christ. From
every corner of the earth the singing of the "Gloria" and the
"Alleluia" will rise to heaven, while light will pierce the darkness
of night. On Easter Sunday we will exult with the Risen One, receiving from him
the greeting of peace.
4. Let us prepare ourselves, dear Brothers and Sisters, to celebrate worthily
these holy days, and to contemplate the wonderful work accomplished by God in
the humiliation and exaltation of Christ (see Philippians 2:6-11).
To recall this central mystery of faith also implies the commitment to
actualize it in the concrete reality of our life. It means to recognize that the
passion of Christ continues in the dramatic events that, unfortunately, also at
this time afflict so many men and women in every part of the world.
The mystery of the cross and Resurrection assures us, however, that hatred,
violence, blood, death do not have the last word in human affairs. The final
victory is Christ's and we must start afresh from him, if we wish to build a
future of authentic peace, justice and solidarity for all.
May the Virgin, who shared intimately in the salvific plan, accompany us in
the path of the passion and cross to the empty tomb, to meet her divine risen
Son. Let us enter the spiritual atmosphere of the holy triduum, allowing
ourselves to be led by her.
With these sentiments, I express my heartfelt wishes to all for a peaceful
and holy Easter.
Questions Arise Over Return of Kazan Icon to Russia
Vatican Looking Into Where and When the Image Will Go Back to Orthodox
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 15, 2003 (Zenit.org)
The Vatican confirmed that John Paul II wishes to return to Russian Orthodox
faithful one of the most loved images of that country, the icon of Our Lady of
A date and place for the return have yet to be decided. Vatican spokesman
Joaquín Navarro-Valls clarified the issue Monday when asked by reporters about
the Pope's possible stopover in Russia during his trip to Mongolia this August.
"The Holy Father's desire to return the sacred icon of Our Lady of Kazan,
which for years has been cared for in the Vatican, to the Russian people and the
Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, is well known," Navarro-Valls said.
"The appropriate occasion and way of turning it over will be evaluated at
the proper time."
Earlier Monday, a Polish radio station reported that John Paul II would stop
briefly in Kazan, Russia, in August, as part of an already-scheduled visit to
In statements March 29 to the magazine Inside the Vatican, Sergei Mironov,
speaker of the Russian Federation Council, said the Pope had confirmed his
intention to return the icon of Our Lady of Kazan.
The leader of the upper house of the Russian Parliament explained that
"the Pope said he wished to return the object of worship back to the
Mironov also said that the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo
Sodano, indicated that there were no serious conflicts between Russia and the
Vatican, blocking better relations.
Mironov quoted the cardinal as saying that "the prior incidents have
been settled and there are no grounds for new concerns."
In 2005, Kazan will celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of its foundation. The
icon of Kazan was lost in 1918 after the Bolsheviks came to power. It was
rediscovered and given to the Pope in 1993. Since that time, it has been kept in
his private apartments.
The icon is considered by Russian Orthodox believers as miraculous and is
known as "the Protection of Russia." The icon first appeared in Kazan
in 1579. It is a depiction of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.
The Italian ANSA news agency reported that the Vatican's statement is
cautious, because according to information received from Moscow, the Pope's
visit still does not have the approval of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate,
which is essential for John Paul II's visit to Russia.
In fact, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate described as "absolutely
improbable" the theory of a papal stopover in Kazan.
Spokesman Igor Vizhanov said that neither the apostolic nunciature of Moscow
nor the Kremlin "knew anything" about a planned stopover in Kazan.