VATICAN CITY, 11 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the square in front of the basilica of St. John Lateran, then led a Eucharistic procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major.
In his homily, the Pope commented on the words pronounced by priests at the moment of consecration: "this is My Body, ... this is My Blood".
Addressing his remarks to priests, the Holy Father said: "Becoming the Eucharist: let this be our constant desire and commitment! So that the offer of the Body and Blood of the Lord we make upon the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our own lives. Every day we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord the free and pure love that makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to His joy. What the faithful expect from a priest is the example of authentic devotion to the Eucharist. They like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus, as did the saintly 'Cure of Ars' whom we will especially recall during the imminent Year for Priests".
"Aware that, because of sin, we are inadequate, yet needing to nourish ourselves from the love the Lord offers us in the Eucharistic Sacrament, this evening we renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Such faith must not be taken for granted!
"Today there is a risk of insidious secularisation, even inside the Church", Benedict XVI added. "This could translate into a formal but empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking that involvement of the heart which finds expression in veneration and respect for the liturgy.
"There is always a strong temptation to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, allowing ourselves to be overcome by earthly activities and concerns", he warned.
"With the Eucharist", the Pope explained, "heaven comes down to earth, God's tomorrow descends into the present moment and time is, as it were, embraced by divine eternity".
During the Eucharistic procession which traditionally follows today's Mass "we will ask the Lord in the name of the entire city: Stay with us, Jesus, make us a gift of Yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life. Free this world from the poison of evil, from the violence and hatred that pollute people's consciences, purify it with the power of Your merciful love".
After Mass, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic procession along Rome's Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major. Along the route, thousands of faithful prayed and sang accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. A covered vehicle transported the Sacrament in a monstrance, before which the Holy Father knelt in prayer.
HML/CORPUS CHRISTI/... VIS 20090612 (470)