Edward Pentin’s Vatican Notebook
The “secret to sanctity” is the Eucharist, particularly for priests if they are to be effective in their ministry.
This was the message of Pope Benedict XVI who, during his Angelus address on Sunday, again returned to the “important theme” of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar as the Year of the Eucharist draws to a close.
Speaking in both Latin and Italian to a lively crowd at the apostolic palace in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father emphasised that the priest “must first and foremost be a worshipper and contemplative of the Eucharist”. In his hands “this great miracle of love” is renewed, the Holy Father said, through which the priest is called to become “an ever more faithful witness and proclaimer”.
He said: “We are well aware that the validity of the Sacrament does not depend on the sanctity of the celebrant, but its effectiveness for himself and others will be all the greater to the extent that he lives it with profound faith, ardent love, and a fervent spirit of prayer.” The Pope then recalled St John Chrysostom and St Pio of Pietrelcina, two saints who were able to closely imitate Christ through daily intimacy with him in Eucharistic celebration and adoration. The Holy Father recalled St John’s motto, “one man full of zeal is enough to transform a people”, and St Pio, who in celebrating the Mass “relived the mystery of Calvary with such fervour that he edified the faith and devotion of all”.
The Pope also reminded the faithful of the ardent devotion of St John Vianney, a humble French priest. The “sanctity of his life and his pastoral zeal” made his small environment into “a model Christian community animated by the Word of God and the Sacraments”, the Pope said. “Let us turn now to Mary, praying in a special way for all the priests of the world so that they may draw from this Year of the Eucharist the fruit of a renewed love for the Sacrament they celebrate,” the Holy Father said in closing. “Through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of God, may they always live and testify to the mystery which was placed in their hands for the salvation of the world.” For young Catholics wondering how best to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist, or wishing to build upon the World Youth Day theme of Adoration, a forthcoming event in Rome could be ideal.
From October 2 to 9, more than 250 members of Adoration groups from all over the world will gather for worship, formation, evangelisation and dialogue under the theme “The Eucharist and Man’s Identity”. Event organisers say the aim is “to stimulate a reflection on the consequences of the encounter between Christ and man, and how the contemplation of His face reveals man to himself”.
The week will comprise prayer and talks, processions and dinners, all aimed at reflecting on “the all-encompassing importance of the Eucharist in the everyday life of man”. Subjects include Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body” and Christianity in politics. Homilies will be delivered by, among others, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, and Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
But the most important element of the week-long activities (called the Second International Meeting of Eucharistic Adoration Youth Groups, or Adoremus 2005 for short), is, of course, the Eucharist and Adoration.
“It’s important that many young people take part in Eucharistic Adoration at a time when the Church is facing difficulties in a society suffering from relativism,” said Stefano Cascio, who first had the idea for the meeting of Adoration groups during the Jubilee Year. “Meditating in front of the Blessed Sacrament is a good way of confronting these problems.” This year’s event will, for the first time, have an international element, and comprise groups from Africa, Eastern Europe and the United States.
“It’s important to have relations with other groups,” explained Cascio, a 26-yearold seminarian from Nice. “A lot of people don’t know what Adoration is and why we are doing it, so I see these meetings as important for formation.” For Cascio, Adoration is vital in a young person’s vocational discernment. “It’s most important to have this relationship with God in Adoration,” he said. “You understand who you are when you have God in front of you.” The hope now is that Adoremus will grow each year. According to MartheMarie Casey, one of the main organisers of the event, efforts are being made to take future meetings to different cities around the world. Cascio would also like to make more use of the internet, turning the group into an umbrella-like forum for other adoration groups.
Registration is still open for other groups or individuals wishing to take part. (www.veniteadoremus.org)