VATICAN CITY, 11 SEP 2011
This morning the Holy Father travelled from Castelgandolfo to the Italian city of Ancona where he presided at a concelebration of the Eucharist to mark the closure of the twenty-fifth Italian National Eucharistic Congress, which has focused on the theme "the Eucharist for daily life". The celebration was held in the city's shipyard.
In his homily, the Holy Father referred to the Gospel narrative of the bread from heaven. The reaction of Jesus' disciples, many of whom abandoned Him at that time is, he said, similar to our own resistance before "the total gift Christ makes of Himself. Because welcoming this gift means losing ourselves, allowing ourselves to be absorbed and transformed to the point of living in Him".
Our difficulty lies in the fact that "we often confuse freedom with a lack of constraints, with the conviction that we can do everything alone, without God Who is seen as a restriction to our freedom, But this illusion soon turns to disappointment, creating disquiet and fear".
Some ideologies leave God to one side, or simply tolerate Him as a private choice which should not interfere with public life. They seek to organise society on the foundation of the economy and the force of power. However, said the Pope, "history has dramatically shown us" the failure of attempts to ensure material well being and peace while ignoring God and His revelation.
For this reason, "it is the primacy of God which we must, first and foremost, restore in our world and our lives, because it is this primacy which allows us to rediscover the truth of who we are; and it is in knowing and following the will of God that we discover our own good".
The Eucharist, a source for positive social development
The starting point for the restoration of the primacy of God must be the Eucharist, in which "God gives Himself to us, so as to open our lives to Him". Eucharistic communion "supports and transforms daily life". Moreover, the history of the Church is replete with saints "whose lives are an eloquent sign of how, from communion with the Lord, from the Eucharist, there arises a new and intense sense of responsibility at all levels of community life, a positive form of social development which focuses on human beings, especially the poor, the sick and the needy".
"Eucharistic spirituality is, then, the true antidote to the selfishness and egoism that often characterise daily life". Likewise, it is "the heart of an ecclesial community that knows how to overcome divisions and conflicts, and to make use of its various charisms and ministries, placing them all at the service of the unity of the Church".
Eucharistic spirituality is also the path by which to restore dignity to man and, therefore, "to the work he does, at the same time seeking to conciliate work with a time for rest and for the family, and to overcome the insecurity of precarious work and the problems of unemployment".
Furthermore, it will help us to approach the various forms of human frailty, "aware that they do not cloud the value of the person but require our presence, our acceptance and our assistance".
"There is nothing that is truly human that cannot be fully experienced in the Eucharist", the Holy Father concluded. "May daily life, then, become a place for spiritual development, so as to experience the primacy of God in all circumstances".
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