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The Eucharist, "sacrificium laudis"

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the History of Salvation
General Audience, Wednesday 11 October 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father". This proclamation of Trinitarian praise seals the prayer of the Canon at every Eucharistic celebration. The Eucharist, in fact, is the perfect "sacrifice of praise", the highest glorification that rises from earth to heaven, "the source and summit of the Christian life in which (the children of God) offer the divine victim (to the Father) and themselves along with it" (Lumen gentium, n. 11). In the New Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews teaches us that the Christian liturgy is offered by "a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens", who achieved a unique sacrifice once and for all by "offering up himself" (cf. Heb 7: 26-27). "Through him then", the Letter says, "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God" (Heb 13: 15). Today let us briefly recall the two themes of sacrifice and praise which are found in the Eucharist, sacrificium laudis.

2. First of all the sacrifice of Christ becomes present in the Eucharist. Jesus is really present under the appearances of bread and wine, as he himself assures us:  "This is my body ... this is my blood" (Mt 26: 26, 28). But the Christ present in the Eucharist is the Christ now glorified, who on Good Friday offered himself on the cross. This is what is emphasized by the words he spoke over the cup of wine:  "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" (Mt 26: 28; cf. Mk 14: 24; Lk 22:  20). If these words are examined in the light of their biblical import, two significant references appear. The first consists of the expression "blood poured out" which, as the biblical language attests (cf. Gn 9: 6), is synonymous with violent death. The second is found in the precise statement "for many", regarding those for whom this blood is poured out. The allusion here takes us back to a fundamental text for the Christian interpretation of Scripture, the fourth song of Isaiah:  by his sacrifice, the Servant of the Lord "poured out his soul to death", and "bore the sin of many" (Is 53: 12; cf. Heb 9: 28; 1 Pt 2: 24).

3. The same sacrificial and redemptive dimension of the Eucharist is expressed by Jesus' words over the bread at the Last Supper, as they are traditionally related by Luke and Paul:  "This is my body which is given for you" (Lk 22: 19; cf. 1 Cor 11: 24). Here too there is a reference to the sacrificial self-giving of the Servant of the Lord according to the passage from Isaiah already mentioned (53: 12):  "He poured out his soul to death...; he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors". "The Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice. It is the sacrifice of the Redemption and also the sacrifice of the New Covenant, as we believe and as the Eastern Churches clearly profess:  "Today's sacrifice', the Greek Church stated centuries ago [at the Synod of Constantinople against Sotericus in 1156-57], "is like that offered once by the Only-begotten Incarnate Word; it is offered by him (now as then), since it is one and the same sacrifice'" (Apostolic Letter Dominicae Cenae, n. 9).

4. The Eucharist, as the sacrifice of the New Covenant, is the development and fulfilment of the covenant celebrated on Sinai when Moses poured half the blood of the sacrificial victims on the altar, the symbol of God, and half on the assembly of the children of Israel (cf. Ex 24: 5-8). This "blood of the covenant" closely united God and man in a bond of solidarity. With the Eucharist the intimacy becomes total; the embrace between God and man reaches its apex. This is the fulfilment of that "new covenant" which Jeremiah had foretold (cf. 31: 31-34):  a pact in the spirit and in the heart, which the Letter to the Hebrews extols precisely by taking the prophet's oracle and linking it to Christ's one definitive sacrifice (cf. Heb 10: 14-17).

5. At this point we can illustrate the other affirmation:  the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise. Essentially oriented to full communion between God and man, "the Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and summit of the whole of the Church's worship and of the Christian life. The faithful participate more fully in this sacrament of thanksgiving, propitiation, petition and praise, not only when they wholeheartedly offer the sacred victim, and in it themselves, to the Father with the priest, but also when they receive this same victim sacramentally" (Sacred Congregation of Rites, Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 3e).

As the term itself originally says in Greek, Eucharist means "thanksgiving"; in it the Son of God unites redeemed humanity to himself in a hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Let us remember that the Hebrew work todah, translated "praise", also means "thanksgiving". The sacrifice of praise was a sacrifice of thanksgiving (cf. Ps 50 [49]: 14, 23). At the Last Supper, in order to institute the Eucharist, Jesus gave thanks to his Father (cf. Mt 26: 26-27 and parallels); this is the origin of the name of this sacrament.

6. "In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ" (CCC, n. 1359). Uniting herself to Christ's sacrifice, the Church in the Eucharist voices the praise of all creation. The commitment of every believer to offer his existence, his "body", as Paul says, as a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rom 12: 1), in full communion with Christ, must correspond to this. In this way, one life unites God and man, Christ crucified and raised for us all and the disciple who is called to give himself entirely to him.

The French poet Paul Claudel sings of this intimate communion of love, putting these words on Christ's lips:  "Come with me, where I Am, in yourself, / and I will give you the key to life. / Where I Am, there eternally / is the secret of your origin ... / .... Where are your hands that are not mine? And your feet that are not nailed to the same cross? I died and rose once and for all! We are very close to one another / .... How can you separate yourself from me / without breaking my heart?" (La Messe là-bas)."

The Holy Father called for an end to the violence in the Middle East and asked believers to pray that the path of dialogue would be resumed:

With great anguish we are following the very tense situation in the Middle East, once again shaken by events that have claimed numerous victims and have not even spared several holy places.

In view of this critical situation, I can only urge everyone to put an immediate end to this spiral of violence, as I invite all believers to pray to God that the peoples and leaders of that region will return to the path of dialogue in order to find again the joy of being children of God, their common Father.

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

I extend a special greeting to the English-speaking visitors, especially to the Jubilee pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Saint Andrew’s and Edinburgh in Scotland led by Archbishop O’Brien, and from the Diocese of Leeds in England, led by Bishop Constant. I greet the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Washington led by Cardinal Hickey, to whom I offer my cordial good wishes for his Eightieth Birthday, which he is celebrating today. I also greet the pilgrim groups from Indianapolis led by Archbishop Buechlein, from Metuchen led by Bishop Breen, from Lincoln led by Bishop Bruskewitz, and from Nashville led by Bishop Kmiec. I welcome the winners of the Worldwide Jubilee Writing Contest, and the Delegates to the Thirteenth International Workshop being held at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, notamment les fidèles du diocèse de Créteil avec leur évêque, Mgr Labille, les lecteurs du magazine Le Pèlerin, le groupe de fidèles du Viêt-Nam et le groupe œcuménique de Grèce. Que votre pèlerinage jubilaire ravive votre foi et fasse de vous des témoins du Christ ressuscité et des artisans de paix au milieu de vos frères! À tous, je donne de grand cœur la Bénédiction apostolique.

Liebe deutschsprachige Pilger und Besucher, ich begrüße Euch sehr herzlich. Mit großer Freude heiße ich insbesondere die neugeweihten Alumnen aus dem Collegium Germanicum-Hungaricum sowie ihre Ange-hörigen und Freunde willkommen. Liebe Neupriester! Ihr seid gestern mit einem großen Geschenk und einem tiefen Geheimnis betraut worden. Feiert mit wahrer Ehrfurcht und echter Freude täglich das „Opfer des Lobes“. Bereitet den suchenden und hungrigen Menschen immer wieder das eucharistische Mahl, das sie auf einzigartige Weise mit Gott verbindet und ihnen das Leben in Fülle schenkt. Gerne erteile ich Euch und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan oder das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

As minhas boas-vindas a todos os peregrinos de língua portu-guesa, nomeadamente ao grupo brasileiro de amigos da televisão «Rede Vida», guiado pelo presidente desta, Dom Antônio Maria Mucciolo, arcebispo emérito de Botucatu. O Céu multiplique e cubra de graças os vossos esforços para levar a todos a Boa Nova de Jesus Cristo; sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a minha Bênção.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, especialmente a los Obispos venezolanos, con los Superiores y alumnos del nuevo Colegio que van a inaugurar en Roma para la formación de sacerdotes, así como a los matrimonios chilenos del Movimiento de Schöenstatt y al grupo "Rapa Nui" de la Isla de Pascua, a los fieles de Cali, acompañados del Señor Arzobispo Mons. Isaías Duarte, a los peregrinos de Panamá con algunos Obispos y al grupo de olivareros españoles, así como a los demás grupos de España, Venezuela, Chile y Argentina. A todos os invito a vivir la Eucaristía como una ofrenda permanente de la propia vida, unidos con Cristo para alabanza de Dios.

Saluto ai pellegrini di lingua ceca

Milí poutníci z Litomyšle a dáru nad Sázavou!

Zítra je svátek svatého Radima - Gaudentia, staršiho bratra svatého Vojtecha, který byl svedkem jeho mucednické smrti a pak prvním arcibiskupem v Hnezdne. Jste brati a sestry mucednik, vyznavac a svatých. To zavazuje, abyste i vy byli verni Kristu a hlásali evangelium ivotem i slovy všem, zvlášte dnešním neveícím.

K tomu z celého srdce ehnám vám i vašim drahým ve vlasti.

Chvála Kristu!

Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua ceca:

Cari pellegrini di Litomyšl e di ðd'ár nad Sázavou!

Domani è la festa di S. Radim-Gaudentius, fratello maggiore di sant'Adalberto, testimone della sua morte di martire e poi primo Arcivescovo di Gniezno. Voi siete fratelli e sorelle dei martiri, dei confessori e dei santi. Questo vi impegna ad essere fedeli a Cristo e ad annunciare il Vangelo con la vostra vita e con la parola a tutti, specialmente ai non credenti d'oggi.

Vi benedico di cuore insieme a tutti i vostri cari in Patria.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto del Santo Padre in lingua lituana:

Su diaugsmu sveikinu tikinciuosius iš Lietuvos!

Brangieji, šiais Šventaisiais Metais apmastykite Kristaus paslaptis, ir kaip Jezaus motina Marija, savo širdis skausme ir diaugsme glauskite prie Išganytojo šono.

Su šiais linkejimais jums ir js artimiesiems teikiu apaštalin palaiminima.

Garbe Jezui Kristui!

Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua lituana:

Saluto con gioia i fedeli dalla Lituania!

Carissimi, in questo Anno Santo meditate i misteri di Cristo, e come Maria, Madre di Gesù, nel dolore e nella gioia appoggiate i vostri cuori al costato del Salvatore.

Con questi voti imparto a voi e ai vostri cari la Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in lingua slovacca:

Srdecne pozdravujem pútnikov zo Slovenska: z Bratislavy, Borského Mikuláša, Majcichova, Bardejova a okolia, Seliec, Konskej, Jacoviec, Levíc a okolia, Prešova, Zuberca a Vranova nad Topou.

Drahí bratia a sestry, túto sobotu sa tu v Ríme zacne Svetové stretnutie rodín. Aj Jeiš Kristus vstúpil do dejín cloveka prostredníctvom Nazaretskej rodiny. On chce byt' s nami pri kadom domácom kozube. Urobte mu tam miesto.

Nech vám v tom pomáha Kráovná rodiny i moje Apoštolské poehnanie.

Pochválený bud Jeiš Kristus!

Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua slovacca:

Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini provenienti dalla Slovacchia: da Bratislava, Borský Mikuláš, Majcichov, Bardejov e dintorni, Selce, Konská, Jacovce, Levice e dintorni, Prešov, Zuberec e Vranov nad Topµou.

Cari Fratelli e Sorelle, sabato prossimo inizia qui a Roma l'Incontro Mondiale delle Famiglie. Anche Gesù Cristo è entrato nella storia dell'uomo attraverso la Famiglia di Nazareth. Egli vuole essere con noi presso ogni focolare domestico. Fate lì posto anche per Lui.

A ciò vi aiuti Maria, Regina della Famiglia, e la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto ai pellegrini croati:

Srdacno pozdravljam sve nazocne hrvatske vjernike, a posebno pak sudionike jubilejskoga hodocašca Zadarske nadbiskupije koji su došli sa svojim nadbiskupom msgr. Ivanom Prendom, umirovljenim nadbiskupom msgr. Marijanom Oblakom i skupinom prezbiterâ.

Predragi, neka ovo vaše hodocašce ucvrsti u vama svijest o odgovornosti koju Kristov ucenik ima za društvo u kojemu ivi i u kojemu je pozvan biti evandeoski kvasac i svjetlo. Svakomu od vas elim da nošen vjerom, ufanjem i ljubavlju zna pruati svoj koristan doprinos izgradnji sadašnjosti i buducnosti vaše drage hrvatske zemlje.

Svima od srca udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov.

Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Versione italiana del testo croato:

Saluto cordialmente tutti i fedeli croati qui presenti, in modo particolare i partecipanti al pellegrinaggio giubilare dell'Arcidiocesi di Zadar, accompagnati dal loro Arcivescovo, Mons. Ivan Prenpa; dall'Arcivescovo emerito, Mons. Marijan Oblak; e da un gruppo di Presbiteri.

Carissimi, questo vostro pellegrinaggio rafforzi in voi la coscienza della responsabilità che il discepolo di Cristo ha per la società nella quale vive e nella quale è chiamato ad essere il lievito e la luce evangelici. Auspico che ciascuno di voi, mosso dalla fede, dalla speranza e dalla carità, sappia dare il suo valido contributo alla costruzione del presente e del futuro della vostra cara terra croata.

A tutti imparto di cuore la Benedizione Apostolica.

Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i Membri della Famiglia Dehoniana, riuniti per il primo Incontro Internazionale, come pure i sacerdoti, i religiosi e i laici appartenenti a Istituti intitolati alla Sacra Famiglia; ed auguro a ciascuno un proficuo lavoro di riflessione e confronto. Un sereno e fruttuoso periodo di studi auguro poi ai nuovi studenti del Collegio Benedettino Sant'Anselmo.

Accolgo con gioia il "gruppo famiglia" proveniente dall'Albania, e benedico di cuore tutte le famiglie cristiane albanesi. Saluto i fedeli della Parrocchia di San Pasquale Baylon in Villaricca, Napoli, affidata ai Missionari Ardorini, che ricorda il venticinquesimo della sua fondazione; i membri della Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori della Campania; l'Associazione Nazionale seniores ENEL e l'Unione Ciechi di Caserta.

Saluto poi i Membri del Comitato Infrastrutture della NATO, come pure gli Ufficiali e i Cappellani italiani della Commissione per il Pellegrinaggio Militare Internazionale a Lourdes, e il Comando del Reggimento Carri di Persano.

Auguro ogni bene alla società sportiva Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, e mi rallegro per il suo attaccamento al Beato Giovanni XXIII.

Il mio pensiero va ora ai giovani, ai malati ed agli sposi novelli. Sabato e domenica prossimi si svolgerà il Giubileo delle Famiglie. Cari giovani, valorizzate questi vostri anni per prepararvi a formare un'autentica famiglia cristiana. Cari malati, sappiate fare della vostra presenza nella vita familiare un dono, offrendo al Signore le vostre sofferenze, per il bene di tutti. Cari sposi novelli, diventi la vostra famiglia, giorno dopo giorno, sempre più chiesa domestica e cellula viva della società.


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