Pope Francis: The Eucharist Keeps the Church Alive

The Holy Father said this sacrament “is the heart of Christian initiation and the Church’s fountain of life.”

VATICAN CITY -- During his Feb. 5 general audience, Pope Francis spoke on the significance of the sacrament of the Eucharist, explaining that it is a banquet that reminds us of the eternal life that is yet to come.

“The Eucharist configures us in a unique and profound way with Jesus,” the Pope noted, “renewing our heart, our existence and our relationship with him and with our brothers and gives us a foretaste of communion with the Father in the banquet of the King of heaven.”

Addressing the thousands gathered in a rainy St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address, the Pope continued his catechesis on the sacraments of initiation, turning specifically to the Eucharist.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he began, “in our catechesis on the sacraments of Christian initiation, we now reflect on the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood.”

This sacrament “is the heart of Christian initiation and the Church’s fountain of life,” the Pope explained, which “accompanies every step of our pilgrimage of faith, fellowship and witness.”

Shifting attention to the familiar layout of Catholic churches, the Pope observed that in the “center … we find the altar,” which is “a table that has been prepared and that makes us think of a banquet”; and “on the table, there is a cross to indicate that Christ’s sacrifice is offered on that altar.”

“He is the food we receive under the species of bread and wine,” the Pope continued, adding that, “next to the table, there is the ambo, which is where the word of God is proclaimed, through which the Lord speaks to us.”

Recalling how Jesus gave us this sacrament at the Last Supper, “when he broke bread and offered the cup,” the Holy Father noted that this act was a “foreshadowing of his sacrifice on the cross.”

“In the Eucharistic sacrifice, Jesus has thus given us the supreme prayer of thanksgiving to God, our merciful Father,” he explained, highlighting that the Church “performs the memorial of the Easter of the Lord, in which Christ is made mysteriously present, and we are able to participate.”

We can say that we “receive communion” in Jesus’ “passion, death and resurrection,” the Pope stated, and, “thus, the Eucharist configures us in a unique and profound way with Jesus.”

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis expressed his hope that “the celebration of the Eucharist always keeps the Church alive and makes our communities distinguished by love and communion.”

He also prayed: “Let us ask the Lord, present in this holy sacrament, always to shape our lives and our communities.”

Following his remarks, the Pope offered special greetings to groups of pilgrims present from various countries around the world and imparted his apostolic blessing.

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