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POPE-CORPUS (UPDATED) May-26-2005 (680 words) xxxi

Corpus Christi processions show unity with Christ, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Corpus Christi processions are a sign that an individual's communion with Jesus Christ naturally leads to carrying his love and promise of salvation to the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ May 26 with an evening Mass outside Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran. The Mass was to be followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament from St. John's to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, just more than a mile away.

In his homily, Pope Benedict spoke of the traditional Holy Thursday procession with the Eucharist to the altar of repose as a moment when the faithful walk with Christ toward his death.

But the Corpus Christi procession, he said, is a moment when Catholics walk with the risen Lord, carrying him to the ends of the earth.

"One cannot eat the risen Lord present in the figure of bread as if it were simply a piece of bread," the pope said. "To eat this bread is to 'communicate,' to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord.

"This communion, this act of eating, is truly an encounter between two persons; it is allowing oneself to be penetrated by the life of the one who is Lord, the one who is my creator and redeemer," Pope Benedict said.

Going to the altar and receiving Communion, he said, is a sign that the faithful want to be transformed and conformed to Christ, "who is love alive."

"Communion implies adoration; it implies the desire to follow Christ," he said.

While the Holy Thursday procession expresses the church's desire "to watch with Christ, not to leave him alone on the night of the world, the night of his betrayal, the night of many people's indifference," the Corpus Christi procession takes place "in the joy of the resurrection," the pope said.

Receiving the Eucharist, he said, is an intimate act through which Jesus personally gives himself to the individual receiving Communion.

But, the pope said, "the power of the sacrament of the Eucharist goes beyond the walls of our churches. In this sacrament, the Lord is always going out into the world."

Carrying the Eucharist in the monstrance through the city streets, he said, "we entrust these streets, these houses, our daily lives to his goodness. May our streets be the streets of Jesus. May our houses be homes for him and with him. May our everyday lives be penetrated by his presence."

Pope Benedict also prayed that by carrying the Eucharist through the city Catholics would pray to God for the people inside the houses, offices and schools they pass.

"We place under his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the solitude of the young and the elderly, temptations and fears -- our entire lives," he said.

The pope also prayed that the public procession with Jesus in the Eucharist would be a blessing for the city of Rome and for the world.

As the sun set, dozens of cardinals and bishops, hundreds of priests, seminarians and religious women and thousands of lay people set out on foot in the procession to St. Mary Major.

The 78-year-old Pope Benedict carried the monstrance to a truck, decorated with garlands and flowers, and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament as the truck made its way down the city streets.

Pope John Paul II had re-established the public procession through the streets of Rome in 1979 after it had been set aside for more than 100 years.

Until 1994, when at 74 years of age a broken leg and hip surgery made it difficult for him to walk, Pope John Paul participated in the procession on foot. For the next 10 years, he continued participating in the procession, but did so kneeling in the truck as Pope Benedict did.

Pope Benedict reached St. Mary Major shortly after 9:15 p.m., placed the monstrance on an altar in the square outside the basilica, and presided over the eucharistic Benediction in Latin.


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