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Cardinal Arinze's Presentation of Apostolic Letter for Eucharistic Year

John Paul II's "Mane Nobiscum Domine"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address that Cardinal Francis Arinze gave today when presenting John Paul II's apostolic letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine." The text of the letter, published in Italian, has not yet been translated into other languages. The cardinal is the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

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On June 10, 2004, during the solemn Mass held in front of St. John Lateran Basilica, on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Holy Father announced the Year of the Eucharist, which will be observed throughout the Church from October 2004 to October 2005. Now the Pope has given us a beautiful and incisive apostolic letter, "Mane Nobiscum Domine," to assist and guide the Church to benefit as much as possible from the Eucharistic Year.

The Letter has an Introduction, four chapters, and a Conclusion.


In the introduction, the Holy Father draws on the Gospel scene of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and makes it the theme of the whole apostolic letter. After explaining that the Year of the Eucharist follows in the wake of Vatican Council II and the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (Chapter 1), the Pope concentrates on the Eucharist as a mystery of light (Chapter 2); as source and manifestation of communion (Chapter 3); and as principle of mission (Chapter 4).

The Year of the Eucharist will commit the Church particularly to live the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus continues to walk with us and to introduce us in the mysteries of God, opening us to the profound meaning of the sacred Scriptures. At the culminating moment of encounter, Jesus breaks the "bread of life" for us.

Many times during his pontificate, John Paul II has invited the Church to reflect on the holy Eucharist, following the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, the ecumenical councils, and his predecessors. He did so in particular last year in the encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia." This apostolic letter invites the Church to take up that letter again.

The Holy Father mentions two important events that shed light on and mark the beginning and end of the Year of the Eucharist: the 48th International Eucharistic Congress, which will be held next week in Guadalajara (Mexico), from October 10-17, and the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in the Vatican from October 2-29, 2005. The Year also includes World Youth Day, which will be held in Cologne from August 16-21, 2005.

The Pope has entrusted the observance of the Year of the Eucharist to the pastoral attention of bishops. The profundity of the Eucharistic mystery is such that the Year of the Eucharist not only will not interfere with the pastoral programs of each local Church or diocese but, in fact, will illuminate them effectively. The Eucharistic mystery is the root, foundation and secret of the spiritual life of each of Christ's disciples, as well as of every initiative of a local Church. Therefore, the Eucharistic dimension of these pastoral initiatives or programs must be accentuated.

Chapter 1: In the Wake of Vatican Council II and the Jubilee

The Holy Father emphasizes that the Year of the Eucharist intensely expresses concentration on Jesus Christ and the contemplation of his face, which is characterizing the pastoral journey of the Church, especially since Vatican Council II. In Christ, the Word made flesh, not only has the mystery of God been revealed to us, but the mystery of man has also been unveiled to us.

John Paul II developed this theme in his first encyclical, "Redemptor Hominis." He referred to it again in 1994 in "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," to prepare the Church for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. In that document, he said that the Jubilee was an "intensely Eucharistic" year (No. 55). This Eucharistic theme continues in other documents, as in "Dies Domini" and, especially, in "Novo Millennio Ineunte," the "programmatic" apostolic letter for the third millennium, and in "Rosarium Virginis Mariae," the apostolic letter with which the Year of the Rosary was inaugurated, on October 16, 2002. In the spring of that year the Holy Father gave us that pearl of an encyclical, "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," signed on April 17, 2003, during the solemn celebration on Holy Thursday of the "Mass of the Lord's Supper" [...].

Chapter 2: The Eucharist, Mystery of Light

The Eucharist is a mystery of light for many reasons. Jesus speaks of himself as "light of the world" (John 8:12). In the darkness of faith, the Eucharist becomes for the Christian a mystery of light, as it introduces him to the depths of the divine mystery. The Eucharistic celebration nourishes the disciple of Christ with two "tables," ...

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