Dear brothers and sisters:
In our continuing catechesis on the Mass, we now turn to its culminating moment in the rite of Holy Communion. The Lord’s gift of Himself at the Last Supper is renewed at each Mass in the offering of His Body and Blood under the signs of bread and wine. After the breaking of the bread, the priest asks us to acknowledge the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. His words invite us to acknowledge our sins, to trust in the reconciling power of Christ’s sacrifice, and to receive the medicine that unites us ever more closely to Him. At the moment of Holy Communion, we respond “Amen” to the words “The Body of Christ.” In this way, we signify our openness to the transformative power of God’s grace, which enables us to grow in the unity of Christ’s mystical Body, which is the Church. Nourished by the bread of life, we become a living Eucharist; in a word, we become what we receive. Our silent prayer after receiving Holy Communion is gathered up in the final prayer of the Mass, which thanks God for making us sharers in this holy banquet and asks that we may grow daily in union with Him, until we share at last in the wedding feast of heaven.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, particularly those from Wales, Ireland, Norway, Japan and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the Irish pilgrims accompanying the icon of the Ninth World Meeting of Families, to be celebrated in Dublin in August. With prayerful good wishes that this Lenten season will be a time of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!