At the opening of the Eucharistic Year in the Prelature, Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Rome (Oct. 30, 2004 and Nov. 1, 2004)

At the ceremony opening the Eucharistic year in the Prelature, at the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Rome

A two-hour service of Eucharistic adoration was held at the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace from 3:30 to 5:30 on the afternoon of October 30, 2004. This service was to solemnly mark the beginning of the Eucharistic Year proclaimed by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei, introduced the celebration with the following words:

As the Second Vatican Council reminded us, reiterating what the magisterium preceding it had taught: “In the most blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch and the living Bread which gives life to men through his flesh—that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 5). During this Eucharistic time, we want to unite ourselves to the prayer of praise, adoration and thanksgiving that millions of people throughout the world, taking up the invitation of the Holy Father John Paul II, will raise to heaven in this year especially dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament.

First of all I remind you that, to become people who truly adore God, as we have just sung in the Adoro te Devote, we must strive to foster a new conversion in our lives. Let us look at our Lord. Jesus is speaking to us from the monstrance, telling us so many things simply by his real presence under the Sacred Species. We have spoken to him in our hearts and repeated many petitions with vocal prayers as well. We have said to him: Forgive us, O Lord! We now address you again, Lord Jesus, thanking you for having redeemed us on the Cross. We continue to need your forgiveness because we constantly see our own failings, small ones and sometimes not so small. For a person who knows how to love, the hurt we sometimes cause to those we most love is always big.

We recall St. Josemaría Escrivá’s Eucharistic devotion. Close to his holy remains, we ask him to intercede so that God will give us an ever more ardent love for the Most Blessed Sacrament. Each of us needs to foster the certainty that Jesus Christ is accompanying us at every moment. Therefore, let us strive to uncover anything in our life that is distancing us from Jesus. Because He is always at our side. It is we, each of us, who provoke, by our negligence, our lacks of love, the distancing of this Lord who is Father, Teacher, Doctor, Friend.

Lord, let each of your children experience your nearness and grant them the desire to increase their friendship with you every day until they become your intimate friend. Let us live a clean life, a life of love; and to do so, we have to foster a spirit of contrition, a constant conversion.

The Christian life is neither pessimistic nor sad; on the contrary, it partakes of the happiness that comes from being identified with the Being who is infinitely happy. Therefore contrition constitutes a powerful aid for all of us, since it makes us capable of loving more, of living more in harmony with our Lord. Therefore the saints (and we all have to try to be such, although we are of so little worth) have always been great friends of contrition. I remember how often St. Josemaría used to advise us to foster a contrition that was “love-sorrow.”

Lord, I want to love you more. It is you, in your goodness, who cancels out my failings. Let us be contrite in order to love more. And let us turn with devotion, with an urgent need, to our Lady. Mary, by fully accepting the will of the Blessed Trinity, became the first tabernacle for Jesus, a living tabernacle, when she received in her most pure womb this Lord of ours, who trod our earthly roads to help us give supernatural savor and meaning to all that we do.

God does not ask us for a heroism that surpasses our strength. He offers his grace and expects of us a heroic response that is within our reach. As St. Josemaría taught us, for a Christian who should sanctify himself in the midst of everyday life, his heroism is that of fidelity to God in the ordinary and usually small things that we meet each day, in the fulfillment of our family, professional and social duties…in our home, in our work, in our study, in our friendships, in moments of rest. This is where we must put into practice the charity that unites us to God, and with God, to all men and women.

Let us give thanks to our Lord for the Holy Father that he has given us. Let us thank him very specifically for the marvelous idea of proclaiming a “Year of the Eucharist,” which he wants to be, as it were, the “high point” in the journey undertaken during the years that preceded and followed the Great Jubilee (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, no. 10). In a certain sense, after the Apostolic letters Novo Millennio Ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae, this Year of the Eucharist signifies the crowning of the pastoral plan of John Paul II for the Church in the twenty-first century.

The Year of the Eucharist began a few days ago. What have we done up till now? Have we made specific resolutions? Have we decided to try to ensure that our whole day has a more decidedly Eucharistic tone to it? Let us tell our Lord with all our strength that we want to be men and women who are truly Eucharistic, who see the altar and the tabernacle as the center of their lives; men and women who want to live with Him, for Him, and around Him; men and women who, with their lives, are striving for just one goal: that Jesus be known, loved, and adored by every human being.

The task that awaits us is marvelous: entering into the most intimate circle of our Lord. Let us do all we can to make ourselves worthy, purifying our life by frequent acts of sorrow. Let us go to the sacraments with greater devotion. Let us do a deep apostolate of the Eucharist, speaking to many people of the marvelous richness of love that is the Eucharist. Let us speak without human respect about the holy sacrament of penance which gives to us, who are poor creatures, the possibility of being well prepared to receive the One who is the King of glory, the Savior of the world.

Lord, come and stay with us! We beseech you to help each of us prepare himself, every day and at every moment, to receive you as worthily as possible. Amen.

On the afternoon of November 1, 2004, the solemnity of All Saints, a Eucharistic ceremony was held in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace for the beginning of “The Year of the Eucharist.” In the course of the celebration, which lasted several hours, the Prelate of Opus Dei addressed the following words to those present:

A moment ago we sang: Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio (Jesus whom hidden now I see). Truly, Lord, your power is great. Even though hidden under the veil of the sacramental species, you gather around you such a multitude of people throughout the whole world. We would like to always count ourselves among this multitude, and specifically right now, in order to speak to you intimately. It is not only now that we have this opportunity, because one can speak to Jesus in any circumstance. But during this Eucharistic exposition, we are helped by the real presence of our Lord, who presides over us with his body, his blood, his soul and his divinity.

Lord, we give you thanks because you come to us and remain with us. We adore you, Lord, because you are truly the King of kings and you want to be in our midst, beside us poor creatures. We seek you, Lord, because you are truly our refuge amid trials, forgiveness for our faults. We direct ourselves to you, Lord, because if we consider our life with a bit of objectivity, we immediately realize that we have nothing ourselves, that whatever good we have comes from you.

This morning I was meditating on something written by Saint Josemaría. I read that when he placed himself before our Lord, he so often felt deep in his soul that urgent cry: ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur; I came to cast fire upon the earth and would that it were already kindled (Lk 12:49). Truly our Lord speaks to us with an intimate cry, continually waiting for us to offer him more space in our soul so that he can fill us with his goodness, with his love.

Our Lord died on the Cross and rose for our salvation. As the Holy Father writes: “This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 11). Thus, before leaving us, he wished to institute the Holy Eucharist, so that every man and woman, right to the end of time, could be very close to the Sacrifice of Calvary, which is made present whenever the Holy Mass is celebrated. “Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and gain its inexhaustible fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived” (Ibid.)

How many treasures we have in our hands! What a great responsibility! It is logical, then, that we look—without scruples or fears—at our life to see whether we are men and women who know how to be demanding on themselves, to be close to the Cross, with Mary, John and the holy women, during Holy Mass, realizing that we have can participate in the Sacrifice of Calvary with our whole soul and body.

Oh Lord, you are for everyone the Teacher who instructs us, the Friend who keeps us company, the Shepherd who guides us, the Physician who cures us: make all of us more aware of the treasure of love that you entrust to our weakness. Truly, as Saint Josemaría so often said, it makes one feel like prostrating oneself on the ground, lying on one’s face, asking God for his mercy. And like the father of the prodigal son, he will raise us up and fill us with his love.

Therefore, it’s very important that we turn to him constantly: when things are going well, because he is the one who grants us the help and strength needed to draw fruit from what we are doing; and also when we meet with the difficulties that are part and parcel of daily life, so that we learn to love the Cross and to carry it with elegance, as our Lord did for each of us.

Lord, you want people to get to know you also through our response. Thus, as Saint Josemaría taught us, we tell you that we want to be another Christ; we want to be like you. We want to be alter Christus, ipse Christus. We can all attain this, because he doesn’t refuse anyone. He takes possession of the souls of those who are faithful to him, who follow him, who accept him. Let us welcome our Lord, and strive to correspond, following him very closely.

To do so, the help of Mary is indispensable. The Holy Father has called her “the woman of the Eucharist.” For women it is a privilege that the person closest to Jesus, when everyone abandoned him, was a woman, Mary most holy. Although we are all children of our Lady and she loves us all very much, one can say that women have a very special part in that love. If they wish, with our Lady’s intercession, they can renew this nearness to Calvary in a world that is fleeing madly from Christ.

Let us reflect on this responsibility and tell our Lord in confidence: Lord, stay with us, because we don’t want to separate ourselves from you. We will bring you souls from all over the world, because we want you to live in everyone. Thus we learn a clear lesson from the Eucharist: the need to do a lot of apostolate, both through the sacrament of penance as well as the sacrament of the Eucharist, the living Bread that gives life, that vivifies. Make us more determined apostles, so that we speak to others about God and bring God’s love to all who are awaiting us. May the Lord be with you always!

Romana, n. 39, July-December 2004, p. 191-195.

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