JUBILEE REACHES HIGH POINT
John Paul II Opens International Eucharistic Congress
VATICAN CITY, (ZENIT.org).- This week the entire Church joins Rome in celebrating the
Eucharistic Christ on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress. As anticipated, at
noon today John Paul II focused his address to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's
Square in the Vatican, on this central event of the Jubilee.
"We have arrived at the heart of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000," were the Holy Father's
enthusiastic opening words to the pilgrims in the Square, who endured an implacable sun.
John Paul II established that the 47th International Eucharistic Congress, being held in Rome,
would be the culminating moment of the Holy Year. "Prepared by three years of reflections on
Christ, the Spirit, and the Father, the Jubilee's purpose is to give thanks and praise to the divine
Trinity from whom everything comes and to whom everything tends, in the world and history."
The other great feast of this week is Corpus Christi, one of the most moving solemnities for
The Eucharistic Congress that is just beginning, is a reminder that there is "only 'one way,' and
'one door' of access to the mystery of the Love of God: Jesus, who was born, died, and rose to
give life to every man and woman. Before dying on the cross, victim for the expiation of our sins,
he left the Church the memorial of his redemptive sacrifice: the sacrament of the Eucharist."
The Pope then referred to some of the most important events of this Congress, which he himself
was to open a few hours later, when presiding over evening Vespers in St. Peter's Square.
There will be moments of prayer, art, and festivity. The most impressive, perhaps, will be the
procession of some 70,000 faithful who will walk through some of Rome's most historical
streets, from St. John Lateran's Basilica to St. Mary Major. The celebrations will end next
Sunday evening when the whole Church, and those gathered in St. Peter's Square in particular,
will stand "before the greatest of prodigies: God, who under the species of bread and wine,
makes himself food to feed the whole world," Pope Wojtyla explained.
The first International Eucharistic Congress was held in France in 1881. However, the political
and social climate in the second half of the 19th century was not favorable. At that time,
Friedrich W. Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God and that faith was meant to remain in the
sacristy. The response to the indifference and hostility of Christians was to make the love of God
known to men, who has come close to them in the Eucharist.