Sinners who gaze upon
Christ's wounds discover the victory of Life over death
On Sunday evening, 14 September , in the
Prairie of Lourdes, after meeting with the French Bishops, the
Holy Father, in liturgical vestments, took part from the podium
in the conclusion of the Eucharistic procession. The Pope spoke
after adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The following is a
translation of his Address, which was given in French.
Lord Jesus, You are here!
And you, my brothers, my sisters, my friends,
You are here, with me, in his presence!
Lord, two thousand years ago, you willingly
mounted the infamous Cross in order then to rise again and to
remain for ever with us, your brothers and sisters.
And you, my brothers, my sisters, my friends,
You willingly allow him to embrace you.
We contemplate him.
We adore him.
We love him. We seek to grow in love for him.
We contemplate him who, in the course of his
Passover meal, gave his body and blood to his disciples, so as
to be with them “always, to the close of the age” (Mt
We adore him who is the origin and goal of our
faith, him without whom we would not be here this evening,
without whom we would not be at all, without whom there would be
nothing, absolutely nothing! Him through whom “all things were
made” (Jn 1:3), him in whom we were created, for all
eternity, him who gave us his own body and blood
— he is here, this evening,
in our midst, for us to gaze upon.
We love, and we seek to grow in love for him who
is here, in our presence, for us to gaze upon, for us perhaps to
question, for us to love.
Whether we are walking or nailed to a bed of
suffering; whether we are walking in joy or languishing in the
wilderness of the soul (cf. Num 21:4): Lord, take us all
into your Love; the infinite Love which is eternally the Love of
the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father, the Love of
the Father and the Son for the Spirit, and the Love of the
Spirit for the Father and the Son. The sacred host exposed to
our view speaks of this infinite power of Love manifested on the
glorious Cross. The sacred host speaks to us of the incredible
abasement of the One who made himself poor so as to make us rich
in him, the One who accepted the loss of everything so as to win
us for his Father. The sacred host is the living, efficacious
and real sacrament of the eternal presence of the saviour of
mankind to his Church.
My brothers, my sisters, my friends,
Let us accept; may you accept to offer yourselves to him who has
given us everything, who came not to judge the world, but to
save it (cf. Jn 3:17), accept to recognize in your lives
the presence of him who is present here, exposed to our view.
Accept to offer him your very lives!
Mary, the holy Virgin, Mary, the Immaculate
Conception, accepted, two thousand years ago, to give
everything, to offer her body so as to receive the Body of the
Creator. Everything came from Christ, even Mary; everything came
through Mary, even Christ.
Mary, the holy Virgin, is with us this evening,
in the presence of the Body of her Son, one hundred and fifty
years after revealing herself to little Bernadette.
Holy Virgin, help us to contemplate, help us to
adore, help us to love, to grow in love for him who loved us so
much, so as to live eternally with him.
An immense crowd of witnesses is invisibly
present beside us, very close to this blessed grotto and in
front of this church that the Virgin Mary wanted to be built;
the crowd of all those men and women who have
contemplated, venerated, adored the real presence of him who
gave himself to us even to the last drop of blood;
the crowd of all those men and women who have
spent hours in adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the
This evening, we do not see them, but we hear
them saying to us, to every man and to every woman among us:
“Come, let the Master call you! He is here! He is calling you
(cf. Jn 11:28)! He wants to take your life and join it to
his. Let yourself be embraced by him!
Gaze no longer upon your own wounds, gaze upon
his. Do not look upon what still separates you from him and from
others; look upon the infinite distance that he has abolished by
taking your flesh, by mounting the Cross which men had prepared
for him, and by letting himself be put to death so as to show
you his love. In his wounds, he takes hold of you; in his
wounds, he hides you. Do not refuse his Love!”
The immense crowd of witnesses who have allowed
themselves to be embraced by his Love, is the crowd of saints in
heaven who never cease to intercede for us.
They were sinners and they knew it, but they
willingly ceased to gaze upon their own wounds and to gaze only
upon the wounds of their Lord, so as to discover there the glory
of the Cross, to discover there the victory of Life over death.
Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard tells us everything
when he cries out: “The holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, past,
present and future” (Sermons and Parochial
Instructions after 1856, 4-2.1, “On Meditation”).
Jesus Christ, past, in the historical truth of
the evening in the Upper Room, to which every celebration of
holy Mass leads us back.
Jesus Christ, present, because he said to us:
“Take and eat of this, all of you, this is my body, this is my
blood.” “This is”, in the present, here and now, as in every
here and now throughout human history.
The real presence, the presence which surpasses
our poor lips, our poor hearts, our poor thoughts. The presence
offered for us to gaze upon as we do here, this evening, close
to the grotto where Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate
The Eucharist is also Jesus Christ, future,
Jesus Christ to come. When we contemplate the sacred host, his
glorious transfigured and risen Body, we contemplate what we
shall contemplate in eternity, where we shall discover that the
whole world has been carried by its Creator during every second
of its history.
Each time we consume him, but also each time we
contemplate him, we proclaim him until he comes again, “donec
veniat”. That is why we receive him with infinite respect.
Some of us cannot —
or cannot yet — receive Him
in the Sacrament, but we can contemplate Him with faith and love
and express our desire finally to be united with Him. This
desire has great value in God’s presence: such people await his
return more ardently; they await Jesus Christ who must come
When, on the day after her first communion, a
friend of Bernadette asked her: “What made you happier: your
first communion or the apparitions?”, Bernadette replied, “they
are two things that go together, but cannot be compared. I was
happy in both” (Emmanuelite Estrade, 4 June 1958).
She made this testimony to the Bishop of Tarbes
in regard to her first communion: “Bernadette behaved with
immense concentration, with an attention that left nothing to be
desired … she appeared profoundly aware of the holy action that
was taking place. Everything developed in her in an astonishing
With Pierre-Julien Eymard and Bernadette, we
invoke the witness of countless men and women saints who had the
greatest love for the holy Eucharist. Nicolas Cabasilas cries
out to us this evening: “If Christ dwells within us, what do we
need? What do we lack? If we dwell in Christ, what more could we
desire? He is our host and our dwelling-place. Happy are we to
be his home! What joy to be ourselves the dwelling-place of such
Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born in 1858,
the very year of the apparitions at Lourdes. Not far from his
body, stiffened by death, there lay, like the grain of wheat
cast upon the earth, the lunette containing the Blessed
Sacrament which Brother Charles adored every day for many a long
hour. Father de Foucauld has given us a prayer from the depths
of his heart, a prayer addressed to our Father, but one which,
with Jesus, we can in all truth make our own in the presence of
the sacred host:
“‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
This was the last prayer of our Master, our
Beloved … May it also be our own prayer, and not only at our
last moment, but at every moment in our lives:
Father, I commit myself into your hands; Father,
I trust in you; Father, I abandon myself to you; Father, do with
me what you will; whatever you may do, I thank you; thank you
for everything; I am ready for all, I accept all; I thank you
for all. Let only your will be done in me, Lord, let only your
will be done in all your creatures, in all your children, in all
those whom your heart loves, I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to
you, Lord, with all the love of my heart, for I love you, and so
need to give myself in love, to surrender myself into your
hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you
are my Father.”
Beloved brothers and sisters, day pilgrims and
inhabitants of these valleys, brother Bishops, priests, deacons,
men and women religious, all of you who see before you the
infinite abasement of the Son of God and the infinite glory of
the Resurrection, remain in silent adoration of your Lord, our
Master and Lord Jesus Christ.
Remain silent, then speak and tell the world: we
cannot be silent about what we know. Go and tell the whole world
the marvels of God, present at every moment of our lives, in
every place on earth.
May God bless us and keep us, may he lead us on
the path of eternal life, he who is Life, for ever and ever.