Pope's meditation on Eucharist closes WYD

Cologne, Aug. 22 (CWNews.com) - At the closing Mass for World Youth Day (WYD) on August 21, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a profound meditation on the Eucharist, challenging young Catholics to recognize the Mass as the core of Christian life and worship.

Speaking to a massive congregation of about 1 million people at the Marienfeld park outside Cologne, and using several different languages in the course of his homily, Pope Benedict said that today's young Christians must avoid the perils of a secular culture that is forgetful of God, and the proliferation of sects that make religion a consumer product.

(The previous evening, during a vigil at Marienfeld, the Pope had told his young listeners that the power of faith is greater and more productive than human ideologies. )

Christ's Church, the Pope said, must be fully identified with Christ's sacrifice: "In the Eucharist, adoration must become union."

In the climactic ceremony of the World Youth Day celebrated during the Year of the Eucharist, the Pontiff devoted most of his homily to a commentary on the Eucharist. He explained: "This is the transubstantiation which was accomplished at the Last Supper, and was destined to set into motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world, when God will be all in all."

Those who join in the Eucharistic celebration must allow themselves to be transformed by Christ's self-giving sacrifice, the Pope continued; "the process of transformation must now gather momentum. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn."

The transformation is so complete, the Holy Father continued, that "God no no longer simply stands before us, as the one who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him."

Full participation in the Eucharist, Benedict XVI said, entails becoming an instrument of God's will. Through union with Christ's sacrifice, the faithful are "drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about."

Next the Pope reflected on how the Eucharist inspires Christians to evangelization. "Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him," he said. "A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on."

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope renewed his challenge to the young participants to bring the message of the Gospel back to their own lands. He urged them to share their faith with their neighbors, "especially those in difficulty," and to be "sowers of peace and brotherhood."

After announcing that the next World Youth Day would be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2008, and offering heartfelt thanks to the German hosts and organizers of this year's celebration, the Pope gave his final blessing to the crowd.

With threatening clouds appearing on the horizon over Marienfeld, and gusts of wind sweeping across the park, Pope Benedict made his departure, to sustained applause. As he left, the field echoed with the chant: "Benedetto!"