I have just returned from one of the best weekend conferences I have ever attended. It was a meeting June 26-28 in St. Paul, Minn., of about 275 Catholics who are involved with IECs, or Intentional Eucharistic Communities. These are groups that come together to celebrate the Eucharist outside a parish setting. It was called “Living the Gospel: Collective Voices.”
The Eucharist is the seal of God's covenant, uniting Christians and giving them the strength to bring God's love to others, even when faith carries a high price, Pope Francis said.
Celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ with an evening Mass outside Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday, Pope Francis said the church and its members will never cease being in awe of the Eucharist.
As the sun began to set, the Mass was followed by a traditional Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one mile away.
Pope Francis has indicated he wants the bishops to set forth on a new mission: overturning the old expectation that church news would always be bad. His first proclamation, he explained, is that "Christ has saved you," and an attitude of mercy must follow from that revelation. "Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord," he has said. If the church is a "field hospital," Francis explained, it must bring mercy and healing to its patients.
The highest ranking U.S. bishop at the Vatican says this month's Synod of Bishops on the family should mark the end of a high-level debate over whether to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
"The matter really has to be clarified at this point so that this doesn't continue," Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, told Catholic News Service on Wednesday. "For this to go on for another year, it can only do harm."
Going forward for Communion at Mass, Catholics must do so with a desire to imitate Jesus' compassion for others and with a commitment to sharing what they have, Pope Francis said.
"One who goes to the Eucharist without having compassion for the needy and without sharing is not right with Jesus," the pope said Sunday before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.
I'm sure all of us, from our earliest understanding of The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, have a strong recollection of being impressed with the truth that is proclaimed so strongly in today's Gospel that Jesus really is present in that bread and wine that is transformed into his body and blood during our celebration of the Eucharist. The real presence of Jesus, in a very mysterious way, is there in the bread we eat, the cup we drink.
An invitation to attend Pope Francis' early morning Mass is a hot ticket in Rome, but the pope said the Mass -- in his residence or anywhere else -- isn't an event, but a time for entering into the mystery of God.
"Maybe someone would say, 'Oh, I must get to Mass at Sanctae Marthae because the pope's morning Mass is on the Rome tourist itinerary,' " he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.