By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
(June 24, 2008) Only a day after the divorced and remarried Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was told to ask a “higher power” about relaxing the rules preventing him from receiving Communion, Pope Benedict XVI boldly reiterated that only those Catholics in a state of grace can receive the Eucharist.
During his homily to participants at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to “receive Him with a pure heart.” When sin blemishes that purity, he said, we should seek to regain it through the Sacrament of Confession.
“ . . . Sin, and especially grave sin, opposes the action of Eucharistic grace in us. . . . People who because of their situation cannot take communion, will find strength and salvific effectiveness in a unity of desire and in participation in Mass.”
Ironically, the day before the Pope’s homily, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sitting in the front row of a Church near his Sardinian villa while the priest was offering communion.
According to Italian newspapers, Berlusconi asked the priest, “When are you going to change this rule that stops me from taking communion?”
The priest responded, “You should turn to a higher power than me.”
Within a day, the answer came from that “higher power,” Italian newspapers reported, when Pope Benedict addressed this very issue in his homily to participants in the Eucharistic Congress.
During the same homily, the Pope also said that “The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of alliance. We are called to enter this mystery of alliance, conforming our everyday lives to the gift received in the Eucharist.”
Calling the Eucharist “our most precious treasure,” the Pope asked both clergy and the laity to seek a more profound understanding of the Blessed Sacrament. “Each will thus be able to strengthen his faith and better achieve his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling the fecundity of the Eucharist for his personal life, and for the life of the Church and the world.”
Participation in the Eucharist is the most exalted expression of God’s love and calls us to commit ourselves to facing present day challenges to make the plant a better place to live.
“To this end, we must struggle tirelessly so that all people may be respected from conception to natural death, that our rich societies may welcome the poorest and restore their dignity, that everyone may feed themselves and their family, and that peace and justice may shine out on all continents.”
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In “The Pope, His Vision and God’s Love,” Vatican analyst Dr. Robert Moynihan describes the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th successor to St. Peter. Available in our store at: http://womenofgrace.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=93