We have now reached the final reflection in our four-part series on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Eucharistic homilies. This homily is entitled, What Corpus Christi Means to Me: Three Meditations. It is unclear when and where this homily was given or if the three meditations were perhaps even separate homilies at one point. Regardless, the three meditations are presented together as the fourth Eucharistic homily in his collected works on the theology of the liturgy. The reflections are a bit long, so I will draw out the key points as they relate to our focus on Eucharistic revival.
After reviewing the Church’s various approaches to the feast of Corpus Christi since the feast’s inception, Ratzinger directs our attention to how the Council of Trent addressed the feast and how it relates to us in modern times. “It [Trent] said that the purpose of Corpus Christi was to arouse gratitude in the hearts of men and to remind them of their common Lord,” (Decr. De sc. Eucharistia – session 13, October 11, 1551). From this statement, Ratzinger extracts three purposes:READ MORE
Today we look at the third of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Eucharistic homilies in this four-part series. Although it is unclear when he first preached this homily, we know it was intended for the feast of Corpus Christi. Ratzinger also felt it was important enough to include in another one of his books entitled, God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life (2003). In this homily, Ratzinger reflects on the three distinctive elements that emphasize the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and are present in the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi: standing before the Lord, walking with the Lord, and kneeling before the Lord.READ MORE
Today’s second installment of the four-part series on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Eucharistic homilies comes from one given on the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time in 1979. For context, the first reading on that Sunday was from Deuteronomy. It recounts Moses speaking to the Israelites about the goodness of God, who provided the people a law that allows them to know His will. In return for their obedience to His law, God promises blessings on His people.
Ratzinger begins His homily by quoting a line from the first reading: “What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deut 4:7). He says that this statement is an expression of joy and gratitude because God had made Himself so available to the Israelites and present amongst them in His law. Now, if the Israelites have this much joy and gratitude for God’s presence in the law, Ratzinger asks how much more joy and gratitude ought we to have because we have God present with us in the Eucharist? With the Eucharist comes a new depth to the presence of God as He truly and physically dwells with us and makes His flesh available to us, which we can experience with our physical senses. We can see Him, touch Him, and taste Him in a way that was not available to the people of the Old Testament.READ MORE
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later, Pope Benedict XVI, was one of the greatest and most prolific theologians of our modern times, contributing volumes of written work to the treasury of our faith. In 2008, Benedict put together a volume called Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, which consisted of his previous writings. These writings were all written before he became Pope and covered every aspect of the liturgy. In part C, which deals specifically with the Eucharist, Benedict included four homilies he gave during the late 1970s and early 1980s on the Eucharist. As we find ourselves in the midst of the Church-declared Eucharistic Revival, I thought it might be interesting to examine the Cardinal’s thoughts concerning the Eucharist, since they were written much closer to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. To that end, today begins a four-part series in which I aim to summarize these homilies.READ MORE