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Saint John Paul II on his experience of the Eucharist

“Allow me, dear brothers and sisters, to share with deep emotion, as a means of accompanying and strengthening your faith, my own testimony of faith in the Most Holy Eucharist.” – in these words the Holy Father John Paul II summarizes his reflections on the Eucharist in the encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (no. 59).

Everything what John Paul II said about the Eucharist, he drew from his experience of meeting Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. He was an authentic witness.

“It is an amazement which I myself constantly experience”

“The Year of the Eucharist has its source in the amazement with which the Church contemplates this great Mystery. It is an amazement which I myself constantly experience.” (Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, 29).

I say it every day before Holy Mass

“O happy man, Saint Joseph, whose privilege it was not only to see and hear that God whom many a king has longed to see, yet saw not, longed to hear, yet heard not (cf. Mt 13:17); “God, who has conferred upon us a royal priesthood, we pray to you to give us grace to minister at your holy altars with hearts as clean and lives as blameless as that blessed Joseph who was found to hold in his arms and with all reverence to carry your only-begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary. Enable us this day to receive worthily the sacred Body and Blood of your Son and fit us to win an everlasting reward in the world to come”.

It is a beautiful prayer! I say it every day before Holy Mass and certainly many priests around the world do so. (Homily, Kalisz June 4, 1997)

Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the divine Wayfarer

“For over a half century, every day, beginning on 2 November 1946, when I celebrated my first Mass in the Crypt of Saint Leonard in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, my eyes have gazed in recollection upon the host and the chalice, where time and space in some way “merge” and the drama of Golgotha is re-presented in a living way, thus revealing its mysterious “contemporaneity”. Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the divine Wayfarer who joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened their eyes to the light and their hearts to new hope (cf. Lk 24:13-35).” (Encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”, 59)

I experience the cosmic dimension of the Eucharist

“This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. “(Encyclical” Ecclesia de Eucharistia “, 8).

I wanted to express my special spiritual bond with the history of the Nation

“Having been ordained a priest on the feast of All Saints, I celebrated my First Mass on All Souls Day, 2 November 1946. On that day every priest may celebrate three Masses for the benefit of the faithful.  So in a sense I celebrated three “first” Masses.  It was deeply moving experience.  I celebrated the three Masses in the crypt of Saint Leonard which, in Wawel Cathedral at Cracow, is the front part of the so-called episcopal cathedral of Herman.  Today the crypt is part of the underground complex where the royal tombs are located. I chose this place for the celebration of my first Masses in order to express my spiritual bonds with those buried in that Cathedral.  Given the history, it is a monument without parallel.  More than any other Polish church, Wawel Cathedral is full of historical and theological significance.  The kings of Poland are buried there, beginning with:  Władysław Łokietek; there they were crowned and there they were laid to rest. All who visit the Cathedral find themselves immersed in the nations’ history.

This then, was why I wanted to celebrate my first Masses in the crypt of Saint Leonard:  I wanted to express my special spiritual bond with the history of Poland, a history symbolized by the hill of Wawel. But there was more.  My choice also had a particular theological significance.  As I said, I have been ordained the day before, on the Solemnity of All Saints, when the Church gives liturgical expression to the reality of the Communion of Saints – Communio Sanctorum.  The saints are those who, having accepted the Paschal Mystery of Christ in faith, now await the final resurrection.”  (Gift and Mystery)

I feel the infinite love present in His heart

“It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, 48 how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!  (Encyklika „Ecclesia de Eucharistia”, 25).

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