The Catechesis of Card. Péter Erdő about the Eucharist
On 21st May in Budapest, in the garden of the Shrine of Máriaremete Card. Péter Erdő has opened the second year of preparation for the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. On this occasion he had a catechesis, which is now published in it full version:
"We are preparing for the International Eucharistic Congress. This is the reason why we are carrying the Mission Cross around Hungary as well as in the neighbouring countries. The cross, which was made by master goldsmith Csaba Ozsvári for the Mission on the City event back in 2007, and at then the relics of Hungarian saints and blessed were placed onto it.
1. But how does the cross and the Eucharist join in? They belong together, because during the Last Supper Christ gave his on Body and Blood sacrificed on the Cross to the Apostles. He said: "Take it and eat, this is my body. Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26, 26-28). Only on Good Friday, that is after the Last Supper does Jesus die on the Cross, and yet, he already gives his sacrificed body and blood to his disciples. It is him, who - in this mysterious supper - oversteps the boundaries of time, make the future present and commands his disciples to do the same in his remembrance. And from the beginning of the beginning the disciples remembered this supper and celebrated it mysteriously in their communities. In the Acts of the Apostles we can read about the community in Jerusalem that they prayed together in the Temple, but they broke the bread at houses (cf. Acts 2,42.46). This was already at that time the most intimate and most own celebration of the followers of Christ. Why did they have to come together for the Eucharist? Because this remembrance, what Jesus left to us, was what held the community together. They had to remember his teachings, they had to remember his life, but mainly his death on the cross and his resurrection. In the Psalms and other places in the Old Testament we can read in a rhythmic and poetic style the story of the exodus from Egypt, the story, which shows how God freed and escorted his people from slavery, and the disciples of Christ re-lived the redeeming sacrifice of Christ during the eucharistic feast, during the "breaking of the bread" the same way. This liberates men not from the slavery of an oppressing earthly authority, but from the slavery of sin. If the people are not bound together into a unified whole and kept during the course of history by the common law, but by the common remembrance, then God's renewed people, the community of the Church is vitalized by the eucharistic sacrifice and the remembrance of that great supper. That is why we have every right to say - especially after the II. Vatican Council - that the Church carries out the Eucharist, but the Eucharist vitalizes the Church. And the Eucharist, the Holy Mass és holy remembrance and a real sacrifice. Because it does not bring up the sacrifice of Christ in our memories, but it makes it present again and again with its unimaginable and mysterious power of grace.
2. But the Eucharist does not only remind us only to the cross and the resurrection. The holy mass itself is a feast. That is so, because Jesus desired that under the bread and wine his disciples really should eat and drink his Body and Blood. He wanted to be our nourishment, he wanted to penetrate us fully in the mysterious ways of the material world, so that we may identify us with him fully. So, the holy communion makes the redeeming sacrifice of Christ a present force inside of us. Its effect is the forgiveness of sins, as He himself said it. To the most intimate encounter with God, what is the hope of eternal life within us - as the Apostle St. Paul said: Christ among you, your hope of glory - we need to be purified. We should become nobler. Because, how can we meet the consuming fire, without getting burnt, the eternal glow, without getting destroyed? Moses takes off his sandal in front of the burning bush, because he can feel God's moving perfectness and his own human weakness.
So, the Eucharist is a feast, which calls us to convert, to repent our sins, to be purified and after that join the feast of God. That is why the Apostle Paul says that everyone should look into themselves and eat from the bread and drink from the wine only after it, because those, who east and drink unworthily...those eat and drink their own condemnation (cf. 1Cor 11,28).
That is why the Eucharist was the feast of the followers of Christ from the very beginning. The feast of the disciple, whose feet He himself washed. And later the feast of others, who were cleansed from their sins through the water and the Holy Spirit in the baptism. Today, during the baptism of the adult we immediately serve the sacrament of the Confirmation and the Eucharist to the new Christians. And for those, who later commit mortal sins, the sacrament of Penance always offers an opportunity to be purified. The forgiveness of the minor sins is possible at the very beginning of the mass, during the Penitential Act and listening to the Gospel and taking it into our heart, and through the Communion itself.
We shall look up with trust, because the Eucharist is not only a prerogative of the perfect ones, since - as St. Jerome says - who is without sin among us; but we cannot take it unworthily, but through the service of the Church, through the power of forgiving the sins given to the apostles and their successors, by true repentance and strong vow we can get an absolution from our sins. This way we can partake in the mysterious supper, to which the Eastern Church calls the faithful with the exclamation: "Sacrament for the Saints!"
3. The special and inconceivable presence in the Eucharist is truly worthy of our adoration. During the Mass, and during the communion too, but also when we keep the Body and Blood of Christ, especially the Body after the Mass. It is a tradition of the Church since the beginnings, to bring the Eucharist to the sick. Around 150 AD St. Justin martyr wrote about it in details. He also mentions that we have to handle the Sacred Body and Blood with extreme care, not a drop shall fall on the floor.
4. So, the basis and centre of the veneration of the Eucharist is the meeting with Christ. We are no contemporaries to the Jesus of Nazareth. We cannot walk with him on the dusty roads of the Holy Land, we could not hear his teaching words, which was both temptingly attractive and unusually powerful. His contemporaries recorded that "unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority" (Mk 1,22). But we, the children of the late ages, we have three ways to meet Christ, just like the disciples of Emmaus. They met Jesus on the road, but they did not recognise him. But later, their hearts started to burn, when he explained the Scripture to them, when he de told them that the prophecies of the Old Testament are about him. But then they recognised him in the breaking of the bread. This encounter urged them to return to Jerusalem, to the community of the disciples, who also confirmed the resurrection. We also can meet Christ in the message of the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, in the community of the Church. And after that our helping love will be again and again the source and confirmation of our own faith.
This is, where our testimony in front of the world begins. First, our Christian community becomes like the one in the time of the Apostles. About them we read in the Acts of the Apostles that they "remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2,42). So the teaching is important, that teaching which came to us from the Apostles, through the Church. The community is also important, so is the prayer and the breaking of bread, that is the Eucharist, which has been in the centre for the community of the Church from the very beginnings.
5. But for all this, we need conversion. That is why the Mission Cross goes from town to town, to call our attention to the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. To remind us, with whom we shall join our live if we want to be truly and eternally happy. The cross is not only the symbol of suffering, but also of the resurrection. "Vexilla regis prodeunt" - Abroad the Regal Banners fly. We consider the cross as a sign of victory. The protection of God, the promise of resurrection, a memory and a reminder. An in our Mission Cross there are the relics of the saints and blessed of Hungary and our surroundings. Their remains they evoke the example of their lives, sufferings and testimonies. They way of the Mission Cross is accompanied by an exhibition, which brings the particular saints, their special charisma and messages closer to the people of our age. We shall receive this cross everywhere with our prayers. We shall follow the way of the Mission Cross with meditation, adoration, and - if possible - with the acts of helping love. We shall heed to the pictures of the exhibition. Ask for their intercession and help, so that we also may follow their example.
Christ calls everyone to holiness. Not only to some minor or greater attempts. Not only to a half-hearted attempt of conversion, in the success of which we ourselves do not trust. He calls us to perfection, just like the saints, and to this he offers the infinite source of his divine grace, his own pierced heart, from which blood and water poured out, and from its love the unfailing source of the baptism and Eucharist comes. The mysterious promise of the Psalmist about the eternal, shining Jerusalem is fulfilled in it: "all my springs are in you" (Psalms 87,7). As we read in the Book of Revelations: "Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear" (Rev 22,1). The city wall had twelve gates, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev 21,12-14). Every nation is invited to this city. This is the merit of our good news. There is no Christian, who is not invited to pass this good news to every people.
Because the world needs Christ. The world needs us too, because we belong to Christ! Amen."