The conclusion begins; the first of four numbered sections:
59. Ave, verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine! Several years ago I celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of my priesthood. Today I have the grace of offering the Church this Encyclical on the Eucharist on the Holy Thursday which falls during the twenty-fifth year of my Petrine ministry. As I do so, my heart is filled with gratitude. 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).
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. Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine, vere passum, immolatum, in cruce pro homine! Here is the Church’s treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfilment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns. A great and transcendent mystery, indeed, and one that taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us: visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, in the words of the hymn Adoro Te Devote; yet faith alone, rooted in the word of Christ handed down to us by the Apostles, is sufficient for us. Allow me, like Peter at the end of the Eucharistic discourse in John’s Gospel, to say once more to Christ, in the name of the whole Church and in the name of each of you: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).
More than the content of this reflection and its bearing on the Eucharist, I enjoy reading passages such as this which actually illumines Christian faith in the way Pope Francis recently described in his encyclical Lumen Fidei. The crossroads of personal experience, the Word of God, and the witness of the saints is something for which any believer can strive. And indeed, it can be part of our deepening experience of the liturgy to look for these intersections in our lives.
Keep that in mind: our formational moments with Christ in the Sacraments, our connection to the Word, and the witness of believers who have gone before us. This, of course, was the foundational experience of the Mass, going back to Emmaus. It was the basis for the Mass celebrated in Word and shared Meal.
Very traditional understanding, but one which can be enriched by the reflection of our own experiences and the search for Christ and the search for meaning in our own faith lives.