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Mass is collective gift paid by one, cardinal says

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, offers a Lenten meditation to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican March 18, 2022. The meditation was on the Eucharist. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Eucharist commemorates Christ’s sacrificial gift to the Father in the name of all of humanity, said Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.

During the Lenten meditation he shared March 18 with Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia, the cardinal compared the celebration of Mass to a gift for a beloved father by a loving son who paid for it himself yet “secretly asks all his brothers and sisters to sign the gift.”

“Jesus admires and loves his heavenly Father immeasurably. He wants to give him every day, until the end of the world, the most precious gift imaginable, that of his own life,” Cardinal Cantalamessa said.

“In the Mass, he invites all his brothers and sisters to affix their signature to the gift, so that it reaches God the Father as the undivided gift of all his children, even if only one has paid the price of that gift. And what a price!” he told Pope Francis, the cardinals and the heads of Vatican offices present.

Continuing his Friday Lenten meditations on the Eucharist, Cardinal Cantalamessa reflected on the Eucharistic prayer recited during Mass, beginning with the liturgical and ritualistic aspects and concluding with its theological and existential facets.

Comparing Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass to children collectively signing a gift for their father, the cardinal said those signatures are also “the few drops of water that are mixed with the wine in the chalice.”

“They are just water, but mixed in the chalice they become one drink,” he said. “Everyone’s signature is the solemn ‘Amen’ that the assembly pronounces or sings at the end of the doxology.”

Cardinal Cantalamessa reminded the pope and the members of the Curia that all Christians who have “signed a commitment have a duty to honor their signature” and that upon leaving Mass, “we too must make of our lives a gift of love to the Father and for our brothers and sisters.”

“We are not only called to celebrate the Eucharist, but also to make ourselves a Eucharist. May God help us to accomplish this,” the cardinal said.

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