Omelie: L'anno liturgico narrato Joseph Ratzinger, papaYay, another must have!Benedict XVI said it clearly in the homily that he delivered on June 29, 2008, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul: his vocation is to "to serve as liturgist of Jesus Christ for the nations." The striking expression is from Paul, in chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans. And the pope has made it his own. He has identified his mission as successor of the Apostles precisely in being the celebrant of a "cosmic liturgy." Because "when the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound."
It is a dizzying vision. But Pope Ratzinger has this unshakable certainty: when he celebrates the Mass, he knows that the entire action of God is contained in it, woven together with the ultimate destiny of man and of the world. For him, the Mass is not a mere rite officiated by the Church. It is the Church itself, with the triune God dwelling within it. It is the image and reality of the entirety of the Christian adventure. The educated pagans of the early centuries were not mistaken when they identified Christianity by describing its act of worship. Because this was also the faith of those first believers. "Sine dominico non possumus," without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot live, the martyrs of Abitina replied to Emperor Diocletian when he banned them from celebrating it. And they sacrificed their lives for this. Benedict XVI recalled this episode in the homily of the first Mass he celebrated outside of Rome as pope, in Bari on May 29, 2005.
And if you've not seen this, here's Papa reading "In the beginning..." Don't you just love Italian?