Holy Father, I am Fr Atsushi Yamashita and I come from Asia, from Japan. The priestly model that Your Holiness has given us this Year, the Curé of Ars, sees at the centre of our life and ministry, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Penance and personal repentance; and love for worship, worthily celebrated. I see before me signs of the rigorous poverty of St John Vianney and his passion for everything connected to worship. How can we live these fundamental aspects of our priestly life, without falling into clericalism or an estrangement from reality that the world today does not permit us?
Thank you. So the question is how to live the centrality of the Eucharist without conducting a purely cultic life, as a stranger to the everyday life of other people. We know that clericalism is a temptation for priests in all ages, today as well. And it is even more important to find the true way to live the Eucharist, which is not closure to the world, but openness to the world's needs. We must keep in mind that in the Eucharist is realized this great drama of God who goes out of himself, leaves as said in the Letter to the Philippians his own glory, goes out and lowers himself to be one of us, even unto death on the Cross (cf. Phil 2). This is the adventure of God's love, which leaves, abandons himself to be with us - and this becomes present in the Eucharist. The great act, the great adventure of God's love is the humility of God who gives himself to us. In this sense, the Eucharist is to be considered as entering into this path of God. St Augustine says in De Civitate Dei, Book X: "Hoc est sacrificium Christianorum: multi unum corpus in Christ", i.e. the sacrifice of Christians is being united by love of Christ in the unity of the
one body of Christ. The sacrifice consists precisely in going out of ourselves, in allowing entrance into the communion of the one bread, of the one Body and, therefore, to enter into the great adventure of God's love. So, we must celebrate, live and meditate always on the Eucharist, as the school of liberation from my "I": to enter into the one bread, which is the Bread of all that unites us in the one Body of Christ. Therefore, the Eucharist is, in itself, an act of love and it obliges us to this reality of love for others: that the sacrifice of Christ is the communion of all in his Body. So, this is how we must learn the Eucharist, which then is the opposite of clericalism, of closure in oneself. We think also of Mother Teresa, truly the great example in this century, at this time. A love that leaves itself, which leaves every type of clericalism, of estrangement from the world, and goes to the most marginalized, to the poorest, to those nearing death and totally gives herself up to love of the poor, the marginalized. But Mother Teresa who gave us this example and the community that follows in her steps, supposed always as the first condition of one foundation, the presence of a tabernacle. Without the presence of the love of God who gives himself, it would not have been possible to realize that apostolate. It would not have been possible to live in that abandonment to self. Only by inserting their self-abandonment in God, in this adventure of God, this humility of God, they could and can perform today this great act of love, this openness to all. In this sense, I would say that living the Eucharist in its original sense, in its true depth, is a school of life. It is the surest protection against the temptation of clericalism.