Monday, October 31, 2005

On All Hallows' Eve---Benedict XV on Dante

In 1921, for the 600th anniversary of Dante's death, Pope Benedict XV in In Praeclara Summorum proclaimed:

"Among the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast who have left undying fruits in literature and art especially, besides other fields of learning, and to whom civilization and religion are ever in debt, highest stands the name of Dante Alighieri, the sixth centenary of whose death will soon be recorded.

"So that while we admire the greatness and keenness of his genius, we have to recognize, too, the measure in which he drew inspiration from the Divine Faith by means of which he could beautify his immortal poems with all the lights of revealed truths as well as with the splendours of art. Indeed, his Commedia, which deservedly earned the title of Divina, while it uses various symbolic images and records the lives of mortals on earth, has for its true aim the glorification of the justice and providence of God who rules the world through time and all eternity and punishes and rewards the actions of individuals and human society. It is thus that, according to the Divine Revelation, in this poem shines out the majesty of God One and Three, the Redemption of the human race operated by the Word of God made Man, the supreme loving-kindness and charity of Mary, Virgin and Mother, Queen of Heaven, and lastly the glory on high of Angels, Saints and men; then the terrible contrast to this, the pains of the impious in Hell; then the middle world, so to speak, between Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, the Ladder of souls destined after expiation to supreme beatitude. It is indeed marvellous how he was able to weave into all three poems these three dogmas with truly wrought design.

"Therefore the divine poet depicted the triple life of souls as he imagined it in a such way as to illuminate with the light of the true doctrine of the faith the condemnation of the impious, the purgation of the good spirits and the eternal happiness of the blessed before the final judgment.

"There breathes in Alighieri the piety that we too feel; the Faith has the same meaning for us; it is covered with the same veil, "the truth given to us from on high, by which we are lifted so high." That is his great glory, to be the Christian poet, to have sung with Divine accents those Christian ideals which he so passionately loved in all the splendour of their beauty, feeling them intimately and making them his life.

"And you, beloved children, whose lot it is to promote learning under the magisterium of the Church, continue as you are doing to love and tend the noble poet whom We do not hesitate to call the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea. The more profit you draw from study of him the higher will be your culture, irradiated by the splendours of truth, and the stronger and more spontaneous your devotion to the Catholic Faith."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Kneeling Theology, Praying Theology

We need a listening theology, a kneeling theology, a praying theology--not a hermeneutic of suspician, but a hermeneutic of adoration. Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn put it well, in three points, a few years ago:

"The first interest in theology has to be a common look at the object. It is not of primary interest what this or that theologian has said about Christ; rather, the passion in theology has to be to know Christ himself, to approach his mystery, to approach Christ himself.

"Who is Christ? That is the path of theology. If a theologian can help us find a better approach to Christ, that is good. But it is not my first interest to have my method, my methodology, and to defend it against others. I want to approach reality.

"The second point: Back to the masters. It is so sad to lose time with secondary authors. Read St. Irenaeus, read St. Anselm, read the Church Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure--but do not read all the secondary stuff that floats around our libraries. In Germany there are 7,000 theological titles published every year. Who can read all this stuff without getting indention? It is much better to have read, during theological formation, the Confessions of St. Augustine, than a book about Augustine.

"Third point: the saints are the true theologians. If we consider what theology truly is, we must consider what St. Thomas Aquinas says about connaturality to the object. The study of languages is important-Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, if possible-but this is not enough if the seminarian does not grow in a certain connaturality with the object. That means he learns not only by intellect, but by experience. St. Thomas speaks, with Dionysius the Aeropagite, about the pati divina-not just to approach the things of God, the reality of God-but to suffer it, to be formed by what we study, to be tranformed by the object. This is the meaning of connaturality with what we study: familiarity with it.

"The best formation comes when we become familiar with Christ, when the Holy Spirit leads our thoughts and our heart, and grace transforms our habits. Then we judge theologically, not only by reason, but by the heart. We made a judgment not only through intellectual knowledge, but through a spiritual intuition about what is right and what is wrong. It is vital during theological studies, then, to read the saints. Isn't it true that only great intellectual capacity joined with true sanctity makes the true theologian?

"My last point is the relation between study and prayer. It is an obvious point, but one worth recalling. Theology is sound only if it is a praying theology."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What is the Good of Theology?

So what is the good of reading & discussing all this theology?

The human intellect, perceiving the Beauty of God's Revelation in Jesus Christ, and receiving the Grace & Splendour of that Beauty, strives to understand it, to make sense of it, both in the context of all the rest of human knowledge as well as in the Glory of God. And it is only thus that human love can be motivated to love God and our neighbor. Thus Beauty, Truth, & Goodness are all linked, all together drawing us human beings up into God through Jesus.

And we must do this theology not in a hermeneutic of suspician but in a hermeneutic of adoration, of beholding, or reception, of bathing in the Beauty of God.

A good start---Hans Urs von Balthasar's Love Alone is Credible!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sts Simon & Jude

So little or nothing is known about these two Apostles, except their names, and even there there's some confusion of memory. (And that should be a reminder of humility to not a few bishops nowadays!) So why do we remember them with a Feast?

Well, they were Apostles, chosen, sent, the proclaimers of the New Israel, the beginnings of the new Church. And we are members of the House of God built upon those foundation stones of the Apostles.

Further, they--the Apostles--gave us the banquet of Christ's Body & Blood, the saving waters of Baptism, the cleansing forgiveness of Penance, and the words & deeds of the Sacraments.

And their sound has gone out unto all the world, and it continues to do so in their hand-picked successors the Bishops of the world--who recently gathered in Synod to pray and talk and proclaim the Beauty of the Eucharist.

So even if Sts Simon & Jude are obscure Apostles, well, so too are most of the Bishops. Yet here we are, listening, celebrating, praying, and receiving the Sacraments that draw us closer and closer into the Beauty of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


In today's Office of Readings, this beautiful passage from the Book of Wisdom sings of the Wisdom of God---and in it we can begin to explore the relationship between the inner life of the Holy Trinity, the the creation and redemption of humanity, and the pattern of human moral life.

"All that is hidden, all that is plain, I have come to know, instructed by Wisdom who designed them all.

"For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
active, incisive, unsullied,
lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, sharp,
irresistible, beneficent, loving to man,
steadfast, dependable, unperturbed,
almighty, all-surveying,
penetrating all intelligent, pure
and most subtle spirits;
for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion;
she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things.

"She is a breath of the power of God,
pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
hence nothing impure can find a way into her.
She is a reflection of the eternal light,
untarnished mirror of God’s active power,
image of his goodness.

"Although alone, she can do all;
herself unchanging, she makes all things new.
In each generation she passes into holy souls,
she makes them friends of God and prophets;
for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom.
She is indeed more splendid than the sun,
she outshines all the constellations;
compared with light, she takes first place,
for light must yield to night,
but over Wisdom evil can never triumph."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pope Benedict at 6 months

Of course, it doesn't matter what I think of the Pope . . .at least, it scarcely matters what my evaluation of his first 6 months might review; but I am grateful and joyous for his words, his example, and his beauty. And I would like to point out just three examples: It is easy enough to gain copies of his speeches: if Cardinal Manning once wanted a new Papal Document on his daily breakfast table, it's simple enough nowadays with the internet!

1) On the Church: His homilies, speeches, and messages during his first 100 days as Pope, from the Election through Corpus Christi, all seemed to explore a beautiful theology of the Church. The beautiful communion that is the Church, the inner-relations of the followers of Jesus, the historical and visible reality of the Church, the apostolic communion of all the bishops and the bishop of Rome, and our communion in the Eucharist--all presented and contemplated in an evocative and wonderful manner.

2) World Youth Day: His speeches & messages throughout the visit to Cologne also make a beautiful and enriching read--all pointing toward the transformation we can experience through Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a transformation of love that is truly revolutionary!

3) Eros & Beauty: Influenced no doubt by the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Pope Benedict points us continually toward the Beauty of faith, the Beauty of the Love of God, the Beauty of redemption in Jesus Christ.

So much for the Grand Inquisitor! But if a quotation from Dostoyevsky is needed, we might remember the vision of the Prince in The Idiot: "The world will be saved by Beauty!"

Hurray for Pope Benedict XVI in this Springtime of the Church!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What is a Saint?

With ihs beautiful clarity, Pope Benedict linked the Eucharist and being a Saint--in his homily for the close of the Synod:
"In the Eucharist, we contemplate the sacrament of this living synthesis of the law: Christ gives us, with himself, the full realization of the love for God and the love for our brothers. And this love of his, he communicates to us when we are nourished by his Body and his Blood. This is when what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in today's reading is achieved: "You broke with the worship of false gods and became the servants of the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9). This conversion is the beginning of the path of holiness that the Christian is called to achieve in his own existence.

"The saint is he who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his perfect truth to be progressively transformed by it. Because of this beauty and truth, he is ready to renounce everything, even himself. The love of God is enough, which he experiences in the humble and disinterested service to the neighbor, especially to those who cannot give back in return.

"How providential, in this perspective, is the fact that today the Church points out to all its members five new saints who, nourished by Christ the living bread, were converted to love and modeled their whole existence to this! In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and the neighbor as themselves to thus become "an example to all believers" (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)."

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Bread of Life

Little could be more theologically profound than the concept of the Friendship of Jesus, especially as Pope Benedict explained to the little children who asked:
Anna: "Dear Pope, can you explain to us what Jesus meant when he said to the people who were following him: 'I am the bread of life?'"

Benedict XVI: First of all, perhaps we should explain clearly what bread is. Today, we have a refined cuisine, rich in very different foods, but in simpler situations bread is the basic source of nourishment; and when Jesus called himself the bread of life, the bread is, shall we say, the initial, an abbreviation that stands for all nourishment.
And as we need to nourish our bodies in order to live, so we also need to nourish our spirits, our souls and our wills. As human persons, we do not only have bodies but also souls; we are thinking beings with minds and wills. We must also nourish our spirits and our souls, so that they can develop and truly attain their fulfillment.

And therefore, if Jesus says: "I am the bread of life," it means that Jesus himself is the nourishment we need for our soul, for our inner self, because the soul also needs food. And technical things do not suffice, although they are so important. We really need God's friendship, which helps us to make the right decisions. We need to mature as human beings. In other words: Jesus nourishes us so that we can truly become mature people and our lives become good.

Adriano: "Holy Father, they've told us that today we will have Eucharistic adoration. What is it? How is it done? Can you explain it to us? Thank you."

Benedict XVI: We will see straightaway what adoration is and how it is done, because everything has been properly prepared for it: We will say prayers, we will sing, kneel, and in this way we will be in Jesus' presence.
But of course, your question requires a deeper answer: not only how you do adoration but what adoration is. I would say: Adoration is recognizing that Jesus is my Lord, that Jesus shows me the way to take, and that I will live well only if I know the road that Jesus points out and follow the path he shows me.

Therefore, adoration means saying: "Jesus, I am yours. I will follow you in my life, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion with you." I could also say that adoration is essentially an embrace with Jesus in which I say to him: "I am yours, and I ask you, please stay with me always."

Now here is our great Pope who fulfills his Petrine Office by pointing us to Jesus Christ. These are words of hope. These are words of life.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Going to Mass

A little guilt can do some good prodding: as the Pope answered a child who asked: Giulia: "Your Holiness, everyone tells us that it is important to go to Mass on Sunday. We would gladly go to it, but often our parents do not take us because on Sundays they sleep. The parents of a friend of mine work in a shop, and we often go to the country to visit our grandparents. Could you say something to them, to make them understand that it is important to go to Mass together on Sundays?"

Benedict XVI: I would think so, of course, with great love and great respect for your parents, because they certainly have a lot to do. However, with a daughter's respect and love, you could say to them: "Dear Mommy, dear Daddy, it is so important for us all, even for you, to meet Jesus. This encounter enriches us. It is an important element in our lives. Let's find a little time together, we can find an opportunity. Perhaps there is also a possibility where Grandma lives."

In brief, I would say, with great love and respect for your parents, I would tell them: "Please understand that this is not only important for me, it is not only catechists who say it, it is important for us all. And it will be the light of Sunday for all our family."

And this little prod is not just a nod for the private family, but also for whole societies and the whole world, as we learn in the Pope's answer to another child's question:Alessandro: "What good does it do for our everyday life to go to holy Mass and receive Communion?"

Benedict XVI: It centers life. We live amid so many things. And the people who do not go to church, do not know that it is precisely Jesus they lack. But they feel that something is missing in their lives. If God is absent from my life, if Jesus is absent from my life, a guide, an essential friend is missing, even an important joy for life, the strength to grow as a man, to overcome my vices and mature as a human being.
Therefore, we cannot immediately see the effects of being with Jesus and of going to Communion. But with the passing of the weeks and years, we feel more and more keenly the absence of God, the absence of Jesus. It is a fundamental and destructive incompleteness. I could easily speak of countries where atheism has prevailed for years: how souls are destroyed, but also the earth. In this way we can see that it is important, and I would say fundamental, to be nourished by Jesus in Communion. It is he who gives us enlightenment, offers us guidance for our lives, a guidance that we need.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

Pope Benedict instructs us all . . .and would that we were all as the little child who asked:
Andrea: "In preparing me for my First Communion day, my catechist told me that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But how? I can't see him!"

Benedict XVI: No, we cannot see him, but there are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential. For example: we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see our intelligence and we have it. In a word: we do not see our soul and yet it exists and we see its effects, because we can speak, think and make decisions, etc. Nor do we see an electric current, for example, yet we see that it exists; we see this microphone, that it is working, and we see lights. Therefore, we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects. This is also true for electricity; we do not see the electric current but we see the light.

So it is with the Risen Lord: We do not see him with our eyes but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, they improve. A greater capacity for peace, for reconciliation, etc., is created. Therefore, we do not see the Lord himself but we see the effects of the Lord: So we can understand that Jesus is present. And as I said, it is precisely the invisible things that are the most profound, the most important. So let us go to meet this invisible but powerful Lord who helps us to live well.

The Cleansing of the Soul

Perhaps if we really wanted to learn the best relationship between the Eucharist and Confession, we might all follow Pope Benedict's advice to the little child who asked . . .

Livia: "Holy Father, before the day of my First Communion I went to confession. I have also been to confession on other occasions. I wanted to ask you: Do I have to go to confession every time I receive Communion, even when I have committed the same sins? Because I realize that they are always the same."

Benedict XVI: I will tell you two things. The first, of course, is that you do not always have to go to confession before you receive Communion unless you have committed such serious sins that they need to be confessed. Therefore, it is not necessary to make one's confession before every Eucharistic Communion. This is the first point. It is only necessary when you have committed a really serious sin, when you have deeply offended Jesus, so that your friendship is destroyed and you have to start again. Only in that case, when you are in a state of "mortal" sin, in other words, grave [sin], is it necessary to go to confession before Communion. This is my first point.

My second point: Even if, as I said, it is not necessary to go to confession before each Communion, it is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true: Our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen but it builds up.

Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: If I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and in the end I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve, that I must make progress. And this cleansing of the soul which Jesus gives us in the sacrament of confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons. Therefore, two things: Confession is only necessary in the case of a serious sin, but it is very helpful to confess regularly in order to foster the cleanliness and beauty of the soul and to mature day by day in life.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Catachesis & Disputation

For all the disputations & interventions & discussions at the Synod, one could exchange them all for a few moments with the Holy Father in his First Communion catachesis for children. A child asked him:
Andrea [asked the first question]: "Dear Pope, what are your memories of your First Communion day?"

Benedict XVI: I would first like to say thank you for this celebration of faith that you are offering to me, for your presence and for your joy. I greet you and thank you for the hug I have received from some of you, a hug that, of course, symbolically stands for you all.

As for the question, of course I remember my First Communion day very well. It was a lovely Sunday in March 1936, 69 years ago. It was a sunny day, the church looked very beautiful, there was music. ... There were so many beautiful things that I remember. There were about 30 of us, boys and girls from my little village of no more than 500 inhabitants.

But at the heart of my joyful and beautiful memories is this one -- and your spokesperson said the same thing: I understood that Jesus had entered my heart, he had actually visited me. And with Jesus, God himself was with me. And I realized that this is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the other things that life can give.
So on that day I was really filled with great joy, because Jesus came to me and I realized that a new stage in my life was beginning, I was 9 years old, and that it was henceforth important to stay faithful to that encounter, to that communion. I promised the Lord as best I could: "I always want to stay with you," and I prayed to him, "but above all, stay with me." So I went on living my life like that; thanks be to God, the Lord has always taken me by the hand and guided me, even in difficult situations.
Thus, that day of my First Communion was the beginning of a journey made together. I hope that for all of you too, the First Communion you have received in this Year of the Eucharist will be the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Jesus, the beginning of a journey together, because in walking with Jesus we do well and life becomes good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Homily at the Synod, part 4

"We come to the third element of today's readings. The Lord, in both the Old and New Testament, announced the judgment of the unfaithful vineyard. The judgment that Isaiah foresaw has been realized in the great wars and exiles imposed by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The judgment, announced by the Lord Jesus, refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.

"But the threat of judgment affects us also, the Church in Europe, the Church of the West in general. With this Gospel the Lord also cries out in our ears the words he addressed in Revelation to the Church in Ephesus: "I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent" (2:5). The light can also be taken away from us, and we would do well to allow this warning in all its seriousness to resonate in our souls, crying out at the same time to the Lord: "Help us to be converted! Give us the grace of an authentic renewal! Do not permit the light to be extinguished among us! Reinforce our faith, our hope and our love so that we can bear good fruit!"

"At this point, a question arises: "But, is there not a promise, a word of consolation in today's reading and evangelical page? Is the threat the last word?" No! There is a promise and it is the last word, the essential one. We hear it in the alleluia verse, taken from John's Gospel: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit" (John 15:5).

"With these words of the Lord, John illustrates for us the last, the authentic end of the history of God's vineyard -- God does not fail. At the end, he triumphs -- love triumphs. There is already a veiled allusion to this in the parable of the vineyard proposed by today's Gospel and in its conclusive words. In it, the son's death is not the end of history, although it does not say so directly. But Jesus expresses this death through a new image taken from the Psalm: "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Matthew 21:42; Psalm 117:22).

"From the son's death life arises, a new building is made, a new vineyard. In Cana, he changed the water into wine, he transformed his blood into the wine of true love and in this way transforms the wine into his blood. In the Cenacle he anticipated his death and transformed in into the gift of himself, in an act of radical love. His blood is gift, it is love and for this reason it is the true wine that the creator was expecting. In this way, Christ himself became the vineyard and that vineyard always bears good fruit -- the presence of his love for us, which is indestructible.

"These words converge in the end in the mystery of the Eucharist, in which the Lord gives us the bread of life and the wine of his love and invites us to the feast of eternal love. We celebrate the Eucharist with the awareness that its price was the son's death, the sacrifice of his life, which remains present in it. Every time we eat this bread and drink this chalice, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes, says St. Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26).

"But we also know that from this death life arises, as Jesus transformed it in a gesture of oblation, into an act of love, transforming it profoundly: Love has conquered death. In the holy Eucharist, from the cross he draws all men to himself (John 12:32) and he converts us into branches of the vine, which is himself. If we remain united to him, then we will also bear fruit, then we will no longer bear the vinegar of self-sufficiency, of the discontent of God and of his creation, but the good wine of God's joy and of love of neighbor.

"Let us pray to the Lord to grant us his grace so that in the three weeks of the synod that we are beginning not only will we say beautiful things about the Eucharist, but we will live from his strength. Let us pray for the gift through Mary, dear synodal fathers, whom I greet with affection, together with the different communities that you come from and that you here represent, so that being docile to the action of the Holy Spirit we might be able to help the world to be converted -- in Christ and with Christ -- into the fruitful vine of God. Amen."

--from Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the opening of the Synod on the Eucharist

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Homily at the Synod, part 3

"In this way, we have come to the second fundamental thought of today's readings. It speaks above all of the goodness of God's creation and of the greatness of the election with which he seeks and loves us. But it also speaks about the history that occurred later, man's failure.

"God had planted choice vines and yet they yielded wild grapes. What are the wild grapes? The good grapes that God expected, says the prophet, would have consisted in justice and uprightness. Wild grapes on the contrary are violence, the shedding of blood and oppression, which make people groan under the yoke of injustice.

"In the Gospel, the image changes: The vineyard produces good grapes, but the tenant winegrowers keep them. They are not willing to give them to the proprietor. They beat and kill his messengers and kill his son. Their motivation is simple: They want to become proprietors; they take what does not belong to them.

"In the Old Testament, what appears first of all is the accusation of the violation of social justice, contempt for man by man. Deep down, however, one sees that with contempt for the Torah, for the law given by God, there is contempt for God himself; there is only a desire to enjoy power itself. This aspect is fully underlined in Jesus' parable: The tenants do not want to have a master and these tenants serve as a mirror for us, men, who usurp the creation which has been entrusted to us to manage.

"We want to be the sole owners in the first person. We want to possess the world and our own life in an unlimited manner. God annoys us or we make of him a simple devout phrase or deny him altogether, eradicating him from public life, so that in this way he no longer has any meaning at all. Tolerance that only admits God as a private opinion, but that denies him the public domain, the reality of the world and of our life, is not tolerance but hypocrisy.

"Whenever man becomes the only owner of the world and proprietor of himself there can be no justice. Only the expedient of power and interests con dominate there. It is true, the son can be expelled from the vineyard and killed to enjoy selfishly the fruits of the earth. But then the vineyard soon becomes an uncultivated plot, trampled on by wild boars, as the responsorial psalm says (cf. Psalm 79:14)."

--Pope Benedict XVI, from the Homily for the opening of the Synod

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Homily at the Synod, part 2

"The first thought of today's reading is this: God has infused in man, created in his image, the capacity to love and, consequently, the capacity to love him, his creator. With the prophet Isaiah's canticle of love, God wanted to speak to the heart of his people and also to each one of us.

""I have created you in my image and likeness," he tells us. "I myself am love and you are my image in the measure that the splendor of love shines in you, in the measure in which you respond to me with love."

"God waits for us. He wants us to love Him: Should not such a call touch our hearts? Precisely in this hour, in which we celebrate the Eucharist, in which we open the Synod on the Eucharist, He comes to meet us, He comes to meet me. Will he find a response? Or will it be with us as it was with the vineyard, of which God says in Isaiah: "he looked for it to yield grapes but it yielded wild grapes." Is not our life often, perhaps, more vinegar than wine? Self-pity, conflict, indifference?"

--Pope Benedict XVI, from the homily for the opening of the Synod

Monday, October 03, 2005

Homily at the Synod

"This Sunday's readings, taken from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel, present us with one of the great images of sacred Scripture: the image of the vineyard.

"In sacred Scripture, bread represents everything man needs for his daily life. Water gives the earth fertility: It is the fundamental gift that makes life possible. Wine, on the contrary, expresses the exquisiteness of creation, it gives us the feast that goes beyond the limits of daily life: Wine "gladdens the heart."

"In this way, wine and with it the vine have also become the image of the gift of love, in which we can have a certain experience of the taste of the divine. And so the reading of the prophet, which we just heard, begins with a canticle of love: God created a vineyard, image of his history of love with humanity, of his love for Israel which he chose."

--Pope Benedict XVI, homily for the opening of the Synod on the Eucharist