VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict said the Eucharist is the heart of Church life and an "antidote" to the increasingly individualistic global culture.
Addressing pilgrims June 26 on the feast of Corpus Christi, which commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the pope said the Eucharist was like the "pulsing heart" that gives life and meaning to everything the Church does.
As the sacrament of communion, it is able to transform people's lives, leading them to God, he said.
"In a culture that is more and more individualistic — a culture in which we are immersed in Western society, and that tends to spread itself throughout the world — the Eucharist constitutes a type of 'antidote,'" the pope said.
"It works in the minds and hearts of believers and continually disseminates in them the logic of communion, of service, of sharing — in short, the logic of the Gospel," he said.
The pope said this spirit, nourished by the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, was evident in the lives of the early Christians. People in the early Church lived fraternally and shared their worldly goods in common, so that no one was impoverished.
"And even in later generations through the centuries, the Church, despite human limits and errors, continued to be a force of communion in the world.
"We think especially of the most difficult periods of trial: what it meant, for example, in countries ruled by totalitarian regimes, to be able to gather at Sunday Mass," he said.
Against the emptiness produced by a false sense of freedom, the pope said, the Eucharist is like a medicine that helps people regain an attachment to the truth and the common good.