To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his Sacrament is one of the most genuine experiences of our being Church, which is complemented by the celebration of the Eucharist, by listening to the word of God, by singing and by approaching the table of the Bread of Life together.
Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go hand in hand. If I am truly to communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to listen to him and look at him lovingly.
True love and true friendship are always nourished by the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter may be lived profoundly and personally rather than superficially.
The sacred has an educational function and its disappearance inevitably impoverishes culture and especially the formation of the new generations. If, for example, in the name of a faith that is secularised and no longer in need of sacred signs, Corpus Christi processions were to be abolished, our spiritual profile would be "flattened out", and our personal and community awareness would be weakened.
Or let us think of a mother or father who in the name of a desacralised faith, deprived their children of all religious rituals: in reality they would end by giving a free hand to the many substitutes that exist in the consumer society, to other rites and other signs that could more easily become idols.
God, our Father, did not do this with humanity: he sent his Son into the world not to abolish, but to give fulfilment also to the sacred. At the height of this mission, at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood, the Memorial of his Paschal Sacrifice. By so doing he replaced the ancient sacrifices with himself, but he did so in a rite which he commanded the Apostles to perpetuate, as a supreme sign of the true Sacred One who is he himself.
The above are edited extracts from Pope Benedict XVI's homily in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran for the Feast of Corpus Christi, 7 June 2012.