In a message for the 500th Anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in what is now Argentina, Pope Francis invites the faithful to live out the words of Jesus: “Do this in memory of me”.
By Christopher Wells
On Wednesday, 1 April, the Bishop of Río Gallegos, Bishop Jorge García Cuerva, presided over a Eucharistic celebration in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the first Mass celebrated on Argentinian soil.
The Liturgy was originally scheduled to take place in Puerto San Julián, where the first Mass in Argentina was celebrated in 1520. However, in view of restrictions imposed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bishop García Cuerva celebrated the anniversary Mass in the Bishop’s chapel in Rio Gallegos, without the presence of the faithful.
Jesus accompanies Argentina in Eucharist
In his message for the Anniversary, Pope Francis recognized the pain felt by the people at not being able to celebrate the event as they had intended. “We are like the disciples of Emmaus”, he wrote, “walking with ‘a sad face’ because of what is happening, uneasy about how it will develop and worried about the consequences it will leave”. But, he continued, like the disciples, we can say to Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent”. The hidden presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has accompanied Argentina for five hundred years, the Pope said. “He is in our midst, accompanying our journey”.
Living the words of Jesus
Pope Francis said that in these days it is “essential that we are able to remember and learn this Eucharistic sense that only the Lord can teach us”. The Lord’s words, “Do this in memory of me”, “continue to resound in the various towns, parishes, chapels, hospitals, schools, houses, cities, and neighbourhoods”, the Pope said. It is an opportunity to ensure that everyone has food to eat, “that no one is left by the wayside”. “‘Do this in memory of me’ means allowing oneself to be taken, blessed, and given as bread broken and shared for the life of the world”, said Pope Francis, taking up the words of St John Paul II.
In his letter to Bishop García Cuerva, Pope Francis said, “Dear brother, although you will be physically celebrating alone, your people, our Argentinian people, will be accompanying you”. And, he added, “I am also joining you from here [in Rome], as a son and a part of this People of God who gives thanks and celebrates the Lord’s faithfulness”.