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How is the Eucharist relevant for us today? (The 51st IEC Catechesis––Second of a series)
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The powerful catechesis during the 51st IEC provided the basic foundation for Catholics on the why and how we should experience the Eucharistic mystery, and the communion between Christ and the Church.

On the second day, the Most Rev. Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, OFM,DD delivered the catechesis on the topic Christ in you, our Hope of Glory: A Pastoral Reflection on Colossians 1:27.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Robert Barron, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, spoke about The Eucharist: Celebration of the Paschal Mystery. One of the most awaited speakers of the IEC, Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire and creator of the Catholicism video series. In his catechesis, Bishop Barron focused on the hungering for the bread of life by recalling three classic rubrics—the Eucharist as a meal (Luke 24, road to Emmaus), the Eucharist as a sacrifice (Matthew 26, the institution of the Eucharist), and the Eucharist as real presence (John 6, the miraculous feeding of the 5,000).

Bishop Barron likewise expressed his appreciation to the Philippine Church, citing it as the most dynamic he has encountered. “I experienced it directly in America! Filipinos keep the parishes going,” Bishop Barron mentioned during the press conference following the morning session.

On January 27, Most Rev. Thomas Menamparampil, SDB,DD, the apostolic administrator of Diocese of Jowai, appointed by Pope Francis last February 3, 2014, gave the catechesis on The Eucharist as Mission, Mission as Dialogue.

Bishop Menamparampil began, “The most significant dimension of the Eucharist is that the ‘Communion’ it creates is for a Mission. In fact the Eucharist is Mission.” He added that drawing society together itself is “a great Mission today in a fragmented world, when people feel pulled apart in all directions by forces beyond their control: ethnic hatred, political anger, collective greed. In the Eucharist, with the announcement of the Word and the gift of himself, Jesus summons every tribe and tongue and people and nation unto himself (Revelations 14:6). For God’s plan for the human family is that they be One.”

“The Eucharist acts as the bond of togetherness and communion among Christian believers,” Bishop Menamparampil told the congregation. He emphasized, “But the love generated within Christian family does not remain idle there; it reaches out to the entire society, going beyond differences of caste, class, ethnicity, nationality, and economic background. It leaves no room for personal egoism, selfish ambition, or collective hatred; nor admits of any reasons for inter-community conflict.”

The next day, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, DD of the Archdiocese of Manila spoke about The Eucharist and the Dialogue with Cultures. Cardinal Tagle tagged Jesus as a reshaper of culture in biblical times, going against what is common and the norm, and challenged the faithful: “Why does the church engage in dialogue with cultures? How can we approach dialogue more simply in the context of cultures?”

“If the Gospel is to be a leaven of transformation, we need to know the Gospel, but we also need to meet people in their cultures. We need cultural intelligence for the sake of the Gospel and of humanity,” the Cardinal added.

He then exhorted the congregation to turn to the Eucharist which offers an experience of another culture, the culture of convocation or convocare.

On Day 6, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, DD of the Archdiocese of Abuja, gave the catechesis on The Eucharist: Dialogue with the Poor and the Suffering. He cited different types of poverty?material, spiritual, social, etc. But according to him, the most immediate poverty that needs to be addressed in this present context is material poverty, which sometimes becomes misery and inhuman standard of living.

“Such poverty is NOT inevitable. Rather, it is due to human failures, like bad distribution of earth’s goods because of injustice and greed,” Cardinal Onaiyekan told the congregation.

He added, “But there is also spiritual poverty. This should not be confused with what Jesus means when He says, ‘Blessed are you who are Poor in Spirit’. (Luke 6:20) Rather we are talking of a spiritual poverty that is a lack of spiritual values, expressing itself in form of selfishness.”

“The church is supposed to be a sacrament of the presence of God in our world. In the question of justice in our world, the church should be where the Eucharist is seen at work,” Cardinal Onaiyekan exhorted.

“The church should be the sign, a model of how the Eucharist meets the needs of the poor. In our Eucharistic Assembly, the poor must be given their dignity and in our Eucharistic banquet, the concern for the needs of the poor must go beyond the church door into the world out there,” he added.

The catechesis on The Eucharist in the Church’s Dialogue with Religions was given by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, DD. In his talk, the Archbishop of Mumbai told the faithful, “Asia, the largest and most populous continent, is the cradle of all the major religions of the world. This multi-cultural and multi-religious background of the people of Asia poses an enormous challenge to unity.”

“Hence, one of the essential tasks of Christianity is to be a witness to the values of the Kingdom of God by proclamation and dialogue,” the prelate added. He likewise touched on the importance of food as an element that leads to mutual understanding.

On the last day of catechesis, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, DD of the Archdiocese of New York talked about The Eucharist and Mary, quoting the great American evangelist, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: “The mark of a genuine Catholic is the ability to detect the divine in a mother holding her baby in a manger at Bethlehem; and in the bread and wine miraculously transformed at Mass.”

He further emphasized the importance of Mary in the Eucharist when he cited Pueblo amante de Maria, the title of the hymn for the International Eucharistic Congress held in Manila almost eight decades ago. He went on to speak about the Eucharist as meal, sacrifice and presence, and how Mary animates each of these three ways of looking at the gift and mystery of the Eucharist.


The International Eucharistic Congress was held in Cebu City, Philippines last January 24 to the 31st, with 15,000 delegates?clergy, religious and lay?coming from more than 70 countries. (A. Alvarez)




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