Jun 21, 2008

Celebrating with Family, The Newest Shepherds & Unpacking from the Mountain...

Presiding at today’s Eucharistic Celebration was His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. You may recall that Cardinal Arinze was one of the “papabile” mentioned in 2005 as a potential successor to Pope John Paul II. While the Cardinal was originally born in Nigeria, he has spent several decades at the Vatican – this year marks his 50th anniversary of priesthood. Incidentally, at the time of his elevation to bishop in 1965, at the age of 32, he was the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world.

At the front of the procession was a local family, who made their way to an area beside the altar that was then set as a table for a family meal, complete with candles. This simple symbolism helped visualize the idea of Eucharist as a simple meal with Christ and friends.

The procession also included some new faces – 12 of Quebec’s newest priests, ordained Friday evening in a gathering of thousands at the Colisée. Talk about a great first day on the job – entering to the thunderous applause of thousands and processing with Cardinal and Bishops from around the world – memo to the newly ordained, it’s not like this every day, but for now, take it all in and enjoy!

Cardinal Arinze’s homily, beginning in french, focused on the commandment of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

“The Lord tells us to how bring this to life - there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. That’s exactly what Jesus did for all of us. Jesus gave us the supreme witness of love.”

Today’s 2nd reading is one that most would be familiar with, heard most often at weddings – the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians that speaks of love (Love is patient, love is kind, etc.) Cardinal Arinze reminded the congregation that the Eucharist sends us forth to share our love and solidarity with those in need, especially the poor, hungry, sick, prisoners, handicapped, seniors and the homeless. Works of charity done on their behalf are concrete signs we are living out the Eucharist we have just celebrated.

Shifting to english, Cardinal Arinze also focused on holy men and women, examples of saints both past and present as witnesses of Christ in the world. He referenced the lives of Saint Josephine Batika, St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Thomas More.

Following the final blessing, representatives of the Innu community performed a native dance of thanks on behalf of the aboriginal community.

This afternoon provided Archdiocesan pilgrims an opportunity to process their experience to date. Small group discussions touched on the story of the disciples on the road to Emaus, allowing pilgrims to share in small groups and begin to look at how to bring what has been absorbed this week back to their own community.

Large events like the International Eucharistic Congress, sometimes referred to as “mountain top” experiences, provide new energy and enthusiasm for us on our faith journey. However, it is critical that we take time to process these moments and see them as part of the complete picture. Of course we can’t replicate mass with 10,000 people each week in our parish, homilies may not be as dynamic, parishioners may not participate to the level we’d like. We can’t take moments like the IEC and try to recreate them back home. Instead we can give thanks for these grace filled moments and look for opportunities to affect change in simple ways based on what we`ve learned this week.

We can start with ourselves. Our processing did just that, asking questions about “my own action plan” and how I plan to implement it back home. The IEC is a wonderful moment for the life of the Church but it needs to bear fruit and inspire tangible action from us all.

Photos: Emanuel Pires

Speakers this week have challenged us to “live the Eucharist” – while the talk at times shifted to political leaders, they were here to speak to us. That’s where it needs to begin - with parishioners, priests and bishops. Our group sharing today will hopefully allow us to see the Eucharist as Gift of God for the life of the world not just for seven days in Quebec City but every day in every community in our global village. As we get ready to come down from the mountain top, the real heavy lifting begins…

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