Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pope's Homily at Eucharistic Congress

The Pope's homily from the International Eucharistic Congress has been translated by Zenit and full-text is now available here. He touched on a number of interesting topics, several of which have been discussed on this blog in the past. I have also linked to information about the Canadian saints and beati that he mentioned in the homily. 

It is, therefore, particularly important that pastors and faithful dedicate themselves permanently to furthering their knowledge of this great sacrament. Each one will thus be able to affirm his faith and fulfill ever better his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling that there is a fruitfulness of the Eucharist in his personal life, in the life of the Church and of the world. The Spirit of truth gives witness in your hearts; you also must give witness to Christ before men, as the antiphon states in the alleluia of this Mass. Participation in the Eucharist, then, does not distance us from our contemporaries; on the contrary, because it is the expression par excellence of the love of God, it calls us to be involved with all our brothers to address the present challenges and to make the planet a place where it is good to live.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to struggle ceaselessly so that every person will be respected from his conception until his natural death; that our rich societies welcome the poorest and allow them their dignity; that all persons be able to find nourishment and enable their families to live; that peace and justice may shine in all continents. These are some of the challenges that must mobilize all our contemporaries and for which Christians must draw their strength in the Eucharistic mystery.

snip.

Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament -- by this we mean deepening our communion, preparing for it and prolonging it -- is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11:11; cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 577).

We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great have all said, following Saint Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17), the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church's unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honor Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.

I would also like to invite the pastors and faithful to a renewed care in their preparation for reception of the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wills to make his dwelling in us, asking him for healing. To bring this about, we must do everything that is in our power to receive him with a pure heart, ceaselessly rediscovering, through the sacrament of penance, the purity that sin has stained, "putting our soul and our voice in accord," according to the invitation of the Council (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No.11). In fact, sin, especially grave sin, is opposed to the action of Eucharistic grace in us. However, those who cannot go to communion because of their situation, will find nevertheless in a communion of desire and in participation in the Mass saving strength and efficacy.

The Eucharist had an altogether special place in the lives of saints. Let us thank God for the history of holiness of Quebec and Canada, which contributed to the missionary life of the Church. Your country honors especially its Canadian martyrs, Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, who were able to give up their lives for Christ, thus uniting themselves to his sacrifice on the Cross. They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church of Canada, with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d'Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, Marie-Catherine of Saint Augustine, Mgr Francis of Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Belanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. Put yourselves in their school; like them, be without fear; God accompanies you and protects you; make of each day an offering to the glory of God the Father and take your part in the building of the world, remembering with pride your religious heritage and its social and cultural brilliance, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.

The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of covenant. "The prayers and the rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice make the whole history of salvation revive ceaselessly before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle, and make us penetrate ever more its significance" (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, [Edith Stein], Wege zur inneren Stille Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of covenant by conforming our life increasingly every day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as Vatican Council II reminds: "Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree " ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 7). In a certain way, it is a "heavenly liturgy," anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, until he comes (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26)...


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Evangelization and the Eucharistic Congress

More from the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec... 

This is a good account from the Archdiocese of Toronto blog of the testimony of Jose H. Prado Flores who founded the San Andres School of Evangelization. 

This morning’s witness talk was given by Mr. Jose H. Prado Flores, Director/Founder of the San Andres School of Evangelization. He spoke in spanish of his own faith journey, comparing it to a can of Diet Coke – light, with zero calories. While he studied theology and was a student of the church, everything was in his head but hadn’t been transferred to his heart.

Filled with great energy and a knack for humour, Mr. Flores used several props throughout his presentation to illustrate his points. A frozen steak was presented to illustrate that his faith was frozen, a remote control touched on our desire to change the channel when life is not going as we would like. A road map was produced to speak of the fact that while God has ultimate control we still want to control the direction of our life and where we are headed.

Finally a balloon was inflated to show that we can all be filled with the word of God – our tendency is to tie up the balloon as opposed to letting the Holy Spirit move where it needs to be. The visual of bishops and the congregation joyfully blowing up their balloons and just “letting go” was a powerful message that led to a standing ovation and plenty of food for thought.

Mr. Flores has helped found over 2,000 schools in 61 countries, providing evangelization to communities around the world. Today, another 11,000 were schooled in what it means to live one’s faith, to let go and let God be God…

Sounds amazing. 

I hope to blog on the Pope's homily from yesterday's Statio Orbis Mass when the full English text becomes available on the Vatican website.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuân

Yesterday, those tuning into the proceedings of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec heard the testimony of Elizabeth Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, the sister of the late Archbishop of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and President of the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuân. Those of you familiar with his writings and the story of his life are well aware of his great witness to Jesus Christ. His sufferings were tremendous: 13 years in a Vietnamese prison, 9 years in solitary confinement, the inability to freely shepherd his flock, and finally the incurable stomach cancer that killed him in 2002. However, throughout it all he had his gaze totally fixed on Jesus, particularly in His Eucharistic Presence. Elizabeth had much to say about her brother and his relationship with our Lord, but for our purposes her meditation on the Eucharist and missionary activity was particularly striking: 

The Eucharist is the heart and soul of missionary activity. Indeed it was during those years of silence and solitude, cut off from all pastoral duties, but intimately united to the Eucharist that Francis understood with his whole being that it is only God, and not God's work, that should be the centre of our lives. That understanding opened the door to the Holy Spirit to transform those years of severe restrictions into the most active and fruitful evangelization periods of his life.

ln his book Five Loaves and Two Fish, Francis recounted the special period of his life which he considered as his period of major spiritual growth. Many times I was tempted, tormented by the fact that I was only 48 years old, in the prime of my life. I had acquired a great deal of pastoral experience, and there I was, isolated, inactive, separated from my people. One night I heard a voice encouraging me from the depth of my heart: ‘Why do you torment yourself so? You must distinguish between God and the work of God. You must choose God alone, and not his works.

When the communists threw him into the old of a cargo ship headed to Haiphong, 1700 m north, he suddenly found himself among some 1500 desperate, starving prisoners. He sensed their anger, their despair and desire for revenge, and he started to share in their human suffering; but with the inner voice immediately urging him to choose God, and not the works of God, he quickly realized that, in that captive company, he had just been handed a cathedral full of faithful to minister to. He decided to be an affirmation of God's presence in the midst of that cargo of human misery. He sustained his fellow prisoners during the 10-day trip, and managed to provide comfort for them.

By the time the cargo ship of prisoners reached Haiphong, Thuan realized he was already following Jesus to the roots of evangelization. It was like going with Him to die "extra muros", i.e., outside the walls, outside the sacred walls (Five Loaves and Two Fish).

Van Thuan described how he practised his ministry in the Vinh Quang Prison Camp: At night, the prisoners would take turns for adoration. With His silent presence, the Eucharistic Jesus helped us in unimaginable ways. Many Christians returned to a fervent faith ife, and their quiet display of service and love had an even greater impact on other prisoners. Even Buddhists and other non-Christians joined in the faith. The strength of Jesus' loving presence was irresistible. The darkness of prison became a paschal light, and the seed germinated in the ground during the storm. The prison was transformed into a school of catechesis. Catholics baptised fellow prisoners and became godparents to their companions.

Zenit has the whole text of her testimony here


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