by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
(June 23, 2008) During a homily broadcast live from Rome, Pope Benedict XVI told participants at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress that he hoped one outcome of the Congress would be to encourage a greater study of Church teaching on the Eucharist. “Study in groups or individually,” he said, “so that you can live this mystery more intensely.”
The Pope’s homily was delivered at the closing Mass of the Congress which was held Sunday in Quebec City’s historic Plains of Abraham park. Not even a mid-day thunderstorm could dampen the enthusiasm of the 15,000 clergy and lay people who had gathered for the event.
“God has blessed the congress in abudance, and has provided an abundance of rain,” said Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the pope’s personal delegate to the IEC, who was the principal celebrant of the closing Mass.
Speaking in both French and English, Pope Benedict also called for renewed respect for the Sabbath. “Sunday is the day we honor Christ, we need to rediscover, understand and respectfully celebrate the Sunday Eucharist,” he said.
He called for a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis and awareness among priest and lay Catholics that the liturgy does not belong to us; that it is the Church’s treasure: “I urge priests especially to give due honor to the Eucharistic rite and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay in the Eucharistic action.”
It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength of unity with God and with one another, the Pope said.
“We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ….and that 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…..the Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age…”
To the delight of the Irish delegation, the Holy Father revealed where the 50th International Eucharistic Congress will be held:
“Dear friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a close I invite you to join me in praying for the Success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin. I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.”
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