51st INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS’ STATEMENT 2016
We, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered to celebrate the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Philippines (January 24-31, 2016) now relive the beautiful experience of the two disciples of Emmaus.
We are convinced that the Holy Spirit sends us forth in order to proclaim the story of Jesus. This congress is like the gathering of the early disciples when they joyfully shared stories of how each of them encountered the Risen Lord in the Sacred Scripture and in the Breaking of the Bread.
Bread of Hope. The Eucharist, being a living and life-giving encounter with Christ in the totality of his Paschal Mystery, is truly the source of and impetus for hope. Through the Eucharist, we come to feel that we are possessed by the love of God and with this conviction, conversion of the heart begins. When our worship is done through Christ, with him and in him, then the Eucharist becomes source of healing and our hope of glory. The Eucharist is our bread of hope for it challenges us to live thankfully and joyfully, notwithstanding all the difficult realities of life.Only those who have endured a lot or have faced various crises in life, those who suffer almost on a daily basis, can know and possess spiritual resilience and truly celebrate life’s joys and remain hopeful.
Bread for the Poor. The Eucharist commits us to the poor, to love and to come to their help. We are challenged to reach out to the poor and help uplift them materially and spiritually as a concrete way of living out the Eucharist. The Eucharist compels us to act and to give them something to eat. The example of Jesus, particularly the meal stories, teaches us what every Eucharist should be: breaking bread with the poor and the marginalized. The presence of our brothers and sisters who have less in life is a constant reminder that the poor is the privileged place of encounter with Jesus outside the Eucharist.
Bread of Dialogue. The Eucharist which is the sacrament of the bread of life fills our spirits and strengthens our resolve as we take the tortuous path of dialogue with religions, cultures, youth and the poor. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit for mutual understanding, openness and conversion of hearts and minds. The Eucharist – the real presence of Jesus – sustains our hearts and nourishes our souls as we journey towards the convocation where God gathers us all in an inclusive communion, banishing distinctions that alienate and celebrating the gift each one brings.
Bread for Mission. Energized and renewed by the Eucharist, Christ’s missionary disciples are sent into the world to be broken bread for a broken world. They move from Eucharistic celebration to Eucharistic commitment. The Eucharist is not just a gift but also a task and mission that can change the world. Indeed, Eucharist enables us to effectively respond to the cry of the poor, the cry of the earth and the cry of Jesus Christ. Missionary dynamism springs from an encounter with Jesus through deep prayer because the lungs of evangelization is prayer. We are a people on mission; truly, IEC 2016 is a clarion call to mission for all of us. Our Eucharist is the source and goal of the Church’s mission.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word and the Eucharistic Lord, accompany us, missionary disciples, in order to share Jesus Christ is us our hope of glory.
Pope’s Message to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress 2016
COURTESY OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES – CBCP NEWS:
We are posting the Transcript of Pope Francis’ message to the 51st IEC, for your reading and reflections —
With this Message…
Pope Francis announces the next International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet all of you gathered in Cebu for the Fifty-first International Eucharistic Congress. I thank Cardinal Bo, who is my representative among you, and I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Palma and the bishops, priests and faithful in Cebu. I also greet Cardinal Tagle and all the Catholics of the Philippines. I am particularly happy that this Congress has brought together so many people from the vast continent of Asia and from throughout the world.
Just one year ago, I visited the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. I was able to witness at first hand the deep faith and resilience of its people. Under the protection of Santo Niño, the Filipino people received the Gospel of Jesus Christ some five hundred years ago. Ever since, they have given the world an example of fidelity and deep devotion to the Lord and his Church. They have also been a people of missionaries, speading the light of the Gospel in Asia and to the ends of the earth.
The theme of the Eucharistic Congress – Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory – is very timely. It reminds us that the risen Jesus is always alive and present in his Church, above all in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his Body and Blood. Christ’s presence among us is not only a consolation, but also a promise and a summons. It is a promise that everlasting joy and peace will one day be ours in the fullness of his Kingdom. But it is also a summons to go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child.
How much our world needs this message! When we think of the conflicts, the injustices and the urgent humanitarian crises which mark our time, we realize how important it is for every Christian to be a true missionary disciple, bringing the good news of Christ’s redemptive love to a world in such need of reconciliation, justice and peace.
So it is fitting that this Congress has been celebrated in the Year of Mercy, in which the whole Church is invited to concentrate on the heart of the Gospel: Mercy. We are called to bring the balm of God’s merciful love to the whole human family, binding up wounds, bringing hope where despair so often seems to have the upper hand.
As you now prepare to “go forth” at the end of this Eucharistic Congress, there are two gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper which I would ask you to reflect on. Both have to do with the missionary dimension of the Eucharist. They are table fellowship and the washing of feet.
We know how important it was for Jesus to share meals with his disciples, but also, and especially, with sinners and the outcast. Sitting at table, Jesus was able to listen to others, to hear their stories, to appreciate their hopes and aspirations, and to speak to them of the Father’s love. At each Eucharist, the table of the Lord’s Supper, we should be inspired to follow his example, by reaching out to others, in a spirit of respect and openness, in order to share with them the gift we ourselves have received.
In Asia, where the Church is committed to respectful dialogue with the followers of other religions, this prophetic witness most often takes place, as we know, through the dialogue of life. Through the testimony of lives transformed by God’s love, we best proclaim the Kingdom’s promise of reconciliation, justice and unity for the human family. Our example can open hearts to the grace of the Holy Spirit, who leads them to Christ the Savior.
The other image which the Lord offers us at the Last Supper is the washing of feet. On the eve of his passion, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of humble service, of the unconditional love with which he gave his life on the Cross for the salvation of the world. The Eucharist is a school of humble service. It teaches us readiness to be there for others. This too is at the heart of missionary discipleship.
Here I think of the aftermath of the typhoon. It brought immense devastation to the Philippines, yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. People set about rebuilding not just homes, but lives. The Eucharist speaks to us of that power, which flows from the Cross and constantly brings new life. It changes hearts. It enables us to be caring, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to be sensitive to the cry of our brothers and sisters in need. It teaches us to act with integrity and to reject the injustice and corruption which poison the roots of society.
Dear friends, may this Eucharistic Congress strengthen you in your love of Christ present in the Eucharist. May it enable you, as missionary disciples, to bring this great experience of ecclesial communion and missionary outreach to your families, your parishes and communities, and your local Churches. May it be a leaven of reconciliation and peace for the entire world.
Now, at the end of the Congress, I am happy to announce that the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. I ask all of you to join me in praying for its spiritual fruitfulness and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all engaged in its preparation. As you return to your homes renewed in faith, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your families as a pledge of abiding joy and peace in the Lord.
God Bless you: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines was joyfully opened last Sunday with a mass celebrated by the Papal Legate Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar. He was our key note speaker during our 6th CBF – Southeast Asia Bible Workshop held in Bandung, Indonesia last August 6-10, 2012. Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU and Ms. Estrella C. del Mar with some members of the CBF SEA attended this great event. The Congress will close this coming Sunday, January 31, 2016. Here is the message, key-note address and homily of the Papal Legate (courtesy of the IEC2016 official website):
Message and Homily of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo at the Opening Mass
Monday, January 25th, 2016
Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, SDB, DD
I stand on this holy ground, full of gratitude and joy, bringing the message of hope and joy from the prophet of the millennium, our dear Holy Father Francis.
Pope Francis loves you very much!
Ang atong San Padre gihigugma kamong tanan!
Kayong lahat ay mahal na mahal ng Santo Padre!
We are grateful today. Gratitude to God that an event of immense significance as this International Eucharistic Congress has brought together the Catholic Church to the cradle of Catholic Faith in Philippines, Cebu. I am grateful to Our Holy Father for his trust and the honor he bestowed your humble servant to be the legate. I am grateful to the warm welcome, the deep communion we feel as Catholics all over the world. I am humbled and grateful to this opportunity to be with you.
You are a great nation, the light to Asia, the biggest Catholic Community in Asia. This pivotal Catholic Nation that has promoted the growth of Catholicism in Asia. Your light has shown in every part of the world through your sons and daughters whose exemplary faith has been for ages, the beacon of evangelization.
In some parts of the world, Catholicism means Filipino presence. Every migrant working from Philippines is a Paul of Tarsus in more than 120 countries they serve. Sa Hong Kong, London, sa Cairo, sa Roma, sa Dubai ng Pilipino ay nasa lupa. Ang Pilipino ay na sa hangin. Ang Pilipino ay na sa tubig. Nasa lahat ng dako ang dugong Pilipino! For the last five decades, the only place that welcomed our priests, religious and laity with open arms and cared for them is you and the Church in the Philippines.
Today, Myanmar church is a confident church, your communion was a poignant show of Eucharistic fellowship with a suffering church. You have shared the bread of hospitality, the bread of knowledge, the bread of your love for the people who came here.
We are gathered on a global stage, a global table, for a Cosmic Eucharist, Eucharist as a Mission in Cebu! You are the door of Christianity to this great nation. After a week-long celebration of Senor Santo Niño de Cebu, you have gathered here, commemorating 500 jubilee of the arrival of faith with the people and after 79 years of a Eucharistic congress in this great land of faith, you have come forward to celebrate this global fellowship.
The theme: The Christ in you is the Hope of Glory – taken from Colossians is a theme that echoes through your mountains, through your beautiful rivers, soothes the heart of millions of Filipinos. This is a historic moment. God gave you a nation of unparalleled beauty, but sadly challenged with the frequent natural disasters. your beloved Bishop Claver, SJ once said that the Philippines has the unenviable title of being the disaster capital of the world, but time and again, you have proved your resilience, your faith, rising from all challenges. May this 51st IEC be the moment of healing the earth, the wounded planet, and healing the graceful people of this country and everyone gathered here.
You have wisely chosen a theme of timeless relevance: Christ in you is the Hope of Glory – the Eucharist- the source and Goal of Mission. This theme assigns three tasks:
- To promote awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in life and mission
- To help improve our understanding and celebration of Eucharist liturgy
- To draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist
Eucharist: The Treasure of Faith for Christians
Five hundred years ago, Christianity entered this land as a treasure, a command to be executed, a promise to be repeated, a mission to be fulfilled. But the treasure of faith started with a few simple sentences:
“You shall love God and your neighbor as yourself. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? God loves this world and he gave his only son, not to condemn, but to redeem.
You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.”
But all of these words, a short sentence, changed history. They are the words:
TAKE AND EAT, THIS IS MY BODY! TAKE AND DRINK, THIS IS MY BLOOD!
Yes. The most powerful words in the human history, the most powerful words in the dialogue of God with man. The powerful words by which the world is nourished today. Mother church has cut these verbal diamond into a single word: EUCHARIST. Thomas Aquinas summed up the centrality of the Eucharist for us with the great lyrical praise:
O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received; the memory of his Passion renewed.
The mind filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory to us is given. Alleluia
Eucharist is the spiritual jewel. Any jewel needs to be seen in various angles and lights. We are fortunate to gather these days through seminars and gatherings to see its various splendor.
The Eucharist encompasses various facets of Christian life.
Vatican II tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (Lumen gentium, no. 11)
This mystery of the Eucharist has two eyes: the Presence and the Mission.
PRESENCE – the quest of Human dignity – Man in God’s Image.
Eucharist is a historic faith event. Eucharist is the presence of Jesus. It is the same Lord of Moses, Abraham and Isaac.
It is the same Lord who through the Paschal meal liberated the Israelites from slavery, through his son, the Paschal lamb extends to the WHOLE humanity. The gift of redemption and salvation. The celebration of Eucharist and its adoration continue to affirm that the work of liberation and redemption is not yet over.
We adore Jesus in the sacrament of the most Holy. In our personal moments with him, in our solemn benedictions and in our adoration chapels, the Presence of Christ continues to be adored. The Eucharist and adoration is the intense faith encounter with Jesus, But this encounter needs others, the community.
It was Mother Teresa who contemplated this mystery of Presence.
She says every Holy Communion fills us with Jesus and we must go in haste to give him to others.” Mother Mary, whose body became the first altar of the Eucharist, Jesus, when she was conceived with him, the Bible says, she rushed in haste to meet Elizabeth.
Adoring Jesus in the Eucharist is also accepting our fellow men and women as created in the image of God. In a world that kills children in the womb, I a world that spends more on arms than on food, in a world that continues to have millions of poor, Eucharist is a major challenge to the whole humanity. Can we feel the presence of God in our brothers and sisters? Pope John Paul talked about the culture of death. Pope Francis spoke of a culture of indifference.
Eucharist then, cries out from the womb to tomb human dignity. Abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, etc. are vital challenge to Eucharist today. Our adoration of Eucharist affirms our unalienable faith in human dignity. Governments and others need to appreciate our faith vision.
So millions of Catholics attend mass, adore the sacrament. As we gather not only the bread on the altar becomes the body of Christ. Each one of us is joined with our brothers and sisters as one body “We, though many, are one body (1 Cor 10:17). The great awareness brings us to the first great task: Eucharist and Mission.”
- From Eucharistic Celebration to Eucharistic Commitment – Mission Adoration alone may make us good devotees. But being a devotee in one of the easiest things. Debosyon sa Santo Ninyo, Debosyon kay Hesus Nazareno. It is good.
Christ is calling us to be disciples, to carry his cross; the Mass of the devotee ends in an hour. But the Mass of the disciple is unending. The Eucharist of the devotee is confined to the clean, decorated altars of the church. The Eucharist of the disciple continues with the streets as altar.
Christ died in the street, dragged on the streets, proclaimed his good news on the streets, and affirmed the human dignity in the streets. His altar was the world, He broke the bread of healing, He broke the bread of feeding, He broke the bread of reconciling, He broke the bread of Good News. His disciples carried the task. The very act of Eucharistic assembly was revolutionary in the Act of the Apostles. The first disciples were martyred for the act of coming together and breaking of the bread.
John Paul said, “It is the impulse which the Eucharistic gives to the community for a practical commitment to building a more just and fraternal society”. (Mane Nobiscum Domine-Ap Letter Oct 2007- #28). Pope Benedict in: SACRAMENT CARITATIS 2007 says, “Personal encounter with the Lord occurs in the Eucharisti. And this is preciously the personal encounter with the Lord that strengthens the mission contained in the Eucharist.”
Yes, Eucharist leads us to mission. What is the mission? Vatican II defines the three fold mission of Christian – in the Ws: Word, Worship, and Witness. The first W is knowing the word of God and Proclaiming the Good News, The second is the worshipping as a community, affirming the oneness of the Christian community in the image of the triune God as the first Christians did, the third is the Witnessing through social mission with our concern for the weak and the vulnerable, what Pope Francis calls the “view from the margin”.
That brings us to the next important role of the Eucharist:
- Eucharist and the Poor
Once a priest told me uttering the consecration words in the Mass was becoming very difficult. The words “Take and Eat” are very difficult for me, he said. He was living in a place affected by war and displacement and food was hard to come by. He was reminded by his people’s hunger and difficulty in uttering the words by Jesus.
Yes we break bread in an unjust world. UNICEF says everyday 20,000 children die of starvation and malnutrition. That is 900,000 every month and 10 million a year. A silent genocide, the biggest terrorism in the world; what is the greatest moral sin that seeing a child dying of starvation today?
The Eucharist and the poor are inseparable. It was the church Father John Chrysostom who said “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. He who said ‘this is my Body’ is the same who said: You saw me hungry and you gave me food”. Mother Teresa advised her sisters: The love for the Eucharist helps us to love the poor. Be the love, the compassion, the presence to the poor.
Eucharist is a dream and a reality because Jesus is truly present. A dream because it is the hope of the future, the eschatological meal of human equality. Today you have gathered from various backgrounds, the rich and poor, the noble and peasant, aristocrat and the servant. But when you approach the altar, the Eucharist strips you off all your social status. You are just an equal among equal. In an unequal and uncaring world, the Eucharist steadfastly remains the beacon of human equality. The Eucharist calls us to justice. No other religion elevates justice to this level. No other religion elevates the poor to this level as Mary narrates after the word was flesh in her “the mighty will be brought down and the lowly will be raised up”.
This calls for our commitment to a world of justice. Eucharist calls for a third world war, a third world war against poverty. A third world war against the cruelty of dogs fed with sumptuous organic food while poor children scramble for crumbs from the table, a third world war against a world that produces more weapons whilst more than half a billion do not get enough food every day.
Despite this happening, the Eucharist will remain a revolutionary flag hoisted everyday on millions of altars, crying for justice like the prophets of old. “The real fasting I need is the breaking the chains of injustice, remove the yolk of oppression, share the food with the hungry, sheltering the homeless” (Is 58:6-14). This country’s urgent task is to fulfil the prophecy. This biggest Catholic country in Asia needs to declare a war that fights for thousands who are still in poverty and forces them to unsafe migration. The economic injustice and the environmental injustice penetrated with impunity in this country and elsewhere make our Eucharistic celebrations vulnerable to prophetic attacks. “I do not look at your communion sacrifices; spare me the noise of your chanting, let me not hear your strumming of lyres; let justice and righteousness flow like a never failing stream. (Amos 5)
This I think is the clarion call to mission today for all of us who attended this congress. Another world is possible. An economic system that does not treat human beings as commodities is possible, another world where the world is our common home is possible. Until that happens, the Eucharist will continue to be challenged. Our mission remains incomplete.
- Eucharist as the healing Power for Unity
We are journeying through uneasy times. Hatred based on religion and culture is expanding. Being Christian is such a risk today. “Take the cup; this is my blood” is not just Eucharistic words. It is true in the lives of many Christians today. Not only Christians, the country from where I come from faced war and conflict for the last sixty years. The world is fragmented. Humanity is soaked in tears and blood today. Cain continues his hatred for his brother.
Christianity offered a new version of humanity through Eucharist. Before the Passover meal, Christ offered an example of service, washing the feet of his disciples. Instead of killing a scape goat, Christ became the lamb of God. He exhorted, “Pray for those who persecute you”. He forgave from the Cross. The Eucharist remains a sign of hope for humanity.
The community life of the first Christians were such an inspiring fellowship. (Acts 2 and 4) Breaking of the bread was a spiritual experience, but it was also a political statement in a colonized Israel, fragmented as Romans, Pharisees and the poor. Paul could boast “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentiles, neither slave nor free nor there is male and female, for you are all one in Christ” (Gal: 2:28). Reality is different but God is the same. Paul once again defines Eucharist as: The bread is one though we are many, we share one body. (1 Cor. 10:17)
Ang bansang Pilipinas ay nangangailangan ng kapayapaan!
Ang mundo ay nangangailangan ng kapayapaan!
Let this Congress set in motion a movement for reconciliation.
The Eucharist is always preceded by reconciliation. The gospel of Matthew stipulates the condition for a true reconciliation: “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5: 23-24).
Christians need to pray with St. Francis of Assisi “Make me a channel of Peace, where there is hatred let me sow love”. This unity and reconciliation need to start with our families, our parishes and communities, among religions. Blessed are the peace makers (Mt 5:9). Peace is the bread that the Catholic Community waits to share with all communities.
This Congress highlights the presence of God through our veneration to the Eucharist. This Eucharistic Congress, held in this great city and a great country, make us move from Eucharistic celebration to Eucharistic commitment in promoting the Eucharist as a mission, the Eucharist as the bread of justice to the poor, the Eucharist as the bread of peace in conflict areas.
God bless you.
Sr. Theresine Valencia Dingal, SFIC
October 24, 1942 – January 5, 2016
We pray for the soul of Sr. Theresine Valencia Dingal, SFIC founder of the Constant Jurgens Biblical Center of the Franciscan Congregation, associate member of the Catholic Biblical Federation – Southeast Asia. Sister Theresine passed away last night at 7:56 (Manila Time), January 5, 2016 at the age of 73. At this writing, the wake is at La Verna 2 Chapel, St. Joseph College, Quezon City, Philippines. Funeral Mass is scheduled this coming January 9, 2016 at 8:00 o’clock in the morning at the said chapel and address.
May the Lord open the gates of heaven for Sr. Theresine and reward her of eternal happiness promised to those who are faithful to Him. May she rest in peace. Amen.
Grace-filled Christmas and New Year!
Dear CBFSEA Brothers and Sisters,
Wishing each one of you
a blessed and grace-filled
Christmas and New year.
As we contemplate baby Jesus,
God’s greatest gift to mankind,
let us remember also that this tiny Baby
is the future KING of the KINGDOM of GOD;
a mighty warrior who will triumph
over all the evil in the world,
the LAMB of God who takes away
all the sins of the world;
the GOOD SHEPHERD who seeks and saves the lost,
heals the sick and comforts crushed hearts.
Let us therefore REJOICE,
for God is good and merciful.
And may this Divine Babe set our hearts afire
to shower love and mercy to all we meet.
Merry Christmas to all of you
and your loved ones….
and a blissful New Year too!
Sr. Emma with Star and Fr. Doms
It’s Advent! A time of preparation,
of expectation, of hope!
It’s time to make that Christmas list,
choose gifts for family, relatives,
friends and those in need.
But more important than the wrapped gifts
to prepare is to prepare ourselves.
What do we want Jesus to see
in ourselves for his birthday?
What could be the best gift
that we can offer to Jesus?
Jesus does not need
our material things.
What He needs are:
patience, humility, forgiveness,
kindness, justice, respect,
service, care and love for others
especially to our own family and community.
WE wish you the graces and inspiration of Advent!
A blessed Advent to one and all!
Star del Mar
Sister Emma and Fr. Doms