At the closing Mass of the 50th Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland, June 17, 2012, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI addressed the participants via video. Towards the end of his message the pontiff announced that the next International Eucharistic Congress would be held in Cebu, Philippines, in 2016. As the announcement was made, thousands of participants from the future host nation waved their flags and applauded with joy.
In his message the Holy Father reflected on the theme of the congress: Communion with Christ and With One Another, saying that the notion of koinonia (communion) has been central to the understanding of the Church, its relationship with Christ, and in the sacraments, particularly, the Eucharist.
He also spoke of the congress coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. “Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice,” he said.
The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life.
The Eucharist is the worship of the whole Church, he continued, but it also requires the full engagement of each individual Christian in the Church’s mission; it contains a call to be the holy people of God, but also one to individual holiness; it is to be celebrated with great joy and simplicity, but also as worthily and reverently as possible; it invites us to repent of our sins, but also to forgive our brothers and sisters; it binds us together in the Spirit, but it also commands us in the same Spirit to bring the good news of salvation to others.
Benedict XVI emphasized that the sacrament of the Eucharist must be a personal and joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. “It remains a mystery. Yet evidently, their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit. The work of the Council was really meant to overcome this form of Christianity and to rediscover the faith as a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ. The Eucharistic Congress has a similar aim. Here we wish to encounter the Risen Lord. We ask him to touch us deeply. May he who breathed on the Apostles at Easter, communicating his Spirit to them, likewise bestow upon us his breath, the power of the Holy Spirit, and so help us to become true witnesses to his love, witnesses to the truth. His truth is love. Christ’s love is truth.”
In closing, he addressed the people of the Philippines: “I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering. I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe,” he said.
After the papal message, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, archbishop of Dublin congratulated the diocese of Cebu City. “We pray that the Congress will bring the same special blessing to that city and diocese and nation as this congress has brought to Dublin and Ireland.”
This report has been excerpted from reports filed by Zenit News Agency:
Pope Benedict Announces Next Congress to Take Place in the Philippines, Zenit.org. ZE12061706, 2012-06-17.
Pope Benedict XVI’s Message at Closing Mass, Zenit.org. ZE12061703, 2012-06-17.