Massive crowds estimated in the millions took part in the Masses and liturgical processions of the eight-day International Eucharistic Congress which recently concluded in the Philippines.
“We are called to understand, love and assimilate the very love of Jesus… Our lives too must be offered in sacrifice,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said in his Jan. 29 homily.
An estimated 1.5 million people attended a Mass and liturgical procession for the International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines on Friday. The Mass was held on the grounds of the Cebu Provincial Capitol.
Archbishop Martin said that the Church became present through the Eucharist.
“There is no Church without the Eucharist. The Eucharist constructs the Church,” he said, according to CBCP News, adding that a Eucharistic community must always be a caring one.
Friday’s Mass was concelebrated by hundreds of priests and bishops including Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, the papal legate to the congress; Archbishop Bernardino Auza, who heads the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations; and Archbishop Piero Marini, head of the pontifical commission on the International Eucharist Congress.
Five thousand boys and girls received their first Holy Communion on Saturday at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) January 31, 2016
About 12,000 people took part in the events of the congress itself. The event aims to witness to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to promote a better understanding of the liturgy and the Eucharist in the life of the Church. The congress is now held every four years.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was among the congress’ speakers. He spoke on the topic “The Eucharist and Mary.”
He told Vatican Radio that the Eucharistic congress shows “the power of other people.”
“It's the power of seeing them trying their best to live their faith. And I think that's the genius of Catholicism: we're not in this alone.”
In contrast to American individualism, he said, the Catholic faith is both personal and something that is “received and lived out together, in a community, with other people that we call the Church.”
On Sunday at least 1 million more people attended the Statio Orbis Mass, the Stations of the World Mass that closes the Congress. The name of the Mass refers to the global nature of the gathering.
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon was the closing Mass’ principal celebrant. “The youth of the Philippines is the hope of the Church,” the cardinal said in his homily. “This nation will become light not only to Asia but to the whole world.”
He encouraged Filipinos to have many children, suggesting that Christianity is in a “twilight” in the West but the Philippines could be a “new dawn.”
“Multiply your children. Multiply your missionaries. Go to Europe and America, there they have more cats and dogs!”
The cardinal said that the destruction of the family is “the greatest danger.” He warned against countries whose laws have “started on the path of destroying families.”
“The future of the Church depends on Catholic families,” he said Jan. 31.
He said that young people are a blessing for the Church and that young people deserve “understanding, not judgment” from the Church.
At the close of the Mass, Pope Francis addressed the event in a video message. He encouraged attendees to be “missionary disciples” and bring God’s mercy to everyone.
“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,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis announced that Budapest would host the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2020.