With the central role of the Eucharist grows less significant nowadays, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says the International Eucharistic Congress is an opportunity for everyone to renew their faith and interest in the Blessed Sacrament.
Martin, who presided over the Mass held at the Cebu Provincial Capitol, observed that people often take the Eucharist for granted and celebrate Mass almost as a routine.
“We celebrate Mass almost as a routine. But the Eucharistic Congress offers an opportunity to renew our hunger and thirst for the Eucharist. It also reminds us of how central the Eucharist in the life of the Church,” Martin said in his homily.
He said the Eucharist could give hope and encouragement especially in times of pain and suffering.
The Archbishop of Dublin cited the example of his superiors in the Roman Curia, a Polish bishop and a Vietnamese cardinal, who made the Eucharist the source of their strength during the darkest days of their lives.
Placed in a Nazi concentration camp, the Polish bishop, still a deacon at that time, would sneak in the middle of the night and join other captured priests to celebrate Mass despite the threat of torture by authorities.
The Vietnamese cardinal, on the other hand, imprisoned by agents of the communist state, would secretly collect small quantities of wine and host through his relatives which he would use to celebrate Mass.
Despite their great suffering, Martin said they never abandoned their faith in the Eucharist. Instead, it brought them hope and encouragement.
The remarkable stories of these “two great men” illustrate the central role of the Eucharist in people’s lives, he said.
The archbishop also admonished the laity to remember that the Eucharist constructs the Church and without it, there is no Church.
He said the Eucharist is a manifestation of Jesus’ love and mercy.
Capitol officials and employees, led by Gov. Hilario Davide III and Vice. Gov. Agnes Magpale, attended Mass yesterday.
A sea of mixed colors flooded the streets of Osmeña Boulevard and Escario as thousands of people assembled in front of the Capitol where Mass was held.
The Task Group Cebu Operations Center of the Philippine National Police estimated the crowd to reach 50,000 to 60,000.
A procession followed after the Mass, which ended in Plaza Independencia. Kelvin Cañizares