This summer a great event in the life of the Church — the 49th International Eucharistic Congress — occurred in Quebec City. Participants came from around the world to celebrate and affirm the theme of the congress, “The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World.” There were many moving moments, and I was very proud that so many brother Knights from throughout Canada actively volunteered to make the congress a success.
The closing Mass was presided over by the papal legate, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, who is also president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses. In a private meeting, Cardinal Tomko expressed his appreciation for all the Knights of Columbus had done to make the congress a success as well as for our sponsorship of two Knights of Columbus eucharistic congresses held in Washington, D.C., and Chicago in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
For many, the high point of the congress was the homily delivered live via satellite by Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father reminded us, “Reception of the Eucharist and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church.”
In addition, the Holy Father asked everyone to “bear witness courageously to the mystery” of the Eucharist and to make a special commitment to study this great mystery — especially by reflecting on the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium).
The pope’s request is especially relevant to us. In Sacrosanctum Concilium we are told that Christ has entrusted to the Church “a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity” (47). What could be more relevant for a Catholic organization founded upon the principles of charity, unity and fraternity? As our Supreme Chaplain Bishop William E. Lori observed at our congress in Chicago, these principles find both their source and summit in the Eucharist.
This means that the Knights of Columbus must become ever more profoundly a eucharistic community in which we “should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48).
We can do this by encouraging more frequent attendance at Mass and reverence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, especially during appointed hours of adoration. We can revive our tradition of corporate Communions and we can make celebration of the Eucharist a more important part of our state jurisdiction meetings, especially during our annual state conventions.
Of course, in all this we recognize that the liturgy is a function of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. Our devotion to the Eucharist should bring us in ever-closer solidarity with our priests and encourage even greater efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood.
In these ways and others, we can take up the challenge of Pope Benedict to “bear witness courageously to the mystery” so that we may make these words of Sacrosanctum Concilium our own:
“In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory” (8).