Congress Pilgrims told to Make Christ’s Life Their Life
15,000 Take Part in Eucharistic ProcessionPhotos from the Eucharistic Congress
Christ’s injunction to “let your light shine before all” was taken to heart by an estimated 15,000 International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) pilgrims June 19.
Bearing candles, they walked prayerfully through Quebec neighborhoods in a procession whose focus was the Blessed Sacrament exposed in an oversized monstrance created specially for the congress. The trailer bearing the monstrance also carried congress organizer Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec and Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Pope Benedict XVI’s representative to the congress, both kneeling in adoration.
“It’s a testament to my faith,” explained Vice Supreme Master Jean-Paul Germaine, who along with 20 Fourth Degree Knights marched at the front of the procession. The Knights walked alongside the Ark of the New Covenant, the symbolic centerpiece of the congress, reprising a role they had over the past year when Canadian Knights transported the Ark more than 50,000 miles throughout the country as part of the Church’s preparation for the IEC.
The dramatic public witness by so many to their belief in Jesus in the Eucharist capped a day of stirring testimonies to the power Christ has to transform the world. Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Imus, Philippines, told congress attendees that Catholics are called to conform their lives to Jesus’ life. That means “rejoicing with those who rejoice and grieving with those who grieve.” It also means standing up to the many “false gods” prevalent in modern society. Our mission, he said, is the “unearth the false gods of profit, pleasure and control” in order to preserve one’s self-interest.
“Those who worship false gods become insensitive to the needs of their neighbors,” Bishop Tagle said. He enjoined congress attendees to follow Jesus and “show compassion for the weak and the poor” and all of society’s outcasts. Just like Jesus did, he said, “we must assure them God is not distant.”
Mrs. Elizabeth Nguyen Thi Thu Hong also spoke about her brother, Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the Vietnamese prelate who spent more than a dozen years in prison during the Communists’ rule of his country beginning in the 1970s.
Pope Benedict XVI opened the cause for Cardinal Van Thuan’s canonization in September 2007. Mrs. Hong recounted how her brother was in solitary confinement for nine years, sustained only by Jesus in a eucharistic host he kept in a shirt pocket near his heart.
Her brother’s imprisonment, she said, “was a journey of holiness. He was firmly rooted in union with a loving God through the Eucharist.” Mrs. Hong’s presentation concluded with a preview of a new film biography of him, “Road of Hope: The Spiritual Journey of Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.” The documentary was produced by Salt and Light, Canada’s Catholic TV network, with funding from the Knights of Columbus.
The day’s schedule also included a dramatic staging of the parable of the prodigal son during a penance service led by Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the congress Mass celebrated by Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia. Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of priests heard confessions throughout the congress grounds.