Day One of the Eucharistic Congress is over. AMAZING!
We started this morning with a catechesis (teaching) by the Archbishop of Washington DC, Donald Wuerl. His main point was that at the Eucharist, we are not just observers, we are participants - because at every Mass, Christ's sacrifice is made present everytime. It doesn't mean that it happens again and again - or that we repeat it, but it's like we are brought back there when and where it happened - but in Divine time, there is no time, and so everything is happening at every minute all the time. That may be complicating it a bit, but maybe it helps you understand. He didn't go into this whole explanation, it was what was going on in my head: The sacrifice of the Mass doesn't repeat Christ's sacrifice: it makes it present to us.
His Catechesis was followed by a testimony by Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche communities, that work with people with disabilities. He is a living Saint! He reminded us that people who are not loved, have nothing. If you are not loved, who are you? And it's the poor, the hurting, the marginalised, who are not loved. When we love, we make ourselves present to the other person. This is the love that goes far beyond generosity - a true love that is committment. When he said this, his talk and Archbishop Wuerl's talk, both fell into place for me: when we love we make ourselves present; Jesus makes himself present in the Eucharist; the Eucharist is an act of true love. Of course. We are called to do the same: "Do this in memory of me."
Jean Vanier's talk was followed by Mass. Cardinal Ouellet presided. He is wonderful. During his homily he said something that moved me greatly. He asked how can we benefit from the nourishment of the Eucharist, if we don't care for those who are physically and materially hungry? Very powerful and true.
That concluded the morning's sessions. In the afternoon, all Congress pilgrims went off to various activities: discussion groups, workshops, prayer sessions, adoration and service proyects - the idea being that the theme we explore in the morning is put into practice in the afternoon. I guess that's the other part about the Eucharist: we are called to share it. Archbishop Wuerl made that very clear - he said, "invite someone". He meant, bring someone to Mass.
And maybe that's the hardest thing to do. But we have been touched by the love of Christ, by the Truth. Who doesn't want to share a life-saving treasure when they find it? And that's why Mass ends with "GO". Take it to the streets.
But we can't do that if we were not present in the first place.
Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Are you?