Any readers ever attended a Eucharistic Congress? It sounds downright democratic, doesn’t it? Dioceses hold them every so often. Boston just had one and Atlanta’s is coming up next month. Next month Québec City hosts the 49th international congress.
Anyway, here’s what the rite says about them:
109. Eucharistic congresses have been introduced into the life of the Church in recent years as a special manifestation of eucharistic worship. They should be considered as a kind of “station” to which a particular community invites an entire local Church or to which an individual local Church invites other Churches of a single region or nation or even of the entire world. The purpose is that together the members of the Church join in the deepest profession of some aspect of the eucharistic mystery and express their worship publicly in the bond of charity and unity.
Imagine if liberals and conservatives attempted such a thing …
Such congresses should be a genuine sign of faith and charity by reason of the total participation of the local Church and the association with it of the other Churches.
A congress should be preceded by research:
110. Both the local Church and other Churches should undertake studies beforehand concerning the place, theme, and program of the congress. These studies are meant to lead to the consideration of genuine needs and to foster the progress of theological studies and the good of the local Church. Specialists in theological, biblical, liturgical, pastoral, and humane studies should help in this research.
Three things on which to focus, including active participation:
111. In preparation for a eucharistic congress, the concentration should be on the following:
a. a thorough catechesis, accommodated to the capacity of different groups, concerning the eucharist, especially as the mystery of Christ living and working in the Church;
b. more active participation in the liturgy in order to encourage a reverent hearing of the word of God and the spirit of mutual love and community;[Sacrosanctum Concilium 41-52]
c. research into the means and the pursuit of social action for human development and the just distribution of goods, including the temporal, following the example of the primitive Christian community.[See Acts 4:32] The goal is that every eucharistic table may be a center from which the leaven of the Gospel spreads as a force in the growth of contemporary society and as the pledge of the future kingdom.[See Sacrosanctum Concilium 47; Unitatis redintegratio 15]
Some planning notes:
112. The celebration of the congress should be planned on the basis of the following criteria.[Eucharisticum Mysterium 67]
a. The celebration of the eucharist should be the true center and high point of the congress, to which all the programs and the various devotional services should be directed.
b. Celebrations of the word of God, catechetical meetings, and public conferences should be planned to investigate thoroughly the theme of the congress and to set out more clearly the ways for carrying out its practical implications.
c. There should be an opportunity for common prayers and extended adoration in the presence of the blessed sacrament exposed at designated churches that are especially suited to this form of piety.
d. The regulations concerning eucharistic processions[See HCWEOM 101-108] should be observed for the procession in which the blessed sacrament is carried through the streets of the city to the accompaniment of public hymns and prayers, taking into account local, social, and religious conditions.
I’ve never been a participant in a Eucharistic congress. But just reading this makes me ponder it might be a fairly wonderful event. For those who have participated in such an observance, what were the fruits of it as people returned home?
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