What I learned from the IEC

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

You think that as a priest I already know everything about the Eucharist? The answer is a big, flat No. Even if I must confess that I know quite a bit about it, and already have an extensive experience related to this most sublime sacrament, I realize that what the Catechism says about the "inexhaustible richness" of the Eucharist cannot be any truer.

I found myself feeling like one with a zero-knowledge everytime I attended a session during the Congress. I was like a desert experiencing for the first time the refreshing blessing of a  downpour.

I had the clear impression that the Holy Eucharist would engage me in a lifelong process of getting to know, appreciate and live it better and better everyday. During the Congress, I was aware of many new insights coming in, like seeds just sown. Hopefully in time, these would grow and bear much fruit.

It started right at the opening Mass celebrated by no less than the Papal Legate, the Burmese Cardinal Maung Bo. He set the tone for the weeklong event. It was about having a greater sensitivity to the social dimension of the Eucharist, something that many people fail to realize

That was the theme or the spirit that was consistently built up in every talk, session or workshop. To be sure, it was a  theme that had as its proper roots in the deep realization that the Eucharist is the most central part of a Christian's life, and its  celebration has to be as best as possible humanly, liturgically, culturally speaking, etc.

In other words, the social dimension should be the organic outgrowth of our faith in the centrality of the Eucharist in our life and its most solemn celebration. As the Papal Legate put it, the celebration has to turn into a commitment.

The Eucharistic celebration should not just be an hour-long ceremony. It has to be an abiding, lifelong celebration. The celebration should not be understood solely as something purely liturgical, done in some church, sanctuary or holy place.

We need to understand that the Eucharistic celebration has to extend to all parts of the day and to all aspects of our life, whether spiritual or material, sacred or mundane. In other words, there's nothing in our life that cannot and should not be related to the Eucharist.

The whole day, our whole life should be some kind of a Mass that, of course, should be rooted on its liturgical celebration. But the liturgical celebration would somehow be nullified, its tremendous effects practically wasted, if we fail to take advantage of its power to purify and transform us individually and socially, spiritually and materially, etc.

With the Eucharist, we are already given everything by our Creator, Savior and Sanctifier to be what we ought to be, again individually and socially, spiritually and materially, etc.

We need to draw the endless implications of that reality about the Eucharist. For example, how should the Eucharist affect our life of prayer, of sacrifice, of continuing formation? What should it do with regard to our family life, our work, our business and politics, our culture?

How should it shape and develop our relations with others? Does it lead us to involve ourselves increasingly in the big issues of the world, or does it only restrict us to certain issues without relating them to the other burning issues of the day, like climate change, technological challenges, terrorism and the ever present problems of poverty, inequality and injustice, terrorism, etc.?

The IEC has given me a richer appreciation of the intricacies of evangelizing the secular world today. I believe I saw glimpses of the nuances of the art of proclaiming the gospel while engaging in a continuing dialogue with all kinds of people in different human situations and predicaments.

The IEC somehow has given me a deeper impulse to be most discerning of the different spirits behind all kinds of deve-lopments in our life. There are true spirits and deceptive ones, the spirit of God that is always shown with humility, and the spirit of devil that tries to seduce us with giving us appearances of truth and goodness packaged beautifully with sound bites, hype and other worldly allure and charm.

The latter spirit seems to be getting rampant nowadays as a good number of spiritual leaders today have the tremendous capacity to mesmerize people with their speaking skills and other talents, while their actual life is a mess.

Just the same, the IEC has clearly convinced me that while sin may abound, God's grace abounds much more. There's always hope, my friend!



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