By Joshua Solano
“Be patient with the heat, soon it will be alright.” Greeted Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the official representative of Pope Francis, lightheartedly in front of a huge crowd at the Plaza Independencia in his Homily. “The mood in Cebu is too hot.”
Thousands of Catholics from all over the world gathered at the Plaza Independencia for the opening of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. The members of the faith are reminded of the importance of the Holy Eucharist that Christ is present— flesh and blood— through the celebration.
“You are a great nation. The light to Asia,” praises Cardinal Bo to the Philippines for being the largest Catholic nation in Asia.
“In some parts of the world, Catholicism means Filipino presence,” he jokes. Cardinal Bo admires the migrant workers abroad who sacrifice being separated from their Families to work in land, water, and the air. “Nasa lahat ng dako ang dugong Filipino (the Filipino blood is everywhere).”
The Papal Legate talked about the importance of life in his homily. He condemns abortion and asks Catholics to end the “culture of death” that is prevalent in these times.
The Cardinal also spoke about devotions and how a person should be able to carry what is taught in the church, outside of its four walls.
He continued that for a person to have a devotion such as to that of the Santo Niño and the Black Nazarene (celebrated Holy Images in the Philippines) and the Church in general, are not enough to truly embody the essence of the Eucharist.
He also pointed out that in the Eucharist, it was in the streets that Christ ministered, suffered and died. Thus, the streets served as the altar and that it is in the streets that the faithful should be able to practice the teachings of Christ, following His footsteps.
“Christ is calling us to be disciples, to carry His cross. The Mass of the devotee ends in an hour, but the Mass of a disciple is unending.”
The Holy Mass lasted for two hours and was spoken in various languages including Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Latin.
The event was then concluded by a 20-minute fireworks display, the signal that the congress has already begun.
The 51st International Eucharistic Congress is now set for the different activities that will be held in the different parts of Cebu. The IEC will run from January 24-31, 2016.