Back in 1937, the first-ever International Eucharistic Congress in Asia was held in Manila, Philippines. After 79 years, IEC was held again in the heart of the Philippines Archipelago, Cebu City.
So what is this about?
International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) is a gathering of catholic people to promote awareness of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. It brings together people from all over the world to be involved with seven days activities; like talks, masses, Eucharistic adoration, processions, and other devotional ceremonies.
As a Catholic, I can’t really pass this kind of opportunity to take part in this kind of activity. Let me share with you my experiences, reflections and learning about this week long activity.
For the opening Mass, I was with my friends from the Christian Life Movement. We went to Plaza Independencia 3 hours before the Mass. We want to be near the Altar so we went early. But unfortunately, we can’t enter the area because it was meant for the delegates. Before the Mass started, through the help of a Sister we were able to enter the area.
The Mass was celebrated by His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo. The Mass was held over 2 hours, and it was truly beautiful. Though the weather was so hot, as the Presider said “The mood in Cebu is too hot.” Nevertheless, many people attended.
For the entire homily, the Presider was trying to talk in Cebuano and Tagalog and I admire his effort to do so. In his homily, he highlighted the devotion part of the Filipinos for the Santo Niño and the Black Nazarene and the Church in general, are not enough to truly embody the essence of the Eucharist. He also said that “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.” Which is all of us should remember as Catholics.
Between the week
Christian Life Movement volunteered to be part of the first ever IEC Youth Day. It’s a 2-day activity for the youth. Thousands of youth attended the activity and it was definitely amazing. It was like we are all attending a concert together. The energy is totally different when the young ones involve.
Youth day was supposed to be held in Mandani Bay, but due to fickle weather they change the venue to Hoops Dome, Lapu-Lapu City.
For the IEC Youth day, one of the Speakers was Most Rev. Robert Barron, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
He talked about How to be a Saint. He summarized it into three:
- Find your Center
- Know you’re a sinner
- Your life is not about you
He said that we have to put our energy to be good, and follow Jesus in the cross.
While the other speaker was Paul Ponce. He is a Juggler. And he talked about love and family. He and his family were such an inspiration. How he prayed for her wife and how he consecrated his wife and the relationship even before they meet. He said during the talk, “It took me ten years to realize the value of women. They are one of the most beautiful things God has made.”
The Culminating Mass was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Held at the San Pedro Calungsod Template, Cebu South Road Properties.
As a youth, I truly appreciate how His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo stated during the Statio Orbis that young people are important in the society and in the church.
Part of His Homily he talked about Family. He said that in the family these three words are important; Please, Sorry, Thanks. Which I totally agree, and I’m truly blessed that my family practices this simple things like saying sorry with sincerity, asking for help with humility, and thanking each other with love.
As a woman discerning for married life, I really value the concept of bringing my future family with Christ as the center of our relationship.
As Mother Teresa said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
By the time they showed the video of Pope Francis, I couldn’t help myself, I was crying, not just me, but all of us. It was a humbling experience to hear him, see him, even just in the big screen. I really felt during that moment that I was so blessed in this lifetime to experience this gathering with these people with the same faith and love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis said, “We realized how important it is for family Christian to be a true missionary disciple bringing the good news of Christ.”
For the young Filipinos like me, IEC already ended, we have received the apostolic blessing of Pope Francis. We have to continue our mission with love.
Are you a Catholic? Were you able to attend the International Eucharistic Congress? I like to hear about your experience. Comment below!