In South Africa the initials IEC stand for the “Independent Electoral Commission”. In the Church the same initials stand for “International Eucharistic Congress”. While I was away in the month of June I was able to attend the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
The 50th IEC took place in Dublin between 10th and 17th June. Although Dublin was the principal venue, Congress events took place at the Marian shrine at Knock and at St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg. Most of the media attention was on the opening and closing of the Congress but throughout the week there were significant events: 160 workshops, daily celebrations of the Eucharist, 223 keynote speakers and a small army of 1700 volunteers helping and guiding the pilgrims.
I was fortunate to get a ticket for the closing celebration in Croke Park, a recently refurbished national stadium. The final Eucharist was a vivid example of the theme of the Congress in practice: COMMUNION WITH CHRIST AND WITH ONE ANOTHER.
During the years of preparation for the Congress this theme had been explored and workshopped. As the Congress progressed and at the final celebration it became clear that the Church in Ireland was being born again. Communion with Christ is never an isolated or purely private affair; it always and necessarily involves communion with one another.
As Tertullian, an early Christian writer, said “One Christian alone is no Christian”. When we celebrate Eucharist we are all consecrated, we become the Body of Christ, we are communion.
Some of the implications of this Communion were spelled out by Pope Benedict in his recorded message played on large screens towards the end of the final Mass.
But more about that next week.
It is good to back,
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.