“Hindi tayo makakapagdiwang ng maayos [ng Eukaristiya]kung wala tayong pakialam sa environment.”
This was the reflection of Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, D.D. during the fifth day of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress being held in Cebu in an interview with Church-ran Radio Veritas.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that bread and wine come about through a cooperation of the human and the divine. “The mystery of the Eucharist makes all human labor sacred,” he added.
Explaining the connection of the Eucharist and the environment, the auxiliary bishop of Manila said that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist appropriately if we neglect the environment.
He said that he environment is God’s gift to everyone, and as human beings, created in “the image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1.26), we have the responsibility to respect the goodness of creation. We have the responsibility not exploit the natural world – a responsibility not being fulfilled by many people these days.
Environmental issues are also the concern of His Holiness Pope Francis in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si released last year. In the encyclical, the Holy Father appealed for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. “The Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.”
The Philippines is among the countries suffering from degradation of the natural environment. Scientists warned the Philippines could experience famine by 2020, as the adverse impact of global warming takes its toll on natural resources. Thousands will be displaced from their homes especially in low-lying coastal. Furthermore, more than 400 plant and animal species found in the Philippines are currently threatened to be extinct, including the Philippine eagle, the tamaraw, and the dugong, according to the International Labor Organization country report on Climate Change Policies, Green Jobs and Decent Work in the Philippines.
Moreover, according to the 2014 World Disaster Report of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, from 2004 to2013, approximately one million people died due to more than 6,000 calamities in the world.
The International Eucharistic Congress is an international gathering aimed at promoting an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. With the theme, “Christ in you, our hope of glory (Col 1:27),” the week-long Eucharistic Congress is intended to strengthen the faith of the people. It is also believed to be a pause for commitment and a pause for prayer.
Today, Friday, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias D.D., Archbishop of Bombay (India) will have a talk about The Eucharist and the Church’s Dialogue with Religions. Meanwhile, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan D.D., Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria), will talk about The Eucharist: The Dialogue with the Poor and Suffering.
The last time Philippines hosted the International Eucharistic Congress was in 1937 held in Manila.
TWO former non-Catholics share their love for the Eucharist and to the “true Church” as they attend the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu.
In an interview with Church-ran Radio Veritas, Paul Alima, a former Jehovah’s Witness, and Sonny Hagos who used to be a Protestant pastor shared their stories on how they were converted and went back to Catholicism, respectively
Paul Alima said he is thankful for he has found the real Iglesia, the Catholic Church. He said he was enlightened through his studies of the Gospel of the Lord. According to him, it is clearly stated in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Realizing that his former church was only established by man in 1872, his longing for a real church was triggered by John 6:53, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He said in his former religion, they do not eat the Body and drink the blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
“So paano kami maliligtas? Hindi kami kumakain sa Eukaristiya, sa laman ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo,” Alima added.
On the other hand, Bro. Sonny Hagos was born Catholic, but considers himself to be ignorant of the teachings of the Church. He was converted to Protestantism and became a pastor for 15 years.
He said that it was a discussion with two Catholics about Blessed Virgin Mary that enlightened him and made him walk back into the path of being a Catholic. He said he was able to comprehend the role of Virgin Mary as Jesus Christ work of human redemption, and started studying Catholic doctrines and asked for assistance from a Catholic priest to have a good understanding of the Catholic teachings.
In the Philippines, about 86 percent of the population belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Six percent belong to various nationalized Christian cults, and another 2 percent belong to over a hundred Protestant denominations. In addition to the Christian majority, there is 4 percent Muslim minority, and the remaining 2 percent follow non-Western, indigenous beliefs and practices.
According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, more than 100,000 adults yearly join the Catholic Church and seven percent of Catholics and eleven percent of mass attenders are converts.
The International Eucharistic Congress is a gathering aimed at promoting an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. During this time the celebration of the Eucharist becomes the center of all forms of piety, of theological and pastoral reflections, of social commitment.