Jun 16, 2012

From the Philippines to Dublin...

"No wound is so great that it cannot be healed by love." These words were shared with pilgrims to begin Saturday morning at the IEC in Dublin. With regular showers descending on the thousands gathered at the RDS interspersed with moments of sun breaking through the clouds, it was an up and down morning. The catechesis & Mass schedule for Saturday was shifted to the morning, unlike the afternoon earlier in the week.

The quote above was shared by the presenter of the morning catechesis, offered by Archbishop Antonio Tagle of Manilla, Philippines. Many remember with fondness his talk from Quebec City's IEC in 2008, one of the highlights for many attendees. His topic for Saturday: "Communion in the Word" was covered in the first of a two part catechesis with the second section focusing on "Communion with Mary" on this feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Once again, the Archbishop spoke powerfully and emotionally - he was moved to tears at one point in the talk, sharing his reflections on God's love for us. One particularly moving excerpt:

"We see in our time so much exchange of words happening at high speed and across national boundaries. But unfortunately the world is as divided as ever. Why is communion not achieved in spite of the exchange of words? Because Jesus is not the word they share and receive. When financial wizards talk about ways of manipulating the economy for their own profit, you do not call that communion; that is corruption! When politicians talk to people about grand promises without intending to fulfil them, you do not call that communion; that is cheating!

When the powerful “negotiate” among themselves while neglecting the weak, you do not call that communion; that is oppression! When so-called enterprising persons deal with each other on how women and children could be profitable merchandise, you do not call that communion; that is slavery! When communion consists in Jesus who is the Word of Life then the common good becomes central. And that is pleasing to God’s eyes."

In speaking of Mary, Jesus' mother learning that she would be the mother of the son of God, Archbishop Tagle offered these words:

"Mary, with Joseph by her side, listens, accepts and responds in silence. What mother would not be rendered speechless by such a report about her son? Amazed like the rest who hear the story of the shepherds she keeps all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. The most meaningful word is uttered in silence. Gazing upon the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, she nurtures her communion in the Word through silence. By being in communion with the Word, the Church like Mary will gladly listen to the lowly and the poor with reverential silence, listening to God speaking through them."

With plenty of folks predicting that the next IEC will be held in Manilla, Archbishop Tagle would be a passionate host who would enthusiastically embrace the opportunity for his country to welcome the world for days of prayer, fellowship and reflection.

The full text of Archbishop Tagle's talk is available here.

The witness talk Saturday morning was given by Professor John Monaghan, Vice President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Ireland. He offered some sobering stats on the number of people served by the SVDP, increasing poverty and isolation (especially for young people) in Ireland and the resources needed to keep the SVDP operational.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one of those organizations that is present in most parishes throughout the world and quietly goes about their work day in and out, with thousands of visits and projects underway in our communities. We should be grateful for their work and offer our prayers for all those involved in this outreach ministry.

Cardinal Sarah, President of Cor Unum at the Vatican, presided at the noon Mass which included some brief but powerful showers proving that indeed, "He shall 'rain' forever." All the talks and homilies from this week can be accessed at the IEC website

Workshops were offered throughout the afternoon as things began to wind down at the RDS, our home for the last week. Kudos to the abundance of volunteers who couldn't have been friendlier and more helpful, providing free ponchos throughout the week whenever rain came down and always there with a smile to point you in the right direction.

There are a number of other very interesting spaces at the RDS this week. A large exhibit hall with some 200 booths made for respite from the rain and lots of great information shared throughout the walk in the hall. You could find everything from vendors selling vestments, church security systems to plenty of vocation booths, religious orders, Christian musicians and many many more.

The IEC also offered a very large prayer space that was accessible at anytime you were on the grounds. I was moved by the number of people that were present in the prayer space at any given time of the day. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was ongoing, Lectio Divina was offered periodically throughout the day and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available anytime the space was open.

Particularly moving was the active prayer wall where intentions could be written and posted publicly. Tens of thousands of prayers littered the wall by the end of the week. Some were prayers for specific people, others for a country or group (political leaders, priests, etc.). Some intentions were offered by small children and portrayed through pictures or simple words while others had the shaky script of someone in their twilight years. A very powerful visual reminder of the power of prayer.

Many of the Toronto pilgrims made their way Saturday evening to a traditional Irish dinner and dancing show. About half the group will return to Toronto Tuesday while the other half will continue on a post-congress tour throughout the country, no doubt energized and inspired by the congress experience.

Don't forget you can view the wonderful photos taken by Emanuel Pires on the Archdiocese of Toronto Facebook Page. The pics help capture much of the emotion of the experience - it's great to have them to help tell the story of our time here.

"No wound is so great that it cannot be healed by love." It's a powerful reminder for all of us. In a world that seems more and more wounded with each day, we need that love to guide us, heal us, inspire us. Our challenge post congress will be to find everyday ways to demonstrate simple acts of love for others, in new and meaningful ways.

It's the gift that keeps on giving...

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