The Vicariate of St. Joseph in Las Pinas City, held it's Pre-Eucharistic Congress last, Friday, August 9, 2013. This was attended by church workers and their respective priests from St. Joseph Parish (Las Piñas Bamboo Organ), Christ the King Parish, Good Shepherd Parish, Last Supper of Our Lord Parish, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, St. Joseph the Worker Parish, and Immaculate Conception Parish.
The congress started with a Holy Hour at 9:00 AM, and followed with a talk by Rev. Msgr. Chito Bernardo. The participants were divided into small groups for discussion. To cap the congress, a Eucharistic mass was led by Msgr. Ernesto Joaquin.
Complete text of Msgr. Chito Bernardo's talk outline:
PRE-CONGRESS CELEBRATION OF VICARIATE LEVEL – AUGUST 9, 2013
Introduction: Concept of the Pre-Congress = 1st basically a “preparation in the vicariate level” since not all will be part of the Congress; 2nd a “Disposition and Deepening” of the one year preparation that was done in the whole Diocese and in the Parish level; 3rd a way of “Challenging the community” to SUSTAIN the graces of the one year preparation, prayers recited after the Masses
Presentation of the Theme of my Reflection this morning:
“The Eucharist as the SOURCE of Communion/Unity/Fellowship in the Parish Communities”
Why this topic from the many possible other topics that we can focus? Because if there seems to be one key aspect that we have been neglecting or taking for granted – it is the important grace of communion/unity/fellowship that we all are in need of in the aspects of our life: as Family, Parish, Society, and as a Nation. This call to communion was the last PRAYER (HABILIN of a Dying Man) that Jesus said before he entered His Passion: “Father I pray that they may be one so that the world will believe that You sent me: => the believability of Jesus in the world is how His disciples are approximating the gift of communion, unity, and fellowship => “By this will the world know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
And as the challenge for all of the Parishes at the end of this Eucharistic Year = it is to RE-COMMIT ourselves to make this our priority and as the grace of the Year of Faith and the Eucharist = which means in concrete => to have a concerted efforts to adopt and strategize ways and means to make this our “Battle Cry and Catch Word” that will continue deepening even after the Year of Faith and Eucharist; especially after we have received Holy Communion
Part I – Clarify the Key Teachings/Concept about the Eucharist based on the Encyclical “ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA” = The Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church – April 17, 2003 – Holy Thursday
a) Basic principle: From Identity Flows Mission => if we are clear about the WHAT the Eucharist is, then we will also be committed to its mission; in fact this reality is very true: if all the Eucharist and Communion we have celebrated and received would truly be internalized and understood, then our communities/families/society/country would have been a much better place to live in. And the opposite is also very much TRUE: we have not fully maximized the graces of the Eucharist/Communion we have been celebrating NOT because we are “Bad People” BUT because we have NOT fully appreciated and understood the POWER of what the Eucharist is offering us: SOURCE OF UNITY AND COMMUNION.
b) In Chapter 4, #34 => “The Eucharist thus appears as the culmination of ALL the sacraments in perfecting our communion with God the Father by identification with His only-begotten Son through the working of the Holy Spirit……” #35 => “The celebration of the Eucharist however CANNOT be the starting point for the communion; it PRESUPPOSES that communion ALREADY EXISTS, a communion which it seeks to CONSOLIDATE and BRING TO PERFECTION… both in its “invisible dimension” and in its “visible dimension”…. Only a communion which it seeks to CONSOLIDATE and BRING TO PERFECTION… both in its “invisible dimension” and in its “visible dimension”…. Only in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and a true participation in it. Consequently it is an INTRINSIC REQUIREMENT OF THE EUCHARIST THAT IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED IN COMMUNION, AND SPECIFICALLY in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and a true participation in it. Consequently it is an INTRINSIC REQUIREMENT OF THE EUCHARIST THAT IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED IN COMMUNION, AND SPECIFICALLY MAINTAINING THE VARIOUS BONDS OF THAT COMMUNION INTACT!” The Question now to ask: what kind of Masses have we been celebrating especially when our families are divided, parishes are divided and when a Diocese is divided? Is this possible reason why the Grace of the Eucharist has not been maximized because we are still suffering from the “Human Experiences of all sorts of division and brokenness”?
c) PASTORAL IMPLICATIONS: Even though we are still so far off from the ideal demands of UNITY/Communion in the Human Level, this should not prevent us from continuing to celebrate the Mass every day; rather to be MORE FOCUSED on the NEED for HEALING of our division and to make our reception of Holy Communion more directed towards being empowered to be the INSTRUMENT of Unity/Communion! Thus the words that we pray before receiving Communion: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and MY SOUL SHALL BE HEALED => grace of healing of our indifference and divisions!
d) The close connection between the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist #37 – (quote this passage) => the continuous need for “Conversion of Heart” => this implies that we who receive communion DAILY are being invited to CLAIM our personal Conversion as the first fruit of the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive every time we go to communion! Thus I am empowered to be more patient with myself and others; and to be more forgiving of the failures of others. Thus we now go DEEPER to the connection of the HOLY SPIRIT in the Eucharist we celebrate and receive => the intrinsic BOND and SOURCE of UNITY in the Church.
e) The Role and Gift/Function of the HOLY SPIRIT in the life and Growth of the CHURCH/PARISHES => the GRACE OF PENTECOST = making us BOLD WITNESSES of the RISEN LORD – this means we cannot be “secret disciples” or remain only in the level of personal holiness = “Me and Jesus Alone mentality/disposition”.
Part 2 – Connection with the YEAR OF FAITH = what it means/consequences – the Year of the Eucharist for the Diocese/Vicariate.
Pope Benedict’s Last Official Proclamation: a Prophetic message as the answer to the many modern challenges and struggles/evils in the world today = go back to where it all began = the call of Faith – the gift of Faith – the life of Faith – the Community of the Faithful => (Quote the Key points of the Year of Faith).
Faith as a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF JESUS IN MY LIFE – this means = How Alive/Real is Jesus in my heart/mind/total being will also be the jumping board of just How Much I can feel/experience that Jesus is alive/real in the other persons around me, in the community and family that surrounds me! => “Gold and Silver I do not have; but what I do have, in the name of Jesus stand up” – a conviction that is much needed today = that I do have Jesus – Jesus is in me and because of this I CAN SHARE HIM WITH OTHERS.
Part 3: Conclusion and Challenge to Sustain the Graces of this Year of Faith and the Eucharist
You can only “sustain something” if you have discovered just how “Precious and Valuable” a thing, person or event is! And so the first challenge that we can all accept in this Pre-Congress = can you identify the particular graces, values and treasure the Faith and the Eucharist that you have discovered during this whole year? If none, try to reflect now and discern what the Spirit is trying to offer you after this conference. If there are: WRITE THEM DOWN and CLAIM IT AS YOUR GIFT and MIRACLE you have received during this year that you have been praying the official prayer of the Diocese.
Lastly be accountable with what you have discovered or identified as your grace = share it with others and seek help from them so that you will continually RENEW and REFRESH this experience of your miracle! As leaders or members of the Parish Church, try to discover CREATIVE WAYS that you can FOLLOW UP the Year of Faith and Eucharist that is adoptable in your particular context.