2012-06-15 Vatican Radio
There is nothing like the sight of happy people to lift the heart. After two days of merciless rain and biting winds, the spectacle of a group of 50 pilgrims from Taiwan in plastic ponchos singing and dancing to the 50
International Eucharistic Congress; “Though we are many” in their native Mandarin, was all the encouragement that people needed here at the RDS. They joy of the Asian Church has infected Dublin, Friday, Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Among their group were three wheelchair bound pilgrims propelled around the green lawns by young and energetic priests. Friday, they told me, was ‘their day’ at the Congress, the day dedicated to Communion in Suffering and in Healing.
And yet, the atmosphere that pervaded the grounds, halls and arena where pilgrims flocked to hear catechesis was far from sombre. Beginning with the testimony of Rose Busingye, the minute Ugandan Lady who cares for over 2,600 people, men women and children affected by HIV/AIDS on the outskirts of Kampala.
Looking out over the vast arena, barely visible behind the lecturn, she tells how the permanence of God in her life, through her encounter with Him in the Eucharist has made the impossible, possible. Of how her perfect God, nourishes her imperfect self, defining all she is and does for others. She tells of this as images of her community flash on the Arena giant screen, men, women and children who face a daily battle with death and yet rejoice in song, because she says they are defined by God’s love for them.
Or the testimony of Iraqi Bishop Bashir Warda of Erbil, who spoke of how in his country the Eucharist is called “offering” (qurbana), as “always on the altar there must be a cross”. Of how the community of Christians in Iraq remember when they celebrate the Eucharist that “suffering goes on but it is not hopeless in the communion of Christ’s love”. “Knowing churches around the world were holding us in prayer was a tremendous support”.
At this stage the Taiwanese pilgrims had been joined on the lawn before the giant screens by many Irish people, latecomers to the Friday Congress who could not find room in the main arena. They listened transfixed. They now know and understand that the prayers of the world are with them this week as they too seek to heal a suffering Church. Because as one young Irish man, quoting Pope Benedict XVI put it, the Church is always Good Friday but she is also Easter Sunday.