CEBU City, Jan. 27, 2016 – In a secular culture that has become relativist, the Eucharist is the only refuge.
One of the most-awaited speakers at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) was Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, a gifted preacher of the New Evangelization. Barron, 56, gained famed for his Youtube preaching as a Chicago priest. At the catechesis for Day 2 of the congress, Barron was in his element.
“What’s sad today is so many in the Catholic world have become blasé about the Eucharist. In my country, 70 percent of Catholics stay away from the Eucharist,” he said.
Nothing, however, is more important than the Eucharist. Barron quoted the most famous one-liner in the text of Vatican II: the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life.”
“The Great Fathers of Vatican II, what they wanted was to revive the Eucharist, to draw people toward it more and more. To tell them that in 2016 that 70 percent, more in western Europe, stay away from the Eucharist on a regular basis, they would feel their work had been a failure,” he said.
‘We are sinners’
The indifference toward the Eucharist is borne out of a popular culture that does not want to acknowledge, or be told of, its brokenness. Yet “it is indispensable to our Eucharistic faith that we acknowledge that we are sinners, that we are lost, walking in the wrong way.”
Barron cited the words of a Christina Aguilera song: “I am beautiful in every single way, and words can’t bring me down.”
“We’ll never get a salvation religion off the ground if we believe that. So many voices in the culture insist upon it. ‘Don’t put me down, don’t tell me I’m wrong. In fact, I’ve got the infinite right to define my own life, to define who I am,’” he said.
“That is repugnant to the salvation religion. It’s repugnant to a Eucharistic faith.”
He said “to stretch out like someone dying of hunger is the right attitude toward the Eucharist.”
Barron recalled the first time he gave Holy Communion at St. Peter’s Square about 10 years ago, on Easter Sunday. He thought it would be an orderly affair. But the people surged, begging for the Body of Christ.
“It’s the Bread of Life, it’s what keeps us alive spiritually,” he pointed out. “We should all stretch out our hands as though we were starving for the Bread of Life.”
Barron reminded IEC delegates of the three aspects of the Eucharist: the Eucharist as a meal; the Eucharist as a sacrifice; and Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Too often the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is ignored. Sacrifice straightens out man from his sinfulness, he said.
“The logic of sacrifice is pretty straightforward, we take some aspect of creation and we return it to God … If we are off-kilter, which we are, if we are worshipping the wrong way, we need to be brought back and that process is painful. We need to go through into a painful realignment,” he explained.
Like many other foreign speakers at the 51st IEC, Barron paid tribute to the growing influence of Filipino Catholicism, which has kept the faith alive in the post-Christian West.
“I don’t know of any church right now in the world that’s more vibrant than the Filipino Church,” he said. “[In Chicago and Los Angeles], it’s the Filipino community which is keeping the Church alive … so to come here and be with you is a great thrill for me.”
“I do think, in God’s often strange providence, He’ll take a particular church, a particular people, and use them as a means to invigorate and to evangelize the rest of the Catholic world. I do believe, in God’s always beguiling providence, you are playing that role now,” Barron said. (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)