IEC team told: ‘Grow in holiness’

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CEBU City, April 28, 2015—As the country faces the daunting task of hosting yet another big Catholic event after Pope Francis’ visit, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) told organizers of the forthcoming 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) to always keep in mind the three P’s—piety, poor, professionalism—to better prepare themselves for the occasion, stressing it should help all to “grow in holiness.”

Archbishop Socrates Villegas does an ocular inspection of the International Eucharistic Congress Pavilion in Cebu, April 25, 2015. (CBCPNews)

Instrument for piety, holiness

“We turn to the Lord in the Eucharist. We listen to the Lord speaking to us in the Bible. May our Eucharistic Congress help us to grow in holiness, in piety, because at the end of the day that is our only reason for holding it,” shared CBCP president Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a recent homily at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses in Cebu City during which he reminded attendees that IEC must be an instrument for piety and holiness.

“The mission of the Church is only one, that all of us be saints, that all of us be saints together. Every Eucharist, even more, every Eucharistic Congress should help us to grow in holiness and piety, because the bread that we eat is the bread of angels and saints. And the blood that we drink is the blood of the Lord, the same blood that has washed away all our sins,” he said.

Reaching out

The prelate shared this holiness should go beyond solemn liturgical preparations, the incense and candles, and the nice feelings and bubbling sentiments, stating the IEC should help them “reach out to the poor.”

Villegas stated the IEC should be for the poor, especially people who are spiritually poor.

“When we speak of the poor we do not only refer to those who have nothing in the pocket and, even more, nothing in the stomach. When we speak of the poor we do not only refer to the homeless, to those who have nothing to eat, to those who are sick and suffering,” he explained.

The archbishop noted there are many rich people who are sad and who need to hear the joy of the Gospel and renew their hope in the Lord.

Poverty of affluence

“This is what Mother Teresa called the ‘poverty of affluence.’ That we are rich, but we have no direction. We have money but our lives are meaningless. We have comforts and conveniences and yet we know there is emptiness that is eating us up. And we do not know where to go,” he added.

Given the monumental demands of IEC, Villegas called on organizers to “level up”, saying they must take advantage of the resources the professional world makes available.

God of order

“We should make us of the resources that our lay people have a certain degree of professionalism. Professionalizing hospitality, professionalizing the welcome and the departure. Professionalizing the transport and traffic. Professionalizing because we keep in mind that God is a God of order,” he said.

“When we professionalize and when we level up let us keep in mind it is the work of the Lord and we are only his useless servants,” he added.

Hope of glory

Themed “Christ in you, our Hope of Glory,” the 51st IEC is scheduled on Jan. 24-31, 2016 in Cebu City.

The last time the Philippines hosted a similar event was in 1937 in Manila during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. The 33rd IEC was the first of its kind held in Asia.

For updates, interested parties may visit iec2016.ph (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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