This year the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress takes place in Budapest, Hungary. Moysés Azevedo, founder of the Shalom Community, will participate as one of the authorities that will be part of the official program. With his participation, it is hoped to understand the relationship of missionary activity in favor of the Church, humanity and young people, after a personal encounter with the Risen One who passed through the Cross, the Christ who makes himself present in the Eucharist and gives life, hope, joy and drives on evangelization.
52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Hungary
The primate of Hungary emphasized that the program of the Congress will be dedicated not only to religious events, but also offer moments of reflection aimed at deepening the spirit of Christian love for the world. In this regard, various scientific seminars, concerts and testimonies will be held, as well as a three-day theological symposium that will precede the work of the Congress itself, and for which academics from all continents are expected.
“During the celebration – explained by the primate of Hungary – more than 4,000 people will receive communion for the first time, and their white robes will be made by a cooperative of people with disabilities.” Pope Francis is expected at the Congress, when he will preside at the concluding Mass, scheduled for September 12 in Heroes Square.
The great international meeting will be an opportunity to confirm the faith of Christians, rebuild the identity of the Christian community through a new evangelization, deepen communion with Christ and with our brothers and sisters to work for the reconciliation of peoples.
Furthermore, it will also strengthen dialogue among Christians, in the certainty that there are more things that unite them than what divide them. The Congress program also includes numerous catechesis, various exhibitions and other cultural events, as well as an encounter for the youth.
Pope Francis will be present at this event and also the participation of bishops from the five continents is expected, including the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Orani João Tempesta; Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, South Korea; the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Iraq, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako and Archbishop Piero Marini, President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
The importance of this event
The Eucharistic Congress wants to be the common place of all people who profess the Catholic faith in the communion of the Most Holy Eucharist wishing to give a public witness to their faith in the real presence of the Lord Jesus.
A Eucharistic Congress, therefore, wants to reaffirm this certainty: He is in our midst! It is an invitation to all who believe in this truth: Come and See! (Jn 1:39). The congress hopes that new testimonies emerge regarding the experience of the real presence of the Risen Jesus, who enlivens us, consoles us and converts the faithful. Lord Jesus, encouraging, consoling and converting the faithful.
Eucharist is a true presence, says Moysés, because it was Jesus himself who said that He would be with us every day of our lives. “He gives us the grace and strength to overcome this mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. Eucharist is a sacrifice of love”, he adds. Amidst the pain of this time of pandemic, we are not alone, we are united in Christ, with Christ and for Christ, says the Founder. Eucharist is service, hope, strength and trust.
Thus, when we praise and worship Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we are authentic Christians. Therefore, a Eucharistic Congress has many implications, such as those that are theological, spiritual, pastoral, missionary, catechetical, vocational, social, political, cultural ,ecological, ecumenical and interreligious ones.
Origin of the Eucharistic Congress
Everything started with Emilie Tamisier (1834 – 1910). She was inspired by ” The Apostle of the Eucharist”, Saint Peter Julien Eymard (1811 – 1868). He was the founder of the Work of Perpetual Adoration and of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Emilie, driven by his great example of life and love for the Blessed Sacrament, with the help of other lay people, priests and bishops and with the blessing of Pope Leo XIII, created the first International Eucharistic Congress, in Lille (230km from Paris, France), with the theme: The Eucharist saves the world. They bet on a renewed faith in Christ present in the Eucharist as a remedy against ignorance and religious indifference.
With the pontificate of Pius XI, the Eucharistic Congresses became international, as they began to be celebrated in different countries on all continents, acquiring a missionary dimension of a new evangelization” (an expression already used for the preparation of the Congress in Manila in 1937). The locations of each International Eucharistic Congress are chosen by the Pope himself.
Only after the 37th Congress, in 1960, held in Munich, were they called ,statio orbis, thus a celebration of the Universal Church to commemorate the gift of God, which is the Eucharist offered to all humanity. Consequently, the encounter gives primary importance to the Eucharistic Celebrations which are the center and climax of all the various manifestations and forms of Eucharistic devotion.
A Eucharistic Congress can be held at the diocesan level, where all the clergy, religious men and women and faithful of the Diocese participate. It can also be a National Eucharistic Congress where all dioceses are involved with bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious and faithful from all over the country or an International Eucharistic Congress when it involves the Church of all countries.
In the entire chronology of the congresses, they were only postponed twice: during the First and Second World Wars. After the second world war the Catholic world event was not organized until 1952. This is the first time a pandemic has prevented it from happening.
Participation of Brazil in Eucharistic Congresses
52 International Eucharistic Congresses were held, the last one took place in Cebu, Philippines, in January 2016. Brazil hosted the 36th International Eucharistic Congress in Rio de Janeiro in July 1955 when Brazil’s civic consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus took place.
In Brazil, so far, there have been 15 National Eucharistic Congresses. The first was held in 1933, in Salvador – BA; the last, in the city of Florianópolis-SC, in 2006, with the theme “He’s in our midst!”. Pope John Paul II was present in two of them: in Fortaleza – CE (1980) and in Natal – RN (1991). In the others he was represented by a “Special Envoy”.
Words of Pope John Paul II, 1980
In 1980, Pope John Paul II came to Brazil in order to participate in the National Eucharistic Congress. The event took place on July 9th in Fortaleza. A young man, little known in the city at the time, was representing all the youth. At the feet of the Successor of Peter, Moysés Azevedo offered his life in favor of the Church, the youth and all humanity. At that very moment were born the first sparks of what we would later call the Shalom Catholic Community.
In the homily , the Holy Father said: “From this moment and for several days, Fortaleza became, in a very particular way, the cenacle where is celebrated this banquet of which the Liturgy speaks, while singing and affirming the Church’s faith in the Blessed Sacrament . […]
It is from this awareness, matured in faith, that the most profound and gratifying answer to the question that guides the reflection of this National Eucharistic Congress arises: ‘Where are you going?’ To which horizons are heading your efforts to build your future? What are the goals you hope to reach through the struggles, work, sacrifices you submit to in your day to day? Yes, where does the pilgrim man go along the road of the world and of history? […]
Men with a new heart, a heart transformed by love: this is what Brazil needs to walk confidently towards its future. Therefore, this is my prayer and my wish: that this Nation may always prosper spiritually, morally and materially, animated by that fraternal spirit that Christ came to bring into the world. May disappear, or gradually reduce to a minimum, the differences between regions endowed with particular material well-being and less fortunate regions within the nation. May disappear poverty, moral and spiritual misery and marginalization so that all citizens recognize and embrace each other as authentic brothers in Christ! […]
All this will certainly be possible if a new time of Eucharistic life encourages the life of the Church in Brazil. May the love and adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament be the most luminous sign of your faith, of the faith of the Brazilian people!
O Jesus Eucharist, bless your Church, bless this great Nation, and give it prosperity, calm and authentic peace! Amen! “
Possibly inspired by these words, Moysés gained a greater ardor in doing something that corresponded to the missionary appeal that was burning inside him. And from that moment inspired by the words of the Pope, was born what is now known worldwide as the Shalom Catholic Community.
Check out the event’s presentation teaser: