'Children Open Our Eyes to the Horizon of Love'

Carl Anderson Addresses Congress on the Eucharist and the Family

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By Father James Mulford, LC

DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On a cool Tuesday afternoon, with menacing clouds forming in the distance, Carl Anderson, grand knight of the Knights of Columbus, addressed an attentive crowd of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in the main arena of the Royal Dublin Society.

Anderson began by affirming, «Our Congress is really about life — about life with the Eucharist.»

He structured his words around the mosaic images present in the chapel at the Knights’ headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut: mosaics created by Father Marco Rupnik, the same artist who decorated the «Redemptoris Mater» chapel in the papal apartments of the Vatican.

The first image, «Resurrection,» is a symbol that “Christ’s resurrection gives normal things in our lives new meanings,» Anderson said.

«Outside the chapel,» he explained, «in the world, there lingers the taste of a great void — of the temptation to live without Christ. But inside the chapel,» he continued, «the Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament. We are in the home of the resurrected Christ.»

After participating in the Eucharist, we «discover the transformative power of Christ’s life-giving love, and becoming people of hope, we will ‘live differently,’” Anderson added, quoting Benedict’s encyclical, Spes Salvi.

He continued his reflection: “Every vocation has a unique role in the new created order of redemption. In marriage and family, the closeness of family members means we are caught up together in a common role of redemption. … A clear example is when parents bring home their newborn child – the child’s mere presence awakens a new part of them.

“Parents care for their child, but the child guides his or her parents to draw deeper from the well of humanity – parents draw closer to the child and to each other. The child teaches the parents the extraordinary meaning of the gift of self in the transmission and sustaining of human life.”

Rediscovering humanity

The second image is «The Nativity» which features, what Anderson called, «the rediscovery of humanity: the Incarnation.» In it, «there is a tenderness among the Holy Family, as well as adoration — a gaze of love as Mary looks upon a mystery that is beginning to unfold before them. Christ is a child — and yet his magnificence is undeniable. And for Mary and Joseph, the presence of this divine child has revealed more than just parenthood; it has revealed the truth of their humanity, and of all humanity.»

“Only in Christ becoming man,” Anderson continued, “do we encounter an adequate explanation for who we are. Because he alone reveals that we are not only able to love, but that we are made out of love and made for love.

“Our eyes are opened by the child in a new way to the horizon of love.”

Anderson said that in the sincere gift of God’s love expressed in the Incarnation and present in the Eucharist, «we begin to understand our own calling as persons created in the image and likeness of God.”

Yes or no

The third image is «The Crucifixion,» which, in the chapel, surrounds the tabernacle and includes Mary and the Apostle John. In it, Anderson suggested, “we witness the Lord’s love of the family from the cross – his Eucharistic sacrifice expresses its connection with the communion of persons that make up a family.”

“Marriage and family is the primordial expression of the gift of self and the ‘school of love.’ In many cases, couples’ fears about having children are really fears about this gift of self – fears that one might lose their identity in the gift of self, or fears that one will not be able to give oneself. It is what Pope Benedict called ‘the drama of our time’ – it is the drama of whether we will say yes or no to love.”

“The Church is the only voice that tells us today marriage, family and even celibate single-life are compatible with the vocation of the human person,» Anderson asserted. 

He proposed that, intentionally or not, society is looking to married Catholics to be “an authentic witness to human love.”

“Families are uniquely able to declare as well the beautiful dignity of each person, from conception until death,» he said.


The fourth image in the mosaic depicts the «Wedding at Cana.» It emphasizes the transformational aspect of marriage, common with the Eucharist. In fact, it is in the context of a marriage that Mary asks her son to help the young spouses and his transformation of water into wine can be seen as a prefiguration of the transubstantiation in the Eucharist. All of this takes place “within the communion of his own family” as well as the community of the newlyweds, Anderson reflected.

The Eucharist gives new meaning to our lives because “it is the moment when the world is consecrated to God.” The priest transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and the entire community, in the words of Lumen Gentium, “as worshipers whose every deed is holy, the lay faithful consecrate the world to God.”

In the Eucharist, Anderson concluded, we experience a “new creation” and, as a result, we can envision “even a new nation infused by people in love with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, a new nation filled with Eucharistic families.”

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