By Ann Schneible
DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The 50thInternational Eucharistic Congress officially commenced Sunday in Dublin, Ireland, with an opening ceremony and the celebration of Holy Mass.
More than 12,000 pilgrims from around the world gathered for the opening ceremony and Corpus Domini Mass in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Arena.
One of the central highlights of the opening ceremony before the Mass was the unveiling of the “Healing Stone,” upon which is inscribed a prayer written by is a survivor of clerical abuse. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin blessed the stone, as a young woman, a representative for the victims of clerical abuse, read aloud the prayer:
Lord we are so sorry,
for what some of us did to your children,
treated them so cruelly,
especially in their hour of need.<br> We have left them with a life-long suffering,
this was not Your plan for them or us.
Please help us to help them,
guide us, oh Lord. Amen.
The Stone, which was originally featured in the Liturgy of Lament held in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral in 2011, has been chosen as a symbol for this International Eucharistic Congress.
The Holy Mass followed the opening ceremonies. The principle celebrant, the papal legate to the International Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, was joined by Archbishop Martin; the president of the Pontifical Committee, Archbishop Piero Marini; Archbishop Robert LeGall of Toulouse; Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins; Archbishop Charles Brown, papal nuncio to Ireland; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
Archbishop Martin delivered opening remarks at the beginning of Mass to the pilgrims gathered in the main arena. “Today the Church in Ireland rejoices,” he said. It rejoices “not in triumphalism or external festivities. It rejoices in the gift of this Eucharistic Congress which has been attentively prepared throughout the length and breath of Ireland through a prayerful reflection on the great Mystery of our Faith: the sacrificial death and the life-giving resurrection of Jesus, present in the Church wherever the Eucharist is celebrated and worshiped.”
“Above all,” the archbishop continued, “the Church in Ireland rejoices in the gift of the Eucharist itself, the presence among us of Jesus Christ, our Savior, given for us, poured out for us, in a sacrifice of love.”
The homily of the Mass was delivered by Cardinal Ouellet, Benedict XVI’s official representative at the Eucharistic Congress. “We come here,” he said, “as God’s family, called by Him to listen to His holy Word, to remember who we are in light of salvation history and to respond to God through the greatest and most sublime prayer ever known to the world: the Holy Eucharist.”
The cardinal recalled the day’s celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, saying that “our gathering is an act of faith in the Holy Eucharist, the treasure of the Church, which is essential to her life and to our communion as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church draws her life from the Eucharist, she receives her own identity from the gift of Christ’s own Body. In communion with His Body, the Church becomes what she receives: she becomes one body with Him in the Spirit of the new and eternal covenant. What a great and marvelous mystery! A mystery of love!”
“May our own testimony,” Cardinal Ouellet concluded, “of mutual love and service to our brothers and sisters be a humble proclamation of the good news of the Holy Eucharist.”