DVD helps prepare for congress

  • January 11, 2008

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The upper room, where Jesus held the last supper and where the Holy  Spirit descended at Pentecost, is also known as the cenacle.

Thus it is fitting that a new DVD prepared by organizers of the June 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City is called Encounters at the Cenacle.

On the DVD, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, chief executive officer  of Salt + Light TV, describes the Eucharist as a “living memory.”

“It’s a memory of something that happened a long time ago but continues to happen today,” he said. “So what Jesus celebrated in the Eucharist at the Last Supper, we continue to celebrate that today and to have the very same effects that took place when Jesus gave Himself, His flesh and blood, to His disciples.”

“We are not only recalling an event of the past, but we are brought into it,” said Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet. “We are brought to the event itself through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The DVD features accessible, conversational interviews not only with Ouellet, but also Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and a panel that includes Rosica, Catholic high school teacher Mark Mignella, Sr. Gill Goulding, C.J., a theologian at Toronto’s Regis College, and Sr. Antoniana Maria of the Trinity, S.V.

On the DVD, Collins explains how the Holy Eucharist is joined to the great act of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, noting  the priest celebrating is not redoing something over and over, nor is he making something happen.

“It is an act of God that is the heart of the celebration. The gift doesn’t come from us, it comes from God. The gift can remain there untouched, unopened. That depends on us,” he said.

“Some responded to Christ when He was alive and others walked away.”

Collins noted that it is important for priests and the congregation to know they are not doing the Eucharist, but are “entering into it.”

He said sin can clog us, just as cholesterol can clog our arteries.

“When the gift is offered we don’t have any room, we are full of ourselves,” he said. “Part of our response as we approach the Holy Eucharist is to lead a repentant life.”

Designed to be viewed in a small group setting, the DVD’s 10 15-minute segments use music, visuals and discussion to prepare and inspire pilgrims for the June 15-22 Congress. It could also serve to whet the appetites of those who have not yet decided to go, and make the prospect of attending Sunday Mass far more joyful.

Its first segment shows pictures from the last International Eucharistic Congress held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2004, scenes from Quebec City and a snapshot of local history, illustrating Quebec’s key role as the portal to the evangelization of the continent. It also contains stunning scenes of eucharistic processions through the streets of Old Quebec from previous Youth Summits.

The DVD is meant to accompany the Congress’s foundational theological document: The Eucharist: God’s Gift for the Life of the World. The workbook advises participants read six or seven pages of the document. The DVD and the theological document can be ordered through www.cccbpublications.ca. The document can be downloaded from www.cei2008.ca.

Produced by Jean Lortie, Élyse Touchette and Debra Violette, who also hosts the interviews and narrates the scriptural texts that open each session, the DVD comes with a study guide and suggested format for group discussions, reflection and prayer. It also suggests closing with a light snack and socializing.

The discussions cover celebration, remembrance, the Eucharist as “God’s gift par excellence,” the Paschal mystery and human suffering, the church as a sign of salvation and Mary as the eucharistic woman. Other topics look at the church’s response, Christ’s life in our midst, the Eucharist and mission, witnessing in the world, and closes on the theme “God so loved the world.”

“Christ is much more than an example, what we communicate is not just a copy of what He did,” said Ouellet. “It is the same Spirit, and that’s the most important of the Christian testimony.

“The Christians are aware they do not only imitate Christ, they bear the same Spirit. The power of their love does not come first and foremost from their moral performance, it comes from the gift of the Spirit that is in them. We need to recover the sense that our following Christ is more than ethics, it is participation in divine life.”

Goulding expressed her hope for the Congress “that God will work, because God desires more than we desire for there to be a real outpouring of His Spirit.”

Maria said she hoped the Congress would not be a “one time event,” but a starting point for a movement of God that will “sweep over the nation” and that “something that’s been missing” will be “found again.”

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