Living as the body of Christ

By  Nisheeta Menon, Youth Speak News
  • June 27, 2008

I have just returned from the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, having travelled with about 500 other pilgrims from the archdiocese of Toronto. It was a pilgrimage of a life time, and I can simply say that my cup is overflowing.

For our group, the story of the journey to Emmaus was a focal point of our pilgrimage. Luke’s Gospel tells us that on the road to Emmaus, two disciples fail to recognize the Risen Christ, who is walking with them, until He is revealed in the breaking of the bread.   

To know Christ in the breaking of the bread is ultimately what we all set out to do. In a previous column of mine, I mentioned that I too was seeking a deeper relationship with Christ through the Eucharist, which had always been a weak point in my faith.   Did the Congress answer all my questions? Of course not. But it did re-energize my quest to keep searching for answers. Catechesis sessions, witness talks and daily celebrations of Mass at Le Colisée Pepsi exposed me to different facets of the Eucharist as “Gift of God for the Life of the World,” the theme of the congress. 

In one of the sessions, Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of the Philippines said that we often offer sacrifices individually and communally to false gods such as profit, domination, lust and greed — driven  by self-interest. In doing this we ultimately sacrifice other people. Instead, we are called to offer our own lives as living sacrifices in complete obedience to God’s will, like Christ's pure, obedient self-sacrifice.  

An event near the end of the week illustrated in a small way what Tagle meant by self-sacrifice the good of others. Our group sought out an encounter with the Lord through nature — a trip to the top of Mont-Saint-Anne. As we walked from the point where the gondolas dropped us off toward the chalet, we were caught in one of the many downpours which marked our week in Quebec City. Amidst the downpour, the opportunity was there for the young and able-bodied to dash ahead and escape the rain. Instead, I witnessed people giving up umbrellas, sharing raincoats and joining arms with those who had trouble walking. Together we journeyed toward the summit of the mountain, and no one was left behind. I will never forget how it felt to be soaked to the bone, cold and uncomfortable, while at the same time experiencing the most profound sense of warmth, belonging and thanksgiving. 

The importance of community, solidarity and fellowship was again emphasized during the Eucharistic Procession through Quebec City. Toronto pilgrims were overjoyed when Toronto’s Archbishop Thomas Collins left his fellow bishops at the head of the procession to walk alongside us. As a group we were further energized and inspired by his leadership. I could not help but feel a profound sense of pride as we marched through the streets of Quebec led by Christ in the Eucharist.

Throughout the Congress, we carried each other toward the table of the Lord at which we shared a communal meal as the living body of Christ receiving Christ in the Eucharist.

(Menon, 21, is studying for a Master of Divinity at the University of St. Michael’s College.)

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