QUEBEC CITY (CNS): When people pause and question the purpose of their lives, they “yearn for a spiritual answer”, Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko said at the opening Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress.
“So many people are moving here and there – 6.5 billion people busy working to improve their living conditions,” said Cardinal Tomko, who was Pope Benedict XVI’s representative to the congress.
Why are “we plunged on this road”, he asked the crowd of more than 10,000 cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns and laypeople from around the world gathered for the June 15 Mass in Quebec City’s hockey arena.
A eucharistic congress “allows us to encounter” these questions and “examine the meaning of our life and death”, the cardinal said.
“What does it mean to be the gift of God” and what is the Eucharist, he asked, referring to the theme of the June 15-22 congress, “The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World”.
Jesus is the gift of God, he “is the food that feeds us and fulfils us and allows us life in eternity”, Cardinal Tomko said.
“The Eucharist is a person, not an object, not a dead gift. Maybe we should ask not what is the Eucharist, but who is the Eucharist?”
The answer to this question, Cardinal Tomko said, is Jesus in the sacramental form of bread and wine “to indicate he wanted to become our food and sustain our life”.
More than 12,000 people participated in the conference’s week-long conferences, lectures and liturgies.
The first International Eucharistic Congress was held in France in 1881 as a gathering of 300 Europeans.