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A Eucharistic Congress should be considered according to the Roman Ritual De comunione et de cultu mysterii eucaristici extra missam (1973) n. 109, “as a gathering (statio) to which a local church invites the other churches of the same region or of the same nation or of the whole world”.
The Holy Father convokes an International Eucharistic Congress at the place proposed by a local Ordinary (Bishop) or by an Episcopal Conference. Even Bishops can convoke diocesan or national Eucharistic Congresses in their dioceses or respective countries.
The Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses encourage, among other objectives, the celebration of national, diocesan, inter-diocesan and parish Eucharistic Congresses, which can possibly have an ecumenical and inter-religious dimension.
With the support of Episcopal Conferences and local bishops, National and diocesan Delegates – and National Committees, where set up – engage in fostering or taking those initiatives that, in accordance with the Church’s present norms, have the scope of increasing understanding and participation in the Eucharistic Mystery in all its aspects: from the celebration to worship extra missam, so that its influence permeates the whole of personal and social living.
Documents needing to be studies in preparing a Eucharistic Congress are above all those of the Magisterium: the Instruction De cultu mysterii eucaristici (1967); the Roman Ritual De comunione et de cultu eucaristico extra missam (1973) nn. 110 - 111 and particularly the Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II Ecclesia de Eucaristia (2003). To express the particular features of every Congress it is indispensable to reflect on the pastoral applications of the basic text drawn up by the local committee.
The Roman Ritual points out in no. 112 that the centre of every Eucharistic Congress is the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of the whole Christian life. The celebration of the word of God and talks can contribute to examining the various aspects of the Eucharistic Mystery – aspects that are suggested by the theme of the Congress. The possibility of praying in common and of adoring the Blessed Sacrament in designated churches contributes to interiorizing these themes. Finally, Eucharistic processions can help to express a public and ritual dimension to the faith in the Eucharist, which is celebrated, reflected upon and re-affirmed during the Congress.
According to needs, resources and circumstances, a Eucharistic Congress can take place for a day or last for many days. When resources are limited, many dioceses can unite in a common celebration to employ their resources in the most effective manner.
To realise the fruits of a Eucharistic Congress it is indispensable to follow it up in dioceses and parishes through the committed endeavours of the permanent Delegates working in collaboration with pastoral centres.
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