(Vatican Radio) The 51st International Eucharistic Congress is taking place in Cebu, Philippines drawing thousands of delegates from around the globe to reflect on the central role of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.
One of Saturday's presenters at the event was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, whose theme was 'The Eucharist and Mary'. In the presentation, he returned to the theology of suffering, giving moving examples of a priest celebrating Mass on his deathbed and a dying girl's wish that Cardinal Dolan speak her name into the Chalice during the sacrifice of the Mass.
He spoke to the head of Vatican Radio's English Section, Seàn-Patrick Lovett, about the importance of the theology of suffering and the Eucharist.
Listen to the full interview:
"John Paul II used to speak about redemptive suffering. When I was a parish priest, and now that I'm a bishop, so many people will pour out their heart and soul and tell me about their suffering. You wouldn't know it to look at them - it's not like their on crutches or a wheelchair, sometimes they are - but sometimes it's emotion suffering, sometimes it's spiritual suffering. They are just eaten alive with worry."
"It's like the people who ran up to Jesus; they just wanted to touch him, they wanted to pour out their heart and soul. That's what we mean by a Saviour: we have certain things we need saving from! And one of the things we need to be saved from is our worries, our sufferings, our sorrows. I've never met a person who didn't have them."
"But today we tend to deny that, we almost tend to say 'Ah, we don't need a Saviour; I can do it by myself'. Well, if we don't need a Saviour, then we are the saddest people. I don't know about you, but I sure need one, and the people that I meet need one. And we have to show them the Saviour."
Theology of suffering in Eucharist
Turning to the reason why many Catholics tend to shy away from proclaiming a theology of suffering, Cardinal Dolan said, "Why do think? Is it because people will think we are kind of negative or depressed or because we're down on humanity or Creation? Are you kidding? We are the ones who exalt Creation!"
"We are the ones who know the dignity and beauty of the human person. But we also know the suffering there, we also know the dark side, the unredeemed side. And that's where faith and religion, that's where the Saviour comes in! And that's what the Mass is all about."
He then went on to give some examples of the shakers and movers who frequent the Cathedral of New York, St. Patrick's. "When I look out there, I know them well enough now to know that every one of them has a special intention. I know every one of them is eaten up inside with something bothering them. [...] And what do they do? Where do they go? That's why they come to Mass, because they know they are close to Jesus and the Cross there. We can't lose that."
Power of Eucharist: Christian community
The power of the Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal Dolan said, is "the power of other people, the power of example. It's the power of seeing them trying their best to live their faith. And I think that's the genius of Catholicism: we're not in this alone."
"That's something really important for us in the United States, because the Calvinist Puritan ethic would be that 'it's God and me, it's between Jesus and me'. Mostly it's very personal. We Catholics tend to believe - yes, our faith is personal - but it's received and lived out together, in a community, with other people that we call the Church. And that's where examples come in; that's what the Communion of Saints [is about]: good examples for us."