Thursday, 21 October 2010

Update: International Eucharistic Congress 2012

The website of the International Eucharistic Congress 2012 has published the October 2010 issue of their e-Congress newsletter.

Page 7 of the newsletter describes the "Congress bell":
Bells have been associated with prayer and gathering in community for thousands of years. In Ireland we have many old bells, reminiscent of important moments of gathering, both religious and social. The Pastoral Committee has identified a bell as one of the key symbols of the Congress. The Congress Bell will be a reminder of the call to faith and the call to prayer in ancient times and in more recent times; the invitation to gather as a Christian community. Our Eucharistic Congress Bell has been donated for this purpose by the Dominican Sisters in Cabra. The Bell – in the near future to be housed in a special housing or vehicle – will be carried and pushed all around Ireland. It will be offered to dioceses, parish communities, festivals of faith and places of pilgrimage. We hope it will be carried by many volunteers, parish to parish, community to community. Resources are being devised to accompany the Bell so that, as it is rung, it will be heard by many people as a form of invitation. They may ask “what is it?” They may go further and ask, as the rich young man in the Gospel asked, “Good master what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Prayers and ceremonies will be created for prayer occasions. It is envisaged that every diocese, cathedral, community and hopefully many religious sites as well as the schools and other institutions will get involved in this project. A steering committee will soon be established in order to co-ordinate this task.
I had been wondering what Ireland would do to compare with the Ark of the New Covenant that was a major feature of the preparation for and celebration of the 2008 Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. At first sight, the photograph of the "Congress bell" in the e-Congress newsletter seems rather underwhelming.

However, the idea that it should travel Ireland during the period leading up to the 2012 Congress strongly reflects the idea of the Ark of the New Covenant in relation to the Quebec congress. Once the bell has been mounted in a frame or on a vehicle I expect that it will appear more substantial and more appropriate to its purpose.

I do like the idea of a bell:
  • It is very appropriate, as a call to communion, for the 2012 Congress theme, The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with One Another.
  • In the context of the "new evangelisation", it represents a call to Ireland and, through Ireland to all the nations of Europe, to return to their Christian heritage
  • At a time when Christian-Islamic relations are such a significant question for Europe, it represents a public call for Christians to turn to prayer, in parallel the public call to prayer of the muezzin, and so has a strong implication for inter-religious dialogue.
The newsletter also links to extensive pastoral resources for the first part of the programme of preparation for the Congress.

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