The Eucharist at the center. From Ireland to Ecuador, the devotion always alive.

Places intertwined by love for the Eucharist: The National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, in the north of Ireland; the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Budapest, Hungary; and the next one in the Archdiocese of Quito, Ecuador.

Giovanni Tridente-March 22, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes

Photo credit: Rachel Moore / Unsplash

The Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. Too often, caught up as we are in the frenzy of news about events in the various Christian communities - beginning with those of the central Church with the Pope and the Holy See and ending with the last parish in the periphery - we run the risk of forgetting this.

Knock, Ireland

However, it is enough to be a little attentive to realize that what is truly essential in the Christian's life of faith also continues to be its foundation, even more so at the level of information. This is the case, for example, of the recent elevation - on March 19 - of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, in the northwest of Ireland, as a place of special Eucharistic and Marian devotion.

The Virgin appeared there in 1879, flanked by the figures of St. Joseph, on the right, and St. John the Evangelist, with a simple altar with a cross and a lamb and angels in adoration behind her. From that moment on, a long devotional tradition began, as a destination for millions of pilgrims, who renew the prayer of the Rosary as the first visionaries did for two uninterrupted hours.

In a video message sent on the occasion of the elevation of the Shrine to a special Eucharistic and Marian place, Pope Francis recalled that in Knock Our Lady does not utter a word: "Yet her silence is also a language; in fact, it is the most expressive language given to us." A silence that in the face of the mystery - of the inability to understand - abandons itself confidently "to the will of the merciful Father".

The responsibility that the Church therefore entrusts through the International Shrine of special Eucharistic and Marian devotion is "great," the Pope told the pilgrims: "You commit yourselves to be with your arms always open as a sign of welcome" to everyone, combining charity and witness. The strength of this experience can only come from "the mystery of the Eucharist," which makes us "live fervently our vocation to be missionary disciples," as was the Virgin Mary.

Expectations for Budapest

Continuing with these themes, there is great expectation for the next International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Budapest, Hungary, September 5-12, 2021, already postponed for a year because of the pandemic. Pope Francis assured his presence at the press conference on his return from his recent trip to Iraq.

Referring to this appointment already in 2019, the Holy Father had urged to pray that the event would favor "processes of renewal" in Christian communities.

Hungary has very deep Christian roots and the celebration of this international event is an opportunity to "confirm the faith of believers, rebuild the identity of the Christian community through a new evangelization, deepen communion with Christ and with our brothers and sisters, work for reconciliation among peoples" and strengthen dialogue among Christians, according to the organizers themselves.

Next stop: Quito, Ecuador

Another piece of good news related to the International Eucharistic Congresses was the announcement, two days ago, of the next stage in 2024. The 53rd devotional event will take place in the Archdiocese of Quito, Ecuador, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The event also aims to manifest "the fruitfulness of the Eucharist for evangelization and the renewal of the faith in the Latin American continent," according to the news announced by the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

Three totally different destinations, Ireland, Budapest, Ecuador, united by the love and devotion of Jesus in the Eucharist, which becomes a gift for every person, in every age and latitude. The Eucharist at the center!

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