Loaves, fishes, nourishment and the power of Eucharist

Filipinos receive Communion during a Mass at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening ceremony in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)

Filipinos receive Communion during a Mass at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening ceremony in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)

By Simone Orendain

CEBU, Philippines — At a gathering of thousands of Catholics from different corners of the world, inevitably you will hear comparisons to the Gospel passage describing Jesus taking five loaves of bread and a couple of fish and multiplying them to feed the group.

It happened when Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron spoke today before a packed pavilion of more than 12,000 delegates at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. He said Jesus wanted to give food to the mass of people and took what his disciples were able to scrounge around for.

“Jesus, offering them to the Father, multiplies them under the feeding of the mighty crowd,” he said. “There’s the liturgy of the Eucharist. Jesus, up and down the centuries to the present day, feeds his hungry people.”

The bishop said it was an act of giving to the Lord what little one has, and it returns back to the giver manifold. It’s the giver who benefits because, as Bishop Barron said, “God doesn’t need anything.”

When 12 baskets of food were leftover, he said, it was symbolic of gathering in the 12 tribes under Israel.

“Look around this room,” Bishop Barron remarked. “You’ve got a bishop from Los Angeles, California, speaking to people in Cebu, Philippines, from all over the world. What are we all here for? To worship the God of Israel. How strange and how wonderful that the prophetic identity of ancient Israel has come true and we can see it in front of us now. There’s the 12 baskets, the 12 tribes. It’s true isn’t it? It’s true. … That’s the power of the Eucharist.”

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, gives Communion during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening Mass in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, gives Communion during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening Mass in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)

Days before, a Japanese delegate who speaks English said her companion was deeply moved by the opening Mass of the congress.

Sister Yasuko Taguchi of Sapporo said her companion “was in tears, and she said this Mass was just like the Mass in the Bible, John (chapter) 6, when 5,000 people were fed.”

The opening Mass had a crowd of about 250,000, and Communion stations were set up all along the section dividers. I noticed a snapping sound, then I saw some eucharistic ministers were breaking the Eucharist into bits, until other ministers came around with more hosts. Even I thought of the loaves and fishes as I observed this.

There would be other Masses after that, with more to come until this Sunday. One “sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist” each day and, with this large gathering, the expectation is that all will find nourishment for their faith.

Experiencing the Filipino way of being church

By Simone Orendain

CEBU, Philippines — Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesman for the International Eucharistic Congress, might be getting his wish: Delegates are starting to experience “classic Filipino hospitality.”

Msgr. Alfred Cedric Culmer and youth minister Lemareson Rolle, both of the Nassau Archdiocese in the Bahamas attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS/Simone Orendain)

Msgr. Alfred Cedric Culmer and youth minister Lemareson Rolle, both of the Nassau Archdiocese in the Bahamas attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS/Simone Orendain)

Msgr. Alfred Cedric Culmer of the Bahamas’ Nassau Archdiocese had been in town for the congress less than three days, but he said he was so comfortable, “It feels like it’s been a month.”

Msgr. Culmer was struck by the Filipinos’ brand of Catholicism.

“They are deeply religious. You see it in their faith, their simplicity, their generosity,” he said. “It’s like the church of 2,000 years ago, like reading the Acts of the Apostles,” about how the church started. Filipinos say, “‘We’re very happy you’re here,'” he said.

Msgr. Culmer said that after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed much of the region and left more than 7,300 dead or missing, there was talk of moving the eucharistic congress somewhere else. But he says Pope Francis insisted it remain here.

“He said, ‘Absolutely not,'” he said. “This is a time for being church, for being in solidarity, which is what the Eucharist is all about.”

Australian delegate Alan Bowyer was attending a eucharistic congress for the first time. He’s the director of a small Catholic education system and was looking to deepen his awareness of “the Eucharist in mission and evangelization.” It was a phrase that has been coming up regularly during this congress.

Australian delegate Alan Bowyer talks with a group of catechists from the Philippines. At the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)

Australian delegate Alan Bowyer talks with a group of catechists from the Philippines. At the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)

Bowyer told CNS his school is one of several widely scattered across the Wagga Wagga Diocese in New South Wales, which he said is geographically the same size as France. “In this day and age, we are really in need of a world view.”

Plus, he said being in a country where just one-third of the population is Catholic is further isolating. He remarked about the contrast to the Philippines, which is 82 percent Catholic.

“It’s quite extraordinary, their level of devotion,” said Bowyer, calling it an “overt devotion to Catholicism.”

He said he noticed this not so much in the clergy but in ordinary people.

“They’re welcoming with extraordinary hospitality. I think that could be an expression of the church here,” he added.

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings Jan. 24, 2016

"Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it." -- 1 Corinthians 12:27

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” — 1 Corinthians 12:27

 

Jan. 24, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

      Psalm: 19:8-10, 15

      2) 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 or 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27

      Gospel: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

 

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

In Luke’s Gospel for this weekend, Jesus rises in the temple to read from the Book of Isaiah, where he proclaims that the poor will have glad tidings brought to them, a year of liberty would be proclaimed to the captives, recovery of sight given to the blind, and the oppressed would be set free.

Jesus sits again, and with all eyes in the synagogue intently on him, says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

We have the specifics outlined in the rest of the Gospels, as we see Jesus walking about performing wonders, healing the ill and proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God, which he embodies, to rich and poor alike.

But building the kingdom doesn’t stop there. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians, addresses many of the dimensions of Jesus enfleshed in his people, his body. Paul emphasizes that all of us do not engage in the same manifestations of the Spirit: “The body is not a single part, but many,” he says.

That truth remains to this day. When I see Jesus in those I encounter, I see various manifestations of the body.

The young woman behind the deli counter at the grocery store has a smile and a presence that clearly identifies her as a believer. She confirms it when I ask her if she is a Christian and what church she attends.

My two colleagues from the Catholic press with whom I recently toured the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington are proclaimers of the Gospel. I know them both by their functions within the body and by their behavior across the years. They are servant leaders within the body of Christ.

My wife, whose compassion extends beyond her family and colleagues to generously embrace the immigrants and refugees she teaches, shows the healing power of love that endures. Would any of these alone show forth all the complexity of Christ’s body? It’s not necessary. It takes all of us as church to bring Christ’s presence into the world.

QUESTION:

All parts of the body of Christ are essential. How do you make his presence manifest to those around you?

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings Jan. 17, 2016

"As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you." -- Isaiah 62:5b

“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” — Isaiah 62:5b

Jan. 17, Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Isaiah 62:1-5

     Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10

      2) 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

      Gospel: John 2:1-11

 

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

In January 2014 I was able to fulfill the dream of a lifetime by traveling to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. A highlight of the trip for many of my traveling companions was celebrating Mass in the Wedding Church at Kafr Cana, a century-old chapel built over the site associated with the miracle in today’s Gospel.

At the end of the homily, married couples were given the opportunity to renew their wedding vows, and I recorded some poignant videos of several friends doing so. But the reason I was able to capture the images is because my own spouse was not with me that day.

My husband had a previously scheduled business commitment that he was unable to set aside, so I traveled to Israel without him. I bought him a souvenir bottle of Cana wine and consoled myself with the knowledge that he would make the same pilgrimage a few months later, but I felt our separation acutely.

We’re at a point in our 37-year marriage when our children are grown, our respective careers make great demands on our time, various losses have taken their toll and some of our closest contemporaries have separated or divorced. Amid such profound challenges, a renewal of our own vows among friends in such a sacred place would have been reassuring.

In the first reading, Isaiah prophesies the end of Israel’s exile, using the celebratory image of a reunited bride and bridegroom to describe the joyful encounter of a people with their God. Against this backdrop, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at a wedding in Cana has hopeful implications for believers who struggle with God’s call to Christian marriage.

Even the strongest marriages of faith-filled couples are relentlessly tested from without and within. The wine of young romance lasts for a limited time and as at Cana, those emptying jars, left to themselves, can eventually signal a crisis.

On our wedding day, my husband and I consecrated ourselves to each other — but we also consecrated our marriage to Jesus and to his mother. Sustaining our commitment requires daily (sometimes hourly!) reconsecration and hard work. But Jesus promises to replenish our empty vessels with an abundance of new wine, even better than the old, if we but entrust our marriage to his care.

QUESTIONS:

Have you ever felt acutely separated or exiled from God? What do today’s readings say to you about how highly God upholds marriage as a sign of his faithfulness to his people? To you personally?

He walked in Blessed Romero’s footsteps

A friend called him a quiet saint because — even though he was a giant of the church in El Salvador — he was always calling attention to A friend called him a quiet saint because — even though he was a giant of the church in El Salvador — he was always calling attention to the plight of others and never called attention to himself.

Msgr Ricardo Urioste

Msgr Ricardo Urioste

For decades, he patiently waited until the Catholic Church officially recognized the holiness he said he witnessed in the life and death of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Msgr. Ricardo Urioste Bustamante, president of El Salvador’s Romero Foundation, a much-loved figure of the Salvadoran church, died this morning at age 90.

Many of the country’s Catholics had kept him in prayer since he fell in late December and was hospitalized. Salvador Sanchez Ceren, president of El Salvador, said in a tweet that Msgr. Urioste was “a promoter of peace and reconciliation in El Salvador.”

From 1977 until 1980, Msgr. Urioste was vicar general, or the No. 2, for the Archdiocese of San Salvador, under Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose beatification he witnessed last May in San Salvador.

Days before the beatification of the man he so admired, he recalled in a Catholic News Service interview in San Salvador his early encounters with the now-Blessed Romero: “I said I have to follow this man because he is following God.”

Msgr. Urioste said he admired the archbishop’s life of prayer and his love of the poor, whom he considered the representation of Christ in the world.
“He was always looking for the presence of the Lord,” Msgr. Urioste said.

Msgr. Urioste, too, was often seen over the years in the poorest of the country’s parishes, always supporting the cause for Romero as martyr and saint, making sure the younger generations had an accurate memory of Blessed Romero.

Patricia Lazo, of El Salvador’s Catholic Agape TV, said she remembers Msgr. Urioste’s explanation of Romero, given “with great simplicity and clarity.”

“I was able to understand completely the figure of Msgr. Romero and why he wasn’t of the left, nor of the right,” Lazo said.

urioste2

In this 2015 photo, Msgr. Ricardo Urioste visits St. Anthony of Padua Church, in Soyapango, El Salvador. He followed in Blessed Oscar Romero’s footsteps by remaining close to the poor. (Photo courtesy of Tanya Granillo de Vasquez)

Msgr. Urioste also leaves the legacy of his love of the Gospel. He often took to the radio to explain it to others with great zeal, Lazo said.

“There’s a lot of sadness because he leaves behind a great legacy, but also a great void,” she said. “He could not conceive of a church that does not serve those who need help the most and one that didn’t bring Jesus to others with its testimony.”

Connecting with cutting edge astronomy

Paul Canton, a doctoral student in astronomy at the University of Arizona, explains his research of binary stars in front of the four-meter optical telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

Paul Canton, a doctoral student in astronomy at the University of Oklahoma, explains his research on binary stars in front of the 4-meter optical telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

TUCSON, Ariz. — That 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory is one huge piece of equipment.

Seeing one of the world’s largest optical telescopes with observatory’s director, Lori E. Allen, as their guide, participants in this week’s Faith and Astronomy Workshop put on by the Vatican Observatory got a better understanding of how astronomers are helping unlock some of the mysteries of the universe during a visit Thursday.

The telescope has been in operation since 1970 under a 180-foot-tall dome atop Kitt Peak, located 54 miles southwest of Tucson.

Allen said the telescope is available year-round except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As the 24 workshop participants marveled at the size of the monstrous telescope, astronomer Paul Canton, 29, a doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma, was preparing to use it to measure binary white dwarfs in a collaborative effort with other scientists to detect gravitational waves as predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Canton’s work is among some of the cutting edge work astronomers are undertaking these days.

The telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory in southern Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski

The telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory in southern Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

 

The workshop participants also visited the neighboring dome housing the 90-inch Bok Telescope operated by the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. Three Chinese researchers were preparing for a night of observing by cooling the charge coupled device (camera) attached to the telescope with liquid nitrogen to make it more sensitive to photons from distant planetary nebulae.

Hu Zou, a staff member of the Beijing National Astronomical Observatory, said that the group had been measuring nebulae structures for 10 nights and had two more to gather data.

The telescope is the same one used by Jesuit Father Chis Corbally of the Vatican Observatory staff, who joined the workshop visitors, when he conducted star surveys over the years.

The Kitt Peak excursion was the third of the week as part of the workshop. Earlier visits included the Lunar and Planetary Lab Imagining Center and the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, both at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Members of the Vatican Observatory's Faith and Astronomy Workshop peer down at the large furnace inside the University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Tucson. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Members of the Vatican Observatory’s Faith and Astronomy Workshop peer down at the large furnace inside the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Tucson. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

The mirror lab, visited Wednesday, particularly impressed the participants because of the high-tech innovations being used to produce the largest telescopic mirrors in the world.

The lab’s Alan Brass said it takes nearly a year to produce an 8.4-meter diameter (nearly 28 feet) mirror in a process developed by astronomer Roger Angel. Prior to Angel’s innovation it was impossible to make a mirror so large out of a single block of glass.

Angel’s solution yields a piece of glass with a hollow, honeycomb interior. The process involves putting clear glass into a honeycomb-shaped mold in a two-and-a-half story rotating furnace. The temperature in the furnace is gradually raised to 2,100 degrees, allowing the glass to melt and fall into the mold.

The furnace spins, allowing the molten glass to flow into a parabolic shape. Computer precision grinding follows once the glass cools to produce the mirrored surface.

The lab completed its 19th mirror last year. It will be used in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope being built in the Andes in Chile. Once online, the telescope will allow astronomers to take 1,000 pairs of exposures each evening and will cover the entire night sky in three days in the search for objects that “change and move.”

The first field trip to the imaging center Tuesday showcased several projects, including the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission set for launch in September and the digital archiving of photographs from 1960s-era spacecraft missions to the moon.

The Lunar and Planetary Lab is playing a key role in the asteroid mission, which will find the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft making a seven-year round-trip journey to Asteroid 101955 Bennu. The spacecraft will take two years to get to the asteroid, two or more years to survey it and obtain a sample and two years to return with a landing in Utah.

Father Bill Stolzman of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn., examines an iron-rich meteorite at the Lunar and Planetary Lab Imagin Center at the University of Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

Father Bill Stolzman of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn., examines an iron-rich meteorite at the Lunar and Planetary Lab Imaging Center at the University of Arizona. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

Dolores Hill, a meteorite expert at the lab, explained that the mission will help determine the composition of asteroids and allow for comparison to meteorites that tumbled to Earth to piece together the origins of the solar system. Scientists currently are working to determine how much material the spacecraft will be able to pick up in what amounts to a brief touch-and-go “landing” on the 1,600-foot diameter asteroid.

The archiving work is vital to preserve the photographs taken by the Survey missions to the moon that paved the way for the Apollo landings on Earth’s satellite. John Anderson, senior media technician, has archived 94,000 images since March. He’s got hundreds of thousands to go.

Touching outer space

Lauren Bordelon, religion teacher at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, left, and Joseph Varco, science teacher at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, compare meteorites with earth rocks during the Faith and Astronomy Workshop. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Lauren Bordelon, religion teacher at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, left, and Joseph Varco, science teacher at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, compare meteorites with earth rocks during the Faith and Astronomy Workshop. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

TUCSON, Ariz. —  Yesterday I played with rocks.

Not just any rocks mind you, but rocks from space that are an estimated 4.5 billion years old.

I have played with rocks as an adult, skipping them off the surface of Lake Erie on a calm summer day. And there was the time I joined right in to sift stones and dirt when my wife, Chris, arranged for our sons’ home school group to work at an archaeological dig at the former Civil War-era prison for Confederate officers on Johnson’s Island near Sandusky, Ohio.

But holding pieces of space stuff in my hands far surpassed those experiences.

Those of us at Day 2 of the Faith and Astronomy Workshop sponsored by the Vatican Observatory yesterday had the opportunity to examine several types of meteorites assembled in kits by Larry and Nancy Lebofsky, a husband-wife team who share the joys of astronomy with groups throughout the Tucson area.

Both are friends of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory. Like Brother Consolmagno, Larry Lebofsky is an expert on meteorites and since retiring as senior research scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, he has served as senior education specialist at the Planetary Science Institute.

Nancy Lebofsky has worked as an instructional specialist, coordinator at Steward Observatory. She leads programs on celestial storytelling. Their goal is to make astronomy fun and interesting and to get people to think about the vast universe beyond Earth.

Examining a small box of rocks with Father John Schrader, pastor of Peace of Christ Parish in Rochester, New York, I was able to handle a heavy iron-rich meteorite and smaller chondrites cut from larger specimens, including one that was discovered in northwest Africa.

One of the chondrites contained chondrules, round grains that form as molten droplets in space before being accreted to a parent asteroid. The second had been moderately heated so that it no longer showed evidence of chondrules, but iron flakes were visible.

The kit also contained a round deep black tektite, an Earth rock that was melted in a hypervelocity impact by a meteorite crashing into Earth. Some of the rock can be ejected into the air — most probably above the atmosphere — and as the molten rock falls back to Earth it cools and hardens into a round or flat shape.

Different rocks from Arizona and elsewhere were included in the kit to provide a comparison to the samples from space.

Larry Lebofsky also passed around encased samples of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over the Russian city in February 2013, damaging 7,200 buildings and injuring 1,500 people.

Yep, it was quite a day playing with rocks. At least for a while I was a kid again.

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