Burma’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo told Catholics at the International Eucharistic Congress on Wednesday that it was important to imitate Jesus’ patience amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Look at our world and our lives. The modern man lives in a feverish pitch. He is in a tearing hurry. He is rushing all the time. He is restless. He wants to acquire more, consume more,” Bo said Sept. 8.
“He is not content. He abhors silence. He cannot wait. Speed, speed is the number one value today. Being slow is considered a vice, a waste of time.”
“But Jesus waits. He came to us because he loves us.”
The cardinal said: “Time is not a commodity; it is a communion of hearts. Jesus waits patiently in the Eucharist.”
Each person is born of “the great sacrifice of patience,” he added, of a woman waiting for the arrival of her child.
“Life is not a fast-food restaurant; it is a patient pilgrimage. Fast internet may connect smartphones; only patience connects hearts,” Bo said.
The 72-year-old Salesian cardinal called the COVID-19 pandemic the “irritating teacher of patience.”
He said: “COVID has taught us this virtue in the most painful way.”
“COVID robbed us of our Sunday Communion, Eucharist, the source and summit of our spiritual life. It did bring spiritual and emotional challenges. But through this darkness, the Lord has worked to rebuild us to have patience amidst this existential threat.”
“Patience is one of the great virtues of Christian tradition … Be patient as your Heavenly Father is patient,” he urged.
Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, said that in his homeland of Burma (officially known as Myanmar), the Church had been “tested through its patience,” especially in the last six months with the “multi-layered challenges” of “COVID, coup, collapse of the economy, and climate changes.”
“Catholics have suffered a lot. Our churches have been attacked. Many of our people are refugees in our own land,” he said.
After the Feb. 1 military coup in Burma, Bo supported non-violence in the protest movement and called on Catholics to help the suffering and pray unceasingly for peace.
The International Eucharistic Congress is taking place in the Hungarian capital on Sept. 5-12.
Bo was the papal legate at the previous International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines in 2016.
Pope Francis will attend the congress to offer the closing Mass on Sunday. He will be the first pope to take part in an International Eucharistic Congress since the year 2000.
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, began the congress events on Sept. 8 with a meditation on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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Masses were offered at several churches in Budapest as a part of the congress program on Wednesday.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was due to offer a Mass at the Church of the Holy Angels in Gazdagrét and a Byzantine Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St. Stephen’s Basilica.
“I strongly feel this Eucharistic Congress is the starting point of global healing,” Cardinal Bo said in his catechesis.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
“When people are immersed in that for a weekend or for an evening or for a Eucharistic Congress, like you are going to have in Hungary, it's an experience that you keep going. And that happened here in Denver, no doubt,” recalled Chris Stefanick of Real Life Catholics, one of numerous lay apostolates that can trace their roots to WYD '93.