Every four years, the World Cup Soccer tournament is held in a different country around the world. Did you know that the World Cup was started by a Catholic? According to the Catholic Herald, a Catholic man named Jules Rimet was inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum to create the World Cup tournament so that there may be peace among nations. He believed that soccer “could propagate understanding and reconciliation between the races of the world,” and he was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his amazing work. Since then nations around the world have come together, set aside their differences, and play soccer for a chance to be “the best” in the world.
Like all the teams participating in the World Cup, we too have an opportunity to participate in a worldwide (and Heavenly) event that brings the faithful from all corners of the world together.
Every time we go to mass and receive Holy Communion, we see the Priest pull out the ciborium (golden cup or bowl) out of the tabernacle so that the faithful can receive our Lord in the form of the Eucharist. In our Catholic faith, we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist (body, blood, soul, and divinity). What’s even cooler is the fact that when we go to mass and participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we unite ourselves with all of our neighbors from around the world!! Though I live in the United States, I know that I am still receiving the same Lord as my relatives in Portugal. No matter where you go, you will always be participating in this great Heavenly feast with everyone else here on earth.
However, we are not only united to Christ through the Eucharist, we are also united with each other as a Church. Since we are part of the Church, we are part of the body of Christ. Since we are all unified into one being, the Church, we are able to answer our calling and reach out to those who need Christ in their lives. Because every single person is a part of Christ’s body, the Church, each individual has a calling to have his or her own share in Christ’s mission. Each time we receive Communion, we renew our mission to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ since we are unified with them.
According to Saint John Paul the Great, “The Eucharist is not merely an expression of communion in the Church’s life; it is also a project of solidarity for all of humanity. In the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church constantly renews her awareness of being a “sign and instrument” not only of intimate union with God but also of the unity of the whole human race.” (Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, #27)
So next time you are cheering for your favorite team during the World Cup tournament (For me, it will always be for my home country Portugal! Força Portugal!), think about how you are participating in a tournament for your salvation by receiving our Lord in the form of the Eucharist during mass. Not only are we consuming the body of Christ, but we are also participating in a world-wide effort to help our fellow neighbors who are part of the same body! It’s pretty amazing to see how unified we are with one another as we all participate in this great Eucharistic feast on earth.
Carolina Soares is the Event Coordinator of Array of Hope. She received a Master’s Degree in Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. She is a Portuguese geek who is very passionate about her Catholic faith and family! She looks up to Saint Teresa of Calcutta for inspiration and thinks C.S. Lewis is pretty amazing!