04/19/2019, 08.56
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Abu Dhabi, worship from 5 am, with thoughts for faithful of Yemen

by Bernardo Cervellera

Long queues of different ethnic groups flock to the Eucharist.  The Mass in Coena Domini attended by 5 thousand people.  Mass has not been celebrated in Yemen for three years due to a lack of priests.  The communion distributed by the priests and 40 extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.


Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - A few minutes before the prayer of the neighboring mosque, from 5 am this morning there has been a line of faithful waiting to kneel and be silent before the Eucharist placed for adoration after the Mass in Coena Domini  yesterday, which recalls Our Lord's Last Supper. 

Taking advantage of Friday, a day of celebration for the Muslim employers, it is above all Filipino and Sri Lankan women, domestic workers, who are using their free time to come and worship the Lord.  Many of them took buses or taxis for a journey of 30-50 km to come and spend an hour or more in silence and prayer.  Some are content with a quick genuflection, others prostrate themselves on the steps of the altar and remain silent for minutes, while the line waits patiently.  Despite being many, everyone is guaranteed a personal and direct moment before the tabernacle.

Yesterday's Mass, presided over by Msgr.  Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia, saw the participation of at least 5 thousand people: Indians, Filipinos, Africans, Koreans, Westerners.  Other Masses in Malayalam, French, Arabic, from 5 am to 9 pm, welcomed thousands more.  The solemn mass presided by the bishop had to be celebrated outdoors, in the courtyard of the cathedral of St. Joseph, full to capacity.  The impression is that we are in an apocalyptic vision, where "a multitude of every race, people and language" prays and sings in unison, with a precision and a care that is difficult to see even in St. Peter's in Rome.

Commenting on the Gospel, in which Jesus, "the Master and the Lord", washes the feet of the disciples, Msgr.  Hinder remembers what Pope Francis did a few days ago, kissing the feet of the South Sudanese political authorities.  "Christianity - he said - is to be a servant of others.  No charge and no dirt can be a barrier to love and service ".

He then continued the ritual by washing the feet of 12 people from his multi-ethnic parish: an Indian student, a Filipino employee, the wife of a Scotsman, suffering from sclerosis ...

At the time of prayer of the faithful, Msgr.  Hinder recalled the (few) faithful remaining in Yemen, who had telephoned him a few hours earlier.  For three years, since the sisters of Mother Teresa were killed in Aden and the last priest, Fr.  Tom Uzunhallil was first kidnapped, then released, there have been no priests in the country swallowed up by the conflict.  For three years the faithful have been celebrating the Easter Triduum only with the liturgy of the Word.  Then they take the Eucharist, almost by "smuggled" in to them.

The communion for 5,000 takes place in an orderly fashion, almost like a dance.  The thousands of hosts are contained in metal containers are used which are then emptied to prepare pissidi of special form: they can be stacked one on top of the other and thus kept  in the tabernacle.  Using traditional ciborium, shaped like a goblet, would make this work impossible.  In addition to the priests,  40 extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are also on hand to help in teh distribution who go to assigned places in the courtyard.

In the end, accompanied by songs in Latin and English, the bishop brings the Eucharist to the altar of adoration.  A giant crown of thorns surrounds the tabernacle, along with flowers, lights, candles, and drapes.  A long and dense queue immediately forms for personal adoration.  I recognize an Italian manager, who has worked in the emirates for years;  the Indian engineer who has lost his job and is anxiously looking for another;  an African who works as a bodyguard and driver of a rich local;  a Sri Lankan who works as a maid ... In silence they thank the Lord for what He has done for them.  In a society that is stratified and full of injustice, this is the root of their dignity.

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