Sunday, July 09, 2006

Grace is Edible: A Eucharistic Index

Ordinary Time

As you might suppose from the title, I've decided to index some of my writings regarding the Eucharist, as well as some other comments on the subject.

My sermon on on "Remaining in Christ" offers background on why I think this is so important.

These are some basic affirmations and denials I make regarding the rite of the Eucharist:
  • I believe in the mystical presence of Christ in and at the Eucharist, and that in our eating, we consume the life of God, and take the new life of Jesus into ourselves in a greater fullness.

  • I believe that we make present again the ongoing salvation action of God in Christ at the atonement, and in so doing offer ourselves as sacrifices to God for the good of the world. The celebration of the holy mysteries shapes our live into a cruciform pattern.

  • I believe that this meal is an eschatological action, which makes more real and more present the ultimate salvation and judgment of our God.

  • I deny that faithfulness to and consistency with the Holy Scriptures ties me to an impoverished and minimalist theology of the sacraments. Indeed, I believe the opposite to be true: rich, sacramental theology grows out of the Scripture-reading and worship life of the Church.

  • I deny the Enlightenment, modernist denial of the supernatural and mystical that has been taken up by so many faithful and well-meaning Protestant Christians.

  • I deny the notion that any development in the life of the Church, regardless of how early or how broad, should be uncritically accepted and unconditionally obeyed.

  • I deny the notion that any development in the life of the Church beyond the letter of the New Testament must be a deviation or a plunge down a slippery slope toward the abuses of medieval Roman Catholicism.
Here's the original context of these points, in reading Ignatius of Antioch's letters: "Regarding the Eucharist."

And more here: "One in Christ, One in the Eucharist."

From "Five Things I Believe and Trust:"
I believe that in consuming the bread and wine, I’m taking a little more of the reality of the risen Christ into myself. I believe that he offers himself, broken and poured out, so that his brokenness heals mine. I believe that this sign and sacrament both expresses and contributes to the life we have together as the Church and the life we share with God.
Alan offers teaching: "This is My Body."

Alan makes a case for frequent observance, and offers some words on the Eucharist and "simple church": "How Does it Work?"

Beginning with my cheeky comment, my readers offered some good discussion on what it means to continue our sanctification through the eating of the meal: "The Hard Truth."

And some words from me on how the Mass actualizes our salvation:
We are freed from our searches for wisdom, those fool-proof, fail-safe, forty day or ten step plans that promise to make life with Jesus finally “work” for us. No more measuring spiritual growth: “getting results” will not bring us home from exile. Rather, we must open our eyes and see that we have already been carried home. It is our inability to make discipleship work and our willingness to be with him in all of our self-recriminations that we can begin to understand ourselves as recipients of grace. We must understand this, as people who join Christ in making up the temple of God: our need and destitution do not drive God away, but necessitate God’s presence. It is safe for us to be fools. It is safe for us to be failures. We have just remembered a long story of promise, failure, apostasy and hope. The truth is that God’s faithfulness is always so much more than our strengths and weaknesses. Whatever we lack, our gracious Master has supplied. He has given us his own life to eat and drink, that by our participation in him, we die and are raised up anew.
From Augustine of Hippo's Sermon 272, a word on the unity that the Eucharist creates in us:
"Be then what you see and receive what you are." (more)
There's more of Augustine at To the Quiet.

And as a related notion, I offered a few paragraphs on "Excommunication and Redemption."

William T. Cavanaugh has written on the presence of Christ in judgment in the Eucharist, taking his cue from Paul:
"For those who are not in Christ, judgment likewise does not simply await the parousia; people are already getting sick and dying as a consequence of eating an drinking without discerning the body of Christ. Paul is not speaking metaphorically; the Eucharist can kill you. We must stress that it is not the church which disciplines, but the Lord who disciplines the church. Furthermore, this is not a matter for the 'soul' alone. Those who 'eat and drink judgment against themselves' feel the effects in their very flesh" (236).

- William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics and the Body of Christ, 235-236, Blackwell Publishers: Oxford, 1998.
Mike Aquilina offers us a word on the celebration of the Eucharist in the ancient Church in "Mass Mobilization." He's also offered some of the earliest comments on the rite from Christian writings: "Bread of Life: The First Century Recipe."

And for the social justice implications of Christ's presence in the Sacrament:
"You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slums."
Flannery O'Connor: "If it's just a symbol, all I can say is, to hell with it."

And some truths require poetry.

Michael Lee at Addison Road: "On Grace Bearing Signs."

Joshua Hearne: "Remembrance."

On anamnesis, check out Selva Oscura: "The Restoration of Cain."

Selva Oscura: "Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament."

Aly Hawkins at Addison Road offers an essay that (I think) illustrates well Cavanaugh's "re-reversal" that the Church is the real Body of Christ and the Eucharist his Mystical Body: "I Believe in One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

What do you think?


Anonymous said...


Thanks for this resource. It's a great collection... one that I will definitely revisit soon when I have more time to dig deeper into the links you provide.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Kyle for this great resource! I am Catholic and I was troubled about this matter as I pondered the Lanciano Miracle and other Eucharistic Miracles eg Naju. These miracles only make sense if you believe that the bread is the actual flesh and the wine the blood. But I felt something was wrong...a slice of heart muscle and some blood is not the full presence of Jesus. Then there is the issue of what if someone would clone Jesus using that. I was also disturbed by the fact that once Transubtantiation became dogma it led to blood libels against the Jews. Can you share with me what happened to the Church after the apostles. From Abraham to the was all Jewish. Then the Church turned European. God not Jewish...God eating eg Osiris, Dionysius however is not alien to European minds. So far we have tracked to Ignatius of Antioch and as you pointed out...when he talks about the bread = flesh it is not the same as him saying...I was taught by St John that bread = flesh. It could be an innocent misunderstanding. Basically my beliefs are v much similar to yours now...there is power in the Eucharist...and there is even Presence...but its not from what I think now because of transubstantiation.