All our life in the world is meant to be eucharistic. And yet we share the Eucharist in an unsharing world, a world in which bread is not equally distributed in communion. In this non-eucharistic world, it is the top fifteen per cent who use up the marvellous achievements of science and technology in order to indulge in a crude materialistic life-style which prevents communion and ravages the created order. We share this Eucharist in a world of waste. The sacrament is reserved for the sick and needy; the bread of the world is thrown away. But the problem of waste disposal is not only one of enforced hunger: what falls from the rich man’s table is not crumbs, but poisons and plastics. And because recycling is unprofitable in a system where profit rules, we foster a throw-away philosophy. We share the Eucharist in a polluted atmosphere, a world which treats the seas and rivers as drains and sewers, as receptacles for poisons, radioactive waste, crude oil, sewage, and accumulated rubbish. It is in this wasteful and waste-producing environment that we gather to celebrate the sacrament of shared resources and outpoured life.
The Eucharist is essentially a social act, and in our world it becomes a subversive act, an act of disaffiliation. It is the sacrament of equality in an unequal world.— Fr Kenneth Leech, *True Prayer*, p. 110.
In The Silver Chair, a witch has imprisoned the marsh-wiggle Puddleglum with Eustace and Jill. She tries to persuade them the world above ground is only a fantasy. The children are ready to give in but Puddleglum resists: “I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.” Those lines seem remarkably close to the theories of some modern theologians who hold that the truth of religious language is not as important as how useful it is in everyday life. We’re back to the idea of God being an excellent metaphor.
Williams doesn’t agree. “Puddleglum’s great statement of faith isn’t saying it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. He’s saying I have no means of knowing whether this is or isn’t true… But I know there’s something here that I can’t let go of without letting go of myself.”— I’m so glad to see +Rowan defending Puddleglum’s statement of faith. When I first read it I was thrilled. When I subsequently posted about it online a couple of people slapped me down. I feel vindicated. Quote taken from this interview.
“The substantial conversion of bread and wine into [Christ’s] body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of ‘nuclear fission’, to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:18)” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis). These words of Pope Benedict XVI echo those of Teilhard de Chardin, with whom a sense of liturgy as cosmic has long been associated. Benedict uses such concepts frequently, showing perhaps that de Chardin’s thought has become mainstream in the Church. And, although “nuclear fission” and “cosmic reality” are modern terms, the ancient author of the Letter to the Colossians also spoke of Christ in a cosmic dimension: “He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Our liturgy, the celebration of the Eucharist, and eucharistic adoration are all part of something much larger than what happens in a building among a group of worshippers. Such worship is part of a larger liturgy that encompasses the whole world. Christ is present in the bread and wine because God has first loved and graced the entire world in Christ. Some years ago, Cardinal Ratzinger put it this way: “Christian liturgy is cosmic liturgy. … The eucharistic bread imparts its blessing to the daily bread, and each loaf of the latter silently points to him who wished to be the bread of us all. So the liturgy opens out into everyday life; it goes beyond the church precincts. … Liturgy is not the private hobby of a particular group; it is about the bond which holds heaven and earth together, it is about the human race and the entire created world” (Feast of Faith). This is another mind-expanding quotation showing that liturgy blesses our daily bread and links the entire human race and created world. Liturgy, worship, and prayer are meant to open us to what God knows – that all things are one and joined together. God’s love is world-embracing and so, therefore, must ours be. Karl Rahner once said that “In Jesus God has … become world” (Eucharistic Worship). This is so that Christ may “lead the world back into the splendor of God” through the instrument of ordinary matter – bread and wine.
Almost one hundred years ago, Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “Christian prayer should give great importance to the real and physical extensions of the eucharistic Presence … the host is comparable to a blazing fire whose flames spread out like rays all round it” (Hymn of the Universe).— Joan Ridley OSB, In the Presence: The Spirituality of Eucharistic Adoration.
So, living in a world in which a false optimism, or even escapism, is engendered by a vain faith in technology and secular democracy which blinds us to the very real dangers inherent in both, we are pointed by the Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a true grounding for our faith and the source of a bold but well-founded hope. This hope is not just for ourselves but for all (for God wills that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of him [cf 1 Timothy 2:4]), and it is oriented to an end that is eternal rather than one centred on the here and now. The Sacred Heart is not a synonym for the Person of Jesus Christ; rather it refers to an encounter within Christ’s Person between the terminal cancer of human sinfulness and the overwhelming abundance of mercy which is God’s remedy for it. In the heart of Christ himself that battle has already been won. In pointing to his Sacred Heart as the foundation of our surest hope in sharing in Christ’s victory, the Church also points to that Heart as a revelation of God’s will for us, and so she recalls in the Liturgy today Jesus’ own words:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 1:28-30)Far from being childish or outmoded, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus instead is a great weapon in the New Evangelization, as it confronts human hopelessness not with a vacuous optimism but with the assurance that God himself has shared the human condition in Jesus Christ and in him has transformed it into something wonderful; and as it invites people to have hope in him in whose heart that transformation has been achieved, for us and for our salvation. — “No Childish Devotion” by Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB.
The Lord gave himself in bread and wine. Those are things we eat. It was said that the bread is there not to be gazed upon but to be eaten. This is essentially right. But let us just recall: What does that mean, to receive the Lord? That is never just a physical, bodily act, as when I eat a slice of bread. So it can therefore never be something that happens just in a moment. To receive Christ means: to move toward him, to adore him. For that reason, the reception can stretch out beyond the time of the Eucharistic celebration; indeed, it has to do so.
The more the Church grew into the Eucharistic mystery, the more she understood that she could not consummate the celebration of Communion within the limited time available in the Mass. When, thus, the eternal light was lit in the church, and the tabernacle installed beside the altar, then it was as if the bud of the mystery had opened, and the Church had welcomed the fullness of the eucharistic mystery.— Pope Benedict XVI, *God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life*, as quoted by Joan Ridley, OSB, in *In the Presence: The Spirituality of Eucharistic Adoration*.
If I do not have unity in myself, how can I even think, let alone speak, of unity among Christians? Yet, of course, in seeking unity for all Christians, I also attain unity within myself.
The more I am able to affirm others, to say “yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says /yes/ to /everyone/.
I will be a better Catholic, not if I can /refute/ every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further.
So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot “affirm” and “accept”, but first one must say “yes” where one really can.
If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it.— Thomas Merton,Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p 128-129, as quoted inEssential Writings.