Open Forum March 14, 2017
What is God doing in the Eucharistic liturgy?
Many Roman Catholics think that what God is doing at the Sunday Eucharist is performing a miracle by which the reality of Jesus is permanently infused into bread and wine by consecration, and that Jesus' presence in the consecrated bread and wine is then made available to the faithful for oral consumption or for adoration. In this framework God transforms "secular" matter (bread and wine) into "sacred" matter, "inserting" sacramental grace from beyond this world of space and time into elements that then and thus become holy.
In contrast, there is a way in which one can understand what God is doing at Eucharist in terms of "revelation" or "disclosure," that the taken-blessed-broken/poured-out-and-shared elements "symbolize" (in a deep sense through the working of the Holy Spirit) the meaning-and-therefore-reality of the life, deeds, death and destiny of Jesus the Christ, which in turn reveals to us God's intention for us disciples and for his activity in history and the cosmos.
What are the people doing in the Eucharistic liturgy?
Similarly, many Roman Catholics think that what Christians are doing when we gather for Sunday eucharist is engaging the miracle God has done by receiving the consecrated elements (i.e., "going to communion"). The focus here is on the reception of communion, so that it really doesn't matter if one receives the consecrated elements from the eucharistic liturgy at which one is present, if the ritual is a Mass or a communion service, if the presiding figure is a priest or someone else (or if there is any presiding figure), if biblical proclamations and preaching are part of the service or not.
In contrast, there is a way of thinking that what Christians are doing when we gather for Sunday eucharist is not so much "receiving an object" (i.e., the consecrated elements) as "encountering/enacting the paschal mystery," so that the actions done by the community and in the community's name (rather than just the final object) are a "revelation/disclosure" of the deep structure of human life before God: TAKING bread and wine (with the entire eco-theology than can be developed from this rite), BLESSING/THANKING God over the elements (a Eucharistic Prayer whose themes articulate the meanings of the actions the community undertakes), BREAKING/POURING OUT the elements, and SHARING the consecrated elements unto a "holy communion" among God, God's people and God's universe.
From "Celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy", James Moudry, Kathryn Lien, J. Michael Joncas, Michael Byron, Paula Ruddy, February 14, 2017
Question to Open Forum:
This excerpt attempts to articulate the official meaning of the celebration of the Eucharist. Does it make sense to you? Do you connect with it?