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We seek to understand Eucharist as the church does. We do this through thoughtful attention to what scripture and tradition has to say about it. Faith formation is the formal term for this stage of our inquiry.

It can include childhood religion classes as well as adult retreats, seasonal parish missions, and personal spiritual reading, Bible study, or faith-sharing groups. We should have no expectation of outgrowing this stage. The connection step is simpler—sort of. Connection means linking the fruits of recollection, reflection, and catechesis to our lives. What has our liturgy to do with us?

What does it mean for us that God is bread? What does it mean that bread is Christ and we are too?

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What difference does what we do on Sunday make on Monday? As it is for every other event or relationship in our lives, the bottom line of liturgy is: We perform this action, say these words, and profess this faith: How does all of this make a difference to how we think, feel, behave, and decide? We return to the original question: Nor do I return to my routines on Monday with a restored luster to my halo and a cosmically enhanced mercy in every glance. The transformation of liturgy on my life has been more like the lapping of waves on the shore that gradually changes the shoreline completely.

Folks who knew me 40 years ago as the girl who never smiled are startled primarily by the presence of joy that friends now describe as standard issue in my character: Who knows, you may even get the pirate patch, intriguing scar, and remarkable story to tell. This article also appears in the August issue of U.


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The Eucharist, part II: a sacred meal and food - The Evangelist

Skip to main content. Jesus is vulnerable and he is willing to remain in that vulnerability out of his love for us and the Father and his desire for our friendship and not our fear. Because of this he is willing to accept the poverty of seeing people walk away. There is a great lesson here, I believe, for all persons who are involved in ministry and for any Christian disciple in general. Authentic ministry and witness means accepting and embracing this poverty. We do not manipulate people, we do not buy their allegiance or their participation through the latest gadget or trend.

Like Christ, we simply offer what we know and what we have and we love people enough to allow them their freedom.

~ Thoughts on Walking the Path of Christian Discipleship

Our Lord then turns to the Twelve: Do you also want to leave? You have the words of life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. Now, I do not believe that when Peter made this reply he had a full understanding of transubstantiation worked out in his thoughts.

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These are words of faith and they are also words of humility — the two are connected. No humility, no friendship. Peter does not work it all out on his own and then come to Jesus fully informed and ready to commit himself. Rather, Peter remains with Jesus even in the midst of the uncertainty because in his humility he has come to realize and accept that Jesus does indeed have the words of life and it is by remaining with Jesus that he is brought to greater and greater faith and understanding! It has been noted that beyond the murmuring about eating the flesh and drinking the blood is the heart of the issue that just proved too much for people and so they walked away: Peter both makes this choice for himself and proclaims it in his reply to the Lord: It all comes back to humility, to faith and the willingness to remain with Christ and to have friendship and intimacy with Christ.

The two are that closely bound and connected. Meals are also occasions when a family or a community group come together to converse, share experiences, laugh or complain or simply sit. Research shows that members of families who regularly eat together experience a stronger sense of belonging and security, are more resilient and less likely to feel to alienated and depressed. Another Catholic Update site further explores the Mass as a meal. Sacrifice means giving up or setting aside something exclusively to God. His death was an act of freedom and trust totally consistent with his life of love and service.

Jesus death on the cross is of universal significance for all time and all history. Through the Eucharist we can share in this sacrifice as if we had been present there. What does the sacrifice of Jesus have to do with our ordinary human experience? But so do the daily efforts of dying to selfishness and living for God and other 'sacrifices' which are part of every ordinary Christian life.

A Catholic Update site explores the Mass as a sacrifice further. It is important to understand that Jesus did not offer his life to appease an angry, vengeful God. It was not the Father who inflicted torture and death on Jesus but sinful humanity. God not only does not destroy us for our sinfulness but in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, absorbs the violence and sinfulness of all human beings. In Jesus, God suffers for the life of the world. It does not matter that we do not always appreciate the full significance of what we are doing at Mass — no-one ever can.

What matters is that we are there and that we open ourselves as much as we can to the central mystery of our faith. Three quite demanding articles explore various aspects of the Eucharist: A Eucharistic Community discusses among other things the relationship between hunger and the Eucharist. The article by William Cavanaugh The Social Meaning of the Eucharist suggests that the Eucharist proposes to the world not only a religious and ethical truth but a whole new social reality.

What is your own experience of the Eucharist?


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Think of Masses that have been important in your journey of faith. What has helped you be alert to what is really being celebrated in the Eucharist.