Thursday, April 05, 2007

Believing in the Eucharist

Well, today I was thinking of writing on the fallacious connection between pluralism and relativism but decided to spare you that. Instead, I decided that it would make more sense to discuss a subject near and dear to me during the Triduum which begins this evening.

In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican faiths, the Eucharist stands at the center of all worship. More than mere lip service in remembrance of Jesus’ invocation to “do this in memory of me, the Eucharist is proclaimed as the profound encounter with Christ’s very essence. It is an encounter in which bread and wine are transformed into His most sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. To many, this seems like a matter of blind faith, totally unrelated to reason (and indeed perhaps unreasonable). However, during the past couple of years, I have realized that there are ways to understand as well as believe, although faith is never abolished in such understanding.

I always joke with my friends, saying that I am too simple-minded to really understand the multiple facets of theology and therefore need the lens of “God is Love” in order to understand all theological ponderings. Once again, the concept comes in handy as we look at the Eucharist. Isn’t it the most profound exposition of God’s love that He would give his being to humanity in the Eucharist? Indeed, if one believes in the salvific acts of Christ on Earth, one would have to believe that God would afford a chance to be united with these acts throughout all time. At the final analysis, this is all that the Eucharist is: God’s ontological outpouring which unites us with his death and resurrection. Beyond that, a central point of unification in the Eucharist allows for true Christian brotherhood, for it is a concrete way in which all are united to Christ (and hence to each other).

Now, many spiritualists would argue, “God’s Spirit is the outpouring of God’s life among mankind.” Well, I agree and would say that the spirit works in marvelous, sundry ways. However, the Eucharist is an affirmation of the highest spiritualization of the world. In the Eucharist, we bodily receive Christ, not just in some ethereal spiritual way but in a concrete way which affirms the holiness of creation.

These ponderings by no means blow away faith (as can be seen by their relatively speculative and inductive nature). However, it does beg the question, “Why can’t we just 100% prove the Eucharist and move on?” In its nature, the Eucharist is an act of Thanksgiving and assent of belief. The bodily reality of the Eucharist is not the only side to it. Instead, the bodily serves the higher function of ontological unity in Love, a reality which requires trust and faith. Therefore, the act of faith which is made when the communicant responds “Amen” to the proclamation, “The Body of Christ” is absolutely necessary in order to be fully receptive of the ontological/spiritual reality which occurs in each Eucharistic celebration.

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