There's a good conversation been flowing on catholica for a long time now about the future for religion. The conversation is now diversely spread over many commentaries and posts so it is difficult to provide any three-sentence summary. From a completely different direction, Fr Eugene Stockton, has made a suggestion for our sponsoring some event, perhaps early next year, looking at ways in which parishes might be rejuvenated. He's offered a short reflection today that flows out of these two conversations on the meaning in the Eucharist — the central liturgical event in the life of a parish and the Church. I've also provided a lengthier but not too lengthy introduction to his reflection attempting to tie in what Eugene writes to these other valuable conversations that have been underway. ...Brian Coyne, Editor
Eucharist and the 'remembrance' of Jesus...
by Fr Eugene Stockton
This follows up on the discussion of the Eucharist : how is it a "remembrance of me", is it a meal or a sacrifice?
The latter contention is a futile one since it is not a matter of either – or. To Semites a meal is a sacrifice and a sacrifice is a meal (cf.the Muslim hallel). Both are symbols and both can apply equally to the symbolised. Religion is living poetry and its language is properly symbolic and metaphorical. What is flowing freely ought not be frozen into blocks of ice. This is true both of biblical account and of magisterial statements of the Church. (It is of interest to note that Denzinger's compendium of Church announcements is called Enchiridion Symbolorum, "Handbook of Symbols").
At the Last Supper, in the course of the meal, Jesus enacted a ritual rehearsal of his Passion & Death. It enabled him to underline beforehand the meaning of his unspeakable suffering. By it he also left us a symbolic ritual by which we could recall the events of Good Friday, and thereby play a posthumous part in it.
Even beyond being a meal and a sacrifice, the Eucharist embodies the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, his Incarnation, Death and Resurrection. This mystical passage through death to life had been foreshadowed in the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the crossing of the Red Sea, the delivery of the Chosen People from the slavery of Egypt and the covenantal encounter with God on Mt Sinai. The Paschal Mystery is part and parcel of our daily lives united to Christ as we constantly "pass through death to life" in the ups and downs of our lives. Jesus' Passover is a template of much of our lives, and of life itself, giving meaning to the repetition of death-to-life situations in our experience. So our part in the Eucharist offers profound meaning, not only of what happened to Jesus, but of our own daily experience ever since our baptismal initiation into the mystery of Christ. As Jesus said "Do this is remembrance of me".
Eugene Stockton, submitted to catholica, 21 Oct 2015