THE CATHOLIC RITUAL OF EUCHARIST
Robert Barron is a Roman Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was appointed the President of Mundelein Seminary in 2012. He is also a scholar, Catholic evangelist and an author. One of the most conspicuous books of his works is the Eucharist published in 2008. This book uses several styles to bring out its message including the use of allusion to the famous movie Barbette’s feast. He goes deeper into explaining the real basis as to why the Eucharist is particularly significant to the lives of Christians especially the Roman Catholics and why the bread and wine is not just bread and wine but life.
In his first chapter, under the title Eucharist as Viewed as a Sacred Meal Shared Between Man and God, here he outlines the Sovereignty of God’s word as demonstrated during the creation of the world. He opposes the common theologies that state that God created the world since he needed it form sort of benefit; is convinced that God created the world to demonstrate His goodness.
He sensitizes on the fact that the Eucharist forms the basis of the church. His idea of the Eucharist is that it is not in any way a luxury to the church but a necessity since without it, the church would starve to death in the spiritual realm (Barron, p: 9). The Eucharist is a very strong symbol in the spiritual life of man and since man virtually depends on symbols to make sense out of life, the Eucharist therefore has a lot of applicable significance. In the biblical book of John, Jesus Christ outlines the sacredness of the Eucharist when H e says that his body and blood forms the living bread. The simple fact that consumption of blood from animals, leave alone a man, was prohibited in those time rendered this bizarre to most of the people in the audience. This is however very symbolic in the sense that Christ was the impersonification of the Word of God on earth and he presented the Eucharist in the last supper as a form of His remembrance. Regardless of man falling short of His glory, Eucharist is still being practiced up to date, showing that the church is dependent of it (just as man depends on food); it is the churches livelihood, its reason for being, it is the church. The Eucharist is therefore a sacred meal during which got shares His glory with man.
In Barron’s second chapter under the title Eucharist and How It Is Viwed as a Sacrifice, and here, he outlines the relevance of a sacrifice before communion. He outlines that since the world has fallen short of God’s glory from the moment Adam and Eve consumed the forbidden fruit, hatred and fear has been revolving around the earth. For the earth to be redeemed back to the level of communion with the Holiest of beings, a sacrifice had to be made. For love and justice to prevail, people wage war and many die before the attainment of freedom. This is the same concept outlined in the Eucharist which is the full embodiment of Christ’s suffering on the cross. Currently, there is a separate consecration that is done to the bread and the wine; significantly representing the sacrifice Jesus Christ took to redeem man’s position in the eyes of God. It symbolizes the separation of Christ’s blood from the body on the cross. The tradition of the Eucharist was presented officially in the last supper where Christ was waving goodbye before his crucifixion. This provides more support to the fact that the commemoration of his life and worldly death (Eucharist) cannot be separated from the sacrifice he made for man’s salvation.
The third chapter of this book is given task of explaining how the Eucharist relates to the current Christians with respects to the presence of God among men. This chapter aims at finding out if the presence of Christ amongst men is really true and if the Eucharist provides man with the connection he needs with God. The author outlines that the Eucharist is just a symbol; in fact it is not a symbol at all. The Eucharist is seen as the true manifestation and presence of God. The suggestion made by Jesus that man should feed on the living bread which is His body and blood is a strong use of metaphor when looked into in a literal view. When looked at theologically, it denotes the ability of God’s word to change the reality and not just describe it. Consumption of animal blood was prohibited in the doctrines of the Old Testament but the divinity of Jesus’ words was so strong that it transformed the deep reality of bread and wine to mean flesh and blood; it gave the bread and wine a different meaning. The indicators of the Eucharist being a sign of God’s presence are for example the fact that a whole theology can be created just on Eucharist. This is because its mysteries and dimensions are never ending. This is also a similar character to Jesus Christ as written in the biblical book of Paul that it is in Christ alone that all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found. This denotes the real presence of God manifested through the Eucharist. In it Christ is present to us through his own power and his dense objectivity as both food and sacrifice; it is not a product of man but of the Lord hence it calls us to conversion.
The works of Barron can be integrated into the works of theologians and philosophers. Amongst these aficionados of religion and criticality of thought is John Macquarrie. In his book, he outlines theology as the study that aims at expressing faith in the most logical language in existence through the participation and critical analysis and reflection of that faith (Macquarrie, 1977). This therefore means that faith and religion is a matter that should be subjected to deep, rational and critical thought for it not to be misunderstood or undermined with the aim of attainment of clear verbal expression. This principle is coherent to that of Robert Boron’s book in the sense that the author seeks to bring deeper meaning to some of the rituals and traditions performed in ancient time and adopted to the current world blindly without the comprehension of the main reason as to why it is being performed. The concept of Eucharist is being practiced widely in different denominations within the Christian religion. Most people however, me included, did not understand the true significance and symbolism of the same. The works of Barron have therefore critically analyzed the concept of Eucharist with respect to its origin and the beliefs involved with it and brought the deep significance to the surface. By providing the relevant biblical evidences to back his theology up, Barron has clarified the main basis of the Eucharist; the fact that it is a sacred meal that ties the church to God, the fact that it is not just a thing people do in church but a means of appreciating Christ’s sacrifice for man’s salvation and the fact that it denotes the presence of God amongst man. He has then made the findings available to the lay man in a language that everyone can comprehend hence the realization of the appreciation of the concept as it is applied in Christianity. This is the same concept John Macquarrie defined as theology.