Ecclesia de Eucharistia 18

Pope John Paul II implies that the Eucharist is a means to an end, and not itself the final result. The Eucharist points toward a “future glory.”

18. The acclamation of the assembly following the consecration appropriately ends by expressing the eschatological thrust which marks the celebration of the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:26): “until you come in glory”. The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ (cf. Jn 15:11); it is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the “pledge of future glory”. (Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Second Vespers, Antiphon to the Magnificat.) In the Eucharist, everything speaks of confident waiting “in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”. (Missale Romanum, Embolism following the Lord’s Prayer.) Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace (humankind in our) totality. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:54). This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the “secret” of the resurrection. For this reason Saint Ignatius of Antioch rightly defined the Eucharistic Bread as “a medicine of immortality, an antidote to death”.(Ad Ephesios, 20: PG 5, 661.)

I know that many Catholics appeal to the Mass as the already-perfect worship of the Father by the Son. My sense is that the Eucharist is deep and rich enough to possess many qualities, including two that may seem at odds.

Another question might center on the notion of the Eucharist as a means to an end. It would seem that certain aspects of it, especially the peripherals, are definitely changeable. Such malleability wouldn’t be change for the sake of change, but change to accomplish more effectively, more fruitfully the goal that is set before us. What do you think?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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