Desiderio Desideravi 7: Bread and the Cross

One bit of post-conciliar churchspeak we hear is paschal mystery. The entirety of Jesus’ experience in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection–what we celebrate in the Easter Triduum–is reflected upon here:

7. The content of the bread broken is the cross of Jesus, his sacrifice of obedience out of love for the Father. If we had not had the Last Supper, that is to say, if we had not had the ritual anticipation of his death, we would have never been able to grasp how the carrying out of his being condemned to death could have been in fact the act of perfect worship, pleasing to the Father, the only true act of worship, the only true liturgy.

This is the traditional and Catholic understanding of liturgy, the love of the Son for the Father. This is what we understand that we enter into at Mass.

Only a few hours after the Supper, the apostles could have seen in the cross of Jesus, if they could have borne the weight of it, what it meant for Jesus to say, “body offered,” “blood poured out.” It is this of which we make memorial in every Eucharist.

How do we know this? It was the profound experience of the post-Resurrection disciples. The earliest Christians experienced Jesus in the breaking of the bread. It wasn’t just an eye-opening experience. Jesus was perceived in human worship and in the physical reality of this world. Liturgy drew people into faith.

When the Risen One returns from the dead to break the bread for the disciples at Emmaus, and for his disciples who had gone back to fishing for fish and not for people on the Sea of Galilee, that gesture of breaking the bread opens their eyes. It heals them from the blindness inflicted by the horror of the cross, and it renders them capable of “seeing” the Risen One, of believing in the Resurrection.

The full document, copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana is here on the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Desiderio Desideravi 7: Bread and the Cross

  1. Liam says:

    One thing about Emmaus that appears almost universally overlooked in homilies: Luke 24:33-35 occurs before Luke 24:36-38, but the latter is usually included in a Gospel that would be read before the former. The disciples who have the experience at Emmaus are part of the disciples who are so troubled by the appearance of the risen Jesus several miles later in Jerusalem that they think they are seeing a spirit.

    It’s one of several examples of how the disciples remain confused and uncertain through Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances. Remember, some “still doubted” at the time of the Ascension, according to St Matthew’s Gospel. And, in St John’s Gospel, a majority of the Eleven had gone back to fishing even after seeing the risen Jesus.

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