Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"Stay with Us, Lord"

"Mane Nobiscum, Domine" (Stay with Us, Lord), the Pope's letter about the Eucharist, came out this week. It's pretty interesting.

As with all papal letters, the first part is equal parts theology and a recap/tying together of previous actions on the topic. This doesn't mean there's no meat there. But the letter really gets rolling in the second part, when the same Pope who officially added the "mysteries of light" from Christ's public life to the Rosary's meditation on the lives of Christ and Mary, talks about the Eucharist as fundamentally a mystery of light. This seems to mean something like this: that the deeper we get into the mystery -- the better we begin to understand it and participate in it -- the more clear it will make everything else in life. Which is only logical, since Christ is Truth and Life and Light, both the Road and the place it's headed.

The letter challenges the rest of the Church to get on the stick. We are to understand the Eucharist as the reason for the Church's existence -- and, as was said earlier this week at the Eucharistic Conference in Guadalajara, that means not asking what the Eucharist is, but Who. We are to celebrate the Eucharistic Feast and Sacrifice with the proper reverence to God in our midst. We are to teach and proclaim this to others. We are to promote devotion to the Eucharist and Christ, both through an ever-increasing revival of traditional prayers and practices with that end and through whatever new stuff we can come up with that's fitting. And, most importantly, we are to allow the Eucharist in us to move through us, to do God's work in the world, to be servants of everyone in need. Because, if we don't, we have shown that we are not Christians by our lack of love.

It's a short letter, but it's got a lot of meat.

As the letter returned again and again to the story of Emmaus from which the Pope took its title, I kept being haunted again and again by the way that God can say a thing and make it so. He said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (As well as the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum and universal law.) He said, "Little girl, get up." He said, "This day you shall be with me in Paradise." He said, "I will be with you until the end of the world."

And so He also said, "My flesh is real food and my blood real food." and "This is My Body. This is My Blood."


  • At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This mystery is central to the divide between Catholics and Non-Catholics. I believe, earnestly that Our Lord was being metaphoric when he refered to himself as "bread" etc. and that this belief does not rob Holy Communion of its power or holiness. You and the Pope have your own view. And you may be right, for all I know. I could be right too, though :) I wonder how long we will be debating this? He has commanded all of us to celebrate this feast in rememberance of Him, and so we do, but being disorderly children, we argue about it. Since you and I have begun discussing the issue, I often pray during Communion: "Lord, whatever this bread is, and whatever this fruit of the vine is, only You know truely. Help me to take it as You would wish and in Your Spirit with a contrite heart." -- Joy

  • At 11:55 AM, Blogger Banshee said…

    There's a crucial lack of drama in the "symbolic" worldview, something which nobody as good a storyteller as Jesus would go for.

    I mean, here's Jesus driving away his followers by saying stuff like "Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you won't have eternal life." If it _was_ just symbolic language, you'd expect him to add, "that is, unless you eat bread and drink wine symbolic of our bond and your faith in me." Because if it was just a bread and salt ceremony, there'd be no "hard saying" at all.

    What will you die for? A symbolic act, or an unbloody sacrifice and mystical link between God and His people that makes them one?

    And remember, the Romans wouldn't have been scandalized quite so much if the Christians didn't have that rep for "eating human flesh and drinking blood". The Jews didn't have to offer incense, after all; they got a pass.

    Anyway, there's not much point arguing about it. The Real Presence, the Incarnation in the Eucharist, is the ancient faith of the oldest elements of Christianity. Burden of proof's on the folks proposing a novel interpretation.... ;)


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