TOWN HALL SUMMARY 8/28/2022
Sharing how CSH participates in the Eucharistic Liturgy.
The document promulgated at Vatican Council II on the Sacred Liturgy called all Catholics to full, conscious, and active participation:
“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” SC II:14
What does this mean in regards the way the members of the Community of St. Hildegard celebrate the Eucharistic meal? How has zoom enhanced or changed the experience?
Zooming in for Mass no longer means showing up late and out of breath on Sunday mornings. Since the pandemic, we have been using Zoom to remain connected and celebrate the liturgy as a global community. Many of us have grown more comfortable setting our own altars in front of our computers and consecrating the elements of the Eucharist. Breaking bread together as a community has changed for some the understanding of what it means to consecrate (bless) the everyday elements of bread and wine/juice into the body and blood of Christ.
At our recent Town Hall, many of us shared what vessels, vestments, and elements we have been using as we fully, consciously, and actively participate in the consecration of the Eucharist.
The Last Supper consisted of elements that were being shared and consumed by the community gathered. Bread and wine are not necessarily "magic matter" as it has evolved over the years. When we gather to "break bread" as a community, we believe we are invited to use everyday food and drink to celebrate the presence of Christ in our midst. Bread and wine are symbolic, but the real presence of Christ cannot be limited or confined to any particular matter. This has been one of the most challenging obstacles to move beyond for someone coming from a Catholic background. Is it still Eucharist (the Greek word means thanksgiving) if the elements are not the traditional elements of bread and wine? Is the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic meal controlled by matter and form as the law affirms? These are questions many of us are wrestling with as we grow in our understanding of what it means to break bread together.
The CSH members respectfully bring to the celebration elements that represent their tables. On some weeks the elements look familiar, and on other weeks, they may push us a bit outside of our comfort zones.
We are a creative and inspiring bunch!
Note: We will be rededicating / blessing the CSH altar and your home altars, technology that you use to connect on Sunday morning, stoles, and other vessels at our three-year anniversary celebration on September 17th. Please bring water and oil to the celebration!
Answering the questions:
● What does consecrating the Eucharistic elements add to Christ’s presence
during our liturgy?
● Is Christ’s presence different after the consecration (or blessing) of the
Purpose/Affect of “consecration of the elements”
● Focuses and intensifies our awareness of God’s presence
● Focuses and intensifies our awareness of Jesus’ death (compared to focus on
God while in creation)
○ The whole Godhead is present in the consecrated elements, not just JC
○ For some, this brings up atonement theology / “died for us” understanding
● Intent is critical:
○ Intent to be open to receive God’s grace
○ Intent to be present to ritual and actively participating
■ As opposed to “outsourcing sacredness to church”
● A meal to connect us as members of the body of Christ
○ When we consume consecrated elements, we become body of Christ
○ Or we recommit our intent to grow into and intensify our participation
in the body of Christ
● Food for the journey
● A “thin” space (where one keenly feels the divine presence)
● Sacred in a new way
● A ritual of mystical intimacy
Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation or Symbolic Reminders?
Transubstantiation: the elements are transformed 100% into the body and blood of
Consubstantiation: the elements share the same substance but retain their uniqueness;
the bread is both bread and the body of Christ; the wine is both wine and the blood of
Symbolic Reminders: The elements remain bread and wine and serve to remind us of
the body and blood of Christ
● Concern that church has certitude about transubstantiation. But how can you
have certitude about a mystery?
● If the Real Presence is essential to our being Catholic, how do we define it? This
will be the focus of our next town hall.
● Concern that some Catholics smugly believe that Catholics do it the “right” way
because we own Christ. This demonstrates a “power over” mindset.
● Is it important to our community to draw a potentially divisive line in the sand on
○ What is important is how does participating in this ritual change each one
○ Are we showing up outside of the Eucharist as disciples of Jesus?
Q: What do we believe as a community in general?
● We invite all to our Eucharist table
● We respect the sacredness of the consecrated elements.
● We believe that God is fully present, really present, in our Eucharistic celebration.
● The ritual of the Eucharistic concentration intensifies our awareness of the Spirit’s
eternal and ubiquitous presence
● We believe that we are invited to be the body of Christ for the world.
A new (2019) Pew Research Center survey finds that most self-described Catholics
don’t believe this core teaching. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they
personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion
“are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Just one-third of U.S. Catholics
(31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become
the body and blood of Jesus.”
Jesus chose fishermen not philosophers.
We as humans make things so complicated. Jesus asks us:
● To come together
● To love each other
● To feed each other
● To remember what He has told us
What does Real Presence mean to us here at CSH? Is it an essential belief? Why do
we capitalize the words as if they are a defined term? Is it?
Real Presence is...
● Food for the journey, nourishment for our souls. We don’t need all the extra
baggage around Real Presence that just makes it all complicated.
● Mystery. Let it go at that. The “Eucharist Renewal” program out of the Vatican
that is trying to scientifically prove that the elements change in the actual flesh
and blood removes the requirement for faith, and loses the mystery.
● But do we really “eat Jesus?” Would we be better served to move away from the
words/idea of “body and blood” and sink deeper into “mystery?” For children (and
adults too?), it is easier to accept the idea that Eucharist is food for the journey
instead of flesh and blood.
● Symbol that reminds us to keep Jesus at the center of our commitment to follow
Jesus, the Christ. Jesus asked only to remember him and think of each other and
love each other. “Do this in memory of me.” The last supper was a Jewish Seder
meal, a meal of remembrance. Our current liturgy was modeled after the Seder
● Inclusive. We shouldn’t exclude anyone from receiving the Eucharist because it’s
like saying that God doesn’t love you enough to earn this prize. God loves all of
us. Church hierarchy is the problem as it tries to control and exclude.
● An embodiment of the entire trinitarian nature of God, not just Jesus.
● Refers to all of us as the Body of Christ, not just the elements. All of us are called
to respond as Christ to the needs of the world.
● Reminder of the eternal presence of God, similar to a relic that helps us
remember and focus on that presence.
Our group also discussed...
● The need to control access to the Eucharist. This need for control is not limited to
Roman Catholicism. It came out of the need to control and unify Constantine’s
empire beginning in the fourth century. We lost the humility of Jesus when
Christianity united with the empire.
● The impact of various early mystery cults (e.g. Mithra ) which was practiced by many Roman soldiers and converts. How did these pagan practices influence the way the Eucharistic meal is celebrated?
● Our history is filled with attempts to reclaim Jesus’ original message. - this has been the work of many reformers. For example Martin Luther.