Eucharist: Weekly Summary

Eucharist

Summary: Sunday, July 22-Friday, July 27, 2018

More than a theological statement that requires intellectual assent, the Eucharist is an invitation to socially experience the shared presence of God, and to be present in an embodied way. (Sunday)

Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system. He didn’t please anybody, it seems, always breaking the rules and making a bigger table. (Monday)

When you are really present, you will experience the Real Presence for yourself. (Tuesday)

Divine truth is known by participation with and practice of, not by more thinking or discussing or even believing. We eventually have to “eat” the truth more than ever understand it. (Wednesday)

The Eucharistic meal is meant to be a microcosmic event, summarizing at one table what is true in the whole macrocosm: We are one, we are equal in dignity, we all eat of the same divine food, and Jesus is still and always “eating with sinners” just as he did when on Earth. (Thursday)

Many Christians say they believe in the Presence in the Eucharist, but they don’t get that it is everywhere—which is the whole point! They don’t seem to know how to recognize the Presence of God when they leave the church, when they meet people who are of a different religion or race or sexual orientation or nationality. (Friday)

 

Practice: Eating Together

Plum Village, a monastic community in France, founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, invites a contemplative, mindful approach to eating together. It’s not only about the individual experience (though being fully present to body and food is important!). It’s also about widening our awareness of the earth and its inhabitants.

We realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.

We are aware of the whole sangha [community] as we serve ourselves and we should take an amount of food that is good for us. Before eating, . . . we can enjoy breathing in and out while practicing the five contemplations.

  • This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
  • May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
  • May we recognise and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.
  • May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
  • We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

We should take our time as we eat, chewing each mouthful at least 30 times, until the food becomes liquefied. This aids the digestive process. Let us enjoy every morsel of our food and the presence of the dharma brothers and sisters around us. Let us establish ourselves in the present moment, eating in such a way that solidity, joy and peace be possible during the time of eating.

Eating in silence, the food becomes real with our mindfulness and we are fully aware of its nourishment. . . . After twenty minutes of silent eating, . . . we may then start a mindful conversation with our friend or begin to get up from the table.

Upon finishing our meal, we take a few moments to notice that we have finished, our bowl is now empty and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude fills us as we realize how fortunate we are to have had this nourishing food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding. [1]

Reference:
[1] “Eating Together,” Plum Village, https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/eating-together/.

For Further Study:
Edward Foley, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist (Liturgical Press: 2008)

Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Eat (Parallax Press: 2014)

Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publications: 2016)

Richard Rohr with John Bookser Feister, Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 1996)

Image credit: Sharing a meal in the Philippines (detail), photograph by Avel Chuklanov, 2017. Magalang Road, Mabalacat, Philippines.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system. He didn’t please anybody, it seems, always breaking the rules and making a bigger table. —Richard Rohr

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