The Eucharist

A Short Course on the Source and Summit of our Faith

Tuesday Nights at 7 PM (January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15)

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 – Eucharist as Meal 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, Author’s Introduction and “Chapter 1: The Eucharist as Sacred Meal” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is Dr. Salkeld’s explanation of the theological meaning of “mystery” helpful? What doctrines of the faith make more sense with this understanding?
  2. Have you encountered the downplaying of the meal element of the Eucharist as opposed to the sacrifice element, or vice versa? Does it help you to think of these two elements as mutually clarifying and reinforcing?
  3. Have you ever been really hungry?
  4. Had you considered how central food is to the narrative of Scripture? What are some of the meanings of food in the Bible and in Christian life?
  5. How is the human reality of “meal” different from the more basic reality of “food” that humans share with other living creatures?

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022 – Eucharist as Sacrifice 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Chapter 2: The Eucharist as Sacrifice” 

Article mentioned during the lecture: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does a Christian notion of sacrifice compare to some of the other ways we talk about sacrifice in contemporary culture? Where is the overlap?  Where are the essential differences?
  2. Had you ever considered that the essence of sacrifice is not painful, but joyful? When and why does sacrifice become painful?
  3. Does it help you to think about the sacrificial element of the Eucharist to know that God does not need anything from us, but it is we who have our needs met in the Eucharist?

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022 – Real Presence 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Chapter 3: “If It’s Only a Symbol, to Hell with It.”” 

Book referred to during this lecture: God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict)

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some inadequate ways our culture talks about “reality”? How do these impact our ability to think about what the Church means by “real presence”?
  2. How do you understand the relationship between “symbol” and “reality” in the Eucharist?
  3. Salkeld says that when the Church calls Christ’s presence in the Eucharist “real,” it is emphasizing that God is the actor in the Eucharistic action. Does this help us to overcome false notions of “real” that may impede our understanding of the faith of the Church?

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 – Transubstantiation – History and Meaning 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Transubstantiation Is Not a Disconnected Doctrine,” Church Life Journal. 

Brett Salkeld (with Matt Nelson), “Transubstantiation: An Interview with Dr. Brett Salkeld,“ Word on Fire. 

Optional Reading: Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 2: Transubstantiation in the Catholic Tradition” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the relationship between the Church’s faith in Christ’s real Eucharistic presence and the doctrine of transubstantiation?
  2. Did anything about the history of the term “transubstantiation” surprise you? What new did you learn?
  3. How does an understanding of the historical development of the idea of transubstantiation help us to avoid common misunderstandings of it?
  4. How does the Christian doctrine of creation help ground the doctrine of transubstantiation?

Tuesday Feb. 8, 2022 – Ecumenical Agreement on the Eucharist 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Real Presence and Ecumenism,” “Real Presence and Polarization,” PrayTell Blog. 

Optional Reading: Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 1: Introduction: Transubstantiation in Dispute and Dialogue,” and “Conclusion.” 

Total Keeners can also read Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 3: Martin Luther” and “Chapter 4: John Calvin” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What had happened to the doctrine of transubstantiation by the time of the Protestant Reformation? Why is understanding this important for ecumenical dialogue on the Eucharist and real presence?
  2. There is not one Protestant position on Christ’s Eucharistic presence, but several. What difference does this make for how Catholics engage in dialogue on this question with our Protestant sisters and brothers?
  3. Did you learn anything about Protestant theologies of the Eucharist that you found surprising or that you think would be helpful in seeking deeper mutual understanding on this question?
  4. Have you encountered more Protestant openness to a notion of real presence? What about transubstantiation?
  5. Did you learn anything about ecumenical method from Dr. Salkeld’s talk that you might put into use in your own life and relationships?

Tuesday Feb. 15, 2022 – Everybody Worships: Christian Liturgy as Antidote to Idolatry 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Real Presence and Idolatry,” “Real Presence and Mission,” PrayTell Blog. 

Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Epilogue: The Emmaus Supper.” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you make of the idea that “everybody worships”?
  2. What other “liturgies” – ritual ways of shaping our desires, priorities, and habits – do you see in our world? Does recognizing these elements in culture give you a clearer sense of the function of Christian liturgy in your life?
  3. What Christian practices make more sense to you now? How might your approach to such practices shape your life?