First virtual class on the Eucharist by Dr. Brett Salkeld (6 Part Series)
The Eucharist is, like so many aspects of our faith, a great mystery. But to call something a mystery in the theological sense is not to say that we cannot understand anything about it. Instead, it is to say that we can never learn everything about it. A theological mystery is not unintelligible; it is infinitely intelligible. In other words, even though we can never fully comprehend it, can never just put it in a box and move on, we can always learn more about a theological mystery.
In our course together we will look at the multifaceted mystery of the Eucharist through several lenses. We’ll use Bishop Barron’s wonderful little book, titled simply Eucharist, as well as some of my own writings to look at themes like meal, sacrifice, real presence, transubstantiation, Christian Unity, and liturgy. Here’s a little sampler.
- The Eucharist is a meal, but a unique kind of meal. The Eucharist is a sacrifice, but a unique kind of sacrifice. And meal and sacrifice, far from being opposing ideas, inform one another. It is the essence of every meal that something dies so that others might live.
- In the Eucharist Christ is really present, but not in a way that our contemporary categories – materialist, on the one hand, or purely subjective, on the other – can make much sense of. What does the Church mean by calling Christ’s Eucharistic presence “real”? And how does that shape how we understand reality more generally?
- Catholics believe in transubstantiation. What exactly does this mean? And what doesn’t it mean? Is transubstantiation compatible with the ways in which other Christians think about Christ’s Eucharistic presence? Is agreement about the Eucharist possible for Catholics and other Christians?
- Humans are formed by practices. How does our celebration of the Eucharist form and inform us? Can we learn to recognize how other cultural practices – cultural liturgies, even – seek to form and inform us? In what ways does our liturgy, the Mass, counter that formation?
These are some of the questions that will guide our discussion, but please bring your own questions as well. I love Q & A and will leave time for it at the end of each session. If you want to learn more about this central mystery of our Catholic faith, register today and invite a friend.