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An Imagination Worthy of the Eucharist

He makes our sufferings his own through the cross. And his resurrection from the dead inspires in us even now the hope of a final universal transformation. By nourishing us with such mysteries, and bringing them home to our minds and hearts, the eucharist celebrates the universe as a great spiritual breathing space. In that God-filled space, everything and everyone is related.

The eucharistic universe does not suffocate the world of values and the blossoming of human consciousness, but is immeasurably hospitable to all that we are. In this regard, the eucharist educates the imagination, mind and heart to apprehend the universe as one of communion and connectedness in Christ. That totality is materialised in the earthly, physical elements of the shared bread and wine of the sacrament, and in the community of believers receiving it, and in Christ giving himself to them as their food and drink.

Faith experiences the universe as in a process of being transformed into a new creation. The universe is Christened, seeded with the Spirit-energies of faith, hope and love. To this hopeful vision, the Body of Christ becomes the milieu of our existence, in which nothing is left out, nothing left behind.


Thus, eucharistic faith envisages our existence in the world as an indwelling in shared mystery. It invites us to see our world charged with communication as a great field of relationships to everything and everyone. Though we human beings have been busy through our short history in sundering our relationships to one another, to creation itself and to the God himself, the Divine Word has been writing our collective name in the dust of the earth we share.

The mystery of Christ is for the universe the all-unifying attractor, the direction inscribed into its origin, the goal drawing it onward, and the force holding it together. All reality — the physical world, all forms of life, the distinctive life of human consciousness, its cultural creations, and its transformation in the Spirit — is embodied in the plenitude of the Risen One.

As the heart and center of a transformed creation, he is the life and the light of the world Jn Through the eucharistic imagination, a distinctive ecological vision and commitment takes shape. Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with a great eucharistic outpouring:. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will Divine providence has guided the great cosmic processes over billions of years to create the conditions in which planet earth could be a biosphere, a place of life.

In this continuing chain of giving and receiving, we live not only with, but from and off from one another. The Word becomes flesh and dwells amongst us, to bring healing, forgiveness and abundant life. His cross reaches into the depths of the evil we suffer or cause, to promise reconciliation in an always greater love. His resurrection is our assurance that this long history of creative love will not be defeated.

Love and life will have the last word, beyond anything we can imagine.

So much has been given to us, that we might exist and live. How, then, do we begin to repay what we owe in a non-inflationary currency?

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How do we too become a life-giving influence in return? How do we act in this economy of giving and grace? For we become re-embodied in him who is related to everything and everyone. In and through him, we co-exist with all creation. We begin to live in a new time-frame determined by the patient, creative goodness of God who is working to draw all things to their fulfilment.

We begin to own, as truly our own, what we had previously disowned or bypassed — above all, our living solidarity with the world of nature. The eucharistic imagination thus stimulates new ecological perspectives. Everything has been owned by the divine Word in the incarnation.

Everything is involved in the great transformation already begun in his resurrection. We are living and dying into an ever larger selfhood to be realized in a network of relationships pervading the whole of the universe and reaching even into the trinitarian relationships that constitute the very being of God. The eucharist, then, inspires us to welcome the great, generative reality of the cosmos and the ecological reality of our planetary biosphere with a more generous hospitality. Both belong to a larger spiritual space. Jn The eucharistic forms of faith, hope and love do not allow either our universe or even our planet to be left behind.

Spiritual progress is not a spiritual escape from what we are, but a generous reclamation of the physical world so that it is neither forgotten nor abandoned to absurdity, despair or defeat. We cannot set nature aside, for it is our own flesh and blood. Loving our neighbour means loving the whole cosmic and planetary neighborhood in which we exist. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God Eph The time and space of our earthly existence are filled with the energies of true life.

Here and now, we are enabled not only to be jubilant participants in the feast but also, through all the giving and service that life and love demand, we are destined to be part of the meal. We are called on to contribute the energies of our lives to the great banquet of the new creation. With Jesus, we fall as grains of wheat into the holy ground to die, in order not to remain alone Jn The planetary consequences of such a eucharistic vision have been beautifully expressed by a modern contemplative writer.

In her ecological vision, she appreciates. It is a great Process, a circulation of living energies, in which the Real Presence of the Absolute is discerned Bruteau It cures our imagination from the egotistical illness, to offer it the healing sickness of a more generous belonging to all. The need for this salubrious nourishment is expressed in the words of Einstein:.

Bread Of God Nurturing A Eucharistic Imagination | Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan

He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty Nagler The relational existence that Christ nourishes promises a sense of reality at odds with any self-enclosed individualistic vision. In expressing through the eucharist his relationship to us and our world, Jesus is acting out of his own sense of reality as field of communion and mutual indwelling.

As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be in us Our unity in God derives from the way the Father and the Son are united in the one divine life: the divine persons are not independent entities somehow managing to come together.

Here, we are challenged to imagine our inter-relationships in terms of mutual indwelling modelled on the union existing between the Father and the Son. We nourish the other into being. And the life-giving nourishment we give is not less than the gift of ourselves. The eucharistic imagination inspires a deep ecological sensibility. The first movement of Christian existence is to give thanks eucharistia for the wonder of the love that has called us to be part of a commonwealth of life. Obviously influenced by eucharistic symbolism, a noted ecologist writes,.

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skilfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily and destructively, it is desecration. It sustains the vision and the hope necessary to address the urgent problems confronting the human race at the beginning of this new millennium.

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The sense of universal communion it inspires works against the spiritual and moral loneliness that threaten our culture. The heartlessness, that shuts out the poor and the needy from the great house of life, and proves incapable of valuing anything except in terms of immediate usefulness and economic reward, is exposed to a redeeming influence. In all parts of the planet, in the daily round of millions of lives, the eucharist is celebrated.

The communities concerned awake each day to a corporate rededication of themselves, not only to sharing the bread of life with the hungry, not only to compassionate involvement on behalf of the suffering, but also to a commitment to the ecological well-being of the planet itself. Through its eucharistic imagination, the Church can be an inspirational force for those who have come to appreciate planet-earth as Gaia, a wondrous, varied, delicate living system.

Christians are representatives of. It is a deepening into the sacramental nature of everyday life, an awakening of consciousness that can celebrate divinity within the ordinary, and, in this celebration, bring to life a sacred civilization Spangler Christian faith moves through time, but always walks on holy ground. Some might feel that religious symbolism is one thing, while the conflicts and strategies of practical ecological concerns are quite another.

I can only suggest that the movement toward a richer and more inclusive life begins with a new way of imagining the world. Great symbols orientate us within the wholeness of things, and give both the passion and patience to grapple with it. Here, I have offered a reflection on the eucharist as a primary symbol within the life of Christian faith. It is an essential expression of the poetry of such faith, unfolding as it does in a universe of grace.

Prosphora making (Byzantine style) Eucharistic Bread Communion Bread

The eucharistic imagination radically re-shapes our experience, to make the unseen and unspoken glow with significance, even if the struggle to have words for such matters remains. As the source and goal of the whole life of the Church, the eucharist relates us to Christ, connects us with one another, and re-embodies us within the life of planet Earth. This sacrament is celebrated within a field of transcendent, communal, planetary and cosmic belonging.

Berry, Wendell. San Francisco: North Point Press. Bruteau, Beatrice. Eliade, Mircea. Willard R. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World. As a people called to mature and adult faith, we invoke upon all gathered here, the empowering Spirit of courage and wisdom, so that we, too, are empowered to be agents of Gospel liberation.

We unite in thought and prayer with all who are weighed down by oppression, trapped in poverty, victimized by violence and exploitation. We grieve for all who will never reach their full potential, because of the greed perpetuated by unjust systems.