SERIES: Eucharist, Jesus With Us

From March 2005 to February 2006, AmericanCatholic.org released the following series “in response to Pope John Paul II’s declaration of the Year of the Eucharist.” The main contributor for each article was Franciscan Father Thomas Richstatter, OFM.

From the publisher:

Eucharist: Jesus With Us examines the function of the prayers and actions of the Mass, provides a fresh look at the Eucharist and explores the ways Catholics understand and talk about this central mystery of the Catholic faith.

The articles are as follows (just click on the title of each article to access the full text). Each article could be the topic for a session in your small group. Please note that these articles have been listed in the order that they were originally published, and do build upon each other:

  1. Toward the Mystery. Before diving into the history and theology of the Eucharist, Fr. Tom acknowledges the polarization that exists among Catholics regarding the Eucharist, and attempts to “explore ways in which we can build bridges between and among Catholics so that we can come to understand why we believe what we believe and why we feel what we feel.”
  2. The First and Greatest Sacrament. Readers are taken on “a really quick trip through history, Scripture, and theology” so that they can think about the Eucharist in a way that “the multiple meanings of this mystery come together into a unified, consistent vision.”
  3. The Community Gathers. Using Luke’s fourfold structure in the account of the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35), this article examines the first part of the Mass, the Gathering Rites.
  4. Do This in Memory of Me. Following the Gathering Rites (keeping with Luke’s fourfold structure), we set about remembering Jesus by telling stories—we celebrate the Liturgy of the Word (Old Testament reading, Psalm, Epistle, Alleluia, Gospel, homily, Creed and General Intercessions).
  5. The Lord’s Supper. Keeping with Luke’s fourfold structure, this article examines the third part of the Eucharist: meal sharing. Using a Thanksgiving meal as an analogy, Fr. Tom discusses the three movements found at the eucharistic banquet: 1) we set the table (the Preparation of the Gifts), 2) we say grace (the Eucharistic Prayer) and 3) we eat and drink (the Communion Rite).
  6. Our Greatest and Best Prayer. The Eucharistic Prayer (that part of the Mass between the Preparation of the Gifts and the Communion Rite) is our prayer; it is the prayer of the whole assembly. Eucharistic prayers composed throughout the centuries and in different parts of the world all have a similar three-part shape—that of a berakah (Hebrew: blessing prayer). First, we name and bless God; second, we gratefully remember the wonderful things God has done to save us; and third, we make our petition.
  7. Communion with the Lord and the Church. In the Communion Rite which begins with the Lord’s Prayer and ends with the Prayer After Communion, the petition of the Eucharistic Prayer is accomplished: We who eat and drink his Body and Blood are transformed into that Body. We become Christ’s presence in the world.
  8. Source and Summit of Catholic Life. Returning once again to Luke’s fourfold structure, the fourth part of the Eucharist is the “commissioning.” We, like the disciples of Emmaus, are sent forth from the Eucharist to announce to the world the Good News that we have experienced in the gathered assembly, in the Word proclaimed and in the “breaking of the Bread.”
  9. The Sacrifice of Good Friday. This article examines the Eucharist in relation to the mystery of Good Friday (the Eucharist as sacrifice).
  10. Presence of the Risen Lord. This article discusses the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
  11. A Short History of the Eucharist. This article discusses how have we celebrated this mystery throughout the centuries of Christian history.
  12. Beyond the Mass. This article discusses how Catholics also honor the Eucharist apart from Mass.
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