Catholics Aren’t Crazy: The Eucharist & Economics (pt.1 of ?)

I haven’t written a post in this series in a while, but I’ve been reading William Cavanaugh’s amazing book Being Consumed: Economics & Christian Desire as a counter to Jack Cashill’s Popes & Bankers, which I just finished.  It’s pretty remarkable.  Every Christian–nay, every person–should read this book.

Cavanaugh is a Catholic and this influences his thought greatly and wonderfully.  I’ve only made it through the Introduction and I already feel like I’ve been taken for a ride, with my economic thought swirling.  Once I’m done I’ll surely be posting a review here for all of you to enjoy.  He has this amazing paragraph in the Introduction I wanted to share here with all of you:

“Although consumerism is often equated with greed, which is an inordinate desire for material things, I show that consumerism is, in fact, characterized by detachment from production, producers, and products.  Consumerism is a restless spirit that is never content with any particular material thing.  In this sense, consumerism has some affinities with Christian asceticism, which counsels a certain  detachment  from material things.  The difference is that, in consumerism,  detachment continually moves us from one product to another, whereas in Christian life, asceticism is a means to a greater attachment to God and to other people.  We are consumers in the Eucharist, but in the consuming the body of Christ we are transformed into the body of Christ, drawn into the divine life in communion with other people.  We consume in the Eucharist, but we are thereby consumed by God.”

Beautiful.  The drive unto “Consumerism” comes from being made as consumers who remain restless as long as they are consuming lower, baser things.  Being able to consume the highest of things, namely Christ Himself at the table, helps us learn how to consume rightly; consume restfully; consume satisfyingly.  This is why Catholics have got it right: something very real is happening at the Table each time the Host is consecrated and eaten.  It is not merely symbol made to make us bring to mind the sacrifice of Christ.  It can’t be.  If it is, we are malnourished Christians with no hope for real sustenance and strength for a life lived before the face of God.

I have so many thoughts about and such a love for the Eucharist.  This is why I know this will not be the last time I explore this topic.  I mean, we have so many other things to talk about, concerning this Holy Institution!  Transubstantiation, consubstantiation, the Real Presence, sacramental theology, who should eat, it’s role, it’s function, and place in space and time.

So, until the next time we talk of the Elements, go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


11 thoughts on “Catholics Aren’t Crazy: The Eucharist & Economics (pt.1 of ?)

  1. Thank you. Just curious: do you find yourself more on the Catholic side of the spectrum appreciating the shout-out from a Protestant, or do find yourself more on the Protestant side still resonating on some issues with Rome?


  2. I couldn’t help but be drawn to this post. As a former Catholic I remember the freedom in Christ I received the day the Holy Spirit entered my life. Reading God’s Word was so incredible because we had never really read the whole counsel of God in our church nor had an understanding of it’s history. Reading about God’s covenant with the nation of Israel and his covenant with us (gentiles) gave me such a connection to the consistency of God’s Word and redemptive work in the life of his children.
    My understanding has been that ancient man (during Jesus’ time) spoke in pictures and modern man speaks in definitions. The disciples understood the meaning of Jesus’ words through the picture of the Passover meal. It was never meant to be the “literal” body and blood of Jesus just as the passover meal was symbolic. The OT believers often left physical alters and standing stones to remember God’s promises and work on their behalf.
    The idea of transubstantiation was not introduced until 1376. Scriptural support for transubstantiation comes from Matt. 26:28, Jo. 6:52-58, and 1Cor. 11:27. There is no indication that these were meant to be taken literally. Jesus often spoke figuratively, for example Matt. 26:28-29 we see that he refers to His blood as fruit of the vine. Heb. 10:10-14 we see that the Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice of Christ. Christ died once for all and does not have to be sacrificed again and again like the passover lamb. We connect with the sacrifice of Christ by faith, not by a ceremony. However, there has been a lack of reverence for the importance among Protestants which needs pastoral attention by the teaching of the dept of meaning and importance of the celebration of Communion (our Passover meal).
    Below is my favorite Pastor and historical understanding of the above comments. Thanks for the blog and I invite any response…food for further discussion.

    By Lance Ralston, Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel of Oxnard, CA

    The original Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal. As the disciples shared that last meal with Jesus, they sat around a table. They sat, as their ancestors had to celebrate Passover, for generations. But the original Passover was eaten while the people stood, with their traveling clothes on and their staffs in their hands.

    You see, God had told the people that their deliverance from bondage would come that night and they had to be ready to set out at a moment’s notice. But once the people had entered into the Promised Land, their journey was over. They had come home. So from that time on they sat, symbolic of having arrived and now resting.

    In 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul writes about Communion,

    “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the LordÕs death till He comes.”

    At the Lord’s table, we look back to the Cross and remember what He has done. But at the table, we also look forward, forward to the day when the Lord comes again and takes us to our home, our Promised Land – Heaven. Now, the Bible tells us that at any moment, the word will come, the trumpet will sound, and it will be time to go. Are you ready?

    Then let’s stand today, as they stood for that first Passover, and declare our joyous anticipation of Jesus’ return.


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