Valid matter for the Eucharist before consecration is wheat bread and wine. Yet, to live Eucharistically is to share our own daily bread.
There was an infantryman in the British army in World War II who ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland. The conditions were dreadful. There was no heat, and prisoners were given a single bowl of thin soup and a small crust of bread daily. Men were starving, sick, filthy and desperate. Suicide was a very real option. All one had to do was run toward the perimeter of the camp and leap against the barbed wire fence. Guards would immediately shoot and kill anyone trying to escape.
In the middle of the night he walked to the perimeter and sat down beside the fence to think about going through with it. He heard movement in the darkness from the other side of the fence. It was a Polish farmer. The man thrust his hand through the barbed wire and handed my friend half of a potato. In heavily accented English he said, “The Body of Christ.”1
All bread shared is God shared.
At Mass, when the priest holds up the consecrated wine in his left hand and the body of Christ in his right hand, it means that Jesus’ body is separated, his body is on one side and his blood on the other—so He has died; his body and blood separated, and now risen. The reality is that the Body and Blood of Christ is being offered to the Father with the priest at the altar acting in persona Christi.
The earliest written account of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, “For I received from the Lord what I also “passed on to you” [the word to pass-on a teaching is tradition (παρέδωκα / tradidi) that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was “betrayed” which also means tradition: in the sense of to hand-over (παρεδίδετο / tradebatur).
In one and the same act, Judas hands Christ over to be sent to death, and Christ hands himself over in his self-giving in the Eucharist to us.
This is Jesus primal ‘handing over’ of himself.” Jesus’ self-traditioning or handing-over of himself in the Eucharist and Paul handing over the Eucharistic tradition to us shows that Christian tradition is Eucharistic.2
In the Corpus Christi procession Karl Rahner says such a procession “threatens no one, excludes no one, and whose blessing even falls on those who stand astonished at its edge.” It is a procession which testifies that “as long as he (Christ) goes with us we have with us the one who can make every way straight and purposeful.” 3
We have begun a three-year National and local Eucharistic Revival. Revival is not an organized conference on the Eucharist where you pay money and get a lanyard and hear talks and have a nice lunch. Revival is people, including non-Catholics, who subjectively experience the living presence of Jesus in the tabernacle and the Mass and in Eucharistic Adoration to the point where we can’t lock the church at night because it’s packed and people are weeping, singing, praising God, and catechized and knowledgeable Catholics are ministering to non-Catholics in the pews.4
Desire can be manipulated. There is always a need for more; nothing can ever finally satisfy. “Desire itself generates more desire in a perpetual and obsessive cycle.”5 God’s desire is both satisfied and ongoing in the Eucharist.
1. “Shared meal” by John Buchanan in the October 2, 2013, The Christian Century, October 2, 2013, Volume 130, Issue #20.
2. Jonathan Martin Ciraulo, Tradition as Given: Eucharist, Theological Pugilism, and Eschatological Patience Journal of Moral Theology, Vol. 10, No. 2 (2021): 119–143.
3. Karl Rahner, Meditations on the Sacraments. New York: The Seabury Press, 1977. p 29.
4. Joshua Whitfield, “What Should the Eucharistic Revival Look Like?” University of Notre Dame, McGrath Institute for Church Life. March 07, 2023.
5. Angel F. Méndez Montoya, The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist, March 9, 2009.