Fostering a Eucharistic Culture
I teach doctrine, especially Eucharistic doctrine. In my work as a theological educator, I have come to recognize that doctrines are our friends. They propose something to us about the meaning of existence, an ultimate hypothesis that changes everything. If the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, if Jesus Christ lived and died and was resurrected, if he is still gives himself in the Eucharistic mystery, that changes everything.
At the same time, the teaching of doctrine is not the exclusive way that the Church teaches. The Church teaches when she recognizes the implicit curriculum of her identity. She is Eucharistic through and through.
As St. Augustine noted, we must become what we receive. And this means that we must consciously think about whether our parish (and even Catholic school) possesses a Eucharistic culture.
What is this culture? It’s a culture marked by reverence. Reverence isn’t stuffy, but it recognizes that salvation is real. And that our liturgies should therefore also approach (joyfully and with appropriate trepidation) this very real God.
It’s a culture marked by an integral Eucharistic formation that attends to our memory, imagination, understanding, and will. Telling people things is not enough.
It’s a culture marked by a public Eucharistic Catholicism, one that sees every dimension of our lives as a fruitful offering to God. Eucharistic processions (beautifully done), family life, and the Eucharistic offering of our work back to the Father. All of this is part of a Eucharistic culture.
It’s a culture marked by Eucharistic solidarity. The Church is not an insular, navel gazing institution. We are the communion of love, intended to be in relationship with every man and woman.
Teaching doctrine will always be part of my work. But fostering a culture, an implicit curriculum that is integral to every parish and school, is part and parcel of creating new piazzas marked by accompaniment, encounter, wisdom, and most of all love unto the end.