Eucharist Reflections

This is the first of a part of series of reflections by Fr. Joe Akus. 

First a great ‘thank you’ to all who attended the Town Hall Meeting on Sunday Feb 8; to all who wrote up comments and suggestions; and to all who sent in emails. It was good to hear from all of you and to consider your various opinions on the idea of “Lay Presided Liturgies” given the current practical situation (dwindling number of available priests) and the evolving contemporary theological and spiritual developments (adult Christianity).

In order to answer some of the questions, to qualm some of the doubts, and to help people better understand our spirituality, I would like to offer a series of reflections about the Eucharist to help everyone better understand what we are doing when we “go to Mass”.

As one of the respondents pointed out at the town Hall Meeting, the Mass is really made up of two parts - which in fact are historically two different liturgical ceremonies.  

The Liturgy of the Word is the ancient Jewish synagogue service.  And even today, if you go to a synagogue service you will be utterly amazed how it’s just like what we do - prayers, readings, sermon, petitions, collection.  

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the second part of the Mass - and it’s roots are a little more uncertain.  We have been traditionally taught that somehow it reflects the Passover Meal or the Last Supper.  But it seems on a closer examination to actually have it’s roots in the home Saturday liturgy of thanksgiving in the Jewish culture - commingled with the Roman rituals associated with the cult of Mithras. 

The Jewish thanksgiving home ceremony involved bread and a cup of wine and giving thanks to God for all that he had done for his people.  It was done at home by the “elder” of the house/family/clan.  This would have been very consistent with the earliest home churches where people would gather in a home, celebrate a prayer of thanksgiving, and share a cup of wine and bread as part of the meal which evolved eventually into a ritual.... (click here for more...)