Chris Richardson

Without seeking to minimise the importance of the Eucharist in the life of a Catholic, this article argues that an inward looking over-emphasis on the sacrificial element of the Eucharist can diminish rather than enhance our mission to the world. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner.

As a life-long Catholic, the Eucharist is not only a central feature of my religious practice but an enduring and mysterious reservoir of grace from which I am sent out to sanctify the world, something that I no doubt do inadequately. This balance, which St Augustine saw as between contemplation and recognising our neighbour’s needs,1 can be distorted by an inward looking, Eucharist-focused spirituality that fails to recognise either the incarnational spirituality associated with making Christ present in the world, or the Church’s declared preferential option for the poor and marginalized.

Almost as soon as the Vatican II liturgical reforms had begun, concerns began to be expressed regarding ‘abuses’ (cf. Inaestimabile Donum). Some of the concerns were no doubt raised by those who objected to the reforms or failed to understand their significance. However, the Magisterium began to be concerned that an over-emphasis on the Mass as a banquet, interpreted by some as a fraternal meal, was obscuring the central sacrificial focus of the Eucharistic liturgy.

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