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.