The Eucharist

A six-week course on the source and summit of the Catholic Faith

Tuesday Nights at 7 PM (January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15)

About the Course

Tuesday Nights at 7 PM (January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15)

The Eucharist is, like so many aspects of our faith, a great mystery.  But to call something a mystery in the theological sense is not to say that we cannot understand anything about it. Instead, it is to say that we can never learn everything about it.  A theological mystery is not unintelligible; it is infinitely intelligible.  In other words, even though we can never fully comprehend it, can never just put it in a box and move on, we can always learn more about a theological mystery.  

            In our course together we will look at the multifaceted mystery of the Eucharist through several lenses.  We’ll use Bishop Barron’s wonderful little book, titled simply Eucharist, as well as some of my own writings to look at themes like meal, sacrifice, real presence, transubstantiation, Christian Unity, and liturgy.  Here’s a little sampler. 

  • The Eucharist is a meal, but a unique kind of meal.  The Eucharist is a sacrifice, but a unique kind of sacrifice.  And meal and sacrifice, far from being opposing ideas, inform one another. It is the essence of every meal that something dies so that others might live.   
  • In the Eucharist Christ is really present, but not in a way that our contemporary categories – materialist, on the one hand, or purely subjective, on the other – can make much sense of. What does the Church mean by calling Christ’s Eucharistic presence “real”?  And how does that shape how we understand reality more generally? 
  • Catholics believe in transubstantiation.  What exactly does this mean?  And what doesn’t it mean?  Is transubstantiation compatible with the ways in which other Christians think about Christ’s Eucharistic presence?  Is agreement about the Eucharist possible for Catholics and other Christians? 
  • Humans are formed by practices.  How does our celebration of the Eucharist form and inform us?  Can we learn to recognize how other cultural practices – cultural liturgies, even – seek to form and inform us?  In what ways does our liturgy, the Mass, counter that formation? 

These are some of the questions that will guide our discussion, but please bring your own questions as well.  I love Q & A and will leave time for it at the end of each session.  If you want to learn more about this central mystery of our Catholic faith, register today and invite a friend.

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About the Professor

Brett Salkeld (pronounced like the past tense of the imaginary verb “to sockle”) is Archdiocesan Theologian for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, where he is responsible for deacon formation.  Brett is the author Can Catholics and Evangelicals Agree about Purgatory and the Last Judgment?, How Far Can We Go? A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating (with Leah Perrault) and, most recently, Transubstantiation: Theology, History, and Christian Unity.  He is currently working on a book for Catholic teachers.  His work has been featured on Church Life Journal, Word on Fire, Crux, Busted Halo, and more. 

Brett is a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics of interest to the Catholic faithful.  He serves the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) as a member of the Roman Catholic – Evangelical Dialogue in Canada.  His weekly podcast, Thinking Faith! (with Deacon Eric Gurash), is available wherever you get your podcasts and you can follow him on Twitter at @BrettSalkeld.  Brett has a large back catalogue of blog posts at both Vox Nova and sAsk-a-theologian.  Brett was baptized in St. Wenceslaus Parish in Gerald, Saskatchewan, where he grew up.  He and his wife Flannery live with their seven children in Regina.  She did not let him name any of them “Wenceslaus.”

Syllabus 

Required Textbook: Robert Barron, Eucharist, Assigned short articles online (see links below) 

Optional textbook (for keeners): Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History, and Christian Unity 

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 – Eucharist as Meal 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, Author’s Introduction and “Chapter 1: The Eucharist as Sacred Meal” 

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022 – Eucharist as Sacrifice 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Chapter 2: The Eucharist as Sacrifice” 

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022 – Real Presence 

Required Reading: Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Chapter 3: “If It’s Only a Symbol, to Hell with It.”” 

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 – Transubstantiation – History and Meaning 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Transubstantiation Is Not a Disconnected Doctrine,” Church Life Journal. 

Brett Salkeld (with Matt Nelson), “Transubstantiation: An Interview with Dr. Brett Salkeld,“ Word on Fire. 

Optional Reading: Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 2: Transubstantiation in the Catholic Tradition” 

Tuesday Feb. 8, 2022 – Ecumenical Agreement on the Eucharist 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Real Presence and Ecumenism,” “Real Presence and Polarization,” PrayTell Blog. 

Optional Reading: Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 1: Introduction: Transubstantiation in Dispute and Dialogue,” and “Conclusion.” 

Total Keeners can also read Brett Salkeld, Transubstantiation: Theology, History and Christian Unity, “Chapter 3: Martin Luther” and “Chapter 4: John Calvin” 

Tuesday Feb. 15, 2022 – Everybody Worships: Christian Liturgy as Antidote to Idolatry 

Required Reading: Brett Salkeld, “Real Presence and Idolatry,” “Real Presence and Mission,” PrayTell Blog. 

Robert Barron, Eucharist, “Epilogue: The Emmaus Supper.” 

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