Monday, October 30, 2006

Theological Suggestion

In addition to being a lover of Irish music, I also love the study of theology. I often feel anomalous in that my study of theology is geared toward making the tenets of faith understandable and relevant to people's lives. I think that is why my favorite topic is prayer - it is something we can all do, we can all improve upon, and is the source of all good theological reflection.

In recent years, a disturbing trend has been documented. Many adult Catholics have a very difficult time understanding the concept of transubstantiation (say it three times really fast!), let alone understanding the meaning of the Eucharist at Sunday Mass. Indeed, at the "Three Cheers for Catholicism" group last night, this was one of the issues we discussed, how many Catholics just "go through the motions" and have no idea about what is actually happening.

One of my favorite theologians is James Alison. Alison appropriated the mimetic theory of Rene Girard and fused it with his own theological genius. The result has been several excellent books and many fine articles. What distinguishes Alison's work from so many other theologians is that he writes (more often) in essay format, which means that they tend to be pretty accessible.

So I would suggest that people read "Those With Eyes to See". It's a very short piece - only 2.5 printed pages - but I think it does a great job presenting transubstantiation in a creative and transformative way. What I appreciate most about this article is that it is thoroughly orthodox and still eminently creative. I mean, who else would use Magic Eye to make intelligible this central aspect of our faith. If nothing else, and let this be a lesson to catechists, we come to know God because God wants to be known. God will meet us wherever and whenever we are open to such a revelation. Good cathechesis and prayer gives people "eyes to see" God in all things, not as some pantheistic notion, but as a dynamic force straining to establish God's reign on earth. Good catechesis, as any good teaching, doesn't just impart information. It transforms vision, allowing us to see all things as new. Read and pray with this article...I have found it so helpful in my own life and in my appreciation for our Lord who gives himself to us at Eucharist.


Joe said...

The way I explain Transubstantiation to my CCD students is via the following analogy of getting married or becoming a dad or getting a promotion to Assistant V.P. for Human Resources; you may look the same, you may sound the same, you may have all the appearances of having remain unchanged, but you're now a different person (even if you appear the same to all concerned. You now have different tasks, duties, roles, responsibilities and powers that you didn't have before.



A said...

This is an outstanding article. Thank you Ryan for passing it on to us. I am going to use it in my own explanations of the Eucharist and Transsubstantiation.