Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eucharist, a CD and Study Guide by Fr. Robert E Barron

Father Robert Barron - Eucharist

One of the most significant hallmarks of the Catholic Church is our consecrated Eucharist.  This audio lesson and accompanying study guide are a great way to shed even greater light on this most blessed sacrament.

Father Robert Barron opens the discussion by describing what it was like to dispense communion in St Peter's Square at the Vatican.   He speaks of the faithful gathered there, begging with their hands outstretched as though they were starving.   He contrasts that scene to most parishes he goes to.  Unfortunately, most people have not had a full spiritual education, or they may have a misunderstanding of the sacrament.   The words are the right words, the motions are the right motions, but so many hearts do not hunger for the  Sacrum Convivium - "The Sacred Banquet".

After his short introduction the remainder of the 77 minute class is divided into three parts.  Sacred Meal, Sacrifice, and Real Presence. The accompnying Study Guide is a workbook to be written in.  Each part of the lecture has a study guide recap, followed by Questions for Understanding.   These include some studying, looking up certain parts of the Catholic Cathechism or Bible passages, and answering questions.   Those are followed by Questions for Reflection.   As you would guess, these are more personal, and do not have right or wrong answers.  They are more for spiritual growth.

There are also two pages of prayers that are appropriate for after Eucharist, a short biography about Father Baron, and a page for taking notes.  You will want to listen with a pencil.  He makes so many wonderful points, my pencil was flying across the page the first time, when I listened as a reviewer.  I listened again, a second time, so I could simply allow myself to appreciate the words.

During the lesson of the Sacred Meal, Father points out the many times in the Bible that God lays out a banquet - starting in the Garden of Eden.  It is shown to us again, and again.  When Jesus walked among us, we see it still.  the fist miracle at the wedding feast, the loaves and the fishes - Jesus was always sitting down and sharing food, even with those considered lowly, or unworthy.  This was the case all the way until The Last Supper;  The Passover Meal he shared with his Apostles, and the meal we recount every time we attend mass.

As Father Barron discusses Sacrifice, he  does not shy away from the fact that it often is not a delicate notion.  Sacrifice hurts, but the pain is rewarded.   Our Biblical references to sacrifice are bloody, painful, and heartbreaking - but they are gifts.  Gifts given in love.  Not because of law, but because the giver wanted to please God above himself.  The same is true of God's gift, God's Sacrifice.  The Lamb of God was without sin, but he took our sins upon himself.

Next week is Holy Week.  We will reflect upon the Passion.  Everything bad in the world was placed upon Jesus, who took it up and obeyed the will of God.  For US.

It is almost impossible to escape the fact the centerpiece of the Mass is an altar.  The consecration takes place upon that altar.  We kneel and bow our heads as the priest proclaims, "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.. "

When we talk about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it makes some people uncomfortable.  They balk.  They question.  They assures us that we must mean that it is a symbol!  It is NOT a symbol.  The language is unmistakable.

Jesus dealt with this also.  Father Barron discusses how important the words of Jesus truly are.  He never chose words lightly.   When he said, "Unless you eat my bread and drink my blood, you will not have life in you," it is what he meant to say.  Many left him at that point.  They were disgusted, and appalled.  The very thought of it, even if it were figurative speech, would be breaking the laws of  the time.  In spite of this, Jesus did not soften his tone, or change his word.  he became more insistent.  "Do not seek the goods of this world, seek for the bread that will not perish!'

The final part of the lecture is very moving, and convicting.  It delves into how God's word is the final authority, the real truth.  What God says, is.  Reality is not always the same as appearance.  The words of the consecration are the same words of Christ, as retold in the Gospels.  When we gather for Mass, we gather for the Sacrum Convivium.

I think this is a wonderful study of the Sacrament of Eucharist.  It is available from The Catholic Company for $29.95, and would work well as a self study with the workbook or with a group.  The possibilities for discussions are great.

The site describes the set this way:
This set includes the Eucharist CD and its companion Study Guide.

In the CD, Fr. Barron offers inspiring insights into the mystery of Christ's presence in our lives and the centrality of the Eucharist as an important part of that presence. So many believers do not understand the mystery of the Eucharist, which Vatican II describes as the "source and summit of the Christian life." This fresh look at the Eucharist brings to light its reality as sacred meal, as the sacrifice necessary for communion with God and as the real presence of Christ.

You can listen to the CD and then probe more deeply into Father Barron's message by using the companion Study Guide, which is divided into sections that correspond to each part of Father's presentation. Each section provides "Questions for Understanding" and "Questions for Reflection" based on Father's presentation and references from Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Eucharist CD Bundle (CD/Study Guide) . They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.