God is right here, always: thank you, incarnation; thank you, Eucharist

God is right here, always: thank you, incarnation; thank you, Eucharist October 9, 2014

eucharistI just needed to hear this today–and no I’m not becoming Roman Catholic, so calm down, though it’s not the worst things that could happen, and some of my best friends are Catholic, and even if you’re rabidly Protestant and think Catholics are just plain wrong and unbiblical and shouldn’t allowed near your children and pets you should still be able to get something out of this, for heaven’s sake, if you’re willing to overlook a couple of things (as I do), unless you think the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper is a snack to tide you over before you go home, in which case you should probably stop reading.

The Incarnation Mystery is being repeated and represented in the Eucharist. Here we have material reality, in the form of these universal foods of bread and wine, as the hiding place and the revelation place for God.

We are reminded that God is always perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in the material world. This is the Cosmic Christ presence.

If we deny that the spiritual can enter the material world, then we are in trouble, since we hope to be just that—spiritual and fully material human beings. We had best encounter Incarnation in one focused, dramatic moment, and then the particular truth has a chance of becoming a universal truth, and even my truth.

The 16th question in the Baltimore Catechism, “Where is God?” is answered straightforwardly: “God is everywhere.” The summit of Christian prayer is accomplished when you can trust that you are constantly in the presence of God.

You cannot not be in the presence of God! Where would you go? As the psalmist says (Psalm 139:7-9), if you go up to the heavens or underneath the earth, you still can’t get away from God. God is either in all things, or God is in nothing.

In the Eucharist, we slowly learn how to surrender to the Presence in one place, in one thing, in one focused moment. The priest holds up the Host and says, “See it here, believe it here, get it here, trust it here.”

Many people say they believe it here, but they don’t make the transference to everywhere—which is the whole point!

They don’t seem to know how to recognize the Presence when they leave the church, when they meet people who are of a different religion or race or somehow strangers. They cannot also trust that this person—every person—is created in the image of God.

Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry trying to break down the false distinctions between “God’s here” and “God’s not there.” He dared to see God everywhere, even in sin, in enemies, in failures, and in outsiders. Usually, early stage religion is not yet capable of that, but fortunately God is patient.

Richard Rohr

From Daily Meditation, September 25, 2014 [I reformatted the paragraphs]

Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone (CDMP3 download)


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  • Philip McCammon

    Think Richard Rohr is pure class. God in us, around us, everywhere!! How cool is that.

    • $122284574

      Sounds like pantheism.

      • Tom (aka Volkmar)

        Nope. Rather, “panentheism”.

  • carol

    So thankful to have started reading Richard Rohr daily, a year ago. My Almighty God is growing bigger in my life and I am learning a new perspective for my life. Thank you for bringing him to the forefront for others to learn from his teachings.

  • Surrendering to a Presence is a mystical exercise in altered states of consciousness. I’ve associated with Christians in the past who were always surrendering themselves to God’s presence, and without exception they treated the people around them abominably. It must be pleasant to have your head in the clouds, seeing everyone below as little ants.

    We need the opposite: don’t surrender control of your consciousness, but be fully conscious. The Eucharist is not a metaphor of surrender, but an illustration that we can “eat” Christ – that is, we can have inside us the same ideal consciousness that he has – and yet remain fully grounded in ourselves, if we believe and understand this possibility. Not through mysticism, but enlightened understanding.

    • peteenns

      That is a very helpful alternate “picture” Gregory. I do think that mystical experience is heightened self-consciousness, in the “true-self, in Christ, communion with God” sense rather than the “false-sense” way.

  • Don Bryant

    Aristotle had it right, I think. “Stuff” includes form. The world is capable of being “haunted.” You can touch God through things. Protestants know this in their doctrine of General Revelation. However, they shrink back just at the point where they need courage. They (we) give with one hand and take back with the other. Having given the world the attribute of revelation they squash what that might mean.

    • peteenns

      That’s a very interesting point, Don. I hadn’t thought of it that way before.