In Timothy O’Malley’s “Becoming a Eucharistic People” he talks about developing a Eucharistic culture. Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), we read, “The word ‘culture’ in the general sense refers to all those things which go to the refining and developing of man’s diverse physical and mental endowments (Gaudium et Spes 53).” If you have ever gone to a different country with a different culture, you notice some differences that are not official policies, but taken for granted. In some countries people are more expressive emotionally, and in other countries more reserved. In some, punctuality is extremely important, and in others they tend to be more relaxed. When we grow up in a particular culture, we tend to pick up its assumptions, habits, and attitudes without thinking about it, and it seems normal and natural. It can be a surprise that elsewhere people think and do things differently. Our culture becomes a lens through which we look at everything.
We are called to build a Eucharistic culture, as Pope Benedict said, “Christianity’s new worship includes and transfigures every aspect of life: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).” Christians, in all their actions, are called to offer true worship to God. Here the intrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape. The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transfiguration of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom 8:29ff.). There is nothing authentically human – our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds – that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full. Here we can see the full human import of the radical newness brought by Christ in the Eucharist: the worship of God in our lives cannot be relegated to something private and individual but tends by its nature to permeate every aspect of our existence. Worship pleasing to God thus becomes a new way of living our whole life, each particular moment of which is lifted up, since it is lived as part of a relationship with Christ and as an offering to God. The glory of God is the living man (cf. 1 Cor 10:31). And the life of man is the vision of God. (Sacramentum Caritatis 71).” Whatever we do, we are called to do as a Eucharistic people.
What is the culture of your faith community?
Do parishioners see themselves as customers in the church or disciples and coworkers in mission?
Is there a sense of awe and reverence about the sacred or is it more casual? How aware are people of their fellow parishioners, their fellow worshippers?
Do people act differently when they enter the worship space, or is it treated the same as any other room?
Is there a connection between participation at Mass and life? Is Eucharistic adoration common, or only for a few?
This is only a taste. There is much more to be said about what it means to be a Eucharistic people and what it means to build a Eucharistic culture. That will be in the future.
Blessings, Fr. Jim