The Eucharist is the opposite of fast food

Photo by Joiarib Morales Uc on Unsplash

I was raised in Kansas but attended a seminary college in distant Ohio. One weekend, a schoolmate who lived nearby invited me to visit his home. Upon arrival that Friday evening, he asked what time I would like to eat. I said, “Whatever time your mom is serving supper.”

He said, “My mom doesn’t cook.”


I asked, “Your mom doesn’t cook on Friday evenings?”

“No,” he said. “My mom doesn’t cook at all.” He might as well have said, “My mom is a space alien.” The notion was one that I had never considered. No judgment. I did not inquire into why neither she nor anyone else cooked in the home. Startling as it was, it was just another “You’re not in Kansas anymore” moment.

Though we were allowed soup and sandwiches in front of the TV when Lassie was on, my family ate its other 20 meals a week at the table. Making that happen was a family affair of food preparation and clean-up. My father was a grocer, who liked to nap after lunch before returning to work. At the end of each lunch, he would pick up the ketchup or mustard, take it to the fridge and keep moving. In exchange, mom slept in while dad made us a full breakfast every morning.

The Mass is a meal. Though we eat very little, it gives us time to take in each other as we receive the Lord’s nourishment.

Uninterrupted family meals have gone the way of Lassie, but we should consider what we have lost, why the Gospel sees it as important and find a way to compensate. Abraham and Sarah entertained angels because their culture demanded that strangers be received as guests. It is over a meal that Abraham was told that Sarah, despite her age, would bear him a son.

On behalf of the world’s many Martha’s, let us admit that Mary would not have been sitting at the Lord’s feet if he had not come for the dinner, which her sister had made possible. The point is that meals are meant to draw us away from our activities, to draw us together and to give us time to take in each other as we take nourishment. Meals are when we can talk and, even more important, listen to what is happening in the lives of others. At table, even those who never stop talking have to give the rest of us a chance to speak unless they intend to starve.

The Mass is a meal. Though, physically, we eat very little, it nonetheless draws us away from our activities, draws us together and gives us time to take in each other as we receive the Lord’s nourishment. That is why missing Mass has always been considered a grave sin. What does it say, in a family, when someone does not want to join the others for supper?

Fast food makes only one promise. That it is fast. Christ promises to feed us with food that will last.

St. Paul speaks of “the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones” (Col 1:26). Spiritual insights, small graces and daily consolations are gifts from God. If our days are not rife with these personal revelations, we need to ask why. Maybe we have drifted away from a living relationship with God. Or maybe we simply need to slow down.

How do we deaccelerate? Seek out silence. Disconnect from media, at least for a few moments each day. Take a walk. Sit outside for a while. Visit an empty church. Watch your child sleep. Follow the path of a bird until it eludes your sight.

God is a sun that never stops shining. Sin can cloud our awareness of God but so can haste. The saints insist that the time that we give to God is never wasted. That, having found refreshment in God, time has a way of coming back to us. Time given to God gives us energy for everything else.

Fast food makes only one promise. That it is fast. Christ promises to feed us with food that will last. But there is a cost. We need to be at his table. And, when we are not, we need to slow down.

Readings: Genesis 18:1-10a Colossians 1:24-28 Luke 10:38-42

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Carl Kuss
6 months 2 weeks ago

Sublime. And thanks for this at this moment of my life, a difficult one.

John Chuchman
6 months 2 weeks ago

Like Jesus,
Eucharistic Communion for me is a meal with family or friends, wherever, whenever, not only on specified days in official places at the magical hands of ordained quasi-celibate males.

John Chuchman
6 months 2 weeks ago

A meal in Communion with Friends or Family at a McDonalds can be more Eucharistic than in some church building.

A Fielder
6 months 2 weeks ago

I enjoy meals with family and friends for the fellowship and conversation. If those same occasions were an opportunity for Dad to lecture on morality and recall family history while the rest of us listened quietly without ever contradicting him, I would probably not care to participate. Thank God my Dad does not do that. and my sisters will never remain silent.

A Fielder
6 months 2 weeks ago

How many people would let good friends sit at the dinner table hungry while the family feasts?

After my nephew made his first communion his protestant father took us all out to dinner at a local restaurant - and everyone ate. That's what a real family meal looks like.

Sister Lea Hunter
6 months 1 week ago

‘The Mass is a meal.” Wasn’t this one of the things that Vatican II was criticized for…making too much of the Mass as a meal? Now the Mass is a meal “that gives us time to take in each other as we receive the Lord’s nourishment.” There are, however, some people who aren’t so crazy about the one moment when it is time to acknowledge each other before sharing the sacred meal.

“What does it say, in a family, when someone does not want to join the others for supper?” Perhaps it says that someone is not wholly welcome. Yes, of course, we have greeters now, but beyond that? How much listening to the other goes on in a one-way sermon…no matter how good it might be?

Then again, how welcome is a different theological understanding of the Gospel Word of God and the Eucharistic celebration? How welcome are different points of view of the same Mystery of Love being celebrated?

“What does it say, in a family, when someone does not want to join the others for supper?”

With most of the U.S. Church being oriented toward EWTN theologically, liturgically, and juridically, is it possible that some Catholics might not feel at home in the EWTN Roman Church…because they are of a very different theological, liturgical and juridical bent …in somewhat the same way that 23 “Particular Churches” exist in union with Rome, yet in diverse theological, liturgical and juridical modes from the Roman Rite Church and its brother/sister Churches. Will there be no room ever for a global Vatican II Church in union with Rome?

6 months ago

About ten years ago I removed myself from our Church CCD when the powers to be added to the instruction that the Mass was just a meal..In fact the video was from Boston College. In a letter from Archbishop Heenan of London dated 28 August 1964 to Evelyn Waugh he stated that “ the Mass is no longer the Holy Sacrifice but the Meal at which the priest is the waiter & the Bishop is the head waiter & the pope the Patron”. It is reality in that since then the Church doers over have made the Mass less reverent in taking away our alter rails, moving the tabernacle away from the center of the alter & the celebrants addressing the pew sitters like a late night tv host.
Thank God in the 1950’s in Philadelphia while attending St. Joseph’s College the Jesuits who taught & inspired me were of the same mind as Archbishop Heenan & Evelyn Waugh.
May the good Lord bless all the Jesuits at America Magazine.
Harry D. Carrozza,MD,
.Past president of the Tucson Physicians Guild

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