Monday, 12 October 2009

Eucharistic Spirituality

This reading from the obscure St Fulgentius of Ruspe (and the extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia suggests he ought to stay that way. What is it with Africans and "harsh doctrines?) may be inspirational to those of us who value the Eucharist.

"When we offer the sacrifice the words of our Saviour are fulfilled just as the blessed Apostle Paul reported them: On the same night he was betrayed the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and said: ‘This is my body, which is for you: do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

So the sacrifice is offered to proclaim the death of the Lord and to be a commemoration of him who laid down his life for us. He himself has said: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. So, since Christ died for us, out of love, it follows that when we offer the sacrifice in commemoration of his death, we are asking for love to be given us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We beg and we pray that just as through love Christ deigned to be crucified for us, so we may receive the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that by that grace the world should be a dead thing in our eyes and we should be dead to the world, crucified and dead. We pray that we should imitate the death of our Lord. Christ, when he died, died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God. We pray, therefore, that in imitating the death of our Lord we should walk in newness of life, dead to sin and living for God.

The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to us. When we share in the Lord’s body and blood, when we eat his bread and drink his cup, this truly means that we die to the world and have our hidden life with Christ in God, crucifying our flesh and its weaknesses and its desires.

Thus it is that all the faithful who love God and their neighbour drink the cup of the Lord’s love even if they do not drink the cup of bodily suffering. Soaked through with that drink, they mortify the flesh in which they walk this earth. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ like a cloak, their desires are no longer those of the body. They do not contemplate what can be seen but what is invisible to the eyes. This is how the cup of the Lord is drunk when divine love is present; but without that love, you may even give your body to be burned and still it will do you no good. What the gift of love gives us is the chance to become in truth what we celebrate as a mystery in the sacrifice."

"St. Fulgentius is saturated with St. Augustine's writings and way of thinking, and he defends him from the charge of making God predestinate evil. He himself makes it a matter of faith that unbaptized infants are punished with eternal fire for original sin. No one can by any means be saved outside the Church; all pagans and heretics are infallibly damned. "It is to think unworthily of grace, to suppose that it is given to all men", since not only not all have faith, but there are still some nations which the preaching of the Faith has not yet reached. These harsh doctrines seem to have suited the African temperament."
(From the Catholic Encyclopedia)


  1. I thank God that this is not "infallibly" accepted by all Catholics. I think that we too often apply our own faulty ideas of justice to an infinitely just AND merciful God. I will leave the state of all humanity in God's hands. Amen!

  2. And Fulgentius was a child of his time; catholic understanding of doctrine has developed and softened mercifully.