The Road to Emmaus: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life
The word “Eucharist” means literally “thanksgiving.” A Eucharistic life is one lived in gratitude. The story, which is also our story, of the two friends walking to Emmaus has shown that gratitude is not an obvious attitude toward life. Gratitude needs to be discovered and to be lived with great inner attentiveness. Our losses, our experiences of rejection and abandonment, and our many moments of disillusionment keep pulling us into anger, bitterness, and resentment. When we simply let the “facts” speak, there will always be enough facts to convince us that life, in the end, leads to nothing and that every attempt to beat fate is only a sign of profound naiveté.
Jesus gave us the Eucharist to enable us to choose gratitude. It is a choice we, ourselves, have to make. Nobody can make it for us. But the Eucharist prompts us to cry out to God for mercy, to listen to the words of Jesus, to invite him into our home, to enter into communion with him and proclaim good news to the world; it opens the possibility of gradually letting go of our many resentments and choosing to be grateful. The Eucharist celebration keeps inviting us to that attitude.
In our daily lives we have countless opportunities to be grateful instead of resentful. At first, we might not recognize these opportunities. Before we fully realized, we have already said: “This is too much for me. I have no choice but to be angry and to let my anger show. Life isn’t fair, and I can’t act as if it is.” However, there is always the voice that, ever again, suggests that we are blinded by our own understanding and pull ourselves and each other into a hole. It is the voice that calls us “foolish,” the voice that asks us to have a completely new look at our lives, a look not from below, where we count our losses, but from above, where God offers us his glory.
Eucharist—thanksgiving—in the end, comes from above. It is the gift that we cannot fabricate for ourselves. It is to be received. That is where the choice is! We can choose to let the stranger continue his journey and so remain a stranger. But we can also invite him into our inner lives, let him touch every part of our being and then transform our resentments into gratitude. We don’t have to do this. In fact, most people don’t. But as often as we make that choice, everything, even the most trivial things, become new. Our little lives become great—part of the mysterious work of God’s salvation.
Once that happens, nothing is accidental, casual, or futile any more. Even the most insignificant event speaks the language of faith, hope, and, above all, love.
That’s the Eucharistic life, the life in which everything becomes a way of saying, “Thank you” to him who joined us on the road.
~ By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Carmel: A Eucharistic Community
Disciples of Jesus had been celebrating the Eucharist in a variety of ways for centuries by the time the Carmelite hermits gathered on Mount Carmel at the Wadi- ‘ain-es-Siah about 1200 A.D. Since then, like other Christians, Carmelites, religious and lay, have celebrated the Eucharist in diverse ways. What is unvaried is this: Eucharist has been at the heart of Christian and Carmelite life from the origins of Christianity and from the inception of the Carmelite Order…
The Eucharist is the meal celebrated by the disciples of Jesus, a sacrificial meal that is the “Church’s entire spiritual wealth,” a meal that manifests the presence of the Church. Religious orders have long experimented with ways to follow Jesus, and the tension between community and solitude. The Eucharistic meal is at the center of this Carmelite tension, a place where the human and the divine encounter each other at the table of the Lord.
~ By Dr. Keith Egan, T.O.C.
Discalced Carmelite Hermit
THIS LITTLE HERMIT wishes to remain anonymous, but generously contributes these words about the Eucharist.
I love to sit before you here
Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
You pierce through the veil that separates
You penetrate my very being.
My soul is aflame with your love,
Your healing touch,
You fill me with your love, your joy, and
I thirst for you, I long for you, more, my
So still, in this stillness
ALL stops, nothing exists but you.
No time, no space.
The stillness is you, the stillness is love.
In this profound silence and solitude
I have been loved by LOVE itself.
I have found my beloved one
Keep me in the stillness of your love.