Summary of Bread That Is Broken by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, OCD

Here are 2 key insights I got from this fantastic book on the Eucharist:

1: We become what we eat

“Since we become what we eat and Jesus wants us to become completely one with him, he can do nothing else but make himself food” (12).

“That the Eucharist – and thus the whole of Christian life – is a meal shows us that we do not have life in ourselves. We must receive it, eat it. We become what we receive. If we refuse to receive, refuse to eat and drink him, we remain without life” (19).

“He knows that we become what we eat. If we eat agape, self-sacrificing love, we become agape ourselves. What is ingenious about the Eucharist is that it at once expresses God’s self-giving love and awakens the same outpouring love in us. It shows us that God is “offered”, and it transforms us into “offered” people. We are allowed to be witnesses of Jesus’ “ecstatic” love, and he transforms us himself into “ecstatic” people” (41).

“Holiness is not an achievement but a gift. St. Therese of Lisieux knew that. “I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!” In the Eucharist we eat holiness” (20).

Amazing! I had just written a whole section of a book titled: “You are what you eat” and then I pick up this book on a silent retreat & read all of this from Stinissen to back up my thoughts. God is so good in His providential timing.

2: A Eucharistic Ethic

When Jesus says: “Do this in memory of me,” these are much more than an exhortation to repeat the Eucharistic ritual. It is a call to show the same type of love to others.

“To become one with the sacrificial Lord necessarily has consequences. The Eucharistic mystique leads to a Eucharistic ethic. The one who wonders how he should act finds the answer in the Eucharist. He is called to become like Jesus, bread broken, “for the life of the world” (John 6:51) (10).

“The Eucharist shows that love means to go out of oneself. It points to the essential reason for which we were created. “Do not get fixed on yourself,” says the Eucharist; “do not pity yourself.” To live Eucharistically is to live for others, given, poured out, to be food and drink… The Eucharist is a daily reminder that we are created to go out of ourselves” (40).

“Sacrifice always implies death. One no longer cares about the egotistical man but rather lets him die of hunger. “If one understood the Eucharist, one would die,” says the Curé of Ars (1786-1859); die, partly because the Eucharist is something so great, so overwhelming that we cannot bear it and partly because the Eucharist is Jesus’ sacrifice in which we cannot participate without dying with him. When Jesus says: “Do this in memory of me,” he invites us to enter into his death. To celebrate the Eucharist without being prepared to die is an inner contradiction” (43).

Jesus comes to transform us into food for the world. “To be nourished by Jesus in the Eucharist implies that we become nourishment for others ourselves. The nourishment that Jesus gives is his own love. The unbelievable thing about the Eucharist is that God’s own love is given to us, not as a subject to be meditated upon, not as an example to follow, but as substantial food” (46).

“This lavishness of God [with the Eucharist] teaches us that we may not be stingy with our love. We can give much more love than we realize, because we receive much more love than we can imagine. There is no risk that the source will run dry” (48).

“The Eucharist is a school of thanksgiving. There we learn again to give thanks, not only for the beautiful and delightful, but also for the difficult, for suffering and death. United with Jesus, we give thanks for his death, which has become our salvation, and thereby we give thanks also for our own death” (73).

“There can never be a reason for rivalry or envy any longer, since we have become communicating vessels in the Body of Christ. If I am envious of another because he or she has received more than I have, it proves that I have not understood anything of the new physics that reigns in the Eucharistic world. The name of this new physics is communio: no one receives anything only for himself; everyone has everything in common. What you have is also mine; what I have is also yours. Envy is replaced by joy and gratitude” (79).

“The one who lives and thinks Eucharistically always finds himself in the last place” (87).

“How and when is Jesus our example, our ideal? Is there a moment in Jesus’ life when in a completely special way he shows us who he is and what he wants, a moment when he expresses his inmost being, when he sums up his whole life and at the same time explains the meaning of his life? Yes, that moment comes when he says: “This is my body given up for you. This is my blood poured out for you.” It is then, precisely then, that he also says: “Do this in memory of me.” The Eucharist is the fundamental norm for our actions. Jesus’ Eucharistic sacrifice is our ideal, our guiding principle, our rule. A rule that is much more demanding than a monastery rule, since it does not leave anything in life unaffected. When we wonder how we shall act, the answer is: “Look at the Eucharist!” There is the Christian life in its fullness. The Christian ethic is a Eucharistic ethic. Jesus has instituted the Eucharist so that we will have the sacrifice in our midst as a constant source of inspiration and a clear reference point. The Eucharist is the criterion when it is a question of judging our actions! Are they or are they not in accord with the Eucharist?” (101).

“Nothing lies outside of the influential sphere of the Eucharist. The answer to the question: “How shall I live?” ought always to be: “live Eucharistically!” (105)

There are so many powerful quotes here. I invite you to take some that really inspire you and go to Eucharistic adoration to meditate upon them further.

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