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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Speaker reflects on welcoming people to the Eucharist

Members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered Monday in the Welsh Parlor for a lecture by Richard McCarron, an expert on the Eucharist. The lecture was titled, “‘By Your Spirit, Peoples Seek to Meet Together’: The Eucharistic Prayer as Source and Summit of Our Summons to Hospitality.” The lecture was made possible by a grant that aimed to find ways to include more people in the Eucharistic celebration.

Though he holds expertise in many theological concepts, McCarron said one of his titles was missing from his introduction.

“If anyone asks you who I am, I am a child of God,” McCarron said.

McCarron first addressed what a great Mass looks like.

“A good celebration is like a parable, takes us by the hair of our heads, lifts us momentarily out of the cesspool of injustice we call home and puts us in the promise and challenging reign of God,” he said. “Where we are bowed to and sprinkled and sensed and kissed and touched where we share equally among all a holy food and a holy drink.”

McCarron said through participation in the Eucharist, Catholics become a part of God’s kingdom which is characterized by goodness on Earth.

“We are about the reign of God, justice, love, peace, forgiveness, liberation [and] wholeness,” McCarron said.

An important part of the Mass and Eucharist, McCarron said, is the principle of inclusion.

“The reign of God is inviting everyone without exception to communion with him,” he said.

In his discussion of the Eucharist, McCarron reflected on the example of Jesus and his attention to society’s marginalized groups.

“I would like us to consider the actual table fellowship of Jesus: the meals that Jesus shared with the marginalized, the downcast and the outcasts as a sacramental experience,” he said.

McCarron used the words of Pope Francis to emphasize the importance of conversation over the table. He said inviting someone to participate is not enough; Catholics also have to listen to and understand the experiences of others.

“’Live the joy of the Gospel, which gives life and hope and expresses itself in solidarity, hospitality and mercy to everyone.’ In this expression of hospitality Pope Francis is saying, that it is not enough to just provide the food and the lodging, but a time to listen to the guest,” he said.

Always being welcoming and kind can be difficult, McCarron said. However, he said the Holy Spirit assists in the process.

“[We are] a people empowered by the Spirit to extend welcome and to break fences, borders and divisions down,” McCarron said. “Are we down for what we signed up for.”

He also responded to the fear people feel about bringing strangers into their congregations, but encouraged people to be kind and generous.

“Who am I welcoming? This other, this stranger, this outsider: [do they] have a place at this table,” McCarron said. “They are not enemies to be kept locked out, but rather should be let in.”