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Posted June 9, 2010

Book: The Eucharist and Social Justice
Author: Margaret Scott
Paulist Press. New York. 2009. Pp. 137

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Eucharist and Social Justice convincingly makes the argument that the Eucharist is deeply political and potentially subversive. It explores some of the many different aspects of the inseparable relationship between Eucharist and social justice. Making simple use of the Eucharistic texts, which are pregnant with meaning and which embrace a whole host of social issues around poverty and injustice, the book teases out their wider implications. It also rediscovers the dimension that God intended for the Eucharist: To be the life of the world.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The anamnesis is where “liturgical theology and political theology meet and enter into dialogue” — meet in the context of world history, the ambiguity of human actions, and the darkness of evil. In that context, the Eucharistic Prayer is about narrative, memory, and solidarity. As such, it is a paradigm for resistance and protest in a society that has diminished the power of thankfulness and memory, and a society in which freedom, justice, and suffering have no “exchange value”; they offer no lucrative market for consumption in a postmodernity that does not “do” meganarratives. The anamnesis represents the ultimate expression of gratitude and thanksgiving, which both comforts and challenges us.

The anamnesis is about the power of memory, somewhat like the simple oak grove at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where present members of NASA keep alive the memory of their colleagues who died on missions, by “continuing to reach for the stars.” In the same way, the eucharistic anamnesis is a memory that moves beyond the past into present action, in the living-out of the story in the concrete circumstances of the lives of those who remember. It is about memory, when remembering the past is about shaping the future. It brings the assembly frm the once-for-all event of Jesus Christ to the present historical moment. It is a living memory of martyrs like Ken Saro-Wiwa, the poet, environmental activist, and leader of the Movement for Survival of the Ogoni People, who was unjustly executed with eight companions for campaigning against the devastation of the Niger Delta and for demanding greater political and ecological accountability of the oil industry in his native Nigeria. It is the refusal to erase memories of prophets, the critical, and the troublesome, and move on — the refusal to forget. It is a memory that keeps alive a vision and a dream of a better society and passes the message on to new generations.

The Eucharistic Prayer is also a call to solidarity that catches us up into the divine reaching out to all people. It is a call to solidarity with the dead, with those who resisted, and with those who gave their lives like Jesus; a call to solidarity with the living, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the suffering; a call to solidarity with all those who care. It is a call to solidarity to justice.

The Eucharistic Prayer is a narrative that communicates injustices experienced daily by people the world over and that inspires those formerly untouched by justice issues to become engaged. It tells a story that generates an ethical compulsion to continue that story into the practical spheres of life and society. Above all, it offers an alternative vision of the world, a counter-narrative that prioritizes the poor and takes them as its reference point. If we begin to read events and reality through the eyes of the poor, from their perspective, perhaps the experience of Bartolome de Las Casas will be ours too. From him the poor proved to be “a voice and witness of a greater Church and a surer God.”

Table of Contents:

1. The Lord be with you

2. Lord, have mercy

3. The word of the Lord

4. Fruit of the earth and work of human hands

5. Anamnesis: the Eucharist as counter-narrative

6. This is My Body

7. Do this in memory of me

8. Conclusion