Sunday, March 20, 2011

Theology: The Sacramental Horror of the Eucharist

By Hieronymus Bosch
via Wikimedia Commons
"As a kid growing up in Southern Indiana, I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies," Rev. Jonathan Weyer writes over at the Huffington Post. But, he tells us, horror can be sacramental, inviting us " to think about realities you can't see, touch or taste, but still exist." This works because horror shocks us out of our comfortable place, shows us that God is also the Lord of all things unseen. Weyer calls to our mind horrific medieval paintings, and he quotes Flannery O'Conner saying "that to reach the deaf sometimes you have to shout." Uncanny horror can open our eyes to the unseen and gruesome horror can take us through the reality of death to the greater reality of the Resurrection.

I agree, horror can be sacramental, but it goes further than that. The most fundamental Sacrament of all is a horror both uncanny and gruesome.

In the Eucharist, we come together at the Lord's Table, and we eat God.

We. Eat. God.

However symbolically or mystically you take that, it remains a horror. Bread and wine, wheat and grape, the sustenance of our earthly life becomes our God and we consume Him. Simple nourishment becomes cannibalism and deicide.

Yet, through that horror, we are joined with all the saints in an eternal feast, and secured in the Resurrected life of Christ. We go into the grave that we might be born again, to go out into the world as servants of God for the sake of others.

Today is Sunday. Either today, or some Sunday in the future, if you go to church you will partake of this highest Sacrament. So now, in this time of Lenten mourning, remember the horror, let it shout to your deaf ears, and let it turn you ultimately toward the beautiful truth of the Resurrection.

The Lord be with you.