Church of Santa Giustina Padua: An Abbey Altar Is Painted With Eucharist Chalice
I Corinthian 10: 14-22
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
but not do what I command?
St. Paul has reminded us of the danger of idolatry which is said as the demon. It is called a demon because its mechanism has reigned in the heart and the mind that determines all aspects of one’s life so softly without knowing and realizing that it is idolatry. It creates and forms one’s whole existence such as action, thinking, speaking, response, and defence but in the wrong way. Once one has been seized by it, then it is difficult to release the self from its grasp. Idolatry in our age needs to be alert and its definition must be reinterpreted. The reason is that the form of idolatry has shifted from eating the sacrifices of participants on the altar -the old and simple one- to the more complex one that is sensible idolatry which can exist in many subtle forms. It can be defined as a fallacy that obstructs or twists perception so that brings a veil that covers one to see reality as it is or hinders an effort to search for the truth. The fallacy includes chimera, prejudice, emotion, and psychological hindrance. Then, according to Francis Bacon, there are at least four idolatries:
- Idolatry of Tribe
It is idolatry that catches man generally because of human inclinations to let and to expose passion, arrogancy, prejudice, false hope, and anything that lures the heart so that makes them blind to reality. Idolatry of tribe happens when humans are so confident to believe their five senses even though they themselves understand that the five senses are full of errors. The cause is the reluctance to examine and to study the senses by referring to the experiences.
- Idolatry of Cave
It is all the fallacies falling down to the individual caused by their limitations which have resources from nature, environment, and such a kind of particular experience. Every individual in this idolatry lives in their world and environment so they stay and live in their “cave”. The consequence is that the self is lack accountable and valid knowledge of everything outside their “cave”. For example religious fundamentalism. Therefore, Bacon asks every person to suspect and criticize any ideas and philosophy coming from their “cave”.
- Idolatry of Market
These are semantic fallacies, teaching, and opinions infiltrating the thought through words trapping and twisting the judgment. This is the most bothering fallacy. It consists of names, definitions, terminologies of unexisting things or incorrect definitions, or confusing the existing thing. For example, the word democracy has different meanings in Russia, England, and Cuba; and also, the meaning of love today has different meanings. According to Bacon himself, it is impossible for us to keep ourselves away totally from fallacies and wrong appearances because they are part of nature and the condition of life. Notwithstanding, we should be conscious and careful about the semantic problems, words, and definitions that we applied in our relationship with the other.
- Idolatry of Theatre
This is a systematic dogma or philosophy that is have been internalized and lived without referring and studying to reality. This idolatry is like fiction playing in the theatre which of course so is interesting and keeps the audience away from reality then delivers the audience to the illustration world. They sink in it and they are suffocated in a convenient way. The existing system in the idolatry of theatre is sophisticated, luring the mind and to the heart so that creates new thinking and idealism but distracts the self from reality and sinks the self to superstition indeed in the idolatry of theatre its philosophy can mingle with theology and tradition so that it more forms the frigid cover and the strict arrogancy with rejecting dialog. These fallacies happen because the trapping persons in this idolatry of theatre are not capable to see the knowledge well. For example, the sophists do not have a will to discuss their experiences; the empiricist who relies on experiences are easy to be satisfied; the superstitious individuals poison the knowledge and spread their fallacies. This idolatry also affects and leads the mind either to the excess of dogmatism or anti-dogmatism extremely.
Then the four forms of idolatry in St. Paul’s language are identic with eating the sacrifices of participants on the altar. The man who has been controlled by idolatry eats its delicious meats but at the same time, it is poisonous meat that delivers to death. Yes, they are juicy meat that tempts but also brings the damages which can be seen from the fruits. The main of its fruits is slavery. It enslaves because it conceives of the fallacies as the object of judgement and truth; its content of representation distorted so that the truth is never be achieved and makes one depend on. Many love and practice it so the situation is like bringing a sacrifice to demons but in the end, one also will be judged and will take the consequences because of their fallacies. That is why St. Paul said: I do not want you to become participants with demons. Idolatry is a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed. Idolatry only creates destruction because it does not have the truth and love which are the rock foundation of life. Idolatry fulfills life only with delusion and vanity which leads to chaos like the work of demons. Idolatry is similar to a body without organs or a body without image and creates an evil person who out of a store of evil produces evil. What they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God.
St. Paul also mentions the cup of the Lord and the table of the Lord which is the Eucharist. It seems St. Paul wants to eliminate idolatry by Eucharist. Then the question is the Eucharist is same as idolatry? To answer this can be known from its fruits either Eucharist’s fruit or idolatry’s fruit. We have known the idolatry’s fruit above. The Eucharist is a celebration of a great mystery of the Christian faith and it is a sacrament. As a sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ who is truly, really, and substantially present in the bread and the wine of Eucharist (Cf: Council of Trent: DS 1651). The Christians receive him in Holy Communion to unite with Him. In Holy Communion Eucharist meaning is Christ’s body and Christ’s blood in the form of bread and wine which brings salvation to the world. Eucharist altar carves the sacrifice Christ on the cross. He sacrifices himself on the cross in order that brings peace and reconciliation between creations and God. He presents in the form of bread and wine to give life to all. In bread and wine, Jesus associates with himself not only all humanity but also all creation and offers all to his Eternal Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Jesus Christ through the Eucharistic mystery links and unites earth and heaven, “The word became flesh, he lived among us” (Jn 1:14). In the incarnation, heaven comes down to earth (Francis Cardinal Arinze). It is the power of sovereign God’s love, the manifestation of God’s mercy, the content of a representation of salvation; the shining star of redemption because by the paschal mystery of his passion, death, and resurrection he redeemed all creation. It is the beatifical vision because in him we see our God made visibly and so are caught up in the love of the God which cannot we see. It is an eschatological reality because the Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth that reveals a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey (Pope John Paul II).
The man who celebrates and enlivens the eucharist by listening to Christ’s words and acting on them in his activities, mind, heart, speech, or the whole of his being is a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on the rock. The reason is the cup of blessing that one receives is a participation in the Blood of Christ; the bread that one eats is a participation in the Body of Christ. He is one and united in Christ, with Christ, through Christ. The loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one Body, for we all partake of the one loaf and cup of blessing. Eucharist is the rock of life because it consists of the bread of Christ and the cup of the blessing of Christ that leads into communion with the father and the Holy Spirit. It is the source and the summit of the Christian life because it gives strength and meaning to all services and activities of Christians to their role in the world ( Pope John Paul II). It is not idolatry but it is salvation. That is why St. Paul said: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons because a good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit”. Eucharist forms eucharistic man and eucharistic man is attributed to the image of Christ. As a tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds. The deeds of Eucharistic man exist in the form of St Francis Assisi prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, an instrument of love where there is hatred; an instrument of pardon where there is injury; an instrument of faith where there is doubt; an instrument of hope where there is despair; an instrument of light where there is darkness; an instrument of joy where there is sadness. Eucharistic man is as to console not so much seek to be consoled; as to understand than to be understood; as to love than to be loved. He sows the justice and reaps the justice, and he plants the truth and gathers the truth. In the face of social problems, the Eucharist commits him to undertake initiatives to promote development, justice, and peace. The spirit of solidarity and cooperation grows blossomly in him so he refuses competition and domination which later on will actualize oppression, repression, or exploitation. The Christian who commits to the eucharist emerges in their conscience what they must do for the poor, the sick, the handicap, and the needy in general. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good. He imitates the virtue of Christ by listening to His words in heart, mind, and soul and by doing His words in every situation and temptation. The deed of eucharistic man is never lost because they have eternal life with Christ after death. Only through the Eucharist is it possible to live the heroic virtues of Christianity. The Christians must always be Eucharistic souls in order to be authentic Christians (Pope John Paul II).
Meanwhile, an idolatry man is only to centered on himself even though he declares himself as a religious person. He does not have the spirit to dialog with other religions or go to deepen his faith because he feels that his understanding of his faith has been correct. He closes his self-space for the other mostly the needed one because he only focuses on his pleasure, his will.
There is a difference between a eucharistic man and an idolatry man. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. Then, observing the danger of idolatry, the claim of St. Paul should be remembered at any time:
My beloved ones, avoid idolatry.
The Holy Eucharist Unites Heaven and Earth. By Francis Cardinal Arinze. Address at Eucharistic Congress in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on 25th September 2004
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