Sundays in Easter with Henri Nouwen
On the Eucharistic Life
On the remaining Sundays in Eastertide, we will provide some brief readings from Henri Nouwen on the eucharistic life. Our main source will be Nouwen’s book, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life.
In the book’s introduction, Henri Nouwen tells why he wrote this book and what the approach shall be.
This little book is an attempt to speak to myself and to my friends about the Eucharist and to weave a network of connections between the daily celebration of the Eucharist and our daily human experience. We enter every celebration with a contrite heart and pray the Kyrie Eleison. We listen to the Word — the scriptural readings and the homily — we profess our faith, we give to God the fruits of the earth and the work of human hands and receive from God the body and blood of Jesus, and finally we are sent into the world with the task of renewing the face of the earth. The Eucharistic event reveals the deepest human experiences, those of sadness, attentiveness, invitation, intimacy, and engagement. It summarizes the life we are called to live in the Name of God. Only when we recognize the rich network of connections between the Eucharist and our life in the world can the Eucharist be “worldly” and our life “Eucharistic.”
As the basis for my reflections on the Eucharist and the Eucharistic life, I will use the story of the two disciples who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus and back [Luke 24:13-35]. As the story speaks about loss, presence, invitation, communion and mission it embraces the five main aspects of the Eucharistic celebration.
Nouwen speaks here of daily celebrations of the Eucharist, which many of us do not practice. However, many of us do practice weekly or otherwise regular worship gatherings at the Lord’s Table, and the thoughts he leads us to consider should resonate to all who treasure the sacrament of communion and seek to live in its nourishment.