God in Things and People: Commodity Fetishism and the Eucharist

In 2022, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced that the Church in this country would undertake a Eucharistic Revival, as a way to bolster Catholics’ belief in the real presence of Christ–body, blood, soul, and divinity–in the Eucharist. This Eucharistic Revival will culminate in a nationwide pilgrimage to the city of Indianapolis in July 2024. In the months leading up to this pilgrimage, the McGrath Institute for Church Life is contributing to this revival by underscoring the intrinsic connection between the Eucharist and Catholic social teaching. 

Why are we concerned about the link between Eucharistic devotion among Catholics and our commitment to social justice? Because the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist commits us to the poor” (CCC, n. 1397). Because Pope Benedict XVI declared in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est that “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (Deus Caritas Est, n.14. ). And because we have it on good authority that whenever we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, welcome the stranger, we encounter Christ, Who assures that whatever you have done to the least among you, you do for me (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Thus our devotion to the Body of Christ in the Eucharist must be accompanied by our equally fervent devotion to serve the entire human family, especially the poor and those who are in any way oppressed. 

This theme will be taken up by the Office of Life and Human Dignity at the McGrath Institute for Church Life in an eight-part series of The Eucharist and Catholic Social Teaching. One of the pathologies that produce poverty in the current economic system is the simultaneous deification of things and reification of people: we invest divinity in material things, while people are treated as instruments toward profit. In this final session of the series, William T. Cavanaugh explores the Eucharist as an antidote to this idolatry. The Eucharist provides a better, sacramental way of seeing God’s presence in the material world, while simultaneously offering an identification of people, especially the poor, with God in Christ.

William T. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University 

Jenny Newsome Martin, Ph.D., Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame

For more information visit the McGrath Institute for Church Life. Register to receive emails about upcoming events from our Religion & Spirituality learning community by clicking on the “Register Here” button.

Health and SocietyReligion and PhilosophyCatechism of the Catholic ChurchCatholic Social TeachingChurchDeus Caritas Estdigest161digest241EucharistEucharistic AbundanceMcGrath Institute for Church LifeNotre Dame Office of Life and Human DignityPovertyUniversity of Notre Dame

More Like This

Related Posts

Let your curiosity roam! If you enjoyed the insights here, we think you might enjoy discovering the following publications.

Stay In Touch

Subscribe to our Newsletter

To receive the latest and featured content published to ThinkND, please provide your name and email. Free and open to all.

What interests you?
Select your topics, and we'll curate relevant updates for your inbox.