Christus mit der Eucharistie by Juan de Juanes, Birth name: Vicent Joan Macip
St. Francis’ Theology of Eucharist is naturally in keeping with the era in which he lived prior to any form of Theological Reformation. The Church was generally quite in the dark concerning the Light of the Eucharist as most feared to receive it on account of the grave sin on their souls. A fear placed there by the very Church that held the Eucharist ‘hostage’ from them with the carrot of death and hell.
“What is essential in the Church can be found in its origins, and those origins also point the way, at least potentially, to the church of the future. There can be no Christianity without the Eucharist – and that meal belongs to the people of God as a gift from the Spirit. As Christians are asked to go without the Eucharist because there are no priests to preside at the Lord’s Table, it is important to remember that long before there was a professional, hierarchical priesthood, Christians gathered to remember the Lord and experienced his presence in bread broken and shared. The Eucharist cannot and must not be held hostage by a moribund hierarchy.”
Initially it was the householder in the home Churches of the early Christian era who presided over the Lord’s supper, and these could be either male or female, this was before the Church had any priesthood.
“For the first three centuries of its existence, the church existed without churches – buildings in which to gather. In the earliest Jewish Christian communities in Jerusalem, Judea, and throughout the Levant, Christians celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the homes of members of the community. These home churches were small in comparison to the large groups of worshipers that would gather in the large church buildings, the basilicas, which were built in Constantine’s time and thereafter. Home churches tended to be smaller, more intimate gatherings of friends and believers, at which all the brothers and sisters, of whatever social rank or standing, were welcome.
The early church was not hierarchic, though it was not without its structure. In Paul’s church, and because of his letters his is the church we know most about, ministry was not a function of office, but of gift of the Spirit. Members of the community were called to exercise different gifts through the spirit, as they were given. …
In Paul’s church there was a radical equality of all in Christ, including an equality of the sexes. There truly were no Jews or Greeks, no slaves or free, no man or woman, but all were one in Christ. Consequently the gifts of all were recognized and allowed to flourish. There was no need for ordination – indeed there was, as yet, no cultic priesthood. The brothers and sisters gathered to share a meal, literally and ritually, and to remember the Lord. The entire community celebrated, the entire community prayed, and if there were a presider at all, that person was called from the community to lead it in prayer.
It is from within the Gaol of the Tabernacle wherein the Lord is kept hostage by possessive priests hoarding their hocus pocus of Ordination that I would like to first of all take a look at what our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, bound within his era, had to say on the Body of the Lord.