Valentin Tomberg and the Pope on the Moral Energy of the Eucharist

From Ingres, 19th Century France ...

My book in progress Cor Jesu Sacratissimum goes through unanticipated revision. The result is more delay than I would like, but what emerges has, I think, greater clarity, passion and strength.

One thing that has hit me in this process is the need to speak of the Eucharist as clearly as possible—without prevarication. Now, included in my dictionary are these words for prevarication:

The attempt to avoid giving a direct and honest answer or opinion, or a clear and truthful account of a situation …

Alas! How apt these words seem for all too much modernist Catholic literature on the Sacraments! What words can express the wholesale depth of tragedy, when even the Church prevaricates on the very centre of Her Mystery?

In any event, there is a need to do what little I can, to compensate in my book. Thus I have found myself writing of my own personal experience of the Eucharist, as it helps me to bear suffering:

What is it to bear suffering? What is it to really feel pain and not to deaden it with alcohol or drugs or entertainment or denial or New Age platitudes or a stoic “stiff upper lip” …?

To bear suffering nobly it seems to me, involves two very important things at least: it is to become more deeply compassionate in solidarity with all who suffer and it is to become stronger – at one and the same time. And what is all of this, if not to become more MORAL?

This is why I think Valentin Tomberg [in Lazarus Come Forth] calls the Eucharist “moral energy”. How apt these two words are!

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And a little later on, I have written:

If this Eucharist imparts to us His Sacred Humanity – deeper and ever deeper humanness – how do we speak of it in a de-humanising world? What are our duties here? These are questions to be wrestled with! Personally I have wept inside for people married in a ceremony without the Sacrament.

I can feel what is absent. But how to enunciate it? If I were to go to my New Age friends and say that I have discovered a new therapy, a new form of holistic healing, a new meditation technique, they would listen with interest. But if I say instead that I have not discovered something new, but rather very old – yet more energising and morally energising than anything I ever found in two decades of New Age-ism, then I will become that most dreaded of all creatures: an evangeliser, proselytising and imposing my belief-system!”

I do not yet know how much of this will survive my final draft. But it seems to me there are many ways to communicate the Mystery, which are sorely needed – even very unusual ways.

Thus I am going to turn to words once said by Valentin Tomberg, even before he became a Catholic:

There is nothing in the physical world more holy – more healing in the deepest sense of that word – than the bread of the Communion Service.

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These are words from circa 1936, when the Russian Tomberg was more in accord with Soloviev and Steiner than the Holy See. Some may accuse me of keeping strange company.

Still, I know these pre-Catholic words of Tomberg will speak to some. And we desperately need even unusual testimony in these troubled times …

For troubling indeed, is the prevaricating and ultimately materialistic language so often used by the modern Church. Would that contemporary books of theology could speak so unambiguously as the pre-Catholic Valentin Tomberg!

But in musing on of all of this, recent words by the Holy Father have moved me deeply. Here in this internet newsreport, it seems His Holiness Benedict XVI is also speaking of the Eucharist as MORAL ENERGY:

Catholic teaching on the Holy Eucharist “is insufficiently understood in its profound significance and in the relevance it has for believers’ lives,” he said.

Calling for a rediscovery of Eucharistic adoration and fidelity to liturgical norms, which “favors and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith,” the Pope noted that:

When we receive Christ, the love of God expands inside us, radically modifying our hearts and making us capable of gestures which, by the contagious power of goodness, can transform the lives of people around us.

The Blessed Sacrament, he added:

Requires us to become, and at the same time makes us capable of becoming, the bread broken for our brothers and sisters, meeting their needs and giving of ourselves. For this reason, a Eucharistic Celebration that does not lead us towards men and women where they live, work and suffer, to bring them the love of God, fails to express the truth it contains.” (Italics added.)

Yes I am deeply grateful for the testimony of the Holy Father to this RADICAL modification of the heart. It certainly describes my own sense of the Eucharistic Power working in my life. And it seems a testimony so sorely needed at this time …

Classics from Valentin Tomberg

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2 responses to “Valentin Tomberg and the Pope on the Moral Energy of the Eucharist”

  1. Ciceronian Reflections…

    Bill Whittle on Terminal Cases of Moral Cowardice: No One in the Present Political Landscape Seems to Have the Basic Education, the Courage, or the Simple Common Sense to Attempt Appropriate Responses to Threats Ignorance creates a worldview that is ho…

  2. Patricia Ray Avatar
    Patricia Ray

    Thru life after graduation took for granted the Catholic Faith and never really understand a lot of the teachings. Even though went to Catholic elementary and High School. This article on the Eucharist is very good and deepens the understanding of this Awesome Sacrament. Thank you and God Bless.