Brief Book Review: The Meal That Reconnects

The Meal That Reconnects:
Eucharistic Eating and the Global Food Crisis
By Mary E. McGann, RCSJ

Who should read this? Optimally – everyone who cares about the eucharist.  Realistically – probably more advanced readers, graduate students, perhaps, with an interest in eucharistic and/or moral theology. 

Why does it matter? Eating and drinking eucharistically, without concern for the lived experience of others – especially the most vulnerable – calls into question the directive to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” 

What excited me the most? McGann’s first chapter – an examination of the complex circumstances by which “eating matters” – was tantalizingly kaleidoscopic.  With each new paragraph came so many new connections! 

What will most inspire you? Her eucharistic orientation around the table of Jesus and the early Christian community. Her proposal for a way beyond the corporate industrial food system that engulfs us.  Her unification of environmental and eucharistic theologies. 

Quibbles. Only one real quibble for me. First, while I do not take issue with focusing on eating and table as being foundational for understanding the eucharist, there are good many Catholics who would prioritize sacrifice and altar. I wish that McGann would have done a little more to draw this eucharistic approach into the conversation, such that the global food crisis cannot be theologically sidestepped. 

Kudos. I so very appreciated how McGann was able to marry sacramental theology rooted in our lived experiences with pressing global concerns. Worship meets the world, indeed!  Especially important and enlightening was her reliance on and application of Laudato Sí.  Here she gave clear theological shape and application to how the eucharist should serve as both source and summit in the church’s vocation to confront the injustice of hunger as it perpetuates and prolongs the ministry of Christ in the world. 

McGann, Mary E., RCSJ. The Meal That Reconnects: Eucharistic Eating and the Global Food Crisis. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2020. 244+xii pages. $29.95. ISBN: 9780814660317. 

REVIEWER: David A. Pitt
David Pitt is Associate Professor of Theology at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa.

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