The wider church is being called to reflect on vocations in the context of a renewed appreciation for the Eucharist. Having the richness of the Cistercian authors as a resource I felt drawn to look for references to a Cistercian appreciation of the Eucharist.
This led me to a dissertation written by Nathaniel Nashamoies Landon Peters entitled: The Trinitarian Dimensions of Cistercian Eucharistic Theology, which he submitted to complete the requirements for obtaining this degree from Boston College. Dr. Peters writes: “In the Eucharist, God the Father draws those who receive to himself by uniting them to the body and blood of the Son. This unity brings an increase of unity with the Holy Spirit. Once united to the Son and Spirit, the faithful are united to the Father and to the unity that all three persons share. The Eucharist is, then, not only a site of God’s movement toward human beings, but of human movement back toward God. It acts as a kind of pivot point in the economy of salvation: the moment where the outpouring of the Son and Spirit join most deeply with the faithful and draw them back to the Father. The Eucharist also binds the members of the Church, the body of Christ, to each other and to their Head in his act of self-offering to the Father. It connects the meditation, sacrifices, and offering of their own lives to that of Christ, with which they are offered to the Father.”
Drawing from the works of William of Saint-Thierry, Isaac of Stella, and Baldwin of Forde, Dr. Peters helps us appreciate the contribution these Cistercian teachers can make to our present conversation about who we are when we receive the Eucharist which informs who we understand ourselves to be called to be (vocation). Such a rich reflection comes from this understanding and enlightens our appreciation of where those living a monastic call are situated in the wider family of believers.