In The Meal that Reconnects, Dr. Mary McGann, RSCJ, invites readers to a more profound appreciation of the sacredness of eating, the planetary interdependence that food and the sharing of food entails, and the destructiveness of the industrial food system that is supplying food to tables globally. She presents the food crisis as a spiritual crisis-a call to rediscover the theological, ecological, and spiritual significance of eating and to probe its challenge to Christian eucharistic practice. Drawing on the origins of Eucharist in Jesus's meal fellowship and the worship of early Christians, McGann invites communities to reclaim the foundational meal character of eucharistic celebration while offering pertinent strategies for this renewal.
Mary E. McGann, RSCJ, is adjunct associate professor of liturgical studies at the Jesuit School of Theology (Santa Clara University) and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. Her recent research and writing focus on the global water and food crises, the challenges these present to Christian worship and sacramental practice, and the need to pursue a deep liturgical renewal that honors and acknowledges our planetary interdependence. McGann is author of several articles and three books, including award winning A Precious Fountain: Music in the Worship of an African American Catholic Community (Liturgical Press, 2004).
"Rarely does one find a work that so clearly integrates the ancient symbols of Christian faith with contemporary scientific assessment of the fundamental need for food and drink. In The Meal That Reconnects, Mary McGann offers a well-documented and articulate presentation of the relationship between the meals of Jesus as expressions of God's reign of justice and peace and how this life-giving practice is thwarted and deformed by industrialization of food systems in which we all participate. For the Catholic, Anglican, or Protestant who recognizes there is no life or less-than-life without adequate food and drink, McGann describes the calculus of greed and the damage it continues to inflict on human beings and the whole creation. And yet there is hope for the millions of Christians who gather weekly at the Eucharistic table. In her careful and compelling description of the economic, social, and political dimensions of Eucharistic feasting, McGann draws out what has always been present but frequently overlooked: the profound relationship between eating and drinking with Jesus for the life of the world. I say, Take and read, take and read this remarkable work and let it shape your praying, preaching, teaching, singing, and most importantly, your public advocacy."
Samuel Torvend, Professor of Religion, Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington
"For anyone who is concerned with the future of our common home, for anyone who is concerned for the credibility of our Christian witness, and especially for all who are concerned about both—this book is a must read. Responding to Pope Francis's challenge in Laudato Sí Mary McGann provides us with a wonderful example of how sacramental theology and our liturgical celebrations can deepen our commitment to our planet and to true justice for the dispossessed and the hungry. Along the way she has given us a very accessible account of the complex global food crisis that we face."
John F. Baldovin, SJ, Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology, Boston College School of Theology & Ministry
"We're all food. How can hunger exist—pervasive structural deprivation, waste, injustice, and cruelty—in a world so abundant? How can greed exist in a world permeated by the Body of Christ, sacrament of enough for all, hoarding for none? Mary McGann's new book, The Meal that Reconnects, invites readers into a eucharistic vision of justice, care, and reverence: food as an interspecies paschal event knitting together all that is. Critical and profoundly connective, this book is a passionate invitation to eating well and wisely, reverently and thankfully, ethically and joyfully on our good Earth."
Lisa E. Dahill, PhD, Professor of Religion, California Lutheran University
"In her pioneering 1976 volume, The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World, Monika K. Hellwig concluded that the Eucharist should prompt Christians to support organizations that feed the hungry. Now some 40 years later, as we face what Pope Francis has called `a climate emergency,' Mary E. McGann, RSCJ demonstrates how Hellwig's imperative is ever more complex and urgent. McGann plumbs essential sources from ecology, food studies, agriculture, economics, health and wellness, social ethics, liturgical studies, and theology—and then in very accessible terms, shows the hope filled potential of the Christian Eucharist as a paradigm to counter the vast injustices of the current global corporate food industry. Where the corporate model leaves billions hungry, natural seeds inaccessible, soils depleted, and laborers exploited, a Eucharistic paradigm signals a path to regenerative agricultural practices that will contribute to the healing and reconciling of human relationships with the life-giving Earth. A 'must read'!"
Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, PhD, The Erica and Harry John Family Professor of Catholic Theological Ethics, Catholic Theological Union
"Mary McGann's tour de force brings together two substantial topics, on the one hand, eucharistic practice and theology, and on the other hand, the industrial agricultural complex. Each topic is allowed space to develop through an overview of dynamic development even while being woven together. An inspirational and pastoral handbook of places to start based on the reality of engaging with a meal that reconnects all of this through the simplicity of real bread, real wine, real community, real meals, real conversations, and the real and imminent crises in the world for which we have been called to care in response to the `cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.'"
Lizette Larson-Miller, author of Sacramentality Renewed: Contemporary Conversations in Sacramental Theology
"Mary McGann accomplishes brilliantly for food and the Eucharist what Linda Gibler and Christiana Zenner have done for water. Drawing on her masterful synthesis of the latest research on early Christian meal practices, McGann extends a gracious invitation to the eucharistic banquet and to a `eucharistic economy.' While forthrightly exposing the global food economy's degradation of bodies and environments, this book offers an account of food justice that never abandons the sumptuous flavors and joys of the meal itself. This is a food-forward spirituality of the Eucharist to savor and share in an ecological age."
Benjamin Stewart, PhD, Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
"For most of human history, most human endeavor has been devoted the acquisition and preparation of food. Food has, literally, made us what we are. And human culture cannot be understood apart from it: we are meal sharing animals. Food sustains us and forms the context for our relationships with one another and with God—and this is given explicit expression for Christians in the Eucharist."
"Today we face a crisis regarding food and know that we need to change our ways of food production and consumption if we, and the planet, are to survive. Likewise, as Christians, we are in a crisis in our understanding of the Eucharist. So many of us engage with 'it' not as joyful celebration in the Christ as we thank the Father, but by adapting a consumerist, fast-food model of 'getting' communion with Jesus. Eucharist is an activity. An activity that supposes an awareness of our dependence with issues forth in a gentleness and in a thankfulness. This book helps us develop that awareness."
Thomas O'Loughlin, author of Eating Together, Becoming One