Cardijn and the altar as workbench

Cardijn used the Eucharist to develop a theology of work, argues Patricia Kelly, a Ph.D. candidate at Durham University, in a paper presented at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in June.

“It was in his homily for the consecration of the Basilica at Lisieux, during the French National Eucharistic Congress of 1937, that Cardijn clearly demonstrated the link between work and Eucharist, a link which underpins his whole theology of work,’ Kelly writes.

“The Eucharist  – sacrament and sacrifice  – was, for Cardijn, absolutely transformative of life, especially working life, transforming ‘each worker into a laypriest who can make his work, his workbench… an altar, united with priests at the altars of their churches…,’Kelly continues.

“Ultimately, it was this link between Eucharist and work which enabled ‘every worker to bring Christ to their friends at work.”

Significantly, Kelly also shows how Cardijn was closely in touch with the latest developments in theology during the 1920s and 1930s, e.g. in his use of the concept of the Mystical Body of Christ.

“A key aspect of Mystical Body ecclesiology, from Möhler’s  Symbolik onwards, is the understanding of ‘the Church as the continuation of the Incarnation of the Son of God,” says Kelly.

“For Cardijn, this fitted closely with the emphasis on work as a collaboration with God, to bring about the salvation of the world: ‘the divine seal of vocation which makes every worker the immediate, personal, irreplaceable coworker with God in his work of creation and of redemption,” Kelly concludes.

Very appropriate that Cardijn’s theology of work and the Eucharist, which he articulated at the French National Eucharistic Congress of Lisieux in 1937, should again find expression 75 years later through Patricia Kelly at the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 1912.

Read the whole article here:

Patricia Kelly, ‘The workbench is your altar’: Jozef Cardijn’s understanding of the role of the Eucharist in the life of the worker (Academia)

Stefan Gigacz