The presence of Christ in the Eucharist: a strange neglect of the Resurrection?
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Eminent theologians, Gerald O’Collins, Anthony J. Kelly and Luis M. Bermejo claim that a strange neglect of Jesus’ resurrection persists in contemporary theologies of the Eucharist. All three suggest that this deficiency emerges from, and is most evident in, theologies of the Eucharist which are shaped by the insights of classical Christology. This thesis will demonstrate that the narrowness and rigidity of such Christology with regard to the Eucharist, finds its clearest expression in the neo-scholastic manualist tradition. To show how traditional theologians failed to engage with Jesus’ resurrection Joseph Pohle’s dogmatic treatise on the Eucharist first published in 1917, is presented herein. However, while such traditional discourse on the Eucharist prevailed in the seminaries in the early twentieth century, a clear shift soon began to emerge, whereby sacramental theologians on mainland Europe broke away from the narrow approach of neo-scholastic reflection by rediscovering the centrality of the Paschal Mystery to theologies of the Eucharist. This thesis suggests that the break with the neo-scholastic manualist tradition and its treatment of the Eucharist, finds its origins in the writings of the Benedictine liturgist, Dom Odo Casel, whose treatise on the mystery of Christian Worship was published in 1932. After being refined and modified by Louis Bouyer in his dynamic theology of the Word of God and Edward Schillebeeckx in his treatise on sacramental encounter, the acceptance of the insights raised by Casel in his mystical theology reached its climax in the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). However, with the Council’s revitalised appreciation of the Paschal Mystery, one must ask whether the claim of O’Collins, Kelly and Bermejo is justly founded or whether it holds weight only in respect of the manualist tradition. From this standpoint, the theologies of Jean-Luc Marion, Louis-Marie Chauvet and Herbert McCabe with regard to the Eucharist are observed in order to establish whether an appreciation of the resurrection has flourished in post-conciliar theologies or whether its neglect has persisted. By examining these theologians’ reflection on the Eucharist, it becomes apparent that an obvious neglect of the resurrection has unquestionably persisted, especially with regard to the transformative dimension of the Eucharist. This thesis argues that by engaging in a more comprehensive manner with Jesus’ resurrection, in particular, the appearance narratives, the dynamic of our encounters with the risen Christ in the Eucharistic celebration is enriched. The appearance narratives present a well-spring of symbolic language which enables us to better understand humankind’s revelatory encounters with the glorified, transfigured Christ now in His-Spirit filled existence. Thus, by engaging with Jesus’ resurrection in this more comprehensive manner, the response of those in the Gospel narratives – the disciples who experienced the risen Christ – this thesis brings the dynamism of the entire Eucharistic action to the fore.