- Eucharistic theologies contrasted
Churches and Ecclesial Communities contrasted in relation to Eucharistic theology:
Roman Catholic Church
Transubstantiationas a statement of what is changed when the bread and wine are consecrated, not an explanation of the means or mode by which the Real Presenceis effected, since " [t] he signs of bread and wine become, "in a way surpassing understanding", the Body and Blood of Christ." [ [http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt1art3.htm "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 1333] ]
* Christ is really (not just in sign or symbol), truly (not just subjectively or metaphorically) and substantially (not just in his power) present in the Eucharist.
* Because the
Real Presenceof Christ in the Eucharist is indeed real, not merely figurative or virtual, Eucharistic adoration(adoration of the Eucharist as the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ) is practised.
* The Eucharist is a sacrifice in that it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross. [ [http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt1art3.htm "Catechism of the Catholic Church"] , 1366] The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. Christ, of course, is not sacrificed again. The Cross cannot be repeated. The Mass is a liturgical representation of a sacrifice that makes present what it represents through the action of God. [ [http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt1art3.htm "Catechism of the Catholic Church"] , 1367]
* Theological development: Saint
Ignatius of Antioch, [ [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7] ] Saint Justin Martyr, the first writer to describe the celebration in Rome of the Eucharist, [" First Apology" [http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-46.htm#P3935_744654 65-67] ] Saint Ambrose, [ [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3405.htm On the Mysteries, 52-54] ] Saint Thomas Aquinas, [ [http://www.ccel.org/a/aquinas/summa/TP.html Summa Theologica, III, 73-83] ] the Council of Trent. [ [http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html Sessions 13 and 22] ]
Closed communion, with relaxation of the rule in certain defined circumstances.
* Frequency: All Catholics are obliged to attend celebration of the Eucharist at least on every Sunday and on other days known as holy days of obligation. Priests generally celebrate the Eucharist daily. Reception of Holy Communion is obligatory at least once a year (at Easter time). No particular conditions apply to assistance at Mass, but conditions for receiving Holy Communion are freedom from unconfessed mortal sin and observance of the rules of fasting. These same rules apply to all celebrations of the Eucharist by a priest.
Eastern Orthodox Church
*The Eucharistic mystery bears an objective
Real Presence. The bread and wine are believed to become the genuine Body and Blood of the Christ Jesus (a mode of thought supported by such verses as [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%206:55;&version=48; John 6:55] ) through the operation of the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Church has never described exactly how this occurs: without going into details, it is satisfied in accepting that the change is a mystery beyond human understanding. [Timothy Kallistos Ware, "The Orthodox Church"(New Edition), pp. 283-285] [Father Michael Pomazansky, in "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology" p. 183 [p. 279-280 in the English edition] ]
*The Church's spiritual and bodily sacrifice (by way of prayer, fasting, and
confession) is, in a mystical and inexplicable union, fully one with Christ's actual sacrifice on the cross.
*The primary theological developments in regard to the Eucharist are mainly derived from earlier
Church Fathers, especially the teachings of John Chrysostom, Ignatius of Antioch, and the Cappadocian Fathers, among others.
Divine Liturgyis never celebrated in private, as it is considered necessarily communal; there must be at least two or three people to receive Holy Communion. An exception to this is hermits who have been ordained hieromonks but have no one to serve with them.
Closed communionis almost exclusively administered. Communion is given only to baptized, chrismated Orthodox Christians who have prepared by fasting, prayer, and confession. The priest administers the Body and Blood of Christ with a spoon directly into the recipient's mouth from the chalice. [Ware p. 287] From baptism young infants and children are carried to the chalice to receive Holy Communion. [Ware p. 279]
*The Eucharist is generally celebrated at least weekly on Sundays (and often on Saturdays also), on the "
Great Feasts" and on Pascha (Easter). Some laity partake of Holy Communion only four times a year. Members are encouraged to participate as often as it is offered, provided they are properly prepared through prayer, fasting, and recent confession. It is the opinion of some traditionalists that frequent communion is dangerous spiritually if it reflects a lack of piety in approaching the most significant of the Mysteries, which would be damaging to the soul. However, many spiritual advisors advocate frequent reception provided that it is done in the proper spirit and not casually, with full preparation (such as prayer, fasting, and recent confession) and discernment (see Eucharistic discipline). Anglican Communion
* There is a divergence of opinion over eucharistic theology which broadly corresponds to the lines of
churchmanshipwithin Anglicanism. Transubstantiation, consubstantiationism, Sacramental Union, ( Calvinistic) Spiritual Presence, and ( Zwinglian) Dynamic Memorialism are all represented. Which of these views is considered to represent "authentic" Anglican eucharistic theology depends on wider theological and ecclesiological understandings of Anglicanism, in particular the role of pre-Reformation doctrine and practices, versus a more reformed theology, in interpreting the Book of Common Prayer(which has its origins in the works of Thomas Cranmer) and the Thirty-nine Articles(an Anglican formulary developed in the sixteenth century).
High ChurchAnglicans tend to believe in the Real (Bodily) Presence. While a minority of Anglo-Catholicsadhere to transubstantiation (despite its denunciation in Article XXVIII of the Thirty-nine Articles), the majority of High Church Anglicans do not, and are content simply to let the mystery of the manifestation of Christ remain a mystery. In practice, High Church parishes tend to celebrate the Eucharist weekly (or more frequently) and prefer the term "Eucharist" or "Mass". Reservation and adoration of the sacramentare common practice among many High Anglicans. The pioneering Anglo-Catholic Edward Bouverie Puseyargued for a theology of sacramental union.
Low ChurchAnglicans, on the other hand, tend to reject belief in the Real (Bodily) Presence as well as reservation and adoration of the sacrament and adopt a Calvinistic(Spiritual Presence) or Zwinglian(Dynamic Memorialism) view of the Eucharist, resembling views held by Protestantdenominations such as Presbyteriansand Baptists. Low Church parishes tend to celebrate the Eucharist less frequently (e.g., monthly, but this varies from place to place) and prefer the terms "Holy Communion" or "Lord's Supper".
* Between the High and Low Church positions lies the view that Anglicanism (as a
Broad Church) permits a range of theological views, each of which (with the possible exception of the Roman Catholicnotion of transubstantiation) is an equally welcome expression of Eucharistic theology within the Anglican context. In practical terms, most Broad Church Anglicans believe Christ is spiritually present in the elements — a theology of consubstantionism or Sacramental Union.
*Primary theological development from
Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, and the Lutheran Book of Concordof the 16th century.
*Eucharistic theology: the
sacramental unionis the mode of the Real Presence, the means is the mandate and institution of Christ. This mandate and institution is expressed in the Lutheran divine service as the Words of Institutionor the "Verba". Statement of Martin Luther::Why then should we not much more say in the Supper, "This is my body," even though bread and body are two distinct substances, and the word "this" indicates the bread? Here, too, out of two kinds of objects a union has taken place, which I shall call a "sacramental union," because Christ’s body and the bread are given to us as a sacrament. This is not a natural or personal union, as is the case with God and Christ. It is also perhaps a different union from that which the dove has with the Holy Spirit, and the flame with the angel, but it is also assuredly a sacramental union ("WA" 26, 442; "LW" 37, 299-300).
*Body and Blood are "in, with, and under the forms" of bread and wine::For the reason why, in addition to the expressions of Christ and St. Paul (the bread in the Supper is the body of Christ or the communion of the body of Christ), also the forms: under the bread, with the bread, in the bread [the body of Christ is present and offered] , are employed, is that by means of them the papistical
transubstantiationmay be rejected and the sacramental union of the unchanged essence of the bread and of the body of Christ indicated (FC SD VII, 35; "Triglot Concordia", 983; emphasis added). Lutherans do not seek to explain the change, and some designate their beliefs as consubstantiation, while others reject the designation of their doctrine as consubstantiationin contradistinction to the transubstantiationof the Roman Catholic Church, which they also reject (see also, "Smalcald Articles" [http://www.bookofconcord.org/smalcald.html] ).
*Lutherans do not believe that the eucharistic sacrifice (sacrifice of praise) of the Lord's Supper is propitiatory or that it "repeats" Christ's sacrifice on the cross. However, most Lutheran denominations put a great emphasis on the importance of the Sacrament of Communion, and of the main branches of the Reformation Era, the Lutheran view of "Real Presence" is regarded by many theologians to be the closest in theory and practice to the Sacrament of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. [ [http://archive.elca.org/worship/faq/liturgy/sacraments.html ELCA : Worship : FAQ : An Introduction to the Sacraments ] ]
*Many Lutheran Church bodies practice closed or close communion. However, the largest Lutheran body in the United States and Canada, the ELCA, allows all believers to partake in the sacrament, as do many of the national Lutheran Churches in the countries of Scandinavia and elsewhere. Also, in recent decades a revival of frequent partaking of the Sacrament has taken place in the mainline Lutheran branches, and the ELCA advises that Communion should be a part of all services. [http://archive.elca.org/worship/faq/communion/weekly.html ELCA : Worship : FAQ : How Do We Move to Weekly Communion? ] ]
Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Book of Concord,
*primary theological development from
John Calvin, 16th century
*Eucharistic theology: historically, real spiritual presence, i.e., pneumatic presence.
*Reformed theology has taught that Jesus' body is seated in heaven at the right hand of God and therefore is not present in the elements nor do the elements turn into his body. When the eucharist is received, however, not only the spirit, but also the true body and blood of Jesus Christ (hence "real") are received in a pneumatic (ghostly) sense, but these are only received by those partakers who eat worthily (i.e., repentantly) with faith. The Holy Spirit unites the Christian with Jesus though they are separated by a great distance.
*See, e.g., [http://www.pcanet.org/general/cof_chapxxvi-xxx.htm#chapxxix Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 19] ; [http://www.crcna.org/pages/belgic_articles33_37.cfm Belgic Confession, Article 35] ;
*Theology in this tradition is in flux, and recent agreements, especially [http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/fullcommunion/formula/official_text.html A Formula for Agreement] , between these denominations and the
Lutherans have stressed that: "The theological diversity within our common confession provides both the complementarity needed for a full and adequate witness to the gospel (mutual affirmation) and the corrective reminder that every theological approach is a partial and incomplete witness to the Gospel (mutual admonition) (A Common Calling, page 66)." Hence, in seeking to come to consensus about the Real Presence, the churches have written: ::"During the Reformation both Reformed and Lutheran Churches exhibited an evangelical intention when they understood the Lord's Supper in the light of the saving act of God in Christ. Despite this common intention, different terms and concepts were employed which. . . led to mutual misunderstanding and misrepresentation. Properly interpreted, the differing terms and concepts were often complementary rather than contradictory (Marburg Revisited, pp. 103-104);":and further:::"In the Lord's Supper the risen Christ imparts himself in body and blood, given up for all, through his word of promise with bread and wine....we proclaim the death of Christ through which God has reconciled the world with himself. We proclaim the presence of the risen Lord in our midst. Rejoicing that the Lord has come to us, we await his future coming in glory....Both of our communions, we maintain, need to grow in appreciation of our diverse eucharistic traditions, finding mutual enrichment in them. At the same time both need to grow toward a further deepening of our common experience and expression of the mystery of our Lord's Supper (A Formula for Agreement)." Methodist
*primary theological development from
John Wesley& Charles Wesley, 18th century Anglicans
*Because of historical roots, much Methodist Eucharistic thought is similar to "Broad Church" Anglican thought; some elements of "High Church" and "Low Church" Anglicanism can be found among Methodists, with United Methodists tending to be more "High" in theology if not in practice.
*Eucharist commonly celebrated on Sundays and Holy Days, like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but never without a congregation. While monthly observance was once the most commonly found experience, since the 1980s weekly celebration has become more common, and not just on Sundays.
*Eucharistic theology: "Jesus Christ...is truly present in Holy Communion...The divine presence is a living reality and can be experienced by participants; it is not a remembrance of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion only." (from "This Holy Mystery"), i.e.,
John Wesley, Open communion, " [http://www.gbod.org/worship/thisholymystery/default.html This Holy Mystery] "
Baptistand other related Evangelicals=
*primary theological development from 16th & 17th centuries
*Independent Baptist hold to the
*"The bread and cup that symbolize the broken body and shed blood offered by Christ remind us today of God's great love for us..." [http://www.abc-usa.org/identity/bible.html]
Huldrych Zwingli, open communion Quakers and the Salvation Army
*primary theological development from 17th century
*Eucharistic theology: suspension/
*"The bread and wine remind us of Jesus' body and blood." [http://www.request.org.uk/main/dowhat/communion/communion02.htm]
*Quakers understand all of life as being sacramental and thus do not practice baptism or holy communion. "We believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and in communion with that Spirit. If the believer experiences such spiritual baptism and communion, then no rite or ritual is necessary. ...The Quaker ideal is to make every meal at every table a Lord's Supper." [http://www.firstfriendswhittier.org/welcome/sacraments.html]
*Quakers and Salvationists do not practice Holy Communion in their worship, believing it was not meant to be a perpetually mandated ritual
* [http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/fullcommunion/formula/official_text.html Lutheran full communion with Reformed Churches (Presbyterian Church USA, Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ)]
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