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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

DEUS CARITAS EST


Here is a portion and the link to Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical.

13. Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33). The ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos, eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood. The sacramental “mysticism”, grounded in God's condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human mystical elevation could ever accomplish.

14. Here we need to consider yet another aspect: this sacramental “mysticism” is social in character, for in sacramental communion I become one with the Lord, like all the other communicants. As Saint Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. We become “one body”, completely joined in a single existence. Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us. Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus' teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization. Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God's agape. Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. “Worship” itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. Conversely, as we shall have to consider in greater detail below, the “commandment” of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be “commanded” because it has first been given.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Antonio said...

I have just finished reading the Encyclical.
And about the Eucharist I have one thought: how sad is the division among Christians!
May the Lord lead us all into full communion.

2:28 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Antonio,

What was so amazing to me was that Lancelot Andrewes drove the exact same point home over and over again in his Eucharistic teaching. I am thinking particularly of Eucharist and Ethics and the nature of community that is created and maintained by the Blessed Sacrament and our union with Christ. That theme is echoed time and time again in Andrewes' discussion of the Eucharist. This will make for a great addition to my last chapter on using Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism!

js

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Antonio said...

Jeff:
I would like to say that maybe Lancelot Andrewes is guiding you to Rome.
But I think to say so would be "proselytism" (and #31 of the encyclical is clearly against any kind of proselytism). :)

3:58 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Antonio,

First of all, I find it hard to believe that Christians could have a problem with this Encyclical. Since it was the Pope who wrote it many would naturally look for the flaws anyway. Those in this latter category are basically ignored and should be.

My personal reading of this is that I think there has been a [re]formulation in the way Rome speaks of her unchanging dogma that is more qualified and better expressed than it was in the Counter Reformation. This is not to say Rome has changed her teachings but rather she has matured in the way they are expressed and qualified at necessary points where Rome would not want to claim belief and would be more than mere mis-understandings. The errors of the Middle Ages have been corrected by speaking more clearly and theologically through Scripture and Tradition that has allowed for a charitable reading in light of an Andrewes in the C17 and Pope Benedict XVI of the C21. We'll see what it all produces.

4:53 pm  
Blogger Bob O'brian said...

Cool sadaqa

11:51 am  

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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