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Monday, May 14, 2007

Cyril of Alexandria: A Source for Andrewes' Eucharistic Christology

I have been reading tonight a book on Cyril's Christology and Eucharistic theology and have found what appears to be the source for how Andrewes is interpreting his Eucharistic theology with Christological categories. In his commentary on John's Gospel, Cyril points out the close connection of union (from John 17) to be a result of the Eucharistic sharing in the humanity and divinity of Christ. Glory for Cyril is obtained in the receiving of the Eucharist and the indwelling of the Spirit. Cyril writes,
We have, therefore, been made perfect in unity with God the Father, through the mediation of Christ. For by receiving in ourselves, both in a corporeal sense and a spiritual sense, as I said just now, him that is the Son by nature, and who has essential union with the Father, we have been glorified and become partakers in the divine nature of the most high.
This is the exact language used by Andrewes in his sermons on the Incarnation when he describes the unity of the Incarnation with what we receive in the Eucharistic elements. I note that Cyril speaks of a corporeal and a spiritual receiving. Interestingly enough, Andrewes talks the same kind of language. Lawrence J. Welch points out that for Cyril 'the headship of the second Adam cannot be disassociated from the Eucharistic context.' (101)


This is very interesting indeed! What is also interesting is that it has been pointed out by Welch that the Second Adam headship which is explained by Cyril is Eucharistic. This headship though is always in relationship to the Body, the Church. This union of the Second Adam and the Body is caused by the Eucharist. What we receive in the Eucharist is the glorified 'kenotic' Son who empties himself for us on the cross and again in the Eucharist. This self-emptying is the unifying instrument that brings us to taste of the eschatological glory. Therefore the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ that has the power to give life and the Church is not joined to a mere man. What I have discovered tonight and maybe am just now understanding is found in the words of Welch. He writes,
In other words, whenever Cyril uses the Adamic typology to explicate the incarnation his Christology cannot be disassociated from his understanding of the Eucharist. The two are intimately linked. This suggests that there is a synthesis between Cyril's theology of worship and Eucharist and his Christology.
Now, anybody that has done any serious reading of Andrewes, particularly his Incarnation sermons, knows that this is also true of him. I have much to think about here but I put it out here for any thougths you might have!

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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.
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