Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eric Mascall on the boundaries of the Eucharist

"The Eucharistic rite, which is the source and centre of the Church's life, is both a symbol and a foretaste of the gathering of the human race into Christ and the transformation of the material world in him. The conversion of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is the symbol and foretaste of the transformation of the material world; the feeding of Christ's Body the Church with the Eucharistic gifts is the symbol and the foretaste of the gathering of the human race into Christ, for in communion, as St. Augustine says, we are what we receive. But here we must recall a truth . . . namely that, although from one aspect the Church is the ark of salvation in which the saved are protected from the flood outside, from another aspect the Church is not sealed off from the world at all, but is the source from which grace flows into the world to heal and transfigure it. Every time the Eucharist is celebrated, the full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction which Christ offered throughout his life and on Calvary, and which is now a perpetually efficacious reality in the heavenly realm, is made a present and active power of redemption and sanctification in our world of time and space, and by their sharing in it the members of Christ's Body the Church are sent out to their life in the world renewed and strengthened for their share in the work of the world's transformation."

This quote is from The Christian Universe (1966) by Eric Lionel Mascall OGS (1905 - 1993), a priest of the Church of England, a theologian, Thomist philosopher and prolific writer. His wide-ranging ecumenical involvements gave him influence in both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theological circles.


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