Notes on A Key

Commentary on Abbot Vonier's A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist, published by Zaccheus Press.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Let me go all the way back to page 1 for a moment.

Abbot Vonier begins his book on the Eucharist with a chapter on faith. This is because he follows St. Thomas in understanding the Sacraments -- of which the Eucharist is the most excellent -- to be "certain signs protesting that faith through which man is justified."
The power of Christ's passion [Abbot Vonier quotes St. Thomas on pp. 2-3] is linked up with us through faith and through the sacraments. This, however, in different ways: for the linking up which is by faith takes place through an act of the soul, while the linking up which is by the sacraments takes place through the use of external things.
So the Sacraments are signs of faith. Faith in what? The power of Christ's passion, regarding which Abbot Vonier makes this observation:
Before it is at all possible to think of man's enrichment through the grace of Christ's redemption we have to assume that much greater result of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross which is aptly expressed in the term "Atonement," by which is meant, not directly the benefit of man, but the benefit of God: that full restitution of what had been taken from God through man's sin, His honor and glory. Christ's act on the Cross has given back to the Father all that was ever taken away from Him by man, and the divine rights have been fully restored. [pp. 1-2, emphasis added]
This passage contains two ideas we don't much think about these days. The first is the "divine rights," which we tend to assume God is too loving to insist upon.

The second is the idea that Christ's passion was not only, or even primarily, directed toward us. Mankind had offended God; mankind must atone for that offense. That atonement is a distinct matter -- although, of course, inseparably effected by the same act of obedience -- from our redemption.

In the Nicene Creed, we say, "For us men and for our salvation, He came down from heaven." The "for our salvation" is obviously a reference to our redemption. Perhaps we can understand the "for us men" as a reference to the atonement Christ effected, "for us" in the sense of "in our place."

What does all this say about the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Sacrifice of Christ?

It says, I think, that thinking of the Eucharist only as a gift from Christ to us is to miss the far more important fact that it is a gift from the Son to the Father. We are not so much given the Eucharist as invited to join Christ as He gives it to the Father, like young children invited to sign the gift card on an older brother's present to their father. The father, in turn, accepts the gift as coming from all his children.

And so, even as we believe in faith that the Eucharist is an instrument of our sanctification, we should also regard it as an expression of Trinitarian love in which we are invited to join.

2 Comments:

Blogger JohnHarold said...

> thinking of the Eucharist only as
> a gift from Christ to us is to
> miss the far more important fact
> that it is a gift from the Son to
> the Father. We are not so much
> given the Eucharist as invited to
> join Christ as He gives it to the
> Father, like young children
> invited to sign the gift card on
> an older brother's present to
> their father. The father, in
> turn, accepts the gift as coming
> from all his children.

Now, the Eucharist is the Body of Christ. And we are members of the Body of Christ. Thus in some sense, all of us who are members of that Body are being offered to the Father in the Eucharist -- we, too, are sacrificed.

"Present your bodies as a sacrifice, holy and living."

Is it not a great - nay, an almost inconceivable privilege to be permitted to share in the one sacrifice of Christ in this fashion?

9:04 AM  
Blogger JohnHarold said...

Christ is in eternity, and His divine nature, I believe, remained in eternity, somehow, even when He walked the earth, in time.

In eternity, there is no time. And just as God could know us before we were born - before the foundation of the world - does He not know us as we will be, when we are in heaven, in eternity? And if that *thought*, as it were, or knowledge, of each of us, is in the mind of God, is it not in some sense present in the Eucharist -- thus adding another dimension to our Communion?

Perhaps this relates to the mystery of Predestination.

10:50 AM  

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