Karl Rahner's Theology of Eucharist

Philosophy and Theology 11 (1):125-146 (1998)
Abstract
The first part of this paper presents the mystery of Eucharist as the symbol or sacrament of, and hence as identical with, the central mystery of Christian faith: the paschal mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It also situates Rahner’s theology of Eucharist within the larger context of his theology as a whole, particularly his Christology. The humanity of Jesus as the real symbol or sacrament of the Logos provides the prime analogate for understanding Eucharist as sacrament, and the two-fold movement of Christology as both descending and ascending provides the basic structure of sacramental activity as embodying both the divine offer of grace and human response to it. The second part considers Rahner’s contribution to specific problems in Eucharistic theology: real presence, the idea of transubstantiation, sacramental causality and institution by Jesus.The third and final part looks to the still unfinished agenda of Karl Rahner’s theology of Eucharist. He describes the task facing theology in the future as that of transposing theoretical beliefs into practical imperatives, “so that the theological as such becomes a principle of action.” For the Eucharist this means seeing Eucharist primarily in the context of the reign of God that was the center of the preaching and ministry of Jesus rather than only in the context of the church. More specifically, this means seeing the church’s Eucharist in the world within the larger context of the liturgy of the world. The liturgy of the world celebrates the ongoing transformation of the secular realm by the power of the Spirit in its movement towards its consummation in the final coming of God’s reign
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