Details of Thesis

Title The Pledge of Future Glory: The Eschatological dimension of the Eucharist: A Systematic exploration
Author Vu, Chi Hy Paul
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2004
Abstract The Eucharist is preeminently the sacrament of Christian hope. It is a foretaste of the eschatological banquet. Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the antiphon for the Magnificat on the feast of Corpus Christi, described the Eucharist as the pledge of future glory. It contains within it the memorial of Christ’s Passover and the anticipation of his coming in glory. Filled with hope, Christians celebrate the Eucharist as “a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” in anticipation. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, par. 47).  How this eschatological consciousness is related to the Eucharist is a question that deserves further exploration. While some authors have touched on the subject, there has been no systematic treatment of this theme since Geoffrey Wainwright’s Eucharist and Eschatology. Our thesis explores the contemporary insights into Eucharistic eschatology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Francois-Xavier Durrwell, Gustave Martelet, and Louis-Marie Chauvet. We shall situate our study in terms of a current philosophical-phenomenological context of hope as explored by Gabriel Marcel and Ernst Bloch, and the questions of gift as discussed in the works of Robyn Horner, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Marion and David Power.  To approach the Eucharist as the pledge of future glory is to discern the eschatological meaning of this sacrament and its relationship to Christian hope. If hope is essential to the human condition, then the Eucharist keeps hope alive within the Christian community and the world. As the sacrament of the Eschaton, the Eucharist activates hope in the present time for the consummation of God’s purposes for all humanity and for the fulfilment of God’s reign of justice, freedom and peace throughout creation. To celebrate the Eucharist is to participate in a “holy communion” with God through the bread and wine shared together. Such an eschatological communion foreshadows the future transformation of the whole cosmos into New Creation.  The Eucharist is thus the divine milieu where the Christian community celebrates the real presence of the risen and glorified Christ, and the eschatological grounds for its ultimate expectations. In order to celebrate the Eucharist as the pledge of future glory it is also important to recognize that the future glory which Christians anticipate through the Eucharist is God’s gift. It is a gift of grace to be received and cultivated with a sense of responsibility. The Eucharist inspires Christian hope and gives birth to creative human activity in the direction of the coming of the new heaven and new earth. Only when Christians recognize the future as eschatological gift, they will be able to commit themselves to building up the body of Christ in the world and at the same time dare to hope for the future glory in the fullness of God’s time. The Eucharistic hope thus embodies an ethical praxis that the Christian community is summoned to embody in their lives. The Christian community, gathered for prayers and thanksgiving, and for the “breaking of the bread” is itself an eschatological reality. It proclaims the real presence of the future that God has prepared for the whole of creation in Christ.  We seek to explore the notion that the Eucharist, as the sacrament of hope, is both a vision of the future and a celebration of the Christian community as it is nourished on the body and blood of Christ, the firstfruits of the Kingdom. It is significant because if God is our ultimate future glory it matters greatly that we understand and know that the gathering at the Eucharistic table confirms and extends our communion with God and with all creation. It is in this Eucharistic communion that hope is born. A foretaste of what is to come is already celebrated and given in Christ’s self-giving love. It is vital therefore that we explore the interconnection between the Eucharist and eschatology and attend to the meaning and practice of Christian hope. The thesis will conclude with a constructive retrieval of the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist as a pledge of the future glory.
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