Eucharistic Theology

In spite of some differences  over Eucharistic theology, there is a large measure of ecumenical agreement, crystallised in the Lima Statement on the Eucharist (1982) drawn up by more than 100 theologians from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican Reformed, Adventist and Pentecostal Churches. In summary, Lima says:

There are at least five different meanings or interpretations of the Eucharist:

The presence of Christ is the centre of the Eucharist as the common act of the Body of Christ:

"The Eucharistic communion with Christ who nourishes the life of the church is at the same time communion within the body of Christ. The sharing of one bread and the common cup in a given place demonstrates and affects the oneness of the sharers with Christ and with their fellow sharers at all times and in all places. It is in the Eucharist that the community of God's people is fully manifested. Eucharistic Celebrations always have to do with the whole church, and the whole church is involved in each local Eucharistic celebration. In so far as the church claims to be a manifestation of the whole church, it will take care to order its own life in ways which take seriously the interests and concerns of other churches.

"As God in Christ has entered into the human situation, so Eucharistic liturgy is near to the concrete and particular situations of men and women. In the early church the ministry of deacons and deaconesses gave expression in a special way to this aspect of the Eucharist. The place of such ministry between the table and the needy properly testifies to the redeeming presence of Christ in the world.

The presence of Christ among us in Eucharist is as mysterious as His earthly incarnation, passion and Resurrection. In all cases theological dispute has not been about the reality of these mysteries but about how they were realised, about the mechanics.

Our central question, then, is how important are  historical disputes in the context of the acceptance of the centrality of the mystery of the Eucharist?

KC i/06

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