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date: 21 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Recent theology has focused on the symbolic meaning of the sacraments. The matter cannot end there, however: we must say what each sacrament is. Applied to the Eucharist, this means we must move from consideration of the material elements and who presides to the way the sign value of the elements is fixed by the sacrament’s verbal component: they signify Christ’s body and blood. This raises the question of how the eucharistic signs are related to the reality they signify—what exists elsewhere (the typical Protestant view), or what is wholly present where the signs are (the Catholic and Orthodox view). Saying what the Eucharist is also requires deciding whether it is the body and blood of Christ and whether it is a sacrifice, and if so, how this sacrifice is related to that of Christ on Calvary. There is no ecclesially neutral standpoint from which these questions may be decided.

Keywords: Augustine, blood, body, bread, consecration, ecumenism, elements, Eucharist, gift, immolation, Justin Martyr, matter, oblation, (real) presence, representation, sacrifice, sign, symbol, Trent, verbal, wine

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