General and Introductory Materials
Part 3 Theological Issues

Chapter d315 Louis-Marie Chauvet and Sacraments

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

1.  Introduction

2.  Causality

3.  Language

4.  The Tripod

5.  Symbol

6.  Anamnesis

 

7.  Sacrament

8.

9.

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

What experiences and learning have shaped your understanding of sacraments?   This would be the place to review what you have learned about sacraments. Take some time and integrate all this material for yourself so that it will be available to you in your ministry.

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Bibliography

 Louis-Marie Chauvet.  Symbol et sacrement.  Un relecture sacramentelle de l'existence chrétienne.  Coll. Cogitatio Fidei.  Paris.  Éd du Cerf.  1987,  582 pp.

__________.  Les Sacrements:  Parole de Dieu au Risque du Corps  [Editions de l'Atelier, 1993.  ISBN 10:2708232959  &  ISBN 13:978-2708232952]

__________.  Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995

__________.  The Sacraments:  The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body.  The Liturgical Press, 2001.   ISBN 0-8146-6143-2.   $29.95  

Philippe Bordeyne and Bruce T. Morril (Eds.)  Sacraments, Revelation of the Humanity of God:  Engaging the Fundamental Theology of Louis-Marie Chauvet.  Collegeville:  Pueblo, 2008.  ISBN 978-0-8146-6218-2.  $29.95.

The "Introduction to the Sacraments" course is based on the sacramental theology of Fr. Louis-Marie Chauvet as expressed in The Sacraments:  The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body  which is a translation of Les Sacrements:  Parole de Dieu au Risque du Corps  which is a "summary" of his larger work Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence

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1.  Introduction (pp ix - xii)

1.1  In his introduction Chauvet explains the title and the thesis of the book: 

1) "Christian identity cannot be separated from the sacraments." 
2)  Sacraments involve "
language"  ("language" here means words, gestures, symbolic objects, etc.)  Therefore
3)  "Christianity can only be lived
in the mediation of the body." 

1.2  "What is most spiritual always takes places in the most corporeal."   The sacraments are "the most powerful expression of a faith that exists only at the mercy of the body - au risque du corps --  through the mediation of the body.  As a consequence, what is at stake here is the overall way Christians understand themselves as Christians, speak of themselves as Christians, and lead their lives as Christians."  (p xii)

1.3  Comment TRR:  It is, consequently, terribly important that we be aware of our bodily-ness!    How do you answer when you ask yourself  "Who am I"?  Life's Three Questions  (see: Sacraments CD, talk #12).  Another reason why the iceberg metaphor is important for our study of sacraments.  Look under the iceberg and see if you can tell why there are no Christian angels?  Or think of the beautiful Eucharistic hymn "Panis Angelicus" and look into your subconscious and examine your picture of angels eating.

1.4  Comment TRR:  Some "Under the Iceberg" Issues:

1.4.1  Your Age   The Davidson Study -- the "chronological time / the date / e.g. before Vatican II / gen X / etc" that your "body" entered the Christian community determines in large part the way in which you "hear / receive" theological discourse. 

1.4.2  Your God   Searching the God of Jesus.  Where did you get your "image" of God?  From the Catechism?  From the Scriptures?    The God of Aristotle:  pure being, removed from creation, etc.  God of Jesus:  Abba, Father.  For many Catholics, "getting the Bible out of the Attic" involves rethinking "where God lives" and will cause God to "move" to a new address.  [This refers, of course, to the immanence / transcendence issue.  Many Catholics find that the God of the Bible is much more immanent than the God of Aristotle -- and the God of the Catechism of Trent.]

1.4.3   Your Christology  Christ is:  "Mediator Dei"   True God and True Man.  Look under the iceberg and see if "your Jesus" is truly both.  (if not, he is probably not your "mediator".)  I "suspect" many Catholics might be Monophisite.  I can not "see" their "under the iceberg" but .... 

Monophisite Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning 'one, alone' and physis meaning 'nature'), or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Christ has only one nature (divine), as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human. Monophysitism and its antithesis, Nestorianism, were both hotly disputed and divisive competing tenets in the maturing Christian traditions during the first half of the fifth century; during the tumultuous last decades of the Western Empire, and marked by the political shift in all things to a center of gravity then located in the Eastern Roman empire, and particularly in Syria, the Levant, and Anatolia, where Monophysitism was popular among the people. – Apollinarism or Apollinarianism holds that Christ had a human body and human "living principle" but that the Divine Logos had taken the place of the nous, or "thinking principle", analogous but not identical to what might be called a mind in the present day.   From Wikipedia online.

"Mediator Dei"  Note:  this is important because unless you "imagine" Jesus as truly both -- truly the Mediator -- you will put other people/things in the place of Christ as Mediator. 

1.4.4  Your Personality   e.g. Myers-Briggs      e.g. Enneagram.   Your personality "filters" and shapes your experiences and perception of reality. 

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2.  Causality

 Overture:  Three Theoretical Models (pp xiii ff)

0.  Context.   

0.1  Under the iceberg for many USA Catholics, the definition of sacrament given in Baltimore Catechism is operative.

0.1.1 Baltimore Catechism Question 304:  What is a sacrament?  A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace."

0.1.2  (Looking ahead a few chapters, compare this definition with that given by the Second Vatican Council, in the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Chapter III:   THE OTHER SACRAMENTS AND THE SACRAMENTAL)  59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men [and women], to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called "sacraments of faith." They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly, and to practice charity.  It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life.

0.2  Outward sign -- Chauvet's book is primarily about "sign" -- and he tries to lead us from the minimalist view of "objective causality"  to the "symbolic causality" of the Second Vatican Council -- this is basically what the b book is about. 

0.3  Instituted by Christ

0.3.1 Before the Council, many of us priests were taught "instituted by Christ" literally, historically.  Christ instituted baptism when he told the disciples to "Go Baptize everyone in the name of the Father,  ... (Mt 28:19); he instituted confession when he told the disciples "Whose sins you shall forgive..."  He instituted marriage at the wedding at Cana, etc. 

0.3.1.1  Here you should once again look under the iceberg and see how operative are your studies in Church history and your understanding of the development of doctrine which you have studied in systematic theology.  "For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her."  

0.3.1.2 (For example, ask yourself why Ordination to the deaconate is a sacrament and why the Solemn Profession of Religious Vows is not a sacrament.) 

0.3.2  The historical development of the sacramental rites is important for understanding the sacraments today.   “Those who learned directly from the Apostles...”   Did any of the apostles do sacraments? E.g. hear confessions, perform marriages, etc?    

0.4  To give grace  The sacraments "give grace".  How?  Chauvet presents three "models"  1) the objectivist model (pp xiv - xvii);  2) the subjectivist model (pp xvii - xxi); and 3) the Vatican II model (xxi - xxv).  He rejects the first two and the rest of the book is about the third.

1.  Objective causality pp xiv - xvii

A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace."

1.1  What is necessary for a valid sacrament?  1) the matter (the material element); 2) the form (the essential words);  and an authorized minister who puts #1 and #2 together and they give grace to the recipient. -

1.2  Grace was the part of this definition that was emphasized. 

1.2.1  Note that grace is "reified"  that is, it is a "thing."   St. Bonaventure OFM speaks of grace as "God's love" -- not a "thing" but an "interpersonal relationship"  -- Look under your iceberg and see if grace is reified. 

1.2.2  The "giving" is rather "automatic"  -- ex opere operato -- this can be pushed toward the mechanical, and the magical. 

1.3  The matter is seen in a mechanical rather than in a symbol modality.   This lack of symbolic reference allowed a minimalistic understanding of "matter" -- a drop of water for Baptismal Bath; a tiny piece of a tiny host (with no nutritive value) and no drinking for the Eucharistic Banquet; and no "material object" at all for confession. 

1.4  The form is reduced to the essential "formula" and ceases to be "prayer".  Juridical formulations replace the Berakah.  The Eucharistic Prayer is reduced to the "words of consecration." 

1.5  The minister simply -- on his own -- or with the "voice of Christ" -- puts the matter and form together.  The minister is not seen as acting as a member of the Christian Assembly.  The primacy of the Church as sacrament is lost.

1.5.1  The "we" of the priest's prayers becomes the "plural of majesty" whereas, in reality. it is the first person plural -- the leader of the assembly voicing the prayer of the assembly -- "We..."

1.6  The recipient stands "outside" of the liturgical celebration and "receives" (passively???) the object produced by the matter and form, namely grace.

1.6.1 The recipient receives the grace provide he or she does not put any obstacle (obex) in the way.   For example a baptized person and a non-baptized person celebrate their marriage in Church.  The baptized person receives the sacrament; the non-baptized can't receive a sacrament until they are baptized (non-baptism, in this case, is the obex, blockage).  If the non-baptized person gets baptized, he/she receives the sacrament of marriage, at that same time because the grace was there waiting as in a reservoir, and now the obex (flood gate) is removed and the grace flows into the soul.  (Note how this reifies grace.)

1.7  The Holy Spirit  Note that there is no reference to the Holy Spirit, (epiclesis, anamnesis, BRK, etc) in this understanding of causality

1.7.1  While the function of the Holy Spirit is now evident in the epiclesis of our current Eucharistic prayers in the Roman Rite, I wonder if a similar change has happened "under the iceberg" where the focus for many still seems to be on the "words of consecration."  Few seem to think of the Eucharist in relation to the Holy Spirit; Confirmation is the sacrament which "gives the Holy Spirit."

1.8  The Church   Note that there is no reference to the Church in this understanding of causality.  Christianity is viewed in "individual" categories rather than communal, ecclesial categories. 

1.8.1  Today when we speak of "giving grace" ask yourself:  "who receives the grace?"   Answer:  the one receiving the sacrament.  Question:  and who is "the one receiving the sacrament"?  As you answer that question, look again under your iceberg.  For example, infant baptism.  Is the one receiving the sacrament the infant being baptized or the entire parish?   [Until this development in understanding of the "recipient" takes place, parishes will not understand why we baptize infants during Sunday Eucharist.]

1.8.2  Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the "sacrament of unity," namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops.  Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it; but they concern the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their differing rank, office, and actual participation.  (Constitution on the Liturgy, #26.  Emphasis added.) 

It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private.  (Constitution on the Liturgy, 27.  Emphasis added.) 

1.8.4  Private / Personal  In our American culture we tend to equate "personal" with private (individual) and things which are group activities, communal activities we often consider "impersonal".   However sacraments are always both personal and communal -- they are never private or individual. 

A culture which is oriented to efficiency and production has made us insensitive to the symbolic function of persons and things. Also, the same cultural emphasis on individuality and competition has made it more difficult for us to appreciate the liturgy as a personal-communal experience. As a consequence, we tend to identify anything private and individual as "personal." But, by inference, anything communal and social is considered impersonal. For the sake of good liturgy, this misconception must be changed. (USCCB, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, #16.  Emphasis added.)

1.9  Nobody ever taught Objective Causality in this fashion.  Chauvet however suspects that the above is sometimes (?) operative in the Catholic subconscious (under the iceberg.)

1.9.1  Chauvet wants to "nudge" our subconscious to think of sacraments in a new way.  While it is relatively easy to receive new facts and to rearrange our information on top of the iceberg, it takes much longer for a similar revision of our subconscious categories. 

2.  Subjective causality  pp xvii - xxi

Because God loves everybody (i.e. "loves" [interpersonal] = "gives grace" [scholastic reification]) and now that there is no longer any Limbo, Original Sin, or Hell, God loves all babies and when we bring a baby to Church for the Sacrament of Baptism nothing happens to the baby but we "subjectively" receive a sign of how good God is in loving everybody.   Chauvet:  "The sacrament has the sole function of recognizing, proclaiming, attesting, reflecting, following the antecedent and gratuitous gift of justification and sanctification of humans by God."  ( p xx)

3.  The Vatican II Model - Symbolic causality pp xxi - xxv 

This is what the rest of the book is about.   Chauvet uses the category "language" to explain the function of "symbol" and consequently, we must first explore and understand modern language theory.

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3.  Language
The Human Subject in Language and Culture (pp 3 - ff)

1.  Sacraments are a kind of language -- (hence it is important to understand "language")

2.  Chauvet says that we can think of language in two ways:  as instrument  or as mediation

3.  Language as instrument  that is, language as mechanical transmission.  We presume this model is  operative "under the iceberg" for most people.  We know that it is the wrong model and the mediation model is the correct one.  

3.1    The "jump drive metaphor"     I have a PowerPoint presentation on my home computer.  I copy it to a jump drive, take it to school, plug it into the computer in the classroom and by projecting it, you see on the screen in the classroom what I see on my computer screen at home.  The jump drive simply  "transmits" the information from one computer to another.   Language works just like the jump drive.  I have an experience; I put it into language; I speak the words; you hear them; and you receive the same experience I had / sent / transmitted.

4.  Language as mediation

4.1  Language shapes both the speaker and the hearer.  For example, to use the "jump drive metaphor" -- I don't know what is on my computer at home until I try to put it on the jump drive and the computer at school receives the jump drive as determined by all the other jump drives it has ever received!  Consequently, the two screens are not at all the same.  In other words, the "jump drive metaphor" is NOT how sacraments operate. 

4.2  To understand "language as mediation" first note that language is not "external" to the speaker and the hearer -- as a jump drive is "external" to my computer.  Language is constitutive of the speaker.  As humans, we are constituted by language.  "Who am I?"  "I am a speaker."   Chauvet:  "We never see human beings separate from language. ... Language teaches us the very definition of human being.  ... One can be a human being without knowing tools such as a pencil or a table; one cannot be a human being without language."  (p 7)

4.3  I am constituted by language.  Language is the "womb" out of which I come.   My mother tongue is not something "I use" it is something that shapes my very identity.   Chauvet:  "To attain their identity as Christians, [we] must be part of the symbolic order proper to the church.  ... One becomes a Christian only by adopting the 'mother tongue' of the church.  Sacraments are an important element of this tongue. " (p 17)

4.4  My language is constituted by my journey.  Chauvet: "When I speak, it is always in some way according to my culture and my desire." (11)   “Who we are is how and where we've traveled.”  (Murray Bodo, The Place We Call Home: Spiritual Pilgrimage as a Path to God.  Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2004, p. 70.)

5.  The Subject (recipient) of the Language.  Chapter II "The Christian Subject in the Language and Culture of the Church (pp 19 - )

5.1  My identity:   How do I know "who I am"  (the second of the "final exam questions")?   I only know my true (i.e. Christian) identity by hearing the voice -- through the Word speaking in the Scripture -- proclaimed in the Church.

5.1.1  I hear the voice, but first (prior to my hearing) the Voice speaks.  i.e.  God always takes the initiative.   This "God-who-loves-first" is part of the very identity of God ("Who is God?" - the first question on the final exam).   [Chauvet, p 21.]

5.1.2  In order to hear the voice, I must be open to listening.  I can not come as a "know it all" -- In order to truly taste a savory meal, I must come to the table with some hunger.  Or better:  In order to truly love someone (think of your spouse in marriage, for example) I must "renounce" my fixed preconceptions and be open to the "otherness" of the other.  This "receiving" of the other, in turn, shapes me!   Hearing the voice, I come up changed.   "You cannot arrive at the recognition of the risen Jesus unless you renounce seeing / touching / finding him by undeniable proofs."  (Chauvet p 25)

5.1.3  This "change" is not only an ethical change -- acting in a different way -- (i.e. the third question on the final exam:  "What am I going to do about it?) but this change is a change in my identity, my very being (my "Who am I") for by hearing the voice we are led to the table of the Eucharist where we experience intercourse with God -- we become Christ's Body -- we are divinized, theosis

6.  Sacraments "give grace."   Such a radical change (Greek:  metanoia / conversion) (in the sense of "close to the root" e.g. "tip of the pistol") in all three of life's big questions -- Who is God? Who am I? What am I going to do? -- can be traumatic and even harmful if faced inadequately.  We need help during this trauma.  That is what the RCIA is intended to do; the RCIA is "conversion therapy"

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4.  The Tripod
Worship / Word / Mission

0.1  Jesus:   1) went into the water; 2) heard the voice; 3) came up changed.

0.2  Christian Life:  We go into the water (sacrament, liturgy, worship); we hear the voice (Word; Sacred Scripture); and we come up changed (mission, ethics).  In this “pattern” we find 1) worship, 2) Sacred Scripture, and 3) ethics, the three pillars of Christian life. 

1.   Going into the Water

1.1  Going into the Water -- refers primarily to the womb experience of Christianity (we only become Christian by being born of the Church in the Sacraments of Initiation) and includes all the ritual actions of worship -- worship, liturgy, sacrament, etc.

2.   Hearing the Voice

2.1.  Hearing the Voice -- refers primarily to the Word of Love spoken to us in Christ Jesus and includes Sacred Scripture, the teachings of the Church, the Catechism, catechesis, etc.

2.1.1 Could it be that Chauvet wishes to re-shape the "under the surface" categories of Creed Code Cult to Cult Creed Code? 

3.  Coming up Changed

3.1  Coming up Changed -- refers primarily to our response to God's Word of Love and includes ethics (personal and collective), mission, discipleship, etc.

3.1.1  Perhaps I have a naive idea about "love" (as I am the only one in this course who is not married), but isn't it true that in a love relationship, the "ethical behavior" is consequent to "hearing the voice" i.e. the love relationship.  You act as you do because you love your spouse and want to please (do what is best for) him/her, rather than responding to a list of do's and don'ts that you must follow if you expect him/her to love you back. 

3.2  Note that Baptism and discipleship go together.  Ministry and discipleship follow upon our Baptism, our Christening.  As we become "another Christ" we, by that very fact, are entrusted with Christ's mission.

3.2.1  "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."  (Conclusion of the Gospel according to Matthew, Mt 28:19-20.

3.3  The Gospels continually emphasis the importance of this part of the triad.  Whenever the disciples want to "rest" in the presence of the Word -- they are led to mission.

3.3.1  Oasis and Journey:   I once I heard a Scripture scholar describe the Bible as a story of oases and journeys. During his lecture he recalled leading a group of student archaeologists through the Egyptian desert. Everyone was hot and sweaty and tired. Each time they would come upon an oasis everyone would run and take off their shoes and soak their feet in the water. "We wanted to stay there forever," he said. "But you can't stay at the oasis; you have to get up and continue the journey through the desert if you are going to arrive at the site of the next archaeological dig."  (From  Richstatter, Eucharist:  Source and Summit of Christian Life, chapter 11.)

3.3.2  Transfiguration:  For many Catholics the Eucharist, and especially the time of intimate prayer after Holy Communion, is like an oasis in the desert. I know that often I would like to stay there forever and relish the closeness of the Lord! Perhaps that is what Peter, James and John experienced on the mountain of the transfiguration when Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here." This is really great! Let's make some tents and stay here forever! (see Matthew 17:1-8 NRSV)  But the Gospels tell us that Jesus had a different idea. Peter, James and John had to go back down the mountain and continue their journey. At the foot of the mountain there were sick people waiting to be healed, devils to be cast out, doubts and fears to be dispelled.  -- Richstatter, Eucharist, ibid.

3.3.3  John Chrysostom:   One day, St. John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.) was preaching on the parable of the sheep and the goats. ("For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink." Matthew 25:31-46) He told his congregation: "Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple [e.g. here at Mass] clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body' is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food', and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me' ... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger. Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well." (Saint John Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthaei, hom. 50:3-4)  -- Richstatter, Eucharist, ibid.

4.  Tripod "case study" -- The Sacrament of Reconciliation

4.1  Context   The Sacrament of Reconciliation (e.g. "Confession")  has, perhaps, the most complex history (and least "organic") of any of the rituals we now call "the seven sacraments." 

4.2  Confession in the USA 1900 to 1970

4.2.1  Going into the Water -- Ritual Action    The the sacrament evolved from a public, ecclesial, extended, complex ritual which served as "conversion therapy" (modeled on Baptism) to a private devotion (e.g. Pius XII) with minimal (or no) ritual action. 

4.2.1.1 (e.g. remember the "accordion stoles" worn by the priest -- which you probably didn't see.)

4.2.1.2  Think of the "language" you associate with Sunday Eucharist (e.g. assembly of the worshiping community, song, homily, ritual action, vestment, flowers and liturgical environment, etc, etc, etc.)  Now consider how many of these elements were operative in the sacrament of confession.

4.2.2  Hearing the Voice -- Scripture  There was no scripture involved.  The form (essential words) were not spoken of as "prayer" but as the "formula for absolution"  -- a juridical act by a person with both the Power of Orders and the Power of Jurisdiction.

4.2.3  Coming up Changed -- Ethics and Mission  The primary stress was on conversion.  The "tripod" was in actuality reduced to this one "pous" (Greek:  foot).  The emphasis was on examination of conscious, sorrow, confession, purpose of amendment.  

4.2.3.1 This "conversion" was primarily personal conversion.  There is little attention to "social sin."

4.3  Vatican II and the Sacrament of Reconciliation

4.3.1  Going into the Water -- Ritual Action    The Eucharist is the "model" of all the sacraments.  The ritual  celebration of each of the "seven sacrament" is to be modeled on the Eucharist.  e.g. Gathering, Story Telling, Meal Sharing, Commissioning.  [Here:  Gathering, Story Telling, Reconciling, Commissioning.   Every sacramental celebration should "look like Eucharist." 

4.3.1.1  Sacraments are not "private devotions" but public, ecclesial acts of the whole Church.  e.g. see Constitution on the Liturgy, 26 & 27. 

26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the "sacrament of unity," namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops [33]

Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it; but they concern the individual members of the Church in different ways, according to their differing rank, office, and actual participation.

27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private.

This applies with especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature.

4.3.2  Hearing the Voice -- Scripture  This is the very "heart" of the current Sacrament of Reconciliation.

4.3.2.1  Recall the story by Bernard Härring:  "It's what Jesus does!"

4.3.2.2  The "voice" first heard at our Baptism Confirmation Eucharist and which continues to be heard at each Eucharist, is heard in a special way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This is the heart of the sacrament (as it is in every sacrament).

4.3.2.3  It is the realization that we are loved that brings about the conversion.  e.g. In the story of "The Woman Caught in Adultery" (John 8:3-11), Jesus does not 1) explain that she had done bad things 2) demand she repent, and then 3) offer forgiveness.  Rather Jesus 1) proclaims God's love and forgiveness and 2) the woman, overwhelmed by love, repents and 3) comes up changed.  This "sequence" is to be embodied in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.   See The Dynamic of Sin and Repentance  "Conversion is a free gift of God's grace. It cannot be forced by accusations, harangues, or browbeating people with lists of sins or ponderous accusations of guilt and unworthiness. Only love has the power to draw us to conversion; as St. Paul reminds us, there is no power in the law." 

4.3.3  Coming up Changed -- Ethics and Mission  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation

4.3.3.1 "hearing the voice" causes the conversion of heart.

4.3.3.2  The revised sacramental ritual is celebrated in the light of the awareness that all sin is social.  As Pope John Paul II repeatedly said "There is no such thing as private sin")  Consequently, conversion is not only individual but also social and ecclesial -- both of which are "personal"  In the document Art and Environment  #16 published by the United States Bishops, we are reminded that liturgy is a communal, personal act.

A culture which is oriented to efficiency and production has made us insensitive to the symbolic function of person and things. Also, the same cultural emphasis on individuality and competition has made it more difficult for us to appreciate the liturgy as a personal-communal experience. As a consequence, we tend to identify anything private and individual as "personal." But, by inference, anything communal social is considered impersonal. For the sake of good liturgy, this misconception must be changed.

4.4  Under the Iceberg  Examine your past and present experience of Confession / Penance / Reconciliation and try to see what model is operative in your subconscious.

4.5  Tomorrow  Have you experienced the sacrament as described above in 4.3?

4.5.1  Recall the diagram Dynamics of Change    Where do you think the Church in the USA is on this grid? 

4.5.2  Reflect on the last time you celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Rite II (e.g. communal celebration with individual confession and absolution).  Try to look "under the iceberg" of those planning and leading the celebration.  What "model" do you think was operative?  What leads you to suspect that?

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5.  Symbol

To understand the nature and function of symbol with regard to sacraments and liturgy, the iceberg metaphor is, I believe, helpful once again.  We can scientifically study the way in which a symbol signifies -- the science of semiotics (top of the iceberg).   But to this study, we bring our subconscious (under the iiceberg) "definitions" and "understandings" of symbol.  I think that Chauvet states the issue very clearly:  "In our Western languages, the word symbol has come to designate that which is unimportant (for instance, the payment of the symbolic dollar for damages) or what is unreal, that which does not really exist."  (p 70)  Put on your theological wetsuit and stick you head in the icy water and try to "see" your under the iceberg understand of "symbol."

For example, if this semantic drift has taken place in YOUR subconscious, if the word symbol has come to designate that which is unimportant then the answer to the question "Is Christ's presence in the Eucharist symbolic?" is a no-brainer!  If "symbolic" means "unreal, that which does not really exist" most Catholics would be horrified to hear us speak of the symbolic presence in the Eucharist.

The purpose of our study of symbol is to 1) understand more clearly (top of the iceberg) how symbols function and 2) try to "un-do" this semantic drift "under the iceberg" so that "symbolic" is re-valorized.  (Perhaps this second goal is the more important.)   

"Symbols 'speak' to us before we even begin to talk." (p 70) 

"Symbols function the better the less we explicitly think of them"  (p 70)

"The liturgy has paid a heavy price for such a semantic drift.  What does it matter if the submersion into death with Christ in baptism is celebrated with three drops of water; if no one or nearly no one receives communion at the eucharistic 'meal'; if the 'pleasant odor' of the gospel is represented by a vague trace of ill-smelling oil after baptism, and so on, since -- as everybody knows -- 'all this is symbolic.'    In the end, one is left with liturgies which are literally 'in-significant'  in which everything or nearly everything is fake,  fake candles, fake bread, fake garments, fake deacons and subdeacons, fake catafalques, fake offices (e.g. anticipating vespers in the morning), and so on."  ( p 72) 

 Eucharist   How does this discussion of "symbol" apply to the Eucharist.?  For example, which Christ is present in the Eucharist?  (Under the iceberg question) -- When you say (top of the iceberg) that "Christ is truly present in the Eucharist" what "image" is engaged under the iceberg when you say "Christ"?  For example, which (or how many) of these five:  1) Jesus of Nazareth; 2) the Second Person of the Trinity; 3) the Risen Lord; 4) The Eucharistic Jesus; 5) the Mystical Body.  I discuss this at length in my forthcoming book on the Eucharist

It is my hope that we all “correct” the subconscious shift in understanding “grace” from a personal relationship with a loving God to a “thing” “mechanically caused” by another “thing” namely “sacrament.”

A  “wedding ring” is a good example of symbol:  "In our Western languages, the word symbol has come to designate that which is unimportant (for instance, the payment of the symbolic dollar for damages) or what is unreal, that which does not really exist."  (p 70)  When speaking of your wedding ring as symbolic, you indicate that the “symbol” is not “unimportant” but is actually much more important symbolically, the symbol (what it means) is more important than the reality (how much you could get for it at a pawn shop.)

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6.  Anamnesis

1.  Anamnesis:  Theological Meaning

1.1.  Anamnesis is the Greek word for "remembrance"  "memorial" and "proclamation".   For example:  "Do this in my remembrance."  or  "Do this in memory of me." (remembrance, memory = anamnesis)  The word can be found in Luke 22:19 and 1Cor 11:24, 25. [Strong's Greek Lexicon:  3 364]  

1.2.  However, "anamnesis"  denotes no mere "calling to mind" or "thinking about" a past event.   Anamnesis is not simply "going back and remembering now something done in the past".  It is certainly not a repetition or a re-presentation of a past act in the present; it is not a "doing it over again." 

1.3.  Anamnesis is a "remembering" which brings the person remembering into contact (presence) with the inner core meaning -- the mystery / mysterion -- of a event which happened "once and for all" in the past.  The point of anamnesis is that we become present, not to the past event, but to the eternal mystery embodied in the event. The Pascal Mystery is a complex idea; the Liturgical Year helps us to grasp it more fully by enabling us to "walk around it" and view the mystery from "different angles".  For example:  If I see a beautiful statue and I want to take a picture of it and send it to a friend, no one, flat, two dimensional picture can capture the three dimensional statue. One must walk around the statue and take pictures of it from different angles and perspectives. This is what we do when we celebrat the various solemnities of the liturgical year; we "walk around" the mystery, seeing its various aspects, so that we can more fully become present to it.

1.4.  This type of "remembering" (anamnesis) is enabled by the liturgy.  In the liturgy, our ritual action, celebrated now, in the present time ("time" here is understood as Chronos, the chronological time "past - present - future" which is our human context), enables us to pass into "the time of salvation" (Kairos, God's eternal now) in order to contact the inner mystery (mysterion / sacramentum) of the once and for all past event being celebrated. 

1.5.  The liturgy actualizes the event. "The liturgy, after all, is not simply a play. We do not take part in the liturgy in order to recall past events in an atmosphere of spiritual emotion. We take part in it in order to celebrate a mystery that the liturgy itself renders present. The liturgical celebration makes present the spiritual efficacy of a moment that in its material anecdotal form is historically past. The historical event was complete in itself. For this reason it does not have to be repeated; what we want is that it should be present to each moment of history as a source of value. ... We must keep these basic considerations in mind, for they are essential to the celebration of Holy Week, and indeed to every liturgical celebration." (Nocent III, p 5)

1.5.1.  "In anamnesis the past, present, and future are simultaneously involved. The past by being remembered becomes a present reality. The anamnesis is proleptic of the future, and, indeed, realizes it in the present now." (See J. C. D. Jasper and G. J. Cuming, Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed,. Third Revised Edition. New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1987, p 9.)

1.6.  Biblical remembering:  “One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!' But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43 NRSV)

1.7.  The Spirituals give us another aspect of the contemplative dimension. There is a type of contemplative prayer which invites the use of images. One enters into the mystery in the life of Christ. Reading the scriptures becomes not just a looking at the words in a book but a participation in the event the words describe. We are present. The spirituals do this, for example, when we sing "Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?" The same is true when we sing "Go Down Moses," or "Ride on King Jesus." Or when we walk the streets of heaven in our new shoes. (Cyprian Davis O.S.B., "Black Spirituality" U.S. Catholic Historian, pp 42-43)

1.8.  "Knowing about God" can happen in chronos. "Intercourse (i.e. union) union with God" happens in anamnesis.  The "under the iceberg" issue here is this:  How can we, who live in time, be taken up into the divine inner life of the Trinity which exists beyond time.

2.  Anamnesis and the Liturgical Year

2.1.  Anamnesis is key to understanding the theology and purpose of the Church Year. 

2.1.1.  “The liturgical celebration makes present the spiritual efficacy of a moment that in its material anecdotal form is historically past.” [Nocent, The Liturgical Year, vol. III, p 5]

2.2.  For a general introduction to the Liturgical Year, see Chapter y13 Overview of the Liturgical Year   For our purposes here, the key points are these;

2.2.1  The Liturgical Year is the way we read the bible.

2.2.2.  The day on which (for example) we read the account of the Resurrection is Easter.  (NOT:  "We read the account of the Resurrection on Easter." 

2.2.3.  When the scriptures are read in the liturgy, Christ himself speaks!  (Anamnesis)

2.2.3.1.  "To accomplish so great a work  [i.e. the mysterion], Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass ...  He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.  (Constitution on the Liturgy, #7)

2.3.  During the Liturgy of the Word, we are not merely reading about the event (historicism).  When the scriptures are read in the liturgy Christ himself speaks.  We become present, not to the past event, but to the eternal mystery embodied in the event. The Pascal Mystery is a complex reality and to grasp it fully we must "walk around it" and see it from different angles.  For example: If I see a beautiful statue and I want to take a picture of it and send it to a friend, no one flat, two dimensional picture can capture the three dimensional statue. One must walk around the statue and take pictures of it from different angles and perspectives. This is what we do in celebrating the various feasts of the liturgical year. We walk around the mystery seeing its various aspects so that we can more better become present to it.

2.4.  The Second Vatican Council described anamnesis in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #  102: 

2.4.1  "Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of the Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present in every age in order that the faithful may lay hold on them and be filled with saving grace."

2.4.2  (Tip of the pistol)   It is better to say that "we become present to the mystery" than to say "the mystery is made present to us."  If Msgr. Jounel were writing  SC 102 today, he would say:  "Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of the Lord's powers and merits, so that the faithful are in some way enabled to become present to them in every age in order that they may lay hold on them and be filled with saving grace."  [Note that older Church documents (i.e. 1963-2015) did not yet recognize this difference.]

2.5. Hodie / Today   Anamnesis explains why the Roman liturgy so frequently sings "Hodie"  (Today): 

2.5.1.  Often we sing "today" in the entrance antiphon, for example:  "Hodie nobis de caelo pax vera descendit."  "Today, true peace comes down upon us from heaven."  (Ant. ad introitum, Christmas, Mass at Midnight.)  "Today you will know that the Lord is coming to save us, and in the morning you will see his glory."  (Mass for the Vigil of Christmas)

2.5.2.  At the Easter Vigil we sing:  "Exult, all creation around God's throne!  Jesus Christ, our King is risen! ... This is our Passover feast. ... This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave."  (Roman Missal)   Note:  We do not sing:  "This is the night when we recall that night long ago when ... "

2.6.  Maxwell E. Johnson begins his collection of readings on the Liturgical Year Between Memory and Hope (Pueblo, The Liturgical Press, 2000) by quoting Thomas Talley:  "We always live between marana tha, that prayer for the coming of the Lord which is somehow already a shout of greeting, and maran atha, the confession that the Lord has come, a focus on the ephapax of God's ultimate act in history. We always live, this it to say, between memory and hope, between his coming and his coming; and the present which is the threshold between these, between memory and hope, between past and future, this present is the locus of the presence of him who is at once Lord of history and its consummation. The remembrance of his passion and the recognition of his glory are integral to one another, and have been from the beginning."  [Thomas Talley, "History and Eschatology in the Primitive Pascha," 109.]   It is important to distinguish anamnesis from historicism.

3.  Anamnesis and Eucharist

3.1.  How is the Eucharist related to Calvary?   The Baltimore Catechism explained it in terms of "bloody" and "unbloody":

#360.  Why is the Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross?  The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.

#362.  Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass?  The manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different.  On the cross Christ physically shed His blood and was physically slain, while in the Mass there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death, because Christ can die no more. 

3.2.  The distinction "bloody sacrifice" and "unbloody sacrifice" while seeming to give an explanation, is in reality a theological cul-de-sac.   Anamnesis enables us to explain the relationship by understanding that the Eucharist enables us to become present to the once-and-for-all historical event, Calvary. 

3.3.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines ANAMNESIS in the Glossary and uses the word in 1103, 1106, 1354, 1362.   [The relationship of Eucharist to Calvary is treated in 1362 to 1372.]

3.3.1  The GLOSSARY of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines ANAMNESIS:  The "remembrance" of God's saving deeds in history in the liturgical action of the Church, which inspires thanksgiving and praise (1103).  Every Eucharistic Prayer contains an anamnesis or memorial in which the Church calls to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glorious return of Christ Jesus (1354, 1362).

3.3.1.1  When reading this description, understand "remembrance" in the sense of anamnesis:   no mere "calling to mind" or "thinking about" a past event, but a standing in the presence of the mystery. Confrontation with the mystery naturally inspires wonder, awe, thanksgiving and praise.  AND it also inspires us to invoke the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) to be taken up into the mystery. 

3.3.1.2.  "One of the functions of a symbol is to bring past and future into the present through anamnesis. The epiclesis (invocation of the spirit) in a ritual symbol functions to enable the "other", the transcendent, to enable anamnesis.  It is more obvious to those living in an oral culture that anamnesis, remembering, makes an event really present." 

4.  Anamnesis and Church Unity

4.1.   Reformation Difficulties:  Anamnesis is a relatively new concept for systematic and liturgical theology.  It has come to us through recent developments in Scripture Studies.  Anamnesis is not a concept that was available to theologians in the past; if it were, perhaps many difficulties could have been avoided (for example:  "Does the Mass "repeat" the sacrifice of Calvary, thus implying that the Sacrifice of Jesus was "not enough" and needs to be repeated or is the Mass simply a "re-acting of the Last Supper."  The theologians at the time of the reformation did not have available to them the option:  The Sacrifice of Jesus was all sufficient and perfect in every way and does not need to be, nor can it be repeated.  The Mass, through anamnesis, enables us to be really present to that once-and-for-all saving event."   

4.2.  "Re-present":   The vocabulary of "re-present" meaning "to be come present to once again" is compatible with anamnesis.  This, however, is not the “ordinary” meaning of the word in English.  Often the word means “to serve as a sign or symbol of” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/represent)  For example:  “The flag represents our country.”  The flag is obviously not our country.  When we say “the Mass represents Calvary” it is easy to “hear” that “the Mass is not Calvary.”   The hyphen in re-presents doesn't help much unless it reminds you that you are thinking in French.  I suggest you avoid this vocabulary. 

5.  Anamnesis and Initiation (e.g. Confirmation)

5.1.  Lex Orandi.  We form our theology by examining the rites themselves.

5.2  The RCIA is normative for understanding the theology of Christian Initiation.  Baptism / Confirmation / Eucharist are one event.  Confirmation is understood in relation to Baptism and Eucharist.  Confirmation has no "separate" meanings. 

5.3  In Confirmation we are plunged into the paschal mystery and sin is taken away by being filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Just as a vacuum is taken away by the influx of air.)  

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7.  Sacrament

My thoughts on Chauvet and "Sacrament" can be found in Chapter d31 Sacraments of this website. 

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To Think Abou

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 06/10/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.