Winter 2012

Introduction: Liturgy and Culture

David W. Fagerberg, in “The Sacraments as Actions of the Mystical Body,” explains that while the liturgy and the sacraments often occupy two different academic spheres, their relationship is in fact mutually enlightening and indeed necessary. Their interplay is such that liturgy allows us to understand the sacraments as more than discrete instances in a man’s life. Together, sacraments make clear the fundamental theology of the Church’s mission: deification. “We join a liturgy already in progress,” Fagerberg writes; we are “coming to be connected into God’s own perichoresis.”

In “Apostolicity and the Eucharist,” Oliver Treanor investigates the implications of John Paul II’s connection of the term “apostolic” to the Eucharist. By so doing, he says, the Pope opened a challenging and innovative way of approaching the sacrament that constitutes the Church as Christ’s Body. Treanor explores how this approach elucidates the Church’s relationship to the Eucharist in terms of the Paschal Mystery as a manifestation of the Trinity, and how it might, consequently, shed fresh light on the nature of that communion which is presupposed by eucharistic sharing, and which underlies the Church’s pastoral mission as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Nicholas J. Healy’s “The Eucharist as the Form of Christian Life” reflects on the relationship between the eucharistic mystery and the daily life of the faithful. The Church’s faith in Christ’s “real presence”—including his hidden life of work in Nazareth—is eucharistic. “When he hands over the substance of his life to the Church,” Healy writes, “Christ communicates a form or way of life that can include or embrace every aspect of human existence, and ultimately, the entire material order of creation.”

Also in this issue, we present the first of a two-part article by Giorgio Buccellati: “Trinity spermatiké: The Veiled Perception of a Pagan World (Part I).” Buccellati builds on the assumption that the sense of God is ultimately trinitarian, even within polytheism. It is especially the apprehension of dynamism within the absolute that leads to a sense for what, in Christianity, emerges finally as the trinitarian dimension of God. The fact that this sense is distorted in a number of different directions does not lessen the significance of the spiritual desire that is evinced in a number of traditions ranging from the ancients to the moderns.
Continuing our theme of “Liturgy and Culture,” Paolo Prosperi, in his article “The Birth of Sources Chrétiennes and the Return to the Fathers,” recounts the founding of what is often known as nouvelle théologie, a theological renewal begun by a group of Jesuits at Fourvière at Lyons in the 1940s, led by, among others, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Jean Daniélou. Prosperi highlights the group’s efforts to “return to the sources”—to recover the work of the Fathers of the Church. For the Jesuits at Fourvière, turning to the Fathers meant above all “asserting the unity between dogmatic theology and the living experience of the mystery of Christ and the Church; in brief, . . . the unity between life and thought.”