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Ökumenik, Konfessionskunde


Prophète, René


Mémoire, Sacrifice, Présence réelle. Langages eucharistiques.


Lyon: Profac 2002. 280 S. 8. Kart. ISBN 2-85317-080-2.


Geoffrey Wainwright

This is the work of an experienced Catholic priest and pastoral theologian with an expressed concern for mission and unity. His particular concern here is to find contemporary ways of speaking- especially in the French language - about three themes and realities which, in various nuances, have accompanied the eucharist or Lord's Supper since biblical times: memory, sacrifice, and presence.

In the three parts of his book he draws on scholarship from the past four or five decades and on his own researches in order to provide a chronological conspectus on each of his themes from the Scriptures, the Fathers, the patristic liturgies, the medieval West, Trent, and on to Vatican II and the post-conciliar reforms of the Roman liturgy and Catholic catechesis.

According to the Scriptures and the Syrian liturgies the author finds Christ instituting the Supper as "un geste qui parle de moi à Dieu et à vous", whereas the West has understood the "anamnesis" more in a way that finally runs into the psychological sand. He dislikes "memorial" as a neologistic anglicism (due to L. Bouyer and M. Thurian), which in French connotes only a funerary monument. The meaning of the Lord's command can better be carried by "Faites ceci comme une mémoire de moi." The author looks favorably on a range of anamnetic acclamations that allow the assembled congregation actively to commemorate Christ's incarnation, earthly life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

Regarding "sacrifice", the author criticizes the language of the immolated, propitiatory victim which came to dominate the medieval West and particularly the post-Tridentine Church. With Vatican II he wishes to recapture a broader - and Augustinian - notion of the Church's eucharistic self-offering in identification with Christ and in communion with his Passion, a "pure sacrifice" that includes also works of mercy.

The author has no difficulty in showing the "realism" that has always marked the Christian approach to the eucharist, but he attacks the modern phrase "real presence" as "meaningless" or "redundant" (what would an "unreal presence" be?). The phrase grew up in company with medieval developments that "objectified" the sacrament and rendered the assembly passive spectators. The author prefers to speak of the "personal presence" of the glorified Christ, who is yet also still to come (hence the mystery which an "ontological symbolism" respects). If the contested syntagma of "real presence" is to be retained in order to safeguard ecumenical agreements on eucharistic realism, then let it at least be expanded, as in the Lima text on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, into "Christ's real, living, and active presence".

While this book makes points that have value beyond francophone regions, it is there that it will be of most use. The author ends with the proposal of a fresh translation of the Roman canon into French.