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THE TRINITY AND ECUMENICAL CHURCH THOUGHT Some hundred years from inception, the ecumenical movement is stagnating. Will
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ANAMNESIS AND THE EUCHARIST Engaging with contemporary Anglican theology of the Eucharist through the concept of anamnesis, this book seeks to enrich the Church’s understanding of transformation and mission. Eucharistic theology ﬁnds its place in the midst of much contemporary Anglican theology but little attention has been given to the interrelationship between mission and the Eucharist. Julie Gittoes engages with the work of David Ford, Rowan Williams and Catherine Pickstock who share a common concern to engage with the way in which the Eucharist shapes the life of the worshipping community as the body of Christ. Focusing on the concept of anamnesis (remembrance or memorial), Gittoes highlights a language of connection in the way in which anamnesis describes the integration of historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. The Eucharist looks back to the saving events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection; through it the Church is nourished with the body of Christ; participating in it anticipates the eschatological fulﬁlment of the Kingdom. This book explores the connection between the source event of the Church’s life and the transformative encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, the effects of which are seen in social/ethical/ political action and the Church’s mission.
ASHGATE NEW CRITICAL THINKING IN RELIGION, THEOLOGY AND BIBLICAL STUDIES The Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series brings high quality research monograph publishing back into focus for authors, international libraries, and student, academic and research readers. Headed by an international editorial advisory board of acclaimed scholars spanning the breadth of religious studies, theology and biblical studies, this open-ended monograph series presents cutting-edge research from both established and new authors in the ﬁeld. With specialist focus yet clear contextual presentation of contemporary research, books in the series take research into important new directions and open the ﬁeld to new critical debate within the discipline, in areas of related study, and in key areas for contemporary society. Series Editorial Board: Jeff Astley, North of England Institute for Christian Education, Durham, UK David Jasper, University of Glasgow, UK James Beckford, University of Warwick, UK Raymond Williams Wabash College, Crawfordsville, USA Geoffrey Samuel, University of Newcastle, Australia Richard Hutch, University of Queensland, Australia Paul Fiddes, Regents Park College, University of Oxford, UK Anthony Thiselton, University of Nottingham, UK Tim Gorringe, University of Exeter, UK Adrian Thatcher, College of St Mark and St John, UK Alan Torrance, University of St Andrews, UK Judith Lieu, Kings College London, UK Terrance Tilley, University of Dayton, USA Miroslav Volf, Yale Divinity School, USA Stanley Grenz, Baylor University and Truett Seminary, USA Vincent Brummer, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands Gerhard Sauter, University of Bonn, Germany Other Titles in the Series: Revelation, Scripture and Church Theological Hermeneutic Thought of James Barr, Paul Ricoeur and Hans Frei Richard R. Topping Pseudo-Dionysius as Polemicist The Development and Purpose of the Angelic Hierarchy in Sixth Century Syria Rosemary A. Arthur
Anamnesis and the Eucharist Contemporary Anglican Approaches
JULIE GITTOES Vicar of All Saints, Hampton, Diocese of London, UK
© Julie Gittoes 2008 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Julie Gittoes has asserted her moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identiﬁed as the author of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR England
Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA
Ashgate website: http://www.ashgate.com British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Gittoes, Julie, 1976– Anamnesis and the Eucharist : contemporary Anglican approaches. – (Ashgate new critical thinking in religion, theology and biblical studies) 1. Lord’s Supper – Anglican Communion 2. Anglican Communion – Doctrines I. Title 264’.03036 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gittoes, Julie, 1976– Anamnesis and the Eucharist : contemporary Anglican approaches / Julie Gittoes. p. cm. – (Ashgate new critical thinking in religion, theology, and biblical studies) Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 978-0-7546-6176-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Lord’s Supper – Anglican Communion. 2. Anglican Communion – Doctrines. I. Title. BX5149.C5G58 2008 264’.03036–dc22 2007045051
ISBN 978-0-7546-6176-4 Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd. Bodmin Cornwall
In memory of Lawson Ira Gittoes
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Introduction: Why Anamnesis?
The Anamnesis Debate
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
What Happens in the Eucharist? Story and Transformation
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
On the Eucharist: Memory, Time and Transformation
Anamnesis and the Eucharist: Consequences for Mission
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Acknowledgements This book grew out of a doctoral thesis, and I am grateful to Daniel Hardy and Denys Turner for their supervision at different stages of the project. I was fortunate to have friends who provided much encouragement while I was in Cambridge, and also for their continued interest and conversation since then. Particular thanks to Peter Waddell, Rachel Muers, Susannah Ticciati and Jon Cooley for many an extended lunch. I have beneﬁted from the spiritual support of sharing in the Eucharist within two parishes in the Kensington Area of the London Diocese. Thanks are due to Brian Leathard, my training incumbent and friend; to the people of St. James’, Hampton Hill and to those who share in the life and mission of the parish of All Saints’, Hampton. My doctoral work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Board; the Scholarship Fund of St. Deiniol’s Library; the Bethune-Baker Fund and Steel Theological Scholarship of the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. I have also beneﬁted from having the opportunity to present short papers at the Society for the Study of Theology’s annual conference in preparation for this book. I owe a great debt to my parents, Lawson and June, and to my sister Vivienne. Their patience and ongoing reassurance has been invaluable.
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Why Anamnesis? He explained to them in the whole of scripture the things that referred to himself ... he broke the bread, and offered it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him ... Without a moment’s delay they set out and returned to Jerusalem.1
In a fundamental sense worship is a corporate activity; it is social in structure within which people are embedded into a particular kind of society. The opening words of the liturgy gather those present in the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is a corporate confession; the Gospel is proclaimed; the creed is recited; the congregation is led in an act of incorporating intercessions; the community shares in the Eucharist and is sent out in love and peace. Participation forms a corporate identity grounded in the remembrance of a particular story. To engage with the concept of anamnesis is to understand more fully the nature of the relationship between the Church’s worship and its life and witness as the body of Christ in and for the world. It is the Eucharist that lies at the heart of the Church’s mission. The Church is a community that gathers for anamnesis, and is in a profound sense formed and shaped by it. The sacraments form a focal point for this ongoing process: initiating new members into the Church and sustaining, challenging and nourishing them within it. This is perhaps most evident in the Eucharist, and most fully developed in the sense of remembrance and anticipation at its heart. The quoted verses from Luke 24 illuminate the complex dynamics of this activity. The climax of the story of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus occurs when the risen Christ breaks bread with them. This text gives us an insight into the Eucharist. Just as in the liturgy, the disciples hear scriptures explained to them; then they share a meal during which the risen Christ is recognised in the breaking of bread. There is continuity with the Last Supper and there is a moment of transformative encounter, which moves the disciples to return to Jerusalem where the Church is coming into being, and they begin to engage in mission. Individually and corporately we need to remember and anticipate in order to make sense of our own identities and purpose in the world. The Church is dependent on its act of anamnesis: her life and witness over two thousand years has been punctuated by obedience to the command ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. It is a practice that is both retrospective and anticipatory. In the Eucharist we remember God’s acts in salvation history, culminating in Christ’s life, death and resurrection and focusing on the Last Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus we encounter Christ in the present to be nourished and transformed. The Church is called into being. The process of anamnesis has effects in the present as the Church is sent out in 1
Luke 24:27, 30–31, 33.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
service and mission as his Church, anticipating the future Kingdom. To share in broken bread and out poured wine is to participate in the body of Christ. Thereby, the Church is formed as the body of Christ in and for the world. The Church celebrates the Eucharist and is formed by participating in it. This eucharistic anamnesis is not a mere spectacle; nor is it a mysterious phenomenon to be wondered at. It is participatory. However, discussion of the Eucharist has been, and continues to be, a focus of controversy with regard to both theology and practice, becoming a sign of pain and division. Indeed, the Churches’ understanding of anamnesis has not been unproblematic, with interpretations ranging from notions of re-immolation to bare memorialism, in which different kinds of objective and subjective realities have been prioritised. These extreme views are neither adequate nor accurate. It is against this background that I wish to contend that a renewed engagement with the concept of anamnesis has the potential to make a constructive contribution to eucharistic theology, which underpins mission. Jesus’ words of institution are the starting point for the Eucharist, but its potential is broader than that, as Kasper notes: the anamnesis of Christ provides the inward unity of its different aspects. Through this memorial, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are made sacramentally present in the feast in the form of bread and wine, the Lord who is present is extolled, and his ﬁnal coming implored; and thus the fellowship (communio) with the Lord is communicated.2
It is an important concept for the discussion of the dynamics of the Eucharist. The sacramental act of anamnesis draws the Church into a transformative encounter with the risen Christ in the present. This occurs within the context of retrospection and anticipation. On the one hand, successive Eucharists connect the Church to Christ’s life, death and resurrection, the culmination of God’s saving acts in history focused on the Last Supper. On the other hand, through participation in the Eucharist the Church is called into the mission of God – building his Kingdom – which comes to fulﬁlment at the eschaton. Anamnesis has the capacity to facilitate the reintegration and reinvigoration of our conception of the relationship between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ, and to do justice to the past, present and future dimensions of the Eucharist. I take as my starting point ecumenical discussions of the Eucharist. However, my main focus will be on the work of three contemporary Anglican writers, chosen because each of them takes seriously the sacramental dimensions of anamnesis. It is hoped that through close engagement with their contributions to eucharistic theology, set against an awareness of the breadth of their Anglican heritage, it will be possible to discern the wider potential of anamnesis and draw out the link between source event, encounter and effects. Such effects reﬂect the breadth of the Church’s mission and calling to be the body of Christ building God’s Kingdom. My aim is to explore the way in which the concept of anamnesis helps us to understand the dynamics of retrospection and anticipation in the Church’s life, and the effects of encounter with the risen Christ in the present. The act of anamnesis looks back to a source event of the Church; through its present performance of that 2
Kasper, Theology and Church, (London: SCM Press, 1989), p. 183.
command the Church is formed in anticipation of the Lord’s coming again.3 Hence, I will explore anamnesis as a language of connection. I choose this phrase because it describes the integration of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. The Eucharist points backwards to the saving events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, nourishes the Church now with the body of Christ, and anticipates the eschatological fulﬁllment of the Kingdom. In particular, the practice of eucharistic anamnesis enables the Church to encounter the transformative fullness of the risen Christ with the result that that fullness is expressed in action and service. The term ‘source event’ will be used throughout as a summary expression, which needs to be fully understood as referring to Christ’s life, death and resurrection as the culmination of God’s saving acts in history. For the Church, this ﬁnds its focus in the Last Supper, which is continually recalled in the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, The Church stands at the moment of betrayal before the sacriﬁce, in the light of the resurrection, and is called to ‘Do this in remembrance’. Therefore, the Eucharist is retrospective, and also has an anticipatory dimension. It looks backward to this Last Supper and forward to the eschaton, and is concerned with the transformation and building of the Kingdom of God in the present. Thus, anamnesis is a word designating the connection between past and future in the present: a present anamnesis in which the Church receives the sacramental body of Christ in order to become the ecclesial body of Christ. This is transformative, and the effects of such transformative encounter are discerned in terms of mission, service and engagement with the social political issues of the world. At this point it is also necessary to state some limitations of this project. The breadth and depth of the Anglican tradition is such that a single chapter can serve only as a summary and contextual statement for the contemporary writers under consideration, rather than a comprehensive treatment. David Ford, Catherine Pickstock and Rowan Williams were chosen as representatives of contemporary Anglican eucharistic theology because their contributions highlight in different ways the dimensions of anamnesis that are central to this discussion. Their own work also takes seriously the contributions of the others. For the purposes of this thesis it has been necessary to focus on areas of their work which illuminate and take forward the discussion of anamnesis, and therefore I have had to be selective. It is not the intention to give a complete proﬁle of each writer. The nature of their theology has also inﬂuenced the form of this discussion. They do not approach the Eucharist within the framework of historical or systematic theology (relating it to Christology or to the role of the Holy Spirit, for example). Consequently this thesis is located within the liturgical dimension. Liturgically and theologically there is an important connection to be made between anamnesis and epiclesis: the remembrance of the source event is made possible by the action of the Holy Spirit. However, the decision to focus upon the concept of anamnesis means that it is neither possible to enter into an exploration of epiclesis nor to explain in detail their connection. The writers with whom I am primarily concerned do not address the nature of priesthood in relation to their own
Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 11:26.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
work on eucharistic theology. Therefore although the Eucharist is bound up with this ministry, it is not possible to devote space to discussion about priesthood here. Exploring the potential of memory in relation to the Eucharist and transformation also raises particular psychological questions about the use of memory. Although it is not my concern to address that strand of work, it will be necessary to attempt to identify the distinctive nature of the way in which memories can be healed (for example, in the work of Rowan Williams). Finally, it is not my intention to set out an explicit ecclesiology, but the nature of the discussion cannot avoid these concerns. Engagement with the writers mentioned on the question of eucharistic anamnesis and transformation demands that the implications for the Church are noted. There are ﬁve main chapters in this book, which will be outlined below. In order to engage fruitfully with contemporary Anglican approaches to the Eucharist and the concept of anamnesis it is necessary to include a discussion of the debate about that term. Therefore in Chapter 1, I brieﬂy outline some of the issues about deﬁnition and interpretation. Ecumenical discussion will form a prominent part of this chapter, as well as looking at the work of two contemporary writers whose understanding of anamnesis is creative, but heavily weighted to a proclamatory, rather than sacramental, view point. Given that my main focus is upon the contribution from Anglican theology, the second chapter will be devoted to a survey of writing about the Eucharist from within that particular tradition. The aim will be to draw out resources or approaches which will be insightful to current contributions. Against the background of the general debate and more speciﬁc tradition, I will devote three chapters to the work of the theologians under particular consideration. The concluding chapter will draw together their insights and contributions to the subject under discussion, and explore the implications for understanding the Eucharist and mission. The purpose of Chapter 1 is to set the discussion of anamnesis in a broader context. This raises questions about the diversity of interpretations of the term and its use in the context of the Eucharist. The diversity in understanding anamnesis reveals denominational positions, but does not make the discussion any less worthwhile, for, as Gregory Dix points out the meaning drawn from the anamnetic command by successive generations of Christians has been enriched and deepened in a variety of ways.4 Following on from this preliminary discussion, consideration is given to the way in which anamnesis has been reﬂected upon within the ecumenical context. Particular attention is devoted to the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Paper, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). The results of these conversations take seriously those issues surrounding the Eucharist. ARCIC draws particular attention to the interrelationship between the Eucharist and Christ’s sacriﬁce on the cross. BEM explores the nature of anamnesis as both retrospective and anticipatory. These issues are important in any consideration of anamnesis, emphasising the connection between source event and the effects for the Church in its own formation 4
Dom G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy Second Edition (London: A&C Black, 1993),
and action. Anglican (Church of England) responses to these contributions are also considered, At the end of Chapter 1, I examine the work of two theologians whose perspective on the Eucharist and anamnesis has been shaped by cultural memory and musical repetition. This adds breadth to the discussion and shows some of the potential and disadvantages within a predominantly proclamatory understanding of anamnesis. I include the work of M. Welker, who uses theories derived from cultural memory to discuss the ways in which memory can both stabilise a community and become the driving force behind development. From the perspective of narrative theology, Loughlin explores the way in which the remembrance of the Christian story within the Eucharist leads to incorporation into the eucharistic lifestyle of gift and response. In addition, Begbie’s engagement with memory in relation to the Eucharist through the lens of musical repetition provides an interesting insight into the dynamics of non-identical repetition. As I am primarily concerned with Anglican approaches to eucharistic theology it is necessary to reﬂect on that theological tradition. There emerges from the discussion in Chapter 2, a concern to understand the Eucharist as a source of spiritual nourishment and future hope which renews the Church’s commitment to mission and service. Any summary of the heritage of Anglicanism will be limited in its scope, but the aim has been to explore important categories, such as sacriﬁce and presence. Whether as liturgists, theologians or social reformers, there is a certain reticence in the face of the sacramental mystery and a creative use of language. Whilst Anglicanism has resisted rigid doctrinal deﬁnitions, the richness of material within its traditions sheds light on the place of the eucharistic anamnesis in relation to past, present action and future hope. This will provide some background to the work of the three contemporary Anglican theologians, whose work is the focus of this thesis. These theologians share a conviction that the Eucharist is central to the philosophical and theological task and to Christian life. In their treatment of the Eucharist, there are overlapping themes: non-identical repetition, transformation and gift, to name a few. Although they hold much in common in terms of their inheritance and concerns, it remains to be seen how they differ in their treatment of, and emphasis on, memory, and in their understanding of the outworking of their eucharistic theology. This can be seen in the ways in which they talk about the source event, the nature of the effects of anamnesis and the degree to which their use of memory does justice to its potential as a language of connection. I will spend some time exploring their work individually before drawing together some concluding reﬂections on the role of anamnesis in their theologies, highlighting the particular strengths and weaknesses of the concept in relation to eucharistic theology. The third chapter explores the contribution made by David Ford to eucharistic theology. He writes as a lay theologian in Cambridge, where he is Regius Professor of Divinity. He is concerned about the responsibilities of those in the academy to Church and society. His work has been inﬂuenced by Levinas, Jüngel and Ricoeur, resulting in a concern for ethical responsibility in relation to the other. He takes history and scripture seriously and is developing a wisdom based theology. In Self and Salvation he writes about the connection between participation in the Eucharist
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
and Christian living, emphasizing the importance of grounding encounter with Christ in the command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’.5 By drawing on John’s Gospel, Ford asserts the radical nature of the Eucharist as improvisation on the command to ‘do this’. In this framework the resurrection is not a simple reversal of all that went before. Such transformation is reliant on the dangerous memory of Jesus, which has social and political implications.6 Therefore, it is also signiﬁcant to engage with the way in which Ford’s theology of the Eucharist relates to the issues arising in the church’s ministry in particular contexts, for example in Urban Priority Areas. For Ford, the emphasis is substantially placed on the effects of the Eucharist, understood in essentially interpersonal terms. Mission is based on the enactment of obedient service, grounded in Johannine improvisation upon Christ’s words of institution. His discussion of the source event itself is more nebulous, and the means by which the transformation is brought about and the formation of connections through anamnesis are not the focus of attention. Chapter 4 considers the work of Catherine Pickstock who is most notably associated with Radical Orthodoxy, a theological movement which emerged during her time as a postgraduate student and then lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. Her concern is to respond to the culture of postmodernism, and the dichotomies of life and death; presence and absence. In After Writing she writes of the need to unify the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ, aiming to reverse a fundamental shift in understanding which took place in the medieval period.7 The concept of anamnesis plays a signiﬁcant role in this and in understanding the dynamics of their interrelationship. It is to Pickstock that Ford is indebted in his use of the phrase ‘non-identical repetition’, which she uses to contrast with the limitation of the eucharistic action to a miracle to be observed, cut off from the drama of salvation. It is an event within the Church’s ‘narrative action’. Pickstock examines the way in which anticipation and remembrance are drawn together within the Eucharist, and argues that in liturgy God is met in our remembering of Him.8 Pickstock utilises the concept of memory in relation both to time and to the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, working from a philosophical perspective. She stresses the necessity of the ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist, in particular in overcoming the dichotomy between presence and absence. Recollection and repetition are situated within the community. Its narrative and liturgy are shaped by memory and hope. She claims that participation in the Eucharist is an encounter with Christ that should enable us to live it ‘again differently in our own lives’.9 However, she does not develop the implications of this in as explicitly a social or political way as Ford and (as we shall see below) Williams do; nor does she 5
D. Ford, Self and Salvation: Being Transformed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 6 D. Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 204, 208. 7 C. Pickstock, ‘Can my Eating Slake your Hunger? On the Evacuation of Liturgy’ in After Writing (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), pp.121–166. 8 C. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 233. 9 C. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 271.
engage with scripture, or the complexity of history. There may be reasons for this, such as her primary commitment to the academy in challenging post-modernity’s assumptions. For Pickstock the source event itself is multifaceted, and she stresses the transformative encounter with Christ. However, she risks privatising or foreclosing the signiﬁcance and impact of this by neglecting the missiological, social, political effects of mediating the fullness of Christ’s body to Church. In Chapter 5, I consider the work of Rowan Williams. He has held academic posts in Cambridge and Oxford before accepting episcopal appointments in Wales, and becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. His theological work spans a range of interests in history, literature and social critique, within which he considers the nature and function of memory. He explores its relation to human and divine time, its creative and critical dynamics and its capacity to transform and challenge, which ﬁnds its focus in the Eucharist, which is itself socially disturbing. He shares with Pickstock a concern for understanding the nature of sign-making and the importance of the language of gift in relation to the sacrament. However, he develops more fully the social and ecclesial implications of participation in the Eucharist. The Church, claims Williams, should be a place of challenge as well as a place where voices are heard. His consideration of memory and the Eucharist illustrates the way in which this can take place. Williams is quite clear that the creative dynamic of memory is not just a reafﬁrmation of collective memory or mere mental recall. By virtue of the resurrection there is the potential for memories of defeat and failure to be restored through encounter with the risen Christ. Thus remembering has a future dynamic that enables transformation; it is a recapitulation rather than a reversal.10 This is most explicitly and effectively realised in participation in the Eucharist. Williams talks a great deal about memory and remembering: about source event and transformation. The effects emerge in political convictions about the nature of society. This may balance Pickstock’s lack of a wider concern, and mirrors Ford’s shift into the dynamics of interpersonal encounter, but it does not explicitly address the nature of the Church as the embodiment of that fullness. The concluding chapter draws together what has been learnt about anamnesis and develops the ways in which it enriches our understanding of the way the Church moves from the past to the future. A key dimension of this is the Church’s mission under God. Contributions to this area of discussion from the perspective of sacramental theology are particular relevant in the wake of mission-shaped church. Mission is a key topic of discussion at every level of the Church. It is debated at General Synod and ﬁnds a place on the agenda of most Parochial Church Councils. A renewed focus on mission is shaping the way in which clergy are trained and has encouraged the development of fresh expression of church. The importance and potential of the concept of anamnesis have been obscured by disagreements over how it has been deﬁned and interpreted. However, the work of those involved in ecumenical dialogue and other theologians has done much to recover anamnesis as a fruitful term and taking the discussion forward in helpful and insightful ways. The assessment of the approaches of Ford, Pickstock and Williams reveals that anamnesis is a rich concept for understanding the way in which the Church 10
R. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’ in Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994), p. 13.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
is formed and sustained. To focus on anamnesis is not an arbitrary decision. It is an irenic category for understanding sacramental presence, participation, embodiment, transformation and community. Its constructive role does not stem only from the fact that memory is vital to the formation of identity, but also because it is deeply rooted within the Christian theological and liturgical tradition. It acknowledges the importance of retrospection and anticipation in the Church’s life, but not at the expense of its witness in the present. The conclusion is not uncritical as there are issues about how the eschatological focus and missiological impetus can be taken forward and developed. This book is offered as a contribution to the ongoing conversation about the place of memory in relation to the Eucharist and the Church. Its conclusions are inﬂuenced by the way in which three contemporary writers identify the source event, the locus of transformation and its effects. In the light of this it is concerned with deepening our understanding of the Eucharist as an act of remembrance which mediates the fullness of Christ, mindful of the fact that the Church, its sacramental life and mission are grounded in the wisdom of God. Our attempt to live eucharistically, to transform our world into a community of gift, is more than obedience to a command, more than the imitation of a remembered historical pattern of life: it is the uncovering of the eternal sapientia of God.11
Rowan Williams, Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994), p. 114.
The Anamnesis Debate Introduction The command ‘do this in remembrance of me’ echoes through Christian history. Its fulﬁlment has shaped Christian life, identity, and action; its interpretation has inﬂuenced worship and theology. Yet, anamnesis is a somewhat enigmatic concept, which resists easy deﬁnition despite its scriptural basis and liturgical usage. This has led to a polarisation in understanding. As we shall see, anamnesis has been regarded as a matter of subjective mental recollection. It has also been used to underpin doctrines of Christ’s real presence in the sacrament and associated to a repetition of Christ’s sacriﬁce. Controversy surrounding the Church’s understandings of Christ’s presence at the Eucharist in relation to the elements and the relationship between his sacriﬁce on the cross and the Church’s action has often overshadowed its place as a signiﬁcant and illuminating category. The tension between extremes of interpretation need not limit the potential of anamnesis to reinvigorate discussions about the Eucharist. The aim of this chapter is to assert that although it has not been possible to reach an unequivocal interpretation of anamnesis, there is still a creative and dynamic capacity inherent within it. There are several factors which demand that it is recovered as a key term in eucharistic theology. First, I will endeavour to set out something of the background of the concept in relation to three identiﬁable categories of interpretation. Such diversity does not preclude the possibility of reaching towards a richness and depth of understanding. In this regard I move to the second component of this chapter – a consideration of the ecumenical reports ARCIC and BEM, and responses to them: these will illustrate both the tension within, and the potential of, anamnesis. Such engagement reveals that not only does the concept have a central place within eucharistic theology, but it also enables connections to be made in relation to our understanding of the Church and mission. Thirdly, it is important to acknowledge the rise in interest in memory more generally. Here I will allude to remarks made by the sociologist G. Davie as well as to the work of narrative theologians. The concepts of story, the social role of memory, learning and ethical behaviour are related to these sociological and narrative interests. Mary Carruthers draws these together in relation to memory in her study of the medieval idea of memoria. She describes it as ‘making present the voices of what is past, not to entomb either the past or the present, but to give them life together in a place common to both in memory’.1 Implicit within such an 1 M.J. Carruthers, The Book of Memory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 260.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
appreciation of memory are the connections it makes between the past and present to enable the future. Such insights highlight the potential of anamnesis for deepening our theological understanding of the connection between the Church’s reception of the gift of Christ’s sacramental body and the resultant call to share in God’s mission. The Church of England Doctrine Commission’s report Believing in the Church and ARCIC’s The Gift of Authority also consider the nature and purpose of corporate memory. Finally, I will present two examples of recent engagement with memory in relation to the Eucharist: one drawing on cultural theory and one that uses music in theological discussion. These contributions give substance to the claim that anamnesis is a potentially signiﬁcant concept. It has the capacity to describe the connections between past events that form the Church and her future hope whilst doing justice to the transformative effects of encounter with Christ in the present. Framing the Debate The term anamnesis can be found in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper, and in the eucharistic prayers of the eastern and western churches. David Gregg, himself an Anglican, outlines some preliminary deﬁnitions in his work on the debate about anamnesis. He deﬁnes ‘Eucharist’ as the ‘whole sacramental worship by which Christians respond to the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper’.2 In relation to this initial deﬁnition, the liturgy is ‘any written prescribed order for the words and actions of the Eucharist’ and the anamnesis is the ‘element within the eucharist which corresponds to the ‘remembering’ aspect in the original’.3 Further, he makes a distinction between the ‘anamnesis rubric’ and ‘the anamnesis in liturgy’. The former is the formula recorded in the New Testament – ‘do this in remembrance of me’ (1 Corinthians 11: 26). The latter is the technical term for ‘the verbal formula by which is articulated the mode and content of the worshippers’ response to the dominical command, and which may sometimes include the Oblation’.4 Such a deﬁnition is highly technical and does not adequately express the way in which such Spirit inspired remembering within the Church shapes its being and vocation as people of God. Grisbrooke’s article in A New Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship on the anaphora (a Greek word for ‘offering’ designating the Eucharistic Prayer) is more constructive. He acknowledges the difﬁculty of translating anamnesis adequately. ‘Memorial’, ‘remembrance’ and ‘commemoration’ all suggest that the person or deed commemorated is absent or past, whereas anamnesis signiﬁes the opposite: ‘it is an objective act, in and by which the person or event commemorated is actually made present, is brought into the realm of the here and now’.5 Its place within the anaphora is an explicit statement that the Church is offering the bread and wine with 2 D. Gregg, Anamnesis in the Eucharist, Grove Liturgical Study No. 5 (Grove: Bramcote, 1976), p. 3. 3 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 3. 4 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 3. 5 W.J. Grisbrooke, ‘Anaphora’ in J.G. Davies ed., A New Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (London: SCM, 1986), p. 18a.
The Anamnesis Debate
a particular meaning and for a speciﬁc purpose in obedience to Christ’s command. There is a statement of memorial mentioning at least Christ’s passion, resurrection and ascension, and other elements of the mystery of redemption (including reference to the second coming, which sets the Eucharist within its eschatological perspective). This is linked to, and dependent upon, the statement of offering: the whole created order is representatively offered, and this is dependent upon its identity with Christ’s offering of himself. Such an explanation asserts that there is an objective dimension to anamnesis that in the present the Church is connected to a past event. This is set within an eschatological perspective, but the consequences of being caught up in the dynamic of offering are left unexplored. In The Study of the Liturgy, several writers discuss the meaning and background to anamnesis, offering their own interpretation, and acknowledging the views of others. Crichton explores the sacramental encounter with Christ, described as a mystery which is ‘l’entre deux mondes’: it does not seek to reproduce historical events, nor is it sufﬁcient to view it as just a way of remembering or recalling past events. It is an ‘actualization of a past event, making it present so that the saving power of Christ can be made available to the worshippers here and now’.6 He relates anamnesis to the depth of this mystery, eschewing both repetition and mere memorial. Thus, he regards anamnesis as the deﬁnition of the liturgical action of the Eucharist. It is ‘a sacrament of anamnesis and therefore the supreme celebration of the mystery of Christ’.7 However, he does not discuss the way in which the celebration of this mystery forms the body of Christ, the Church. Nor does he explore the purpose of the availability of Christ’s saving power in terms of personal transformation or mission. Other scholars dispute the view that a past even is actualized in the Eucharist. For example, Beckwith claims that there is no linguistic or Jewish support for an interpretation of anamnesis which denotes the making present or effective of a past event.8 He contends that the Passover was essentially commemorative and in that sense Christ’s words of anamnesis were primarily directed towards human beings. On the other hand, Jones aims to do justice to both the Godward and human focus by relating anamnesis to proclamation: anamnesis is ‘raised to God through the thanksgiving of those who are mindful and grateful; and yet men are enjoined to ‘do this’, that they may remember’.9 Kilpatrick, in an article in Liturgical Review, presents perhaps the sharpest critique of anamnesis. He expresses doubts about whether or not Jesus gave the command to repeat, and challenges this meaning of anamnesis.10 He acknowledges that ‘remembrance’ is a defensible translation before considering the interpretations of Dix and Jeremias. The former supports ‘representation’ on the grounds that ‘in 6
J.D. Crichton, ‘A Theology of Worship’ in C. Jones, G. Wainwright and E. Yarnold eds., The Study of Liturgy (London: SPCK, 1978), p. 14. 7 Crichton, ‘A Theology of Worship’, p. 26. 8 R.T. Beckwith, ‘Jewish Background to Christian Worship’ in The Study of Liturgy, p. 49. Beckwith is an Anglican theologian. 9 C.P.M. Jones, ‘The New Testament’ in The Study of Liturgy, p. 154. 10 G.D. Kilpatrick, ‘Anamnesis’ in Liturgical Review (1975) May, p. 35.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
a largely Greek-speaking church the understanding of anamnesis would be ‘a ‘recalling’ or ‘re-presenting’ of a thing in such a way that it is not so much regarded as being ‘absent’, as itself presently operative by its effects’.11 Kilpatrick dismisses this as the reading into the word of a desired interpretation. He also has difﬁculties with Jeremias’s understanding that anamnesis means something like ‘help or succour’, and the consequent rendition of the phrase implying that ‘God may remember me and come to my help’, on the grounds that the words may indeed be secondary, and that Paul intends a different interpretation in 1 Corinthians 11.12 Kilpatrick goes on to present his case that anamnesis means ‘not so much memory or memorial, but proclamation’.13 He also questions whether the inclusion of the term in the institution narratives is original, although believes that it does express Jesus’ intention that the observance should be repeated.14 These factors together lead him to dismiss, or at best down play, any consideration or explanation of the Eucharist in part, or as a whole, in terms of memorial or remembrance. On the other hand, both Thurian and Ginn place anamnesis at the heart of their explorations of the Eucharist itself, and take seriously the scope of resonance of remembrance within Jewish and Christian worship and religious life with a view to refreshing an understanding of the dynamic of the sacrament.15 It is this openness to fresh interpretation that I wish to return to and develop. Such differences in interpretation reﬂect something of the post-Reformation tension between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the Eucharist, bound with the assertion or denial of the reality of Christ’s presence and sacriﬁce. Gregg classiﬁes such diversity under three broad headings. Firstly, there is the sacriﬁcial theory. This is the notion that Jesus commanded that some sort of sacriﬁcial ‘offering’ be made at each Eucharist.16 Historically, the epitome of this position can be seen in theories of re-immolation of Christ himself at each Eucharist, although it covers a broader scope than this suggests. It includes those theories that regard the core of the Eucharist as being an earthly correspondence to what Christ is believed to be doing continuously in heaven (i.e. offering himself on behalf of the Church) as well as the standpoint by which it is conceived that the head and members of the body of Christ offer the ‘Whole Christ’.17 A second position can be categorised under the heading ‘appropriation theory’. Its proponents regard obedience to Christ’s command in terms of a human response to what Christ has done, and continues to do. For example, regarding the Eucharist as a visual aid to the mental recall of Christ’s sacriﬁce on the cross. Obedience to 11
Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 161. Kilpatrick, ‘Anamnesis’, pp. 35–6; J Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1963), p. 196f. 13 Kilpatrick, ‘Anamnesis’, p. 40. 14 Kilpatrick, ‘Anamnesis’, pp. 36–7, 39–40. 15 R.J. Ginn, The Present and the Past: A Study of Anamnesis (Allison Park, PA: Pickwick Publications, 1989); M. Thurian, The Eucharistic Memorial, Vols. 1 & 2 in J.G. Davies and A.R. George eds., Ecumenical Studies in Worship Series (London: Lutterworth Press, 1960, 1961). 16 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 3. 17 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 3. 12
The Anamnesis Debate
the anamnesis formula is constituted pre-eminently by the faithful reception of the elements of bread and wine, as tokens of receiving the beneﬁts of Christ’s death. Such a position resonates with Zwinglian theology, and a suspicion of ontological statements about the nature of anamnesis.18 Gregg’s ﬁnal basic category is the ‘memorial theory’, which entails belief in the ‘intrinsic efﬁcacy of performing the commemorative act’: obedience to Christ’s command is construed as a ‘re-presenting of the symbolic actions of the Lord’s Supper in order to bring something about’.19 This can be understood as making Christ present within the community, an ‘actualising’ of Christ’s sacriﬁce, or an ‘objective commemoration’ of the Saviour and his sacriﬁce to God the Father. It is this position which Gregg regards as representative of a via media between the ﬁrst two schools of thought.20 However, such an apparent solution is not necessarily helpful in understanding the way in which the eucharistic anamnesis functions within the ecclesial community, particularly as it does not adequately articulate the dimension of future hope, nor does it engage with the nature of the encounter with the risen Christ as transformative and Church-forming. Diversity is not unexpected. Dix concludes his examination of the Roman tradition, and its local variations, with the assertion that there was certainly a ‘duality’ if not a ‘plurality’ of interpretations of the Eucharist traceable back to the New Testament.21 There is scope for speaking about Christ’s embodiment and the ongoing process of the Church becoming the body of Christ in terms of anamnesis which also takes history seriously. Dix claims that, although the rite was ﬁrmly established, based on the command to ‘do this’, for successive generations of Christians the meaning drawn from the words ‘for the anamnesis of Me’ ‘grew ... and broadened and deepened and enriched itself in ever new ways’.22 Such a deduction is based on his research into various local theological traditions and rites. The broadening and deepening of meaning grew out of an increased focus on the source events of the Church and the connection with them in anamnesis. Elaboration on the historical reference to the Last Supper in the eucharistic prayer made it a focus and suggested the need to relate the action of the Church in the present to its original authority for doing so.23 So anamnesis provides a connection to the source events, and as it does so looks forward to the eschaton. There is corporate memory of real events, and events beyond history.24 Ginn takes a similar view in his reﬂections on anamnesis, albeit from a different perspective. He concludes that because the textual, lexical and contextual problems remain unresolved, the possibility of developing the wider signiﬁcance of remembrance remains open: ‘there is created the possibility of an enlarged vision of Jesus Christ which would be impossible if the matter of remembrance was reduced 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 4. Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 4. Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 5. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 237. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 237. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 234. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, pp. 263–4.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
to a straightforward deﬁnition’.25 Thus, it is within the depth and richness of the tradition of anamnesis, in conjunction with the renewed engagement with the place of memory in Christian tradition, that new insights become available to us. The outcomes of ecumenical dialogue reveal some of the consequences of working in an open way within diversity, rather than conﬁning theological statements to the tightly deﬁned deﬁnitions suggested above. Such a move is essential in exploring further the transformative and missiological dimensions of anamnesis. Anamnesis in Ecumenical Discussion The Final Report of ARCIC and the WCC’s Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, together with Anglican responses to them, serve to raise some of our central questions.26 Both reports depend upon the background understanding of anamnesis in liturgy and scriptural interpretation; both acknowledge the difﬁculties and differences that persist; but nevertheless, both attempt to develop its potential. Therefore, it is important to assess how, and to what end, anamnesis is used by ARCIC and BEM, and to evaluate its adequacy in this respect. ARCIC deals with the three key issues that have been a source of controversy between the Anglican and Roman Catholic communions over the last 400 years: the Eucharist; the meaning and function of ordained ministry; and the nature and exercise of authority within the Church. The introduction to the report claims that the Commission has taken seriously these issues, and sought solutions in the common inheritance of tradition, in particular Scripture. However, the comment is also made that the controversial language surrounding the difﬁculties has been avoided. It is therefore vital to explore whether the concept of anamnesis goes some way to offering a constructive means of resolving differences, or if it is merely a means of deﬂecting attention away from these problems. Having afﬁrmed that the mystery of the Eucharist is both an expression and proclamation of the Church’s identity as the body of Christ, the report goes on to discuss the ﬁrst issue of historical dissension – the relationship between the Eucharist and Christ’s sacriﬁce. It is afﬁrmed that the latter took place once and for all and cannot be repeated or added to. However, the Eucharist is the means through which this atoning work is proclaimed and made effective. Here the concept of anamnesis – memorial – is used as the means of opening up a clearer understanding of this interrelationship: ‘the eucharistic memorial is no mere calling to mind of a past event or of its signiﬁcance, but the Church’s effectual proclamation of God’s mighty acts. Christ instituted the eucharist as a memorial (anamnesis) of the totality of God’s reconciling action in him’.27 In the Eucharistic prayer the Church continues to make perpetual memorial of Christ’s death, and its members (united with God and one
R.J. Ginn, The Present and the Past, p. 25. ARCIC publications on the Eucharist span a decade. The Statement was ﬁrst published in 1971, followed by Elucidations in 1979, and The Final Report in 1982. The World Council of Churches’ Statement (the Lima Text) was produced in 1982. 27 ARCIC, The Final Report (London: SPCK, 1982), p. 14. 26
The Anamnesis Debate
another) give thanks for all his mercies, and enter into the movement of his selfoffering.28 In the later elucidation of the original statement, one of the concerns to be dealt with was precisely the use of the term anamnesis in relation to Christ’s once and for all sacriﬁce on the cross.29 Anxiety was expressed that it was used to conceal the reintroduction of a theory of a repeated immolation, and there were concerns that the Commission’s exegesis of the word was inadequate and inaccurate. Underlying these expressions of unease was the apprehension that theological language was being introduced in order to evade, rather than resolve, controversial differences. In an attempt to clarify this ambiguity, a more detailed examination of the use of the word anamnesis is carried out. The conclusions of this exploration are that the term is to be found in scripture, and is found at the heart of eucharistic prayers in both east and west from the second century.30 The commission claims that its belief that the ‘traditional understanding of the sacramental reality, in which the once-and-for-all event of salvation becomes effective in the present through the action of the Holy Spirit, is well expressed by the anamnesis’ and does full justice to its semiotic background, as well as afﬁrming sacramental realism over and against mere symbolism.31 There follows a defence of the use of the word ‘become’ in relation to the sacramental body and blood of Christ, in that it does not imply material change, but rather expresses the encounter that takes place at the Eucharist which enables the Church to become more fully the body of Christ. In this sense anamnesis is a concept which not only describes, but enables, the connection between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. Such conclusions are also illuminating and signiﬁcant in relation to the wider question of mission. In contrast to ARCIC the WCC Faith and Order Paper Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry provides a more wide ranging theological treatment of the Eucharist, rather than focusing on the obviously controversial issues. The concept of anamnesis is ﬁrst introduced in relation to the institution of the Eucharist, which is seen as a continuation of the meals in Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the meal of the New Covenant: Christ commands his disciples to ‘remember and encounter him in this sacramental meal, as the continuing people of God, until his return’.32 This understanding of anamnesis is both retrospective and anticipatory, emphasising the continuation between Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Church’s present mission in the world, and the 28
ARCIC, ‘The Final Report’ in Anglicans and Romans Catholics: The Search for Unity ed. C. Hill and E. Yarnold (London: SPCK, 1994), p. 20. 29 Found in Anglicans and Roman Catholics. 30 For a fuller treatment of the roots of anamnesis in Hebrew, and the New Testament see D. Gregg Anamnesis in the Eucharist (Grove: Bramcote, 1976) and F. Chenderlin ‘Do This as My Memorial’ The Semantic and Conceptual Background and Value of Anamnesis in 1 Corinthians 11:24-5 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1982); Max Thurian, The Eucharistic Memorial in J.G. Davies and A.R. George eds. Ecumenical Studies in Worship (London: Lutterworth Press, 1960 [vol. 1] 1961 [vol. 2] ). 31 ARCIC, p. 19. 32 WCC, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry Faith and Order Paper No. 111 (Geneva: WCC, 1982), p. 10a.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
eschatological ‘meal of the Lamb’. This statement makes explicit the way in which a fuller understanding of anamnesis can open up our understanding of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and the consequences of this gift. Section B of the paper explicitly considers the Eucharist as ‘Anamnesis or memorial of Christ’. The Eucharist is a memorial of the cruciﬁed and risen Christ, referring to the present efﬁcacy of God’s work when it is celebrated by God’s people in liturgy. Christ, and all that he has accomplished, is present in this anamnesis, granting communion with himself. The Eucharist is also a foretaste of his parousia and kingdom. Anamnesis is thus understood to incorporate both representation and anticipation, a calling to mind of the past and its signiﬁcance, and also the Church’s effective proclamation of it.33 Both elements are expressed in thanksgiving and intercession, and although the unique events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection cannot be repeated, in the memorial the Church is able to offer intercessions in union with Christ. BEM states that anamnesis is the basis and source of all Christian prayer, and is also the very content of the preached Word.34 Acknowledging that Christ is present with believers in a variety of ways, the report asserts that the mode of Christ’s presence at the Eucharist is unique. It goes on to explain the nature of this presence: ‘The Church confesses Christ’s real, living and active presence in the eucharist. While Christ’s real presence in the eucharist does not depend on the faith of the individual, all agree that to discern the body and blood of Christ, faith is required’.35 Diversity is acknowledged, but the complexities surrounding the issue of presence are avoided: no attempt is made to relate the concept of anamnesis to this issue. A particular strength of the document is its concern to relate the transformative movement from ‘receiving’ to ‘being’ Christ’s body to the obligation to participate fully in the world, following Christ’s way of service. Memorial is more than recollection; it has to be effective: ‘as participants in the eucharist ... we prove inconsistent if we are not actively participating in [the] ongoing restoration of the world’s situation and the human condition’.36 This is what it means for the Church to share in God’s mission in the world. A clear emphasis on the consequences of participating in the Eucharist is something that emerges strongly in the contributions made by some of the Anglicans engaged within subsequent chapters, in particular in the theological work of David Ford and Rowan Williams. Again, we see that anamnesis connects the Church with the source events in such a way as to enable it to become the body of Christ, and to call forth certain effects. Neither ARCIC nor BEM pursue narrow interpretations of anamnesis, limiting it to purely technical category. Both reports interpret anamnesis as the Church’s effectual proclamation of God’s mighty acts, and also state that such an understanding opens up a new way forward for Christian unity. There also appears to be a consensus between the statements that this view of the anamnesis involves some kind of 33 BEM, p. 11b. The language of representation and anticipation are important to Pickstock’s discussion of the Eucharist. 34 BEM, p. 12a. 35 BEM, p. 12a. 36 BEM, p. 14a.
The Anamnesis Debate
‘making present’ in the Eucharist of Christ.37 Part of the dynamic of the new reappropriation of the concept of memory is the assertion of both a Godward and a manward focus. Anamnesis is not just a calling to mind; it is also the entering into a movement of self-offering.38 Alongside this concept of mutuality there is a degree of anxiety about the question of what notion of offering is appropriate in response to the anamnesis command, and how it ﬁts into the eucharistic rite as a whole.39 By plumbing the depths of language, these contributions to ecumenical dialogue reveal fruitful insights that enrich our understanding of the Eucharist, the way the Church is formed in relation to Christ in order to follow his example of service and proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Some Anglican Responses to ARCIC and BEM The published responses to these reports were generous. The focus here is on the responses made by the Church of England, although other Provinces of the Anglican Communion made their own response. With regard to BEM, the use of the biblical concept of anamnesis is welcomed, especially as it shows a deeper awareness than equating it to a mere recalling to mind of a past event.40 However, on its own anamnesis is not considered sufﬁcient to bear the pressure of overcoming theological differences about the Eucharist. In relation to the issue of sacriﬁce there is concern that repetition may be understood as making the beneﬁts of Calvary effective through the act of remembering, although ARCIC, as has been indicated, offers more elucidation on this point. BEM’s emphasis on the fact that the Eucharist unites the past, present and future of God’s actions in salvation is welcomed, as it brings into the present Christ’s once and for all sacriﬁce, and anticipates the realisation of the future fulﬁlment of the kingdom. This recalling also gives the Church its Christian identity. In relation to the issue of the real presence of Christ at the Eucharist, the balance between Christ’s presence and the faith of the individual is commended.41 In addition, parallels are drawn between Anglican liturgy, and BEM’s reticence to state any one view of the unique mode of presence; on the other hand ARCIC goes beyond the convergence found in BEM to make a stronger statement about the nature of the eucharistic presence.
ARCIC, ‘The elements are not mere signs; Christ’s body and blood become really present and are really given’, p. 15; BEM, ‘Christ himself ... is present in this anamnesis’, p. 11a; Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 6. 38 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 6. The language offering is still an emotive issue. In relation to Anglicanism, this is illustrated by the changes made to one of the prayers at the preparation of the table in Common Worship, in which ‘offer’ is substituted by the phrase ‘to set before you’, (Common Worship 2000, p. 291). 39 Gregg, Anamnesis, p. 7. 40 Church of England, Towards a Church of England Response to BEM and ARCIC (London: CIO, 1995), p. 70. 41 Towards a Church of England Response, pp. 72–3.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
The anamnesis of Christ is regarded as the heart of the Eucharist, and BEM goes on to indicate some practical implications of this. It entails a new ethical stance for all who participate. The memorial of the cruciﬁed and risen Christ opens up a vision of divine rule, and is the foretaste of it. The Anglican response concludes that it can indeed recognise the faith of the Church through the ages in BEM, and speciﬁes several points which it particularly welcomes: the balanced Trinitarian aspects of the text, the anamnesis held together with the work of the Holy Spirit, the emphasis on linking Christ’s real presence to discernment, the emphasis on prayer, the relation of the Eucharist to the life of the world, and the insistence on the centrality of the Eucharist in the Church’s life. ARCIC parallels BEM in its emphasis on the biblical concept of anamnesis to describe the relationship between Christ’s sacriﬁce and the Eucharist, and attempts to guard against the suggestion that Calvary is repeated, or that it is made effective by the worshippers rather than the Holy Spirit. The Anglican response afﬁrms that the use of anamnesis in relation to eucharistic sacriﬁce is consistent with the faith expressed in its own liturgy. The main concern is that little is done to relate what is said about the Eucharist and sacriﬁce/presence to concern for the world.42 Discussion of the use of anamnesis focuses on the interrelationship between Christ’s sacriﬁce on the cross, its proclamation at the Eucharist, and whether or not the objectivity of the latter is preserved sufﬁciently. The issue of remembrance cannot be separated from the reality of Christ’s presence, because it involves a union with Christ, nor indeed can it be considered apart from the communal setting of remembrance. In addition, there is the demand for an outworking of anamnesis in the Church’s life, in terms of mission, pursuing an ethical imperative of service, or social/political engagement with and concern for the wider world. Such reports illustrate the way in which anamnesis can be understood as holding together the past, present and future dimensions of the Eucharist. Its potential has been suggested in ecumenical discussion, but it can be developed and used to greater effect. Anamnesis is spoken of as a means of connection with the source events, mediating Christ’s presence in the sacrament so that those participating become the body of Christ, but this transformation should generate effects. There is a degree of consonance between the concerns expressed in this aspect of the response and the questions at the heart of our own discussion. Collective Memory of the Christian Faith Whatever lens we choose to view the Eucharist through, anamnesis lies at the heart of the Eucharistic prayer, its scriptural basis afﬁrmed by sacramental rites. One line of discussion might seek to reach an understanding of the concept that mediates between the poles of interpretation considered above. However, I believe that the ultimate fruitfulness of the term lies in a continued exploration of the breadth and depth of its meaning, reaching beyond the restrictions of technical deﬁnitions. In order to do this, it is desirable to investigate the resurgence of interest in memory 42
Towards a Church of England Response, p. 74.
The Anamnesis Debate
beyond the speciﬁc sphere of eucharistic theology. Memory occupies a fundamental place in the formation of human identity and relationships, and this is not limited to the sphere of Christian corporate life and encounter with God. Earlier we noted the contribution made by Carruthers to the discussion of the role of memory. Her interest in the social role of memory is mirrored in the work undertaken by the sociologist Grace Davie, who goes on to relate her considerations to the Eucharist. In a sermon preached before the University of Cambridge at Great St. Mary’s, Davie used the text ‘for the tradition which I handed on to you came to me from the Lord himself’, as a basis for reﬂection on the collective memory of the Christian faith.43 Her examination of why, on the one hand, we should hand on tradition, maintaining the ‘chains of memory’, and on the other the mechanisms by which we attempt to do this, ﬁnds endorsement at the heart of the Christian tradition in the words, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ – ‘implying that something has to be done in order for memory to continue’.44 This perpetuation of memory embodies a creative dynamic. It is Church-forming. As it maintains the chains of memory, the community of faith receives the body of Christ and is formed for a life of self-giving, service and mission. Davie continues by stating that it is the re-enactment of the Last Supper – the taking part in the Eucharist – that makes us Christians: ‘in participating we perpetuate the memory’.45 Having stated the importance of memory, Davie goes on to examine the means by which the Christian memory is maintained – through churches, church-goers, the education system, and within the aesthetic or cultural sphere – at a time when the survival of the chain of memory may seem particularly precarious. In order to further examine the nature of corporate memory within the Church, I wish to reﬂect upon two reports that engage with this issue directly, and in ways not explicitly concerned with issues surrounding eucharistic theology. The ﬁrst of these is the ARCIC statement on authority in the Church, The Gift of Authority. The second is Believing in the Church: The Corporate Nature of Faith, produced by the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England in 1981. Although these documents arise out of different contexts, they raise important issues for the consideration of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist, and the outworking of the implications of a deeper, richer understanding of memory in that context as it relates to sacramental theology, and the life of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are wider issues emanating from these documents – particularly with regard to the challenge of universal primacy – which are signiﬁcant in their own right, but which lie beyond the scope of the immediate discussion. The central scriptural image used throughout ARCIC’s statement on authority is that of God’s ‘Yes’ and our ‘Amen’. This language is drawn from 2 Corinthians 1:18–20 and is the basis of God’s gift of authority to the Church.46 In the section considering authority in the Church the notion of corporate memory is introduced in 43
I Corinthians 11:23. G. Davie ‘The Christian Memory’, a sermon preached before the University of Cambridge at Great St. Mary’s on Sunday, 7 May 2000, p. 1. 45 Davie ‘The Christian Memory’, p. 2. 46 ARCIC The Gift of Authority (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1999), p. 13. 44
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relation to tradition. It is the means by which the witness of the apostolic community is made present in the Church today. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the risen Christ manifest to the hearts of believers through the proclamation of the Word and in the celebration of the sacraments. Again the dynamics of past, present and future are important: ‘the Spirit, active in the once for all events of the ministry of Jesus, continues to teach the Church, bringing to remembrance what Christ did and said, making present the fruits of his redemptive work and the foretaste of the kingdom’.47 The purpose of the Tradition is fulﬁlled when the Word is both received and lived out in faith and hope. Thus it can be said that ‘memory bears fruit in the faithful life of believers within the communion of their local church’.48 This echoes what has been said previously about the nature of the anamnesis in the Eucharist: the Church is connected to the past, by means of an encounter in the present which shapes the future. In the light of eschatological hope, the Church is called to live in a way which reﬂects our participation in Christ’s self-offering. Having afﬁrmed the unique place that scripture has within the Tradition, when received, reinterpreted and re-received as God’s revelation in Christ, the report comments that the New Testament writers were inﬂuenced by their experience of local communities. Thus, ‘what they transmitted, with their own skill and theological insights, records those elements of the Gospel which the churches of their time and in their various situations kept in their memory’.49 The report discusses the Church’s act of obedience and authority in the process of discernment resulting in the canon of scripture, and recognises the Church as the locus of interpretation: belief is corporate. The Church responds to God’s ‘Yes’ as revealed in Scripture with its ‘Amen’ of faithfulness and freedom ‘to receive the apostolic Tradition in new ways according to the situations by which it is confronted’.50 However, it is also accepted that ‘within the Church the memory of the people of God may be affected or even distorted by human ﬁnitude and sin’.51 Nevertheless, the Church remains engaged in a process of ‘re-reception’, grounded in the dynamic functioning of memory, which leads to the renewal of the ‘Amen’. God’s revelation in Christ is recalled through returning afresh to the Tradition in new situations: ‘This is assisted by the insights of biblical scholars and theologians and the wisdom of holy persons. Thus, there may be a rediscovery of elements that were neglected and a fresh remembrance of the promises of God’.52 The whole people of God bear the living Tradition, and share responsibility for discernment, actualisation and communication of the Gospel in the face of the challenge presented by fresh situations. There is what is described as an exchange, of ‘mutual give-and-take’ between theologians, bishops, clergy and the laity, and the exercise of ‘the sensus ﬁdei by each member of the Church contributes to the formation of the sensus ﬁdelium through which the Church as a whole remains 47 48 49 50 51 52
ARCIC The Gift, p. 18. ARCIC The Gift, p. 18. ARCIC The Gift, pp. 19–20. ARCIC The Gift, p. 21. ARCIC The Gift, p. 21. ARCIC The Gift, p. 22.
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faithful to Christ’.53 Those who exercise the ministry of episcope watch over the Church’s living memory. Thus, ‘the charism and function of episcope are speciﬁcally connected to the ministry of memory, which constantly renews the Church in hope’; but it is a ministry which is exists in ‘reciprocal relationship’ with the ‘sensus ﬁdelium of the people of God’.54 Whilst it is noted that both Anglicans and Roman Catholics are able to agree in principle on the interrelationship between the ministry of memory exercised by the ordained, and the Church’s corporate memory, it has to be acknowledged that communion is imperfect, and that a deliberate effort has to be made in order to move towards an ‘undivided sharing in Christ’s one ‘Amen’’.55 Signiﬁcant developments have taken place (paragraphs 53–5), but both communions still have substantial issues to address – the weakening of koinonia in cases of unilateral action; participation in synodal bodies; the exercise of universal primacy.56 The second report we must consider is Believing in the Church, which is made up of eight individual essays, which address different aspects of the corporate nature of faith. The contributors draw on resources from within the Church’s liturgy, as well as examining the way in which memory functions to sustain social networks more generally. Thiselton takes insights from this wider area of research. He recognises the corporate foundations of knowledge in everyday life and uses this insight to challenge and correct the view that makes discovery and criticism dependent upon the individual. Then he goes on to apply this principle to individual believing. He claims that orthodoxy is not about passive assent or the suppression of criticism, but that it relates to the corporate memory which gives the Christian community its identity and provides a framework for critical faith: creeds, liturgy, pastoral oversight, sacraments, the use of the Bible and other ‘mechanisms’ ‘ensure the preservation and transmission of corporate memory, with the result that the community remains this community, with its ongoing resources of corporate knowledge and identity’, and provides a stable background for the spread of faith, and the critical examination of it.57 The grammar of faith includes both the vertical dimension of response to God and the horizontal dimension of public behaviour. Although not distinctive to Christianity, the transmission of corporate memory, of wisdom, or the sensus communis, is essential. It represents more than an access point to knowledge of the past; it provides a ‘frame of reference in the light of which the Christian assesses or interprets knowledge and determines procedure in the present’.58 Participation in the Eucharist, seen as the ‘proclamation’ of the events of Christ’s death and resurrection which give the community ‘its life, its existence and its identity’ constitutes an anamnesis
ARCIC The Gift, p. 23. ARCIC The Gift, p. 24. 55 ARCIC The Gift, p. 24. 56 ARCIC The Gift, p. 40. 57 A. Thiselton, ‘Knowledge, Myth and Corporate Memory’ Memory’in in The Doctrine Commission of the Church of England, Believing in the Church: The Corporate Nature of Faith (London: SPCK, 1981), pp. 48, 63. 58 Thiselton, ‘Knowledge, Myth and Corporate Memory’, p. 53. 54
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‘in which the present community, through its corporate memory, both reﬂects on the founding events and pledges itself anew to their present signiﬁcance and practical effectiveness’.59 For this to be meaningful there must be a stable background of ‘repetition, habitation ... expected belief or conduct’.60 Thiselton asserts that this is ‘far more than what sociologists describe as “legitimating formulae” which shapes society’s institutional order ... passed down the generations’.61 Thiselton’s comments draw our attention back to the importance of the signiﬁcance and effectiveness of anamnesis for the worshiping community. The fourth essay in Believing in the Church, written by Barton and Halliburton, focuses on liturgy as the recital of the story in such as way that the participants are caught up into it, with the result that the story continues in them. The narration and appropriation of the Christian story is proclamatory and doxological; any dichotomy between word and sacrament is undesirable as both are transformative.62 Since the publication of an essay on narrative and experience in the early 1970s, theologians have taken an interest in the place of story in forming Christian identity.63 Although it has not been a major feature of Anglican theology, some have engaged with it in a fruitful way, but seldom treating it as a category isolation. For example, David Ford stresses that ‘story’ must be in critical interaction with both ‘system’ and ‘performance’.64 Underlying this engagement lies the work of Niebuhr and Barth: the former explored the relationship between human experience and story, the latter was concerned with a narrative reading of Scripture, and inﬂuenced Hans Frei’s work.65 Frei attempted to use narrative theology to reconstruct Christology in The Identity of Jesus Christ: Jesus ‘was what he underwent’, just as he ‘is his story, so too the Church is its story, shaped by Jesus’ story’.66 Thus, Christian identity is constituted and afﬁrmed as the individual is incorporated into a community which is in Christ,
59 60 61 62
Thiselton, ‘Knowledge, Myth and Corporate Memory’, p. 63. Thiselton, ‘Knowledge, Myth and Corporate Memory’, p. 66. Thiselton, ‘Knowledge, Myth and Corporate Memory’, p. 63. J. Barton and J. Halliburton, ‘Story and Liturgy’ in Believing in the Church, pp.
S. Crites, ‘The Narrative Quality of Experience’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 39 (1971), pp. 291–311. 64 D. Ford, ‘System, Story Performance: A Proposal about the Role of Narrative in Systematic Theology’ in S. Hauerwas and L. Gregory Jones eds., Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology (Grand Rapids MI: William B Eerdmans, 1989), pp. 191. 65 See Crites, ‘The Narrative Quality’; D. Ford, Barth and God’s Story: Biblical Narrative and the Theological Method of Karl Berth in the ‘Church Dogmatic’ (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1981); G. Hunsinger, How to Read Karl Barth: The Shape of his Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991). 66 H. Frei, Theology and Narrative – Selected Essays, eds. G. Hunsinger and W.E. Placher (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 42, 57; The Identity of Jesus Christ: The Hermeneutical Bases of Dogmatic Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
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and which is ‘inseparably linked to the recollection of the story of Christ and to participation in the story of the people of God’.67 The treatment of the Eucharist within narrative theology has been in consistent and a dichotomy between the place of word and sacrament has been apparent in the work of Stroup, for example. He regards the Eucharist as merely a different way of proclaiming the gospel. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic theologian Loughlin develops a richer integration between words, enactments, participation and performance.68 In particular, he relates the Word and Body proclaimed and offered in the Eucharist to the words and bodies of the recipients in a process of ‘becoming’, enabling a eucharistic lifestyle.69 However, remembrance of the past is more than a matter of maintaining community identity: remembrance also entails eschatological hope for the future. I would suggest that it is through an engagement with anamnesis that it becomes possible to hold together the past, present and future dynamics in relation to the transformation of the community for the world. It is the sacramental concept, rather than a generic narrative based one. It binds the Church to its source event, and by connecting historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ demands and enables effects to be brought forth. Having looked at various approaches to the dynamics of memory within the Church’s corporate life, I now turn to M. Welker and J. Begbie because their appeal to, and use of, memory in relation to the Eucharist is not limited to a consideration of the biblical and liturgical material. The former uses cultural memory as one of several lenses through which to view the Eucharist, and as one means of answering the question ‘what happens?’; the latter engages with theology through the arts – music in particular – which leads to a consideration of memory and repetition in relation to the Eucharist. Both are helpful in terms of this project, as they present fruitful avenues of enquiry that open up out of a serious engagement with the dynamics of anamnesis in a more speciﬁc way than the general references to memory and story within narrative theology. Welker is a German systematic theologian writing within the reformed tradition and Begbie is an Anglican theologian and priest. Anamnesis and Proclamation In his book What Happens in Holy Communion? Welker explores a wide variety of answers to that central question. His eighth answer, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ begins thus:
S. Sykes, ‘The Sacraments’ in Christian Theology: An Introduction to its Traditions and Tasks eds., P.C. Hodgson and R.H. King (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, second ed. 1985), p. 307. 68 G.W. Stroup, The Promise of Narrative Theology (Atlanta GA: John Knox Press, 1981); G. Loughlin, Telling God’s Story: Bible, Church and Narrative Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 69 Loughlin, Telling God’s Story, pp. 244–5.
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Holy Communion is an event that establishes and conﬁrms the remembrance of Jesus Christ. This ‘remembrance’, this act of memory, includes ﬁrmly established and living memories, experiences and expectations of the saving presence of Christ. It draws the human beings who establish and conﬁrm this remembrance into the fullness of Christ’s life. The remembrance of Christ is an effect of the Holy Spirit’.70
The range of associations expressed here show something of the breadth of resonances associated with the concept of anamnesis in contemporary reﬂections upon, and interpretations of the Eucharist, in response to the most fundamental of questions: What happens in Holy Communion? Welker asserts that the act of remembrance commanded in Luke 22:19 and I Corinthians 11:24–5 is not merely a mental act of ‘recalling’. Rather than being an individual or communal ‘internalisation’ of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, it is a public proclamation of them. The Supper becomes a ‘living monument’ in which Christ’s memory is ‘carried further. .. renewed, and revitalised, concentrated and intensiﬁed’.71 Welker goes on to expound this in the dynamic terms of the interrelationship between past, present and future in the Eucharist. By the act of remembrance the totality of God’s reconciling action in Christ is made present: ‘Christ himself and all that he accomplished for us and for creation .... is present in the anamnesis which is also the foretaste of his Parousia and fulﬁlment of the kingdom’.72 This mirrors something of the approach taken by BEM, and represents an important factor in the potential of anamnesis. It is a reminder that the Church’s act of remembrance is for a purpose in the present, set in the context of the fulﬁlment of God’s Kingdom. By drawing on the work of theoreticians of the culture of memory, particularly Jan Assmann, Welker explores the power of collective memory in relation to the eucharistic anamnesis. Assmann’s investigations reveal that memory is not only an individual or communal mental phenomenon, but a ‘power for the communal generation of a world’ which is about the ‘common past ... shared present and expected future’, thus creating spaces which shape human life.73 It is vital to reiterate that anamnesis is a purposeful activity. It is effective not just in establishing bonds of identity and community, but also in forming a community equipped by the Spirit to engage in loving service and missionary activity. Welker describes ‘living cultural memory’ as an interplay between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ memory, made possible by some form of canon.74 This conclusion needs to be unpacked and explained, before it can be effectively related to the way in which memory functions within the Christian community and in particular to the eucharistic anamnesis. Cultural memory is long-lived, and therefore it is difﬁcult to change its forms: it ‘imposes meaning-bearing forms’ on the community’s recollections, experiences and expectations.75 Thus, memory can potentially stabilise a community 70 71 72 73 74 75
M. Welker, What Happens in Holy Communion (London: SPCK, 2000), p. 126. Welker, What Happens, p. 127. Welker, What Happens, p. 127. Welker, What Happens, p. 127. Welker, What Happens, p. 128. Welker, What Happens, p. 128.
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against transformation; this is the ‘cold’ form of cultural memory. However, memory can also become ‘hot’, enabling communities to convert the remembered ‘historical process of becoming ... into the motor of development’.76 Welker contends that these dynamising and stabilising qualities are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, any developed society aims for a constructive cultural memory, which is capable of incorporating and integrating both the stabilisation of their identity and its dynamic development.77 Within the Christian tradition Welker suggests that it is the canon (primarily the biblical canon) which generates a shared and stable identity, whilst demanding a living development amongst individual and communal perspectives and interpretations.78 The complex dynamics of anamnesis in its stabilising and destabilising consequences is further explored by Begbie, and is illustrated by his detailed analysis of musical repetition. In moving to his consideration of explicitly Christian cultural memory, Welker states that in the celebration of Holy Communion the ‘memory of Christ’ is renewed and revitalised.79 He relates the memory back to the Synoptic Gospels, and the perspectives contained within John, the epistles, Acts and Revelation, instead of focusing on the particular anamnesis rubric. This approach immediately emphasises the ‘movement between the various roles of the earthly Jesus and his christological titles’ because all spheres of recollections and expectation are drawn together.80 The encounters with the risen Christ as recorded in the New Testament are cited as examples of the transformative, radical impact of memory as he is recognised in the breaking of bread, the expounding of Scripture, the perception of wounds as well as the events of his pre-Easter history (healing the sick, and accepting the marginalised).81 Welker goes on to draw together the speciﬁc command recorded in the institution narratives, and the wider canonical memory which he has been exploring in relation to theories of cultural or canonical memory: ‘The ‘memorial’ that Jesus institutes by the celebration of the Last Supper makes the canonical memory based upon the biblical tradition focused, concrete, and existential’.82 It is in the celebration of the Eucharist that the individual is drawn into the memory of Christ in a more intrinsic way than is possible by proclamation and interpretation alone. The disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Christ in the breaking of bread, and are only then able to recognize that their hearts were already burning as he interpreted Scripture to them. The signiﬁcant aspect of Luke 24 is not just the recognition of Christ by the disciples (the connection with his ministry and resurrection, the source event of the Church), but the effects of the encounter: the disciples returned to Jerusalem to become Church, to engage in ministry and mission. In ecumenical dialogue (particularly BEM) it has been asserted that the remembrance of Christ is more than a bringing to mind of past events: it is the means 76 77 78 79 80 81 82
Welker, What Happens, p. 128. Welker, What Happens, p. 128. Welker, What Happens, p. 128. Welker, What Happens, p. 129. Welker, What Happens, p. 129. Welker, What Happens, pp. 129–30. Welker, What Happens, p. 130.
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by which Christ calls people into his presence and confronts them with the salvation event of the past in their present along with the promise of it for the future. Welker suggests a potential basis from which a new liturgical communion of ecumenical churches can grow within the remembrance of Christ. This is because all Christian prayer ﬁnds its foundation and origin in the remembrance of Christ; it relies on, and united with his perpetual intercession, and by being drawn into this ‘intercessory communion’ we are liberated for a ‘reconciling of memories’.83 It is through the activity of the Holy Spirit that the cruciﬁed and risen Lord is able to come anew through the living canonical memory. It renews the act of human beings coming together for the ‘revitalisation, solidiﬁcation and enrichment of the memory of Christ’.84 The Holy Spirit prevents the memory of Christ degenerating into an internal recollection, rendering Christ present, and enabling human beings to be witness to that presence. Memory is thus, according to Welker, the cultural power that has the capacity to transform the world.85 This transforming power is the gift of Christ himself. It is revealed in the proclamation of Christ’s death until he comes again (a key emphasis for Welker who comes from a Calvinist tradition). It is glimpsed as men and women encounter Christ in bread and wine in obedience to his command, and as they in turn live and act as the body of Christ in and for the world. Anamnesis and Musical Repetition In Theology, Music and Time Jeremy Begbie explores the Eucharist through the insights gained from an understanding of the function of repetition in music. His musical insights illuminate our understanding of the Church’s sacramental life. He reveals the importance of repetition and memory in such a way as to bring to the fore its dynamic and creative potential. Using Beethoven’s sixth symphony (‘The Pastoral’) as an illustration, he shows how every piece of music integrates ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ in order to maintain coherence, whilst avoiding monotony. He demonstrates how repetition (whether immediate or remote) ‘which might seem to be the enemy of novelty ... [is actually able to] promote it’.86 Questions about repetition, Begbie contends, invariably arise in liturgy, especially the Eucharist, because these acts are themselves repeated and permeated with repetition. However, liturgical, and particularly eucharistic, repetition is an issue which arouses disagreement about the links between the celebration of the Eucharist and the unrepeatable sacriﬁce of Christ on the cross, which has been noted in the ‘Elucidations’ on ARCIC. Begbie uses concepts borrowed from the analysis 83
Welker, What Happens, p. 131. Welker, What Happens, p. 132. 85 Welker, What Happens, p. 132. 86 J. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 156, 164. ‘ Immediate repetition’ occurs when an idea or entity is repeated straight away; ‘remote repetition’ is when such an entity reappears after a signiﬁcant period of time. Begbie uses Beethoven’s sixth symphony to illustrate this point. 84
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of repetition of themes within music to illustrate this complex inter-relationship: ‘a celebration of Eucharist relates ... ﬁrst and foremost to that temporality graciously given and generated by the activity of the triune God in and for the world, a temporality which ... can be usefully conceived as a multi-layered texture of metrical values’ in which each downbeat signiﬁes ‘successive Eucharists’: the highest wave signiﬁes the ‘overarching history of God’s engagement with the cosmos’; by being bound to Christ through the Spirit we are enabled to participate in the abundant complexity of waves in each Eucharist.87 Participation in Christ enables the transformation and reshaping of our created temporality, not its negation: each Eucharist provides the repeated opportunity to be incorporated into the temporal environment established by Christ ‘in which past, present and future coincide, in such a way that our identities can be healed, recast and transformed’.88 These concepts are best expressed visually as a series of waves, each Eucharist reﬂecting the times and seasons of the liturgical year and human situations, each Eucharist held within the overarching wave of God’s purposes until the eschaton. Repeated obedience to the command to remember holds together past, present and future and Christ is encountered in such a way as to bring healing and transformation. Begbie illustrates the way in which the repetition of a musical theme or ﬁgure functions either to increase the tension within the piece as a whole, or to bring about its resolution. Thus, although it is often assumed that repetition is a stabilising feature, marking out familiarity and stability amidst musical variation, it can also have the opposite, destabilising, effect.89 This has been described by Welker, in the terminology of theoreticians of the cultural impact of memory, as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ memory. The call to participate in the Eucharist, called together by God as the Christian community to encounter again and again the transformative power of Christ, is stabilising. The Church ﬁnds its generative theme in the repeated proclamation of Christ’s death. However, ‘to be opened out repeatedly to Christ’s past is to be opened out to a future anticipated in him, and then to experience a re-charging of God’s promise of a new future’.90 In this way, anamnesis is both Church generative and contains within it a missionary imperative. Thus, Begbie is not identifying two opposing components of the Eucharist’s potential, but recognising that the community is caught up in a process in which the continual stabilising actually leads to instability that is both hopeful and fruitful: ‘to be regularly re-bound to Christ who was cruciﬁed and raised from the dead is to be drawn into a stronger hope for the world’.91 To participate in the Eucharist is not to be cut off from the ordinary life beyond the Church door, but
87 88 89 90 91
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 165. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 166. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 166. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 167. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 167.
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demands ‘a transformation of our present condition pre-eminently in the cause of the poor’.92 Despite this optimism, repetition can become empty and ritualised: eucharistic performance can become one dimensional, with little recognition of the multiplicity of theological layers involved; it can become, to return to the musical analogy employed here by Begbie, ‘ﬂat and mechanical and dull’ as when a novice begins to learn how to play, but has not learnt to ‘feel’ the music.93 The Eucharist can become an empty symbol when it is excessively concerned with completeness. An ‘exaggerated sense of stability’ arises when the sense of participating in a ‘movement of divine longing’ beyond the Eucharist, or of being caught up into the work of the Spirit, is lost.94 The possibility of being drawn into a wider hope for the world, part of the stabilising/destabilising process, is lost. Similarly, these dynamics can be lost when the conviction that services should be as different as possible from each other to avoid mundane familiarity is employed. Both of these extremes are familiar to those involved in anyway in parish ministry, and are serious points of consideration in developing mission strategies. Just as the musician develops a sensitivity to the various layers of metre within music, allowing variation to heighten the listeners’ awareness to those layer, so the Church can experience something of the ‘multilayered waves of salvation’ by becoming attentive to the liturgical year, so that the Eucharist will be ‘sensed differently’ according to the ‘seasonal waves’.95 The temporal integrity of the original action and its repetition is preserved within eucharistic repetition. Begbie explains this initially in relation to musical repetition: ‘identical repetition of the ‘now’ is impossible, not just because we are in a different temporal context, but because every musical event relates to a different hierarchical pattern of tension and resolution’.96 The repetition of the Eucharist does not involve the prolongation of Christ’s sacriﬁce, or its extraction from one period of time to another. Christ’s death on the cross ‘took place in relation to a speciﬁc combination of historical contingencies ... [and there can] be no attempt to extract that occurrence from its situatedness and “make it happen again now”’.97 Every Eucharist relates to the ‘wave’ of Christ’s death and resurrection, and via ‘bottom level waves’ to every previous Eucharist, our experience of which shapes subsequent celebrations. These themes of ‘non-identical repetition’ and the shaping of the community will be explored in more depth in the next chapters. Associated with non-identical repetition is the necessity of another skill borrowed from musical performance, improvisation. Eucharistic repetition means improvising so that, as in music, the theme is heard or perceived in a new and creative way for the present, and by implication the future. It is the Holy Spirit who fulﬁls the
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 167, C. Rowland (1995) italics J. Begbie. Williams also develops the transformative implications of the Eucharist. 93 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 168. 94 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 168. 95 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 169. Both Ford and Williams emphasise the importance of the liturgical year in this way. 96 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 169. 97 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 169.
The Anamnesis Debate
role of improviser within the celebration of the Eucharist: ‘In this occasion, our humanity, in union with Christ, with its history, is redeemed and enhanced in its particularity, brought nearer to its intended end and fruition’.98 Begbie claims that a ‘musical construal of the temporal character of eucharistic repetition can make a more adequate account of both Jewish and Christian ‘remembrance’ (anamnesis) and the Eucharist’s future anticipation than many eucharistic theologies’.99 Certainly this theme of improvisation is a key part of David Ford’s reﬂection about the Eucharist. To expound upon the contribution that an understanding of musical repetition can make to discussion about the Eucharist, Begbie refers to Jean-Luc Marion’s work, God Without Being, which is particularly concerned to assert that eucharistic presence is not a function of the will, attention or consciousness of the Church.100 He states that limiting the eucharistic presence to the ‘immediate consciousness of the collective self’ depends on a conception of time in which there is an ‘ontological over determination of a primacy of the present: the past ﬁnishes and the future begins as soon as the present begins or ﬁnishes’. Marion thinks that the eucharistic presence should be understood as ‘gift’, and should be temporalised in relation to past, present and future as follows: from the past it is temporalised as memorial (the present is understood as a today to which alone the memorial gives meaning and reality); from the future it is temporalised as eschatological announcement (‘the pledge, which the memorial sets into operation, now anticipates the future, so that the present itself occurs entirely as this anticipation concretely lived’); and ﬁnally the eucharistic present is temporalised from the present as ‘dailyness and viaticum’ (the eucharistic present is never possession, but always gift, to be received anew each instant, each, hour, each day).101 This understanding of the giftedness at the heart of the Eucharist is a theme that plays a signiﬁcant part in the theology of both Catherine Pickstock and Rowan Williams. Begbie does not claim that an understanding of the Eucharist based upon the insights of musical repetition overcomes every stumbling block in eucharistic controversy. However, as we have seen those insights, alongside the examination of how cultural memory functions, give rise to a depth and breadth of understanding the function of the anamnesis, which is not divorced from the liturgical function of the rubric, but which makes explicit its connection with the transformation of a community receiving the gift of Christ’s presence. Through musical repetition we are given to ‘participate in a temporality in which our past, present and future can be at peace, co-inhere’; thus, repeated Eucharists are not the ‘means by which the Christian community over and over again attempts to recover in its corporate memory now an ever-retreating event’.102 Instead:
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, pp. 170–1. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 171. 100 Both Catholic and Protestant theology risk either immobilising Christ on the altar in the elements, or limiting Christ to a mental act of recollection. 101 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 172; quoting Jean-Luc Marion God Without Being: Hors Text, trans. T.A. Carlson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), pp. 172–4. 102 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 172. 99
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
eucharistic remembering cannot be a matter of us calling to mind a nonpresence, nor is anticipation a matter of us imagining an utterly discontinuous and unreal future. The Eucharist is the repeated embodiment of God’s summons, provoking our attention, opening us out to Christ in such a way that what Christ was, suffered and did for us is made ever and again contemporary in its completeness for us who are still ‘on the way’, and, moreover, in such a manner that his past is known not only merely as past to us but also as future ... the Holy Spirit opens our present (and us) to Christ’s past and future ... this entails not the refusal of ‘our’ temporality, but its healing and reformation.103
Although Begbie has much to contribute to the ﬁeld of eucharistic theology from his musical insights, especially the co-inherence of past, present and future which he demonstrates, he does not use transcendent or sacramental categories. The Eucharist gives us the possibility of participating in Christ’s life now. His focus is doctrinal rather than ecclesiological which means that he does not engage fully with the effects of encountering the risen Christ in anticipation of the future hope. Like Welker, his approach is more cognitive and belief based. The lens of music adds to this lack of corporate awareness: it requires a particular kind of personal performance to be fully intelligible and his inspiration comes from a particular personal talent. Conclusion From the range of material explored in this chapter it is possible to grasp the sense in which the meaning of anamnesis has become increasingly rich and deep in these discussions. It may not be possible to read off an unambiguous and unanimous understanding of anamnesis from the history of biblical interpretation and liturgical and sacramental theology. However, that does not mean that the validity of its potential is reduced. Indeed, when combined with reﬂection on the nature of corporate memory, our understanding of its theological capacity deepens. Yet there is distinctiveness about Christian understandings of memory and its relation to the Eucharist, which is bound up with participation in and encounter with God, and the transformation that this brings about. We have also acknowledged the importance of memory in relation to corporate faith and the process of becoming the Church. The anamnetic nature of the Church as the body of Christ in relation to Welker’s understanding of that corporate function both stabilises and destabilises. This dynamic is also apparent in Begbie’s analysis through music. The eucharistic anamnesis continues to call the Church into being and makes us attentive to God’s summons. As we have seen in ARCIC and BEM, anamnesis has the potential to be a uniting category, not just in relation to the controversial issue of sacriﬁce, but also in holding together the past, present and future dimensions of the Eucharist. Something of the value and meaning of anamnesis is presupposed in these discussions, and the Anglican responses to them, and a concern to see memorial as more than recollection emerges. The Church’s engagement with the world is an essential consequence of sharing in anamnesis.
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 173.
The Anamnesis Debate
Anamnesis enables the integration of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. It is a language of connection between the source event of the past and the future eschatological hope, with effects in the present. As such it relates the Church to the source event, mediating the fullness of Christ in the Eucharist, so that that fullness can be expressed in the world. Such a realisation pertains to both individual and corporate transformation in relation to the world. Such effectiveness is related to Christ’s presence as gift. Reception of such a gift is purposeful: it is Church forming and inspires and resources her mission. Both of these dimensions will be explored in the work of David Ford, Catherine Pickstock and Rowan Williams, in later chapters, in order to open up the possibilities of reaching a greater ‘depth’ in our understanding of anamnesis. It is concerned with transformation through participation in Christ; it holds together the dynamic between the past, present and future. Such an approach forms part of an ongoing broadening, enriching and deepening approach to anamnesis within the Church, rather than a rigid third way of the kind identiﬁed by Gregg. However, it is now necessary to turn to the heritage of the Anglican tradition in awareness of such possibilities inherent within the concept of anamnesis, and its limitations if it is reduced to subjective mental activity.104
104 K. Stevenson, Do This: The Shape, Style and Meaning of the Eucharist (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2002), p. 51.
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Memory in the Anglican Tradition Introduction Having explored some of the issues surrounding the concept of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist, the aim of this chapter is to explore this category within the context of the Anglican tradition. My purpose is to set out something of the theological background of the contemporary writers under discussion in subsequent chapters. It will illustrate the diversity of this inheritance, showing the breadth and depth of language used in the face of the sacramental mystery. This chapter will be a thematic exploration of issues, rather than a chronological one, focusing particularly on the treatment of the past, present and future dynamics, and on identifying perspectives which show concern for the effects of anamnesis in terms of transformation, social/ political demands and the Church’s mission. The previous chapter noted some of the theological differences with regard to anamnesis, and also identiﬁed the way in which they could enrich our understanding of the Eucharist, particularly as participation in the sacrament sustains and shapes Church life and mission. As a language of connection it integrates the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ, weaving together the past, present and future. Kenneth Stevenson describes this interrelationship as follows: ‘altar and cross stand in a relationship where altar feeds on cross, but altar is an action in its own right, a ‘doing’ in remembrance in which ... the Christian memory [is] delved into in order to make the past present and lead into the future’.1 The Church looks back to Christ’s life, death and resurrection, its source event; it is renewed and transformed by connection with the fullness Christ in the present; it looks to the future of God’s Kingdom, and in becoming Christ’s body in the world the effects of his fullness are mediated now. As well as looking backwards to Christ’ life, death and resurrection and forwards to the eschatological fulﬁlment of God’s promises, the Church lives within its own history. Anglican theologians have wrestled with the mystery of the Eucharist in the context of the upheavals of the Reformation, social and political challenges and the emerging ecumenical agenda. Inevitably these factors mean that the priorities in discussing eucharistic theology have shifted. Rather than producing a seamless train of thought throughout the tradition, the aim is to explore the richness of language, imagery and theology. Anamnesis illuminates and continues this creative theological
K. Stevenson, ‘The Mystery of Sacriﬁce’ in H.R. McAdoo and K. Stevenson The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Anglican Tradition (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1995), p. 122.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
imagining and articulation of the Eucharist which is regarded as both costly in its demands and fruitful in its effects. Very often discussions about memory have focused on the following aspects of eucharistic theology: sacriﬁce, Christ’s presence and future hope. In the celebration of Christ’s death in the present the Church looks back and is drawn into solidarity with the self-giving nature of God, and she anticipates a future in which human and divine actions are drawn together. Thus, these perspectives may provide us with a useful frame of reference for locating concerns which pertain to the broader exploration of anamnesis within the tradition. Memory and Sacriﬁce The question of the relationship between memory and sacriﬁce has been controversial and remains of central concern in ecumenical developments.2 Anglican understanding of these issues has been shaped by Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), whose liturgical and theological work on the Eucharist spanned the turbulent years of the sixteenth century. In wrestling with the issue of sacriﬁce he recognised a double sense of that concept’s theological meaning in the Eucharist: the commemoration of Christ’s sacriﬁce and the offering of our own. The two were not to be conﬂated, but the latter was a response to the former, in praise and self-offering obedience to God.3 For example, the words of administration in the Prayer Book of 1552 connects the recollection of Christ’s sacriﬁce with the response of thanksgiving: ‘Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving ... Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful’. Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626) also engaged with the nature of the connection between memory and sacriﬁce. It is not just a matter of remembering and receiving with thanksgiving, but of being spiritually nourished and sharing in the beneﬁts of Christ’s sacriﬁce. Not only was Andrewes a gifted linguist (he was involved in the translation of the Authorised Version of the Bible) but he also had a reputation as a preacher. This was preserved in the publication of his sermons, which show a concern for sacramental theology which is echoed in his personal collection of devotions. He takes a wide ranging approach to eucharistic sacriﬁce and memorial. His starting point is that the Church is commanded to do something in remembrance of Christ in the Eucharist, which therefore has ‘an objective quality not by repeating the sacriﬁce, but by repeating the ‘memory’ of the sacriﬁce’.4 By the power of the Spirit Christ’s ‘offering is made present to us, and we are incorporated into His death and invested with the beneﬁts of it’.5 2
1 Corinthians 11:23–6; ARCIC The Final Report. Dufﬁeld, ed. The Work of Thomas Cranmer, p. xxxiii. The third section of the 1549 Prayer Book included the anamnesis followed by the offering of ‘our souls, and bodies’, which became a post communion prayer in the 1552 Prayer Book. 4 C. Cocksworth, Evangelical Eucharistic Thought in the Church of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 43. 5 L. Andrewes, Ninety-six sermons (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841) vol. 2, p. 301. 3
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
Andrewes’s Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmine indicates support for the position that the Eucharist is a commemorative sacriﬁce, which is offered by all, so all should partake: Our men believe that the eucharist was instituted by the Lord of the memorial of Himself, even of His sacriﬁce, and, if it be lawful so to speak, to be a commemorative sacriﬁce, not only to be a sacrament for spiritual nourishment ... the sacriﬁce which is there is eucharistic ... that he partake by receiving and eating as the saviour ordered.6
The breadth of his approach is reﬂected in the prayer after the blessing in his Preces Privatae: DONE and ﬁnished So far as within our power O CHRIST our God, is the Mystery of Thy Dispensation. For we have kept the memory of Thy Death we have seen the ﬁgure of Thy Resurrection we are ﬁlled with Thine endless Life we have tasted of Thine inexhaustible Delight whereof in the coming Age also grant that we all may be accounted worthy.7
Participating in the memorial of Christ’s death opens the communicant to encounter with the risen Christ which provides spiritual nourishment. To be ﬁlled with the presence of Christ in this way is a foretaste of the age to come. In the prayer following the consecration he brings together the notion of union with Christ and participation in God with the memorial of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension: the eucharistic memorial is for the purpose of participation.8 Elsewhere in his Preces Privatae, he speaks of participation in the heavenly mysteries in order to receive hope ‘unto sanctiﬁcation, enlightening, strengthening relief from the burden of my many sins ... fulﬁlment of Thy commandments, increase of Thy divine grace and secure possession of thy Kingdom’.9 He emphasises that Christ is known in the effects of the Eucharist. He speaks at length about encountering Christ in the sacrament for faith, love, keeping the commandments, cleansing, healing, sustenance and renewal.10 Although he is not relying on the concept of anamnesis directly, the private devotions reﬂect a connection to the source events of the Church’s life, and an encounter with the risen Christ that brings 6
Andrewes, Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmini, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology (Oxford: Parker, 1851), English translation in Darwell Stone II, p. 265. 7 Andrewes, The Private Devotions, ed. P. Goldsmith (London: SPCK, 1899), p. 187. 8 Stevenson identiﬁes the inﬂuence of the Greek Liturgy of St. Basil in relation to memorial and adoption of Hooker’s ideas. The Covenant of Grace Renewed: A vision of the Eucharist in the Seventeenth Century (DLT: London: 1994), p. 59. 9 Andrewes, The Private Devotions, p. 186. 10 Andrewes, The Private Devotions, p. 183.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
about transformation. The effects of this are personal: focusing on the commitment to a renewed way of life, but such effects are also grounded in a future hope. In his Easter homily from the year 1606 he speaks of the two men on the road to Emmaus, who felt their hearts burning within them on the way, but did not comprehend until Christ broke bread with them. ‘It is in the breaking of Bread especially that we can frequently receive this virtue in order to live like Christ’.11 Again, participation in the Eucharist generates a particular way of life. William Laud’s (1573–1645) attempts at imposing liturgical uniformity met with opposition from the Puritans. His eucharistic theology afﬁrms the reality of Christ’s presence amidst theological mystery. He considered the memorial of Christ’s sacriﬁce to be related to the sacriﬁce of personal, Christ-like service. The commemorative act has a divine and ecclesial focus.12 In a passage worth citing at length, anamnesis connects Christ’s sacriﬁce to Christian sacriﬁce of body and soul. Commemoration, thanksgiving and service are bound together: as Christ offered up Himself once for all, a full and all sufﬁcient sacriﬁce for the sin of the whole world, so did He institute and command a memory of this sacriﬁce in a sacrament, even till His coming again. For at and in the Eucharist, we offer up to God three sacriﬁces: One by the priest only; that is the commemorative sacriﬁce of Christ’s death, represented in bread broken and wine poured out. Another by the priest and the people jointly; and that is, the sacriﬁce of praise and thanksgiving for all the beneﬁts and graces we receive by the precious death of Christ. The third, by every particular man for himself only; and that is, the sacriﬁce of every man’s body and soul, to serve Him in both all the rest of his life, for this blessing thus bestowed on him.13
Christ’s sacriﬁce is commemorated, and the Church’s response is one of thanksgiving for the beneﬁts of Christ’s passion. There is also a personal dimension as each participant commits herself to living in a way that serves Christ. Laud states the faith of the Church of England in relation to the Eucharist as follows: ‘That in the most blessed Sacrament, the worthy receiver is, by his faith, made spiritually partaker of the ‘true and real Body and Blood of Christ, truly and really,’ and of all the beneﬁts of His passion ... it is safer communicating with the Church of England than with Roman or Lutheran; because all agree in this truth, not in any other opinion’.14 There is no anxiety about the reluctance to deﬁne the manner Christ’s presence, but an acceptance of the reality of the encounter with Christ and that the anamnesis of his sacriﬁce makes possible the offering of our lives in his service. William Forbes (1585–1634) writes about the nature of efﬁcacious grace made available in the Eucharist. His reputation as a preacher and scholar brought him to the attention of Charles I, who made him Bishop of Edinburgh. He engages with the 11 M. Dorman (ed.), The Sermons of Lancelot Andrewes: Vol. 2 Paschal and Pentecostal (Durham: Pentland Press, 1993), p. 15. 12 Cocksworth, Evangelical Eucharistic Thought, p. 44. 13 W. Laud, The Works of William Laud II, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology (Oxford: Parker, 1853), pp. 339–341. 14 Laud, The Works, pp. 320–21.
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
doctrine of justiﬁcation in his work Considerationes Modestae et Paciﬁcae, which includes an examination of the nature of sacriﬁcial offering in the Eucharist. He probes disputed areas and aims to offer a synthesis. He emphasises that the ultimate movement is from God, to which we respond in faith: By way of commemoration and representation of that which was performed once for all in that one only Sacriﬁce of the Cross, whereby Christ our High Priest consummated all other sacriﬁces ... by which the ministers of the Church most humbly beseech God the Father on account of the perpetual Victim of that one only Sacriﬁce, Which is seated in heaven on the right hand of the Father, and in an ineffable manner present on the holy table, that He would grant that the virtue and grace of this perpetual Victim may be efﬁcacious and salutary to His Church of all the necessities of body and soul.15
Commemoration is necessary to make God’s grace available to the Church, and there is no need to deﬁne the manner in which Christ is made present at the Eucharist. Daniel Waterland (1683–1740) engaged with the theological controversies surrounding the Eucharist at his time, and in Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist he charts a mediating position between the Nonjurors and the Latitudinarians. He uses conventional biblical categories, and focuses on the memorial of Christ’s offering. He then works outwards from this to consider the particularities of sacriﬁcial response. The offerings he cites include almsgiving, prayer – ‘evangelical incense’ – and ‘the sacriﬁce of ourselves, our souls and bodies ... the sacriﬁce of faith and hope ... in commemorating the grand sacriﬁce, and resting ﬁnally upon it’, all of which rely upon the memorial of Christ’s sacriﬁce.16 Although he places Calvary at the centre of his eucharistic theology, it cannot be seen in isolation from Christ’s entire life, nor is it cut off from the Church’s worship. Grace is conferred in the Eucharist, creating and sustaining the body of Christ. By drinking of the sacramental cup in the Eucharist ‘the same Spirit hath again united us, yet more perfectly, to Christ our head, in the same mystical body’.17 From within the tradition of nineteenth century evangelical theology, Frederick Meyrick (1827–1906) illustrates the connections between remembrance and sacriﬁce, which, when combined with feeding, incorporation and pledge, allow us to approach the mystery of the sacrament. He writes that it ‘is a Remembrance in so far as its object is to recall to the minds of Christians the love of Christ as exhibited in the sacriﬁce of his death’; the commemoration is made by an outward act, and is a ‘memorial of Christ and His death before man and before God’.18 He identiﬁes three sacriﬁcial dimensions to the Eucharist: spiritual, material and commemorative. Thus, he draws the act of anamnesis together with the notion of self-offering. As we have noted he also stresses the importance of three other ideas: feeding upon Christ, ‘effected by 15
W. Forbes, Considerationes Modestae et Paciﬁcae Vol. II, Library Anglo-Catholic Theology (Oxford: Parker, 1846), pp. 577–9 16 D. Waterland, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1880), pp. 311–13. 17 Waterland, A Review, p. 241. 18 F. Meyrick, The Doctrine of the Church of England on the Holy Communion: Restated as a guide at the present time (London: Longman, 1908), p. 201.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
... his spiritual Presence’; incorporation as believers become more and more part of ‘the mystical Body of Christ’; and the concept of the Eucharist as a pledge which serves as a ‘symbolic assurance of God’s past forgiveness ... His present favour ... a future inheritance graciously reserved’.19 He regards the combination of ideas as a more complete expression of the mystery of Holy Communion than reliance on one of them alone. The language of memorial and sacriﬁce permeates the tradition, asserting the reliance on the uniqueness of Christ’s sacriﬁce on the cross. The motif of self-giving permeates Christ’s life and death, and should be a characteristic of the renewal of the Church’s corporate life, and should be evident in the life of each participant. Anamnesis is not just a matter of subjective, mental recall, but a Spirit ﬁlled activity which has consequences: both in the personal transformation of the participants as they share in the divine life and in the outworking of sacriﬁcial life. The Church’s performance of the Eucharist brings the past, the source event, before God as well as the participants, and thus obedience to the anamnetic command is a source of continuity. As we have seen in a range of writers memorial becomes the foundation for all other offerings: alms, the elements of bread and wine, and ourselves. Such a dynamic of generous self-offering is an intrinsic component of the Church’s mission Memory and Christ’s presence From Cranmer onwards, Anglican theologians have grappled with the question of the relationship between Christ’s presence and the response of faith. Sometimes the language of covenant is used to focus more explicitly on the way in which Christ’s action on the cross is made accessible to the faithful now. The issues raised in conjunction with this particular dimension of the Eucharist resonate with discussions about the effects of anamnesis. Cranmer wrestled with the nature of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist throughout his career, maintaining that the soul beneﬁted from feeding upon Christ’s body, and emphasising the change in the receiver.20 He asserts that Christ’s ﬂesh is eaten in a spiritual manner.21 We have noted the connection between remembrance and thanksgiving in the 1552 words of administration (a shift from the earlier focus on receiving the body of Christ to preserve body and soul to everlasting life). However, the words of consecration suggest that the notion of feeding upon Christ spiritually when receiving the elements is still part of Cranmer’s intention for the liturgy. His writing suggests that he sought to retain the dimension of sacramental realism in relation to the faithful believer rather than the elements, which are connected with the reality which they signify by their use:
Meyrick, The Doctrine of the Church of England on the Holy Communion, p. 203. Cranmer, ‘Defence of the true and catholic doctrine of the sacrament of the body and blood of our saviour Christ’ (1550) in Dufﬁeld, ed. The Work of Thomas Cranmer, p. 191. 21 Cranmer, ‘Defence’, pp. 64, 69, 74, 231. 20
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
In the book of the holy communion, we do not pray absolutely that the bread and wine may be made the body and blood of Christ, but that unto us in that holy mystery they may be so; that is say, that we may so worthily receive the same, that we may be partakers of Christ’s body and blood, and that therewith in spirit and in truth we may be spiritually nourished.22
There is a connection between partaking and transformation – in terms of nourishment in spirit and truth – in the present. He binds sign and reality closely together for the purpose of spiritual nourishment of the believer. This takes effect in the present alongside the appropriate response of thanksgiving. Richard Hooker (1554–1600) defended Reformation principles whilst stressing that the Church of England stood in continuity with her medieval inheritance. He was an advocate of the Elizabethan Settlement (1559), which he supports in his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. In his eucharistic theology he avoids explicitly sacriﬁcial language as he attempts to hold together the dimensions of imputed and imparted righteousness in emphasising the present effects of the sacrament.23 He takes an innovative approach using language of participation: This sacrament is a true and a real participation of Christ, who thereby imparteth himself even his whole entire Person as a mystical Head ... [the] receiver doth thereby incorporate or unite himself unto Christ as a mystical member of him ... what merit, force or virtue soever there is in his sacriﬁced body and blood, we freely fully and wholly have it by this sacrament ... that the effect thereof in us is a real transmutation of our souls and bodies from sin to righteousness.24
By being united with Christ, the Church is nourished by a recreative power. We ﬁnd fullness of life through the ‘mediatorship of Christ’ in the Eucharist: ‘as we share in his life we receive the gifts of God’.25 Hooker makes explicit the connection between Christ’s presence in the sacrament and in the believer as a result of participation: Our souls and bodies quickened to eternal life are effects the cause whereof is the Person of Christ, his body and blood are the true wellspring out of which this life ﬂoweth ... the real presence of Christ’s most blessed body and blood ... in the worthy receiver of the sacrament.26
The unity of the Church is grounded in the fellowship with Christ embodied in the sacrament, it also draws men and women to the ‘highest fruition of all which human life can be’.27
22 Cranmer, Writings of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, ed. J.E. Cox, The Parker Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1846), p. 79. 23 Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1841), p. 629; Hooker, The Works vol. 2, p. 81. 24 Hooker, The Works vol. 2, p. 85. Original italics. 25 J.S. Marshall, Hooker and the Anglican Tradition (London: A & C Black, 1963), p. 140. 26 Hooker, The Works vol. 2, pp. 83–4. 27 J.S Marshall, Hooker, pp. 156, 159.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Hooker argued that Baptism initiates the believer into the Christian life and participation in the Eucharist sustains it. He writes that the sacraments do indeed give what they promise, and are what they signify: For we take not baptism nor the eucharist for bare resemblances or memorials of things absent, neither for naked signs ... but ... for means effectual whereby God when we take the sacraments delivereth into our hands that grace available unto eternal life.28
Hooker afﬁrms the objectivity of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, distancing himself from a position asserting bare memorialism, but he also stresses the role of the believer’s faith. In the sacrament the beneﬁts of Christ’s death are received, the effects are described in terms of fullness of life, a transformation from sin to righteousness, and the future hope of eternal life. Hooker was reluctant to develop the theme of sacriﬁce however his successors in the seventeenth century come to see the Eucharist as a sacriﬁce in three stages: through Christ the High Priest, in terms of the memorial itself, and the Church incorporation into the movement of self-offering through union with Christ.29 This demands a focus on anamnesis and the effects of participation in the Eucharist. Ralph Cudworth (1617–1688) uses the language of covenant to talk about union with God and with fellow believers. He was one of the leaders of the Cambridge Platonists, a group which stood between Puritan and High Church parties. They advocated tolerance with the Church, based on the principle that reason was the judge of both revealed and natural reason. Cudworth also sought to oppose both religious dogmatism and atheism. By maintaining that the Eucharist was the renewal of a covenant he emphasised the way in which worshippers were drawn together in fellowship as well as being united with God. Thus, there is both a vertical and horizontal dimension to communion. He attempted to set out the link between the Passover meal and the Eucharist, which he viewed as a feast upon a sacriﬁce: ‘a feast of amity and friendship between God and men. Where by eating and drinking at God’s own table, and of his meat, we are taken into a sacred covenant, and inviolable league of friendship with him’.30 Herbert Thorndike’s (1598–1672) theological work sought, amongst other things, to defend episcopacy and his view of the mystical and objective presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He writes on various aspects of sacriﬁce in the liturgy, including the renewal of the covenant of grace, leading to the self offering of communicants: ‘the celebration of the Eucharist is the renewal of the covenant of grace ... those that communicate in the Eucharist do feast upon the sacriﬁce of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross’.31 The reality of being drawn into fellowship with God and with each other through the celebration of the Eucharist is stressed, but not in such a way as
28 Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker vol. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1841), pp. 3–4. 29 Stevenson, The Covenant of Grace Renewed, p. 175. 30 R. Cudworth, The Works of Ralph Cudworth Vol. IV, p. 276f. 31 H. Thorndike, The Work of Herbert Thorndike (Oxford: Parker, 1844) vol. I, pp. 102f, 118.
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
to deny the priority of the cross. Renewal through the sacrament is demanding, and connected to the self-offering of the communicant. As a result of Thorndike’s inﬂuence, Simon Patrick (1625–1707) sought episcopal ordination. He was also inﬂuenced by Hooker and Cudworth. He wrote on theological and devotional aspects of the Eucharist and makes the case that it is not merely a mental exercise. He begins by discussing the remembrance of Christ. He writes: anamnesis doth not signify barely ‘recordatio’, recording or registering of his favours in our mind; but ‘commemoratio’, a solemn declaration. We keep it, as it were, and plead before him the sacriﬁce of his Son, which we show unto him, humbly requiring that grace and pardon, with all the other beneﬁts of it, may be bestowed upon us.32
The Eucharist entails the spiritual sacriﬁce of the believer and the offering of gifts to God. It is more than a matter of inward and personal thoughts, or a series of outward actions.33 By using the word plead in relation to the eucharistic memorial he also asserts the need to ﬁnd a word that looks forward.34 He binds together union with others, renewal in God and anticipation of the eschaton. For F.D. Maurice (1805–1872) such union, renewal and anticipation demanded a life of service. He was actively concerned to relate Christian principles to social reform in the nineteenth century, becoming a founder member of the Christian Socialists with J. Ludlow and C. Kingsley. In his sacramental theology in Kingdom of Christ he draws on the Passover themes of renewal as an analogy for understanding the dimension of covenant renewal in the Eucharist. He goes on to assert that Christ is indeed the means of communion with the Father, and in ‘presenting the ﬁnished sacriﬁce before God’ we fulﬁl our celebration in the Eucharist: if we fail in this obligation we have not the action that expresses the access we have to God, only the potential.35 Maurice drew out the social character of universal witness from his teaching on the Eucharist. Individualism played no part in his understanding of the sacrament. He encouraged frequent communion and urged people not to be discouraged from participation by their amount of faith or consistency of their life. The Eucharist witnessed to a common salvation; it celebrated Christ’s completed sacriﬁce. Recollection of this went together with a request that we too might be inspired to adopt that spirit of sacriﬁce.36 He places emphasis on the categories of life, spirit and inspiration. When he challenges the Zwinglian position on recollection, Maurice states that he does not object to the word ‘recollection’, because there ‘is nothing in
S. Patrick, Mensa Mystica or A Discourse Concerning the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (London: Tyton, 1684) pp. 4, 13, 36f, 51, 58. 33 Patrick, Mensa Mystica, pp. 71–2. 34 Stevenson, Covenant of Grace Renewed, p. 157. 35 F.D. Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ or Hints to a Quaker Respecting the Principles, Constitution, and Ordinances of the Catholic Church (Volume II) (London: Macmillan, 1883), p. 92. 36 Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ, p. 65f.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
it which is not applicable to a Living Actual Presence’, and he pleads ‘for the duty of recollecting that presence in the Eucharist, because it is there’.37 He emphasised the practical outcome of participation in the Eucharist. This was for the good of the individual and for the beneﬁt of others, whom the Christian was called to serve. Fellowship was central. He regarded the Eucharist as a more adequate and profound expression of the Christian faith, and its practical implications, than words alone. For him, the Church’s priority was to devote resources to working out a true doctrine and practice of the Eucharist in relation to society, instead of expending them on disputing the true doctrine in relation to the Church. He was prioritising the effects of participation in the Eucharist, understood in social and political terms. He also uses the language of recollection to relate to Christ’s presence, as well as to the consequences of such encounter. In the last century, William Temple’s (1881–1944) concern to relate Christian theology to social and economic issues echoes Maurice’s agenda. In Christus Veritas he writes that the divine life offered in the Eucharist ‘is the life of the divine Love (expressed in uttermost self-sacriﬁce – Body broken, Blood shed) of which the human counterpart is universal fellowship’.38 He stresses our response to Christ’s sacriﬁce, so that we may become members of his body: ‘The Eucharist is a sacriﬁce, but we do not offer it; Christ offers it; and we, responding to his act, take our parts or shares in His one sacriﬁce as members of His Body’.39 Obedience to the command to ‘Do this’ results in connection with God, and service of neighbour: there is only one sacriﬁce – the obedience of the Son to the Father, and of Humanity to the Father in the Son. This was manifest in actual achievement on Calvary; it is represented in the breaking of the Bread; it is reproduced in our self-dedication and resultant service; it is consummated in the ﬁnal coming of the Kingdom ... the Eucharist means what has just been set forth, it is a means of access for us to the very Life of Christ ... By means of that Bread He is present to our souls ... the proof that we have received the Presence is the increase of love in our daily lives.40
There is a subjective and objective aspect to the Eucharist: the gift offered by God and received by the communicant.41 God’s eternal purposes and the ethical purposes of time are joined together, for the Eucharist: is rooted in past history, for it is essentially a repetition of a historic action; it issues in the life of service for the future coming of the Kingdom of God; but it holds that past and that future together in a present realisation of the eternal, truly given and truly received.42
The eucharistic anamnesis connects the Church to its source event in such a way that there are effects in the present – the receiving of the gift of Christ to live a life of service – which are part of a broader future dynamic of God’s Kingdom. There 37 38 39 40 41 42
Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ, p. 78. W. Temple, Christus Veritas: An Essay (London: Macmillan, 1924) p. 163. Temple, Christus Veritas, pp. 241–2. Temple, Christus Veritas, pp. 238–9, 241. Temple, Christus Veritas, p. 243. Temple, Christus Veritas, p. 245.
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
can be no complacency associated with this future hope, nor an exclusive model of the Church’s mission. The uniting of fellow disciples with each other and God in the Eucharist builds up love within the Body of Christ so that that love can be shown towards neighbour. This is ‘the practical expression of our search for outward or social unity’.43 The effects of the Eucharist are seen in social and political terms. Participation in the act of anamnesis inspires and sustains such embodiment. This dimension of the renewal of Christian life, which is central to the present reality of the Eucharist, is also to be found in Rowan Williams’ work on the metaphor of sacriﬁce: The whole of our worshipping activity is an expression of the reconciliation in the mortal ﬂesh of Christ between God and his creatures. We bring ourselves near to the altar of the cross as we come and offer our gifts ... and are brought to the Faith as we claim the fruition of the covenant proclaimed in the paschal event. Through the Spirit’s work, the covenant is ‘renewed’ in us, in our re-entry into the ‘sanctuary’ of Calvary.44
In his discussion of the Easter character of the Eucharist in Resurrection, he reiterates the connection between the giving and receiving of gift in the sacrament and its occurrence in Christian corporate life.45 The challenge presented by the Eucharist – to go and live a life of service before God – can be illustrated by a variety of themes and images. The use of the language of covenant renewal is one that focuses on the present, on Christ’s command to ‘Do this’ and his followers response by doing it. There has been a diversity of interpretation of covenant renewal within Anglicanism, but what this brief survey reveals is that the dimensions of costly self-giving and fullness of life have to be held together. In emphasising encounter, fellowship and action in the Church’s life now, it is equally important to ground this in Christ’s death and resurrection and to hold onto the future hope. This is precisely the range of connection reﬂected in earlier discussions of anamnesis. The Church is called to exist between the Last Supper and the coming Kingdom. To speak of collective memory as a way of sustaining it acts as a short cut, rather than wrestling with the complexity of historical reality, and the costly demands of being drawn into mission. Memory and the Future Through the Eucharist the Church is drawn into God’s purposes. In receiving the gift of Christ, offered for the world, the believer is called into fellowship within the Body of Christ and into active, loving service in the world. The language of heavenly offering speaks of what Christ does in and through the Church. Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667) is an exponent of this approach. In The Worthy Communicant he
Temple, Christus Veritas, p. 231. R. Williams, Eucharistic Sacriﬁce: The Roots of a Metaphor (Grove Liturgical Study 31) (Bramcote: Grove, 1982), p. 27. 45 Williams, Resurrection, p. 111. 44
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
begins with a theological statement about the Eucharist and moves onto the practical considerations: there is no other sacriﬁce to be offered but that on the cross ... it follows that Christ in heaven perpetually offers and represents that sacriﬁce to His heavenly Father, and in virtue of that obtains all good things for His Church ... He hath commanded us ... to represent his death, to commemorate this sacriﬁce, by humble prayer and thankful record’.46
Anamnesis entails a balance between what was done once and for all, and what the Church does as in response. The Eucharist becomes an extension of Christ’s prayer in heaven, which should orientate the Church towards the future. Daniel Brevint (1616–1695), a seventeenth century polemicist in the Protestant cause, explicitly writes about this distinctive future aspect of the Eucharist. The Christian Sacriﬁce and Sacrament is written in a devotional style which is aimed at building up the laity, with theological instruction, exposition and prayer. He aims to restore what he regards as the biblical notion of sacriﬁce, which lies at the centre of his eucharistic theology. Christ’s sacriﬁce replaces the Old Testament sacriﬁces and which Christians celebrate as a memorial, united with Christ’s prayer in heaven.47 He outlines four fundamental aspects of the Eucharist, which illustrate the past, present and future dynamics of the sacrament. First, he regards the Eucharist as a memorial of Christ’s saving death; second, the present grace nourishes worthy recipients, the Church; third, it is a pledge of the future through the assurance of participation in the promised Kingdom; fourth, it is the point of self offering for the Christian. This aspect of Brevint’s work is reﬂected in Cocksworth identiﬁes the enduring impact of Brevint’s writing, in particular upon the Wesleys.48 For Brevint, the Eucharist is the sign used by God to portray that sacriﬁce in the broken bread and out poured wine. The Eucharist serves to enrich this memorial with such an effectual and real presence of continuing atonement that the sacriﬁce is not just past but still new. Thus, he builds a strong link between the eternal sacriﬁce of the Son, and the Church’s memorial of it in the celebration of the Eucharist.49 Not only does he compare it with Old Testament practice, but he also emphasises the work of Christ, interceding for us in heaven, and the way in which worshippers share in that offering. The Eucharist is a seal of God’s forgiveness and directs the believer to new life in Christ, obeying God’s commands through the gift of his grace.50 Edward Bickersteth (1786–1850) was a founder member of the Evangelical Alliance, and a social campaigner, particularly on the issue of child labour. In his Treatise on the Lord’s Supper he reﬂects evangelical concerns that the sufﬁciency of the cross should not be undermined by according to the Eucharist a force independent 46
J. Taylor, The Worthy Communicant, (London: Longmans, MDCCCL), pp. 74f. D. Brevint, Christian Sacrament and Sacriﬁce (1673), pp. 37–40. Stevenson, ‘The Mystery of Sacriﬁce’, p. 155. 48 The Wesley’s Hymns on the Lord’s Supper (1745) included a shortened version of Brevint’s The Christian Sacrament and Sacriﬁce (1673). Cocksworth identiﬁes this inﬂuence in Evangelical Eucharistic Thought, p. 67. 49 Brevint, Christian Sacrament, pp. 37–8 50 Brevint, Christian Sacrament, p. 40. 47
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
of that once and for all sacriﬁce. However, he does allow a Godward direction to the Eucharist. Of the Eucharist he says, ‘this is done for our own ediﬁcation ... and as a prevailing mode of pleading merits before God ... wherein we plead the virtue and merits of the same sacriﬁce here, that our Great High Priest is continually urging for us in heaven’.51 For Bickersteth, the recognition of the sufﬁciency of the cross for salvation within the Eucharist is more than a matter of personal assurance. He makes plain the need to fulﬁl particular obligations that reﬂect God’s love. Participants are to ‘embrace also with your good will all mankind whom he [Christ] loved for his sake’.52 The eucharistic observance also contains ‘a virtual declaration of our expectation of his coming again. We shew forth the Lord’s death till he come’.53 Bickersteth reﬂects on the future of Christ’s coming, when human being will be receive everlasting punishment or everlasting life, and he asserts the sufﬁciency of the cross, ‘the most solemn and important transaction ... between the fallen spirit of man, accepting salvation by Jesus Christ’.54 Prayer is essential to bind the believer to the Father through Christ: The affecting prayer that God would ‘cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit,’ is adapted to our fallen and impure state... we have neither natural inclination , nor power of ourselves, to obey God’s holy commands; but look up to him and depend wholly on him, to dispose and enable us to do his will; and really purpose and desire to obey his holy law.55
The notion of the heavenly offering is an integral part of eucharistic theology, and also requires an understanding of the role of the gift of the Spirit for the future of the Church. Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941) expresses something of this aspect. She was an exponent of the mystical tradition, and her writing on worship embodies her position. She wrote that sacriﬁce was indeed a indispensable aspect of the Eucharist, commenting that it was not about propitiating an angry God, but was a ‘pneumatological oblation’ (emphasising the role of inviting God to send the Spirit).56 She deﬁnes worship as being ‘about the contemplation of God, which ﬂows into joyful service by a community of redeemed sinners. If the Eucharist is about anything, it must be about that movement of offering’.57 Contemplation of God within the context of the Eucharist involves our attentiveness to his past action and openness to future service. This joyful, and costly aspect, cannot be overlooked. It is fundamental to the Church’s identity as the Body of Christ. As Augustine writes, ‘for the Church, being the body of which He is the 51 E. Bickersteth, A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, designed as a guide and Companion to the Holy Communion (London: 1822), pp. 56–7. Stevenson, ‘The Mystery of Sacriﬁce’, p. 157. 52 Bickersteth, A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, pp. 56–7. 53 Bickersteth, A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, pp. 56–7. 54 Bickersteth, A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, pp. 56–7. 55 Bickersteth, A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, pp. 158–9. 56 E. Underhill, The Mystery of Sacriﬁce (London: Longmans, 1938), p. 15. 57 Underhill, Worship (London: Nisbet, 1936), pp. 234f.
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Head, is taught to offer herself through Him ... To this supreme and true sacriﬁce all false sacriﬁces have yielded’.58 For Augustine there was a direct correlation between what the Church received in the Eucharist, and what she was to become: namely the Body of Christ. A.G. Hebert (1886–1963) takes seriously the corporate and missiological dynamics of the Church’s self offering. He was the motivating force behind the parish communion movement, which he formally initiated in Liturgy and Society. In this work he aimed to show how religion is not merely about piety and individual souls, but that it is ‘primarily a participation in common life’.59 In this sense he can be regarded as someone who stands in continuity with Maurice’s commitment to those concerns: Hebert regarded the Church as an empirical sign of the kingdom, rather than a theoretical construct. Thus, to be effective in mission it needed to recognise the needs of the society it was addressing, and in so doing there was a sense in which the Church inaugurates the future now through its participation in the Eucharist. Within the liturgical movement that has inspired Hebert, there was a strong conviction that by unlocking the resources of the sacraments, the Church could become what she was called to be, namely, ‘the body of Christ for the salvation of the world’.60 He was convinced that the Church, by participation in the common life, could release the power to provide both social cohesion and purpose.61 Doctrine, worship and social action were intrinsically related. Although the words of the Lord’s Prayer ‘your kingdom come’ cannot be appropriated to any single social programme Church’s social voice cannot be silenced: the Church is called into continual critical engagement in the social and political affairs of the world.62 Prayer provides a springboard for action, and the Church is called and enabled to be a eucharistic community through participation in the sacrament. Indeed, the Eucharist cannot be fully understood without reference to its social signiﬁcance. The human and divine action in the Eucharist is a place of encounter, transformation, sanctiﬁcation and gloriﬁcation. The Parish Communion sets out the spiritual aspects of the Eucharist. Hebert asserts that the parish communion is never an end in itself; it is the sacramental expression of the Church’s common life in Christ.63 He goes on to reﬂect on the meaning of anamnesis, examining ﬁrst its biblical usage, which he understands as an objective brining back from the past into the present (rather than a subjective remembering, lest we forget).64 Instead of being a remembrance of sins, it is the anamnesis of Christ’s death and resurrection so that we can come into the actual presence of the victorious agape that overcame sin and death. In the sacrament the whole mystery of redemption is set forth objectively, focused on a single point. 58 Augustine, The City of God: against the pagans ed. and trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 422. 59 C. Irvine, Worship, Church and Society, p. 109. 60 Irvine, Worship, p. 110. 61 Irvine, Worship, p. 110. 62 Irvine, Worship, p. 112. 63 Hebert ‘The Parish Communion in its spiritual aspect’ in The Parish Communion, p. 5. 64 Hebert ‘The Parish Communion’, p. 9.
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
The liturgy also sets out the response of the congregation, which is summed up in the offertory: the bread and wine act as a visible expression of the people’s will to offer themselves to God. The bread and wine become the matter of the Sacrament, for the anamnesis of the Lord’s redemptive work. The action is completed in the Communion: that which has been offered is given back to us transformed; our lives are united with Christ’s life and his sacriﬁce so that we too may be offered in sacriﬁce to God, united in fellowship of his mystical body.65 Other contributors to the volume reﬂect the dimensions emphasised by Hebert: encounter with Christ, the unity of the body, transformation and self-offering. Farrer reiterates the point that in the meaning we see the ‘creation of the Mystical Body by partaking in the Gloriﬁed Body’ which is a spiritual anticipation of the fullness of the Resurrection being.66 Tyndall follows on with the practical implications of dying to ﬂesh and self, and living for as members of the ‘Mystical Body’.67 In the Eucharist Christians join together to plead the once sacriﬁce once offered, and to give themselves, their souls and bodies ‘to give all that they have and all that they are and do’.68 ‘Sunday religion’ has to be carried into every part of the week, otherwise partaking in the eucharistic mysteries is worthless: ‘worthy reception of Holy Communion is to be followed by a faithful witness, but that faithful witness is part of, and one with, the Eucharist itself’.69 Conclusion It is impossible to claim that one word or concept in particular does justice to the breadth and depth of Anglican understanding of the Eucharist. The differing theological and historical contexts inﬂuence the imagery used and the categories drawn upon, and determine the priorities in emphasis. Within this sample of the Anglican tradition there is a creativity in metaphor and language and reticence in the face of a mystery. There is an eagerness to maintain a distinction between Christ’s offering and that of the Church, but a recognition that sharing in the Eucharist is transforming and demanding. The Church does not just look back with thanksgiving and forward in hope: it is nourished in order to be effective in the present. In this regard, although language may shift and concerns vary, the issues and theological imperatives that are central to a fuller appreciation of anamnesis are articulated throughout the tradition. There is the concern to hold together the past, present and future dimensions of the Eucharist: acknowledging that the Church is connected to a historical event in its present eucharistic action, but that this also orientates it towards a future hope. The reality of a transformative dimension is also accepted, for whether the potential for encounter with Christ is understood in terms 65
Hebert ‘The Parish Communion’, p. 11. A.M. Farrer, ‘Eucharist and Church in the New Testament’ in The Parish Communion, p. 83. 67 Farrer, ‘Eucharist and Church’, p. 92. 68 E.D. Tyndall, ‘The Hallowing of Daily Life and Work’, in The Parish Communion, p. 186. 69 Tyndall, ‘The Hallowing of Daily Life’, p. 189. 66
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of objective presence or not, the need for self-offering and action is consistently afﬁrmed. It is vital to acknowledge the interconnection between the Church’s social/ political awareness, ethical action, participation in the Eucharist and the renewal of worship. Within the Anglican tradition this understanding is perhaps seen particularly powerfully in the contributions of Christian Socialism and the Parish Communion Movement, which stress the way in which the Eucharist focuses and enables the mission of the Church. Donald Gray also identiﬁes a connection between these movements and Tractarianism: their ecclesiology and sacramental theology meant that the Eucharist was given primary place within the Church’s life, emphasised visually by ceremonial.70 They also saw a closer connection between Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and the elements, balancing an objective spiritual presence with Christ’s presence in grace to those who received by faith, with such grace enabling ‘renewal of the world ... the love of God in action’.71 The sacramental socialists make the pattern particularly clear: the Corpus Christi, which is the Church, needs to feed together in fellowship on the Corpus Christi, which is the Body and Blood received in the Holy Eucharist, in order that it may fulﬁl its role to be the Corpus Christi, the loving hands, feet, and eyes of Christ active and incarnate in his Servant Church.72
The Eucharist is Church generative: it renews fellowship within the Body of Christ, and should also initiate a missiological imperative. Such dynamics are also signiﬁcant in relation to the eucharistic theology of the writers under particular consideration in subsequent chapters. From within the liberal tradition Charles Gore (1853–1932) draws the strands of remembrance, encounter with Christ (unity with him) and obedient service. He states that to worship in spirit and in truth is not merely an inward and individual approach to God, but a corporate and outward thing. It is a worship that: ﬁnds central expression in the eucharist, in which, according to the ordinance of Christ, bread and wine are presented to the Father, in the name of the Son, and in memorial of His passion, with adoration and prayer and thanksgiving of sons, and blessed by the Holy Spirit to become the Lord’s body and blood, and partaken by the worshippers that thy may be bound all together in Him... [the] central expression of rational service and bloodless sacriﬁce.73
To participate in the Eucharist is more than an activity of individual mental recollection. Whatever difﬁculties surround language of sacriﬁce and offering 70
See D. Gray, Earth and Altar: The Evolution of the Parish Communion in the Church of England to 1945 (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1986), p. 67. Also ‘Sacramental Socialism’ a paper given by D. Gray at Westcott House, Cambridge for the Richard Hooker Society, Monday, 3 December 2001. 71 R.I. Wilberforce, The Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist (London: 1853); Sermons on the New Birth of Man’s Nature (London: 1850), pp. 22–3, 198–200. 72 Gray, Earth and Altar, p. 3. 73 C. Gore The Body of Christ (London: Murray, 1920), pp. 161–2.
Memory in the Anglican Tradition
we cannot loose sight of the reality identiﬁed by Williams that ‘that moment of relinquishing what is ours is crucial in the eucharistic process’.74 However, presence, encounter and sacriﬁce can only be understood in connection with the past in such a way that Christ’s fullness can be mediated. Eucharistic anamnesis is fundamental to that point of challenge and encounter; presence and sacriﬁce; delight and cost. Within the tradition the Eucharist is variously described as a memorial of the passion, food of the Church, a preﬁguring of future glory; or proclamation, praise and union with Christ. All of these dimensions are necessary, and are held together within anamnesis. Memory of the past is decisive for interpreting the present and carries us into the future: ‘common memory treasures that cannot only tell us how we have got where we are, but also point to where we might go in the years come’.75 The eucharistic ‘doing’ in remembrance is where the depths of Christian memory are plumbed to make the past present; to lead into transformation; and to enable costly giving in the light of God’s future. In each generation the Church has confronted, and will continue to face, its own particular concerns and preoccupations. Within the Anglican heritage, theologians have wrestled with the meaning and implications of participating in the Eucharist. In this context, our own consideration of anamnesis is not an innovation or diversion. An appreciation of the Eucharist’s relation to a particular historical person and event, the mystery of its nourishing and transforming effects in the present and the practical outcomes of a renewed vision of future hope and self giving service are never far from the surface. Religious turmoil can have a polarising inﬂuence amidst the threads of Anglicanism, but there is a common concern for the ultimate mystery of the sacrament, the importance of fellowship within the Church, and the necessity of responsive, demanding and joyful self offering. The historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ are held together. This is the breadth of context out of which David Ford, Catherine Pickstock and Rowan Williams emerge. They wrestle with similar concerns yet they approach them with differing theological frameworks. The concept of anamnesis has a place in their engagements with the Eucharist bringing into sharper focus some of the issues raised in this chapter, from the nature of memory, hope and gift to transformation, mission and service.
Williams, Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994), p. 111. Stevenson, ‘The Mystery of Sacriﬁce’, p. 192.
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What Happens in the Eucharist? Story and Transformation Introduction This chapter explores the contribution made by David Ford to eucharistic theology and his focus on the transformation that is made possible by faithful obedience to the command to ‘do this in remembrance’. Ford is Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge and his writing expresses his concern for the nature of the academy’s responsibility to both Church and society. He takes history and scripture seriously: a methodology that is reﬂected in his commitment to the development of a theology grounded in wisdom. Ford’s theology also emphasises our ethical responsibility in relation to each other. This reﬂects the inﬂuence of Levinas, Jüngel and Ricoeur, his chosen dialogue partners in Self and Salvation. It is in this book that Ford writes at length about the connection between participation in the Eucharist and Christian living. For him, encounter with Christ is grounded in the command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’.1 By drawing on John’s Gospel, Ford asserts the radical nature of the Eucharist as improvisation on the command to ‘do this’. His discussion of the consequences and effects of participating in the Eucharist is characterised by improvisation upon Christ’s words of institution as epitomised by the Johannine narrative of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Ford understands the effects of the Eucharist in mainly interpersonal terms, and this is exempliﬁed in the way in which he is able to address issues arising in particular parish contexts, for example in Urban Priority Areas. Signiﬁcantly, mission is based on the enactment of obedient service, grounded in the anamnesis. This exploration of David Ford’s eucharistic theology falls into three main sections. Firstly, I aim to establish some of the central themes and concepts that make up his theological framework. This includes his consideration of narrative, and the place of the pursuit of wisdom in the academy, church and society. It also considers how the dynamics of praise, transformation and action that emerge relate to the life of the Church corporately and individually. Secondly, I focus attention on Self and Salvation, which provides us with a more systematic attention to the place of memory in the sacrament, and also consolidates the emerging themes as well as providing a substantial philosophical and theological underpinning for Ford’s theology. Finally, I spend some time discussing Ford’s response to Radical Orthodoxy. This is signiﬁcant in terms of his wider concerns for the future shape 1 D. Ford, Self and Salvation: Being Transformed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
of British theology. It is also a theological movement which is home to our second Anglican contributor, Catherine Pickstock. Throughout it will be important to note where Ford locates the source event of anamnesis, the nature of the effects and whether his use of memory does indeed form a language of connection. System, Story, Performance David Ford has given a great deal of consideration to the role and impact of narrative upon western theology. This interest emerged in his doctoral work and is one which he has pursued subsequently.2 His work illustrates the inter-relationship between the Christian story as retold and performed and the understanding of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist. Some early contributions to narrative theology subordinated the Eucharist was to the verbal retelling of the Christian story.3 However, Ford claims that in order for ‘story’ to maintain its rational, moral and spiritual integrity it must be ‘in continual, critical interaction’ with both ‘system’ and ‘performance’.4 Together these three categories make up the way in which human and Christian identity can be conceived. Performance is at the heart of the story, and has three key dynamics: praise and prayer; community life; prophecy in word and action.5 Although Ford relates these dynamic elements of performance to systematic theology, they are equally important for the Eucharist, enabling it to inspire and maintain a sacriﬁcial lifestyle. He notes that Christian worship is not an ‘afﬁrmation of general truths’ or the ‘interior state of communion of the soul with God’, but a ‘social meal and word-centered community informed by the key events of the Christian story’.6 Ford reiterates the point that self-involvement, or participation, is crucial to learning the way of living in the Christian community, by sharing in its thinking, language and behaviour. However, the interplay between system, story and performance is vital to discern truth and avoid distortion; it also allows for the complex co-inherence of past, present and future. Ford writes that Jesus’ resurrection: ‘informs and transforms systematic conceptions of ontology or God and other doctrines. It establishes and illumines the primacy of the story witnessing to Jesus; liberates an explosion of new worship, community building, prophetic speech and action, generating new particularities’.7 Responsible actions and relationships, 2 D. Ford, ‘Barth’s Interpretation of the Bible’, in S.W. Sykes, ed., Karl Barth: Studies of his Theological Method (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979); Barth and God’s Story: Biblical Narrative and the Theological Method of Karl Barth in the Church Dogmatics (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1981). Ford, ‘System, Story, Performance: A Proposal about the Role of Narrative in Systematic Theology’, in Stanley Hauerwas and L. Gregory Jones, eds., Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1989), pp. 191–215. 3 Stroup is a proponent of this position, as outlined in The Promise of Narrative Theology (Atlanta GA: John Knox Press, 1981). 4 Ford, ‘System, Story, Performance’, p. 191. 5 Ford, ‘System, Story, Performance’, p. 191. 6 Ford, ‘System, Story, Performance’, p. 201. 7 Ford, ‘System, Story, Performance’, p. 215.
What Happens in the Eucharist?
grounded in attentiveness to story, system and performance, are intrinsically bound up with wisdom. In this context, memory is bound up with participation in the sacramental retelling of the Christian story. Memory maintains faithful connection to the past in the present context, but also opens up the possibility of prophetic witness in the future. Such an understanding shapes the Church’s mission. Theology seeking Wisdom One of the underlying concerns within the range of Ford’s writing is that of seeking wisdom. His interest in this area marks the beginning of a shift from doctrinal categories in theology towards a wisdom focused approach. Theology in this guise has responsibilities beyond the academy – to religious communities and to society at large.8 These concerns are articulated in his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Cambridge, A Long Rumour of Wisdom: Redescribing Theology.9 Responsibility to the academy demands excellence in the study of language, text, tradition and psychology, to name but a few of the facets of religion. The aim is to achieve a multidimensional wisdom and to resist the uncoordinated and inadequate fragmentation into specialisms.10 Through this process of ongoing research and communication questions about truth must be asked in an environment which facilitates critical and constructive discussion and disputation. Clearly, there is also a responsibility to educate students at all levels – encouraging engagement with a breadth of skills and areas of study which are necessary for life in a complex world. As a layman, Ford regards the presence of such ‘lay theologians’ as being important in society, alongside those preparing for ofﬁcial ministry.11 Thus, the study of theology has the potential to contribute to enabling society to transcend itself, to pursue wisdom by taking the risk of tackling large questions, and making the profundities of the past available to the present, for study, criticism and retrieval. There is considerable overlap between the theological needs of religious communities, and the tasks of university theology outlined above – ‘studying the elaborate particularity of religions, exploring questions of truth and practice and offering a good education’ – which means that there are close ties between church and university.12 The education of the wider church membership in ‘living for truth and wisdom’ needs to be near the top of the theological agenda so that those who inhabit faith traditions can become more than ‘tourists’, and this means that the deepest questions have to be engaged with.13
8 One area of concern with regard to Catherine Pickstock’s theology is a lack of engagement with these wider issues. Theology cannot limit itself to the academy, but both Ford and Williams have much more explicit points of responsibility and connection. 9 A Long Rumour of Wisdom: Redescribing Theology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 10 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 8. 11 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 10. 12 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 13. 13 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, pp. 14–15.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Academic theology also has a responsibility to society, which builds upon the former responsibilities, and incorporates the importance of an ongoing public discourse with regard to religions, and the questions about matters of truth and life which they prompt. This is important because ‘the sponsoring of spheres of respectful study and communication’ is a step towards a harmonious public life.14 Ford accepts that theological treatments of the legal system and science, to name but two spheres of concern, rarely enter mainstream debate, but this makes rigorous engagement with the contemporary world a matter of urgency.15 Ford embarks upon a description of the ‘wisdom’ which he envisages will enable responsible relationships.16 It is a word that is deeply rooted in both Hellenic and Hebraic tradition. It is not content with closure in knowledge, but in pursuing further questions, it reaches for universality through the generations; it demands attentiveness and a respect for otherness. It is also associated with people and ‘with their engagement in the complexities of living’.17 In the face of fragmentation and generalizations Ford looks to wisdom as a means of providing fresh insights and stability for today. For this to happen there has to be attentiveness to the biblical wisdom tradition, in which the wise mind is formed by relationship to God in love, prayer and praise. Such ‘theocentric and self-critical understanding’ is further speciﬁed in Christian thought – to see Jesus Christ cruciﬁed as the wisdom of God leads the attentive to wrestle with ‘radical questions’.18 Indeed, Ford states that to afﬁrm this God as ‘Trinitarian is to be part of one of the most extraordinary adventures of wisdom’.19 This is signiﬁcant because such ‘wisdom of habitation’ resonates throughout his discussion of the eucharistic imperative as the self is shaped through the liturgy.20 As we shall see, the Eucharist also enables the development of responsible, relational wisdom, focusing on the effects of the connection with Christ. Praise and Transformation One example of Ford’s concern to extend the commitment of theological engagement beyond the remit of the academy is his involvement with the church in urban areas. This is particularly relevant as we seek to articulate the connection between anamnesis and mission. Ford is a contributor to God in the City: Essays and Reﬂections from the 14
Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 16. Ford also notes that to disengage with the past, or to fail to cultivate the requisite specialist skills are also betrayals of the theological enterprise. 16 Ford expands upon the themes of the pursuit of wisdom in relation to collegiality and wider responsibilities in The Future of the University, Lady Margaret’s sermon, commemoration of benefactors, preached in University Church, Great St. Mary’s Cambridge, on Sunday November 4th, 2001. 17 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 21. 18 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 25. 19 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom, p. 25. 20 Ford, Self and Salvation: Being Transformed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 165. 15
What Happens in the Eucharist?
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Urban Theology Group, and the issues he raises (with A. McFadyen as co-author in one instance) are particularly pertinent in relation to the Eucharist. The themes of transformation and praise are central here. In ‘Praise’ McFadyen and Ford speak of God who, as creator, takes responsibility for the whole of creation and enters into its distortion and pain, opening up a future through and beyond evil through the resurrection. This God invites us to an ‘equally radical and loving involvement with the world, through which unimaginable transformations are promised’ as we are drawn into his future: ‘praise of this God is the ultimate realism’.21 The Psalms are typical of a praise which gathers all human life into an intense and creative conversation with God, who is both horizon and centre. Reality can be imagined differently and ‘enlivening’ can occur: in praise ‘reality is being shaped, not just in the world of the imagination or understanding, but concretely through the forming of a community’.22 Ford focuses on the Eucharist as the central element of Christian worship: describing it as an act of thanks and praise with the cruciﬁed God at the heart. He continues, it is gathering around ‘the body broken for the world’ to which people can bring their whole selves – their sins and joys, hopes and guilt – to be fed and transformed.23 The climax of the Eucharist is the ‘face-to-face sharing of peace, bread and wine, in memory of the last supper but also in anticipation of the feast of the kingdom of God’, and its conclusion is the being sent back out into the world to live and work to the praise and glory of God.24 The connection that Ford identiﬁes between memory and anticipation, between sharing in bread and wine and service in the world exempliﬁes what has been said elsewhere about the nature of anamnesis, both within Anglicanism and ecumenism. The Eucharist presents a profound challenge, and stands against both complacency and self-centeredness. Through it we are presented with both betrayal and the abundance of God. Our immersion in it overﬂows in praise – and ‘that praise itself is the dynamic of an overﬂow which permeates all the rest of life’.25 Many other transformative and creative activities ﬂow out from the Eucharist, among them is a sense of the ultimate dignity of people before God and one another. Indeed ‘facing God in love means facing others in love – and it is in the faces of each other that we have most chance of glimpsing the image of God’, such that no one should be
21 Ford and A. McFadyen, ‘Praise’ in P. Sedgwick (ed.), God in the City: Essays and Reﬂections from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Urban Theology Group (London: Mowbray, 1995), p. 96. Ford’s original discussion of praise as a means of incorporating worship, doctrine, experience and action can be found in D. Ford and D.W. Hardy, Jubilate: Theology in Praise (London: DLT, 1984). 22 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97. 23 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97. 24 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97. The image of the face, and the language of facing is central to Ford’s Self and Salvation, and will be explored in depth below. However, it is worth noting here that it comes out of work with Levinas. Ford’s understanding of eucharistic transformation is a very interpersonal account, which also reﬂects the inﬂuence of Levinas’ own ethics based on the face of the other. 25 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
permitted to be ‘faceless’ or marginalised within or without the community of faith.26 The Church should be a community of solidarity, respect and dignity. The following description of the Church by Ford has resonance with the language used by Rowan Williams when he describes it as a place where the voices of the voiceless can be heard: ‘There is a vocation of the Church to be a sanctuary of transformation ... places of refuge and even asylum ... “signs” of transcendence and prophecy, just by existing’.27 For Ford, the consequences of this reality should be truth telling, the meeting of material needs and a deeper sense of loyalty. Praise is an activity that orientates the community towards the future – showing how present conditions are in opposition to God’s will; energising commitment to a different future; helping to set out an agenda for change.28 The starting point is to imagine things differently in the light of God’s decisive and abundant reality. It is suggested that the Church in each place ﬁnds ‘multiple ways of remembering who God is and who people are in God’s sight’, ranging from worship to protest, celebrations to friendship.29 To live in this way is to obey the commands of Christ ‘follow me’, ‘do this in remembrance of me’, ‘I send you’ which call forth the response ‘my Lord, my God’. The Eucharist calls forth our obedience and responsiveness as we encounter Christ afresh each time we ‘do this’. This repeated pattern of anamnesis cannot be cut off from the imperative to engage in mission. As we repeatedly remember, we are repeatedly sent out. Eucharistic praise is not just about the way in which people’s lives are placed in the context of the divine but also about the way in which time is shaped and punctuated. Stories can be remembered, told, and learnt from; worship acts as a point of convergence and interweaving of Christian and other stories; the drama of the Eucharist provides the decisive plot; in worship ‘the past is taken up in thanks and repentance, the present is lived before the face of God, and we enter the future blessed’.30 It is in these ﬁnal comments that the signiﬁcance of memory in relation to worship – particularly the Eucharist – is related to the life of the Church and community. If praise is the key inspiration of transformative activity in the present, acknowledging the past honestly and imagining a different future before the face of God, then it is necessary to engage with Ford in his understanding of what such transformation entails. Once again, he roots his theological reﬂection on the nature of transformation in the experience of UPAs. Not only are these places of transformation, but they also present a challenge to what is ‘good transformation’. At the heart of the Church’s understanding of transformation lies the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and his presence in the community and the orientation towards meeting him face to face. It is the face that ate and drank, the face that was transﬁgured and the face that was agonized: ‘a dead face; strangely unrecognized yet recognizable in stories of resurrection appearances; breathing the Spirit, giving 26 27 28 29 30
Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 98. Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 98. Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 98. Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 103. Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 104.
What Happens in the Eucharist?
blessing; and then related to in faith, shining in hearts, desired above all’.31 Jesus’ own ministry was made up of face to face encounters, as he gathered and shaped his disciples into a meal centred community. Thus, Christian transformation is face to face, and ‘without this face [the face of Christ] and the continuing face-to-face community and communication there would be no Christianity’.32 The process of transformation into Christ-likeness is made up of fragility as well as glory, as Paul was very much aware as he writes to the Church in Corinth.33 In Self and Salvation, Ford continues his exploration of this language of facing with particular reference to the Hebrew panim which conveys the meaning ‘presence’ as well as ‘face’. Here he focuses on the implications of the human reality that our lives are lived out before the faces of others, both present and remembered. The formation of identity is essentially interpersonal. At a deeper level the dynamic of the Church – its faith, hope and love – is profoundly ‘face-orientated. Its calling is to be the Body of Christ, facing others as he did’.34 Formation and transformation are both bound up with encounters ‘face to face, over time in complicated stories’; attentiveness to such stories allows us to distil their wisdom and value.35 It might appear that focusing on the dynamics of praise fails to acknowledge the reality of the painful and tragic contingencies of life but for Ford, praise and transformation are grounded in a total conﬁdence in God’s inclusive hospitality. Ford identiﬁes in Ephesians a daring statement of human identity – about spiritual blessing, being destined in love to be children of God, being caught up in a process that culminates in all being united in Christ.36 He writes that rather than ignoring the tragic, Christian dignity is so ﬁrmly rooted in God and God’s abundance that, through all that happens, we can be sure that those things do not have the last word and are not the basic reality ... [we are] offered an identity that cannot ignore any tragic realities, that sees its own reality bound up with suffering, violence and death represented “through his blood”.37
The sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist embody this dignity in a dynamic way. Ford contends that through participation in worship and prayer the community, ethics and politics are energised – and as people mature into that hospitable and challenging identity they become a sign of what is possible.38 Speech and conﬁdent expression in creative word and gesture are the means by which Christian identity becomes accessible, and Christian speech has to be improvised upon as people learn to tell their own stories and to inhabit the liturgy: ‘vitality of language and the living
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
Ford, ‘Transformation’ in God in the City, pp. 199–200. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 200. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6–7. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 200. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 201. This also reﬂects Ford’s increasing interest in wisdom. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 202. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 203, citing Ephesians 1:7. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 203.
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world of being that it creates and expands are realisations of the ‘speech-giving Spirit’.39 Ford makes it clear that there are no formulae for transformation, but suggests that Churches can ﬂourish when they are clear about their centre and open about their boundaries: being one new humanity, rooted in Christ and overcoming religious, social and cultural divisions.40 Some of this is the positive experience of worship and the discovery of abilities, but it also includes the difﬁculties, ambiguities and tensions prevalent in any society. Thus, transformation requires long-term perseverance – a gradual maturing of gifts and the conﬁdence that destructive behaviour will be reﬁgured.41 The Church becomes a context for ethical discernment and character formation through life with others before God, shaping the basic relationships of society: ‘it is through such face-to-face meetings that hearts are most deeply encouraged. The line goes back face by face to Jesus and back again, family by family, and meal by meal to Moses and beyond; then forward, Eucharist by Eucharist down to today and around the world’, and we might add forward with the communion of saints to the great future hope of the eschatological banquet.42 The way in which the anamnetic connection functions here is fundamentally interpersonal, just as Ford also stresses the importance of the effects of transformative encounter with Christ in personal relationships. The Shape of Living Ford himself contends that the theologian’s commitment extends beyond the academy to the Church. In his case, one example of this is the publication of a Lent Book, The Shape of Living. He begins by describing the ‘multiple overwhelmings’ that abound in daily life, and aims to present a practical wisdom to cope with these changes and challenges. Each chapter is a response to a series of life shaping questions ranging from those people who are most important to us; our longings, passions, obsessions and our soul in relation to God and others. The book culminates in the most painful aspects of life (suffering and death) before concerning itself with joy, feasting and hospitality grounded in the resurrection which can overwhelm death itself.43 Ford does not prescribe a series of simple answers to questions arising from daily life. Instead he describes a ‘series of signposts’, one of which is the Eucharist. Ford’s discussion of our use of time is grounded in the basic truth that our time is God’s time, allowing us the freedom to improvise.44 This embraces the wisdom of the Church year. Ford also sees improvisation as part of our response to the reality 39
Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 203. Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 204, citing Ephesians 2. 41 Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 207, citing Ephesians 6:18. 42 Ford, ‘Transformation’, p. 209. 43 Ford, The Shape of Living (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. xxiv. 44 We have examined the way in which J. Begbie explores theology through music most effectively, including themes of improvisation and the concept of non-identical repetition, which are also important in Ford’s work, particularly within Self and Salvation in which Ford 40
What Happens in the Eucharist?
of Christ which we encounter in the Eucharist. Easter is the climax of the Church’s year, but the drama of Christ’s life, death and resurrection is at the very heart of each celebration of the Eucharist. Day by day, week by week, we are enabled to re-identify with that drama in new ways, seeing our own lives in its light. Over the course of years this repeated pattern of ‘can transform our sense of time past, present and future ... we begin to live in eucharistic time, remembering, living and hoping in Jesus Christ’.45 With regard to the past, Ford identiﬁes a ‘double practice’ generated by remembering Christ. It is in part an act of thanksgiving for that which is good, in such a way that the good of the past is ‘present to us again, and ... shape[s] the present and future’.46 It is in part a lamentation: seeking forgiveness for the bad by acknowledging it rather than repressing it, and denying it power over the present and future. In the Eucharist we encounter Christ in the present: ‘he gives himself to us afresh and intensiﬁes both our joy and our responsibility in each moment’ as we live before his face.47 Our future is reshaped too as our ‘ultimate judgement and joy will be before [Christ’s] face’ as he embodies our hope, so he should be the ground of all plans leading us to consider how our lives can become a continuation of that story.48 Ford returns to the Eucharist in his chapter on the ‘overwhelmings’ of suffering and death in an attempt to address the question of the healing nature of worship. At the Last Supper Jesus identiﬁes his own body and blood with the bread and wine, and calls his followers into the very same ‘costly and risky process’ which we are united with as we participate in the Eucharist.49 His own compassion and vulnerable love is a way of healing – through death – so we must trust that ‘there is no depth of suffering, evil or death that cannot be plumbed by him’.50 However, there is the risk that Ford makes the resolution too easy. His emphasis on the language of abundance leads him to a vision of the Church as a ‘succession of feasts’.51 This springs from Israel’s tradition of festivals (not least the Passover celebration), and Jesus’ own practice and teaching of hospitality to those who were poor and marginalised which culminated in the Last Supper when he commands the disciples to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ – leading to centuries of repetition.52 Such a vision of the Kingdom has radical consequences for the community as it extends hospitality in new ways. However, after meditating on numerous examples of this outﬂowing, Ford also notes that such feasting is not devoid of gravity and tragedy. He tries to resist equating joy with continuous painlessness, attempting to hold the
explores the way John’s Gospel calls the Christian community to a life of improvisation on our Christ’s command to ‘to do this’. 45 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 134. 46 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 134. 47 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 135. 48 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 135. 49 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 149. 50 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 149. 51 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 165. 52 Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 165.
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depth and intensity of both together.53 It is a strategy that avoids the accusation that joy supersedes the tragic in a formulaic way. Ford focuses on the joy and abundance of the Christian life (reﬂecting the priority of praise within his theology), but the way in which things work out is sometimes more complex than a straightforward resolution. It is important not to confuse joy with a naïve optimism as that would not be an adequate response to suffering. Death and resurrection together enable the celebration of the Eucharist; however, the liturgy and its source event are mingled with a realistic ambiguity. The anamnesis is rooted in betrayal as well as promise, pain as well as joyful recognition. The realities of joy and transformation are Ford’s answer to the question of ‘why church?’ Joy is to be realistic; it is not without pain or suffering. Joy identiﬁes grace, encouragement, peace, hope, blessing and faith, connecting them to the resurrection of Jesus and the dynamics of worship, and sets them within an eschatological perspective; there is also joy in the risen face of Christ, the source of all authority.54 Joy is in the life of God and the life of the Church: it is both divine and embodied in community; it is both scandalous and subversive.55 This is grounded in two key events: the historical embodiment of God’s realistic joy which has faced sin, evil and death and the unlimited self-distribution of God in joy, generating a new community of worship, fellowship and witness. Joy is central to Ford’s understanding of the Church: he writes, ‘the most comprehensive horizon within which to understand and imagine the Church is that of full corporate participation in the life of a God of joy’.56 The Church is more than community. If it is understood in relation to the anamnetic connectedness of the historical and sacramental embodiments of Christ, then its participation in the divine life is a matter of receiving and mediating that fullness. It is not a community formed by bonds of human choice, nor is it self-contained. It has a particular missiological impetus. Ford perceives that the crossing and transformation of boundaries is central to the Gospel, opening up a vision of a new ‘space’ in Christ that will, in the fullness of time, have the capacity to gather up all things in heaven and earth. The fullness of time and social space are related to the transformation of social boundaries.57 The Formation of the Self In Self and Salvation Ford develops his use of the image of the face to offer an account of the transformation of the self. He begins by engaging with Levinas, Jüngel and Ricoeur in order to rethink the meaning of self, and goes on to explore dimensions of salvation by plumbing the depths of some of the richest areas for Christian understanding of the ‘worshipping self’. He is aiming to place theology in the contexts in which Christian selfhood is shaped – the biblical text, the sacrament of the Eucharist, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the histories of two 53 54 55 56 57
Ford, The Shape of Living, p. 166. Ford, ‘Why Church?’, in Scottish Journal of Theology 53/1 (2000), pp. 57–8. Ford, ‘Why Church?’, p. 59. Ford, ‘Why Church?’, p. 60. Ford, ‘Why Church?’, p. 61.
What Happens in the Eucharist?
‘saints’, Bonhoeffer and Thérèse of Lisieux.58 He draws together several themes and concepts – including blessing, facing, improvisation and transformation – leading to the presentation of a concept of salvation which ‘is of people in full worship of God, with the main concentration on ordinary living’.59 Although my primary concern is to examine the way in which Ford treats the Eucharist, and in particular the concept of anamnesis within this, it is impossible to do this in isolation. In Self and Salvation Ford hopes that we, as readers, might be ‘grasped (or grasped afresh) by the desire to be transformed before the face of Christ’.60 Ford believes that ‘the self, as one key contemporary locus of identity, crisis and transformation, is symbolised by the dynamics of human facing’.61 Consequently he prefaces his development of a philosophical and theological understanding of the self with a meditation on the face. This evokes the complexity, subtlety, abundance and simplicity of human selfhood in relation to biology, gender, politics, sin, salvation and God, to cite just some of the loci of interaction. Ford also seeks to explore the possibility of conceiving self and salvation in a way which learns from twentiethcentury philosophers. He develops their thought in a critical manner by doing constructive theology. To pursue this aim, he engages with Levinas and Ricoeur, who both develop a Husserlian phenomenology in relation to their particular religious traditions (Judaism and Christianity) against the backdrop of the broader Western philosophical tradition. Alongside these dialogue partners, he introduces Jüngel in order to ‘work out what theology is’ and to give a more explicitly theological content to the emerging idea of self and salvation.62 To begin with, Ford explores Levinas’ multifaceted account of human existence presented in Totality and Inﬁnity: An Essay on Exteriority. Levinas’ ethics is related to the face of the other, which he develops in his account through enjoyment, responsibility and desire – interpreted by Ford as a ‘hospitable self’.63 Freedom is also given an ethical dimension by Levinas. It is not defective if it is limited, but rather it should be relativised in response to the face of the other.64 Ford brings Levinas’ later work on responsibility as sacriﬁcial and substitutionary into dialogue with Jüngel, and explores their mutual concern to conceive of a ‘non-idolatrous self’. For each, a substitutionary self is central – the person of Christ for Jüngel, or each responsible ‘I’ for Levinas – and both resist idolatry. This engagement leads to Ford’s suggestion that Levinas’ notion of responsibility can be combined with Jüngel’s notion of joy.65 Ford works this out in relation to God, language and love, leading to the possibility of a ‘self without idols’ being a ‘worshipping self’.66 58
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 9. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 45. 60 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 13. 61 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 7. 62 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 8. 63 Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 41, 44. 64 E. Levinas, Totality and Inﬁnity: An Essay on Exteriority (Duquesne University Press: Pittsburgh, 1969), p. 83f. 65 Levinas, Totality and Inﬁnity, p.219; E. Jüngel , God as the Mystery of the World (Wm. B. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1983), p. 192. 66 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 73. 59
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Ford does argues that neither Levinas nor Jüngel offer a satisfactory account of a worshipping self, and therefore he introduces Ricoeur to the dialogue in order to develop the concept of ‘oneself as another’ which resists both the ‘idea of a selfpositing of the “I”’, and the ‘“shattered cogito” in fragmentation’.67 For Ricoeur, ‘the other’ – a concept that is open to construals beyond the reference to other people, including our bodies and God – is central to selfhood. Ford’s notion of ‘the worshipping self, before the face of Christ and other people, in an “economy of superabundance”’ is forged from the development, intensiﬁcation and transformation of Ricoeur’s philosophical account of the self though biblical faith.68 The inﬂuence of Levinas, Jüngel and Ricoeur upon Ford’s theology is signiﬁcant and it is not surprising that his Eucharistic theology is construed in interpersonal and ethical terms. In Part Two of Self and Salvation – Flourishings – Ford attempts ‘to do theology in places where selfhood has been most profoundly and signiﬁcantly shaped, looking at a biblical text, a sacrament, Jesus Christ, and the speciﬁcity of the lives of two “saints”’.69 Scripture plays a central part in Ford’s theology, and in Self and Salvation he chooses to focus on Ephesians, which he regards as a transformative communication. The process of communication is ‘intrinsic to salvation’, and the Church is part of that movement of ‘making God’s wisdom known’.70 He summarises chapters 1–3 as exemplifying the ‘fundamental dynamics of transformative communication in blessing, proclamation, praise, thanksgiving and intercession’; whilst chapters 4–5 are about the gifts, virtues, habits and distortions of ‘communication in ordinary life’ of the community.71 The words Ford chooses to describe the nature of God according to this letter are ‘abundance’ and ‘fullness’. Flowing from this sense of God’s abundance, there is a sense of the fulﬁlment of God’s promises: that Christians are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places. This afﬁrmation of realized eschatology does not negate the reality that the community of faith is also engaged in a long process of building up a mature Church engaged in the serious business of transforming social relationships. All this is held together in the context of worship: ‘face to face community of praise’.72 Eucharistic worship not only enables the Church to be Christ’s body, but connects to the ecclesial, historical and sacramental embodiments of Christ, but also reminds it of that connection across time. Christ’s death and resurrection have been a decisive transformation within history, whose purpose is the uniting of all things and whose ‘present historical embodiment is this community participating in the purpose and abundance of God towards all’.73 Christ’s death is transformative and reshapes human boundaries. Ford notes the frequent use of the phrases ‘in Christ’ and ‘in the Lord’ reﬂects this conviction. 67 68 69 70 71 72 73
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 99. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 9. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 9. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 109. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 109. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 117. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 116.
What Happens in the Eucharist?
The new communal space opened up by Christ is ﬁlled with prayer and praise, and the new self is formed in this new place through baptism. Ford goes on to say that this ‘inclusive, uncrowded space of song’ is that which ‘embodies a distinctive unity’ that demonstrates attentiveness to the other.74 Reﬂecting themes picked up by Jeremy Begbie and Rowan Williams, Ford considers the way in which music and song lead to a rethinking of time. He identiﬁes in Ephesians a connection between the prominence of thanksgiving and repetition. The ‘gift of something utterly good’ demands the ‘response of gratitude, which is characteristically expressed in endless variations on the same theme’.75 The gift is life in Christ. Gratitude ‘can be endlessly creative “non-identical repetitions”’.76 This notion is an important one in relation to history. If history is seen as merely continuous, with endless progress, it becomes mechanical. However, if the focus is placed on a series of particular moments, any sense of continuity is lost. The concept of non-identical repetition is an attempt to hold together continuity and innovation in a fruitful way. Ford focuses on the interpersonal and ethical outworking of this creative activity. The formation of the self through worship is not merely about the individual. In Ephesians there emerges a concern for the corporate body, including the nature of unity and the political question of living amidst a pluralist society. As Ford notes, the Church envisaged in that epistle ‘sustains human dignity without excluding anyone; its ethic of reconciliation faces religious, racial, cultural and household issues’.77 Such detailed engagement with the word of Scripture in community leads Ford to explore the dynamics of the Eucharist: ‘the “sacrament” which is most formative of the worshipping self in Christian community’.78 Ford’s discussion of the Eucharist emphasises transformation and obedience. The Eucharist has always been intrinsic to the Church and its identity, but since the Medieval/Reformation controversies – which gave rise to explicit Eucharistic theologies – most theological inquiry has tended to focus on sacriﬁce and real presence. Ecumenical discussion inevitably follows this trend, although BEM does have a wider consideration of the Eucharist. In contrast to these approaches, Ford explores the question of ‘how the self is shaped through eucharistic worship’, reﬂecting upon the nature of face to face relationships, the Eucharistic imperative, time and prophetic drama.79 This summary of themes indicates that for Ford, the Eucharist is about encounter and transformation at several levels, which is linked to the command to ‘do this’: ‘remembering of this person through this event becomes the context for one’s vocation and the bond of one’s community ... remembering is false if it is not connected with entering more fully into the contingencies and tragic potentialities of life in the face of evil and death’.80 Paradoxically the Last Supper is both full of 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 121. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 123. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 123. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 133. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 136. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 138. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 147.
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life and a rehearsal for death. This actuality is potently revealed in George Steiner’s essay ‘The Two Suppers’.81 That paradox also relates to a profound reversal epitomised in the celebration of the Eucharist: Jesus’ death unlocks in us our freedom to obey. Remembrance of the Gospel events culminating in Jesus’ death and resurrection at the Eucharist is not mere recall. Anamnesis is a profound concept at the heart of eucharistic theology, shaping Christian belief and practice. It unites the past, present and future and also presents a demand to the participants, as they too are taken, blessed, broken and given. It is anamnesis that forms the bonds of connection with the life and death anticipated by the source event of the Last Supper, which enables receptive transformation through the corporate practice of memory. Ford does not focus on the Last Supper as the source event of the Church. Again the cause is known in its effects: in terms of ethical outworking and improvisation on the Johannine example of Christ washing his disciples’ feet. Ford goes on to explore the nature of incorporation in relation to Eucharistic time and non-identical repetition: ‘history is punctuated by obedience to the command “Do this” ... eucharistic time is time understood and shaped through the reality celebrated repeatedly in the eucharist’.82 This ongoing anamnesis of the Eucharistic celebration is not a mere spectacle, endlessly and unchangingly repeated. If modernity is stereotyped as being ﬁxated with identical repetition, standardisation and fundamentalism of interpretation, the post-modern condition is stereotyped by a reaction against this: disintegration of identity and multiplicity of interpretation.83 Here we glimpse something of Ricoeur’s inﬂuence upon Ford’s thought. He suggests that Ricoeur has set out a third way, based on his emphasis on ‘oneself as other’, which avoids ‘the polarised alternatives of strict correspondence or the abandonment of reference’.84 This is relevant to the Eucharist because ‘discussion of the reference of narrative culminates in replacing the concept of reference by the more embracing and rigorous concept of reﬁguration’.85 Thus, the ‘eucharistic performance can be seen as a complex “standing for” which constantly reﬁgures in order to pay its debt of memory’: improvisation is part of the reﬁguring and constitutes what Ford calls ‘non-identical repetition’.86 Paradoxically, what has been completed continues as the good overﬂows into continuing life. Thus, Ford concludes that the best summary of the Eucharist is the blessing of Jesus Christ. Blessing maintains the priority of God, without diminishing humanity and is at the heart of non-identical repetition.87 This principle is illustrated by reference to the Johannine ‘improvisation’ on the institution narrative, which radicalises the command to ‘do this’ by linking it to the imperative to love one another, and the enactment of
G. Steiner, ‘The Two Suppers’ in No Passions Spent: Essays 1978–1996 (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), pp. 390–419. 82 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 152. 83 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 152. 84 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 152. 85 Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 152–3. 86 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 153. 87 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 155–6.
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an ethos of obedient service. John focuses on the cross and resurrection in relation to building the community, giving a rationale for ongoing ‘faithful innovation’ and the role of the Holy Spirit in the activity of remembering.88 The self formed by the Eucharist is characterised under four headings, which, although not referring explicitly to anamnesis itself, illustrate the way in which the key notion of memory can function with a broader scope than that which is allowed for in the ecumenical discussions. Firstly the self is blessed. Ford focuses on the Baptism as the initiating sacrament of blessing as that which signiﬁes the reality of God’s abundance. It is eucharistic practice that sustains the life of the baptised: it continues the dynamic of blessing and being blessed within the abundance of God’s love.89 The cause of such abundance and blessing is only known in its effects. Secondly, the self is placed. Baptism and the Eucharist are new placings of the self within a community that is oriented towards the face of Christ through Baptism and the Eucharist. Thirdly, the self is timed: ‘history is punctuated with eucharists which can transﬁgure time through this interweaving of the ordinary and extraordinary’.90 Lives are caught up in the epoch-making event of Christ’s death and resurrection, reenacted in the Eucharist, and which enables wisdom about the use of time to ﬂourish in feasting and fasting, joy and responsibility. Finally, the self is commanded. By participating in the Eucharist the self is placed face to face, in faith, hope and love, with the ‘one who commands that this be done in memory of him’.91 The imperative ‘do this’ implies a wisdom of habitation which is embodied in liturgical practices which shapes the self as the ‘practices are interwoven with the rest of life’.92 This illustrates the way in which Ford’s theology focuses on the effects of encountering Christ in the Eucharist. These effects are primarily interpersonal and ethical. A risk associated with this is that the sense of the Church as a corporate body is lost. Any number of face-to-face encounters cannot add up to a true sense of community. This limitation goes back to the inﬂuence of Levinas amongst others who also focus on the ethical and interpersonal. Throughout Self and Salvation Ford has aimed to weave together two propositions: that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection are the primary focus in a Christian understanding of salvation; and that the centrality of worship for understanding self and salvation. These culminate in the celebration of the Eucharist, which Ford describes as: a habitus, the practice of selves whose ‘other’ is Jesus Christ. He mediates the blessing and abundance of God; he commands ‘Do this!’: he obeys his own imperative by dying; and he incorporates people through a practice of worship which reﬁgures time around the knot of his own death and resurrection ... Again the interweaving of the resurrection of cruciﬁed Jesus Christ with the theme of facing in worship is pivotal.93 88 89 90 91 92 93
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 160. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 162. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 163. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 164. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 165. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 168.
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Having associated the Spirit led activity of remembering with radical improvisation – connecting the source event with ongoing effects in non-identical repetition – it appears that anamnesis drifts out of view. However, ultimately the source event for the blessing and abundance received through the Eucharist is the anamnetic command. A command which anticipated the cross and which is fulﬁlled in Christ’s death and resurrection. In obeying that command, the worshipping community is drawn into connection with Christ. In his chapter on ‘Facing Jesus Christ’ Ford’s focus shifts from the Eucharist to a description of Jesus’ ministry, illustrating why he posed a political threat. However, it was a threat that was not intended as an alternative form of domination or transfer of power, but it did mean ‘facing’ those in authority and presenting his message at the heart of the centre of religious and political power by going to Jerusalem. He goes on to describe how Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God is linked to his victimisation and death, and how he was aware of the dangers ahead as he set his face to Jerusalem.94 Ford continues to develop the theme of the face in his exploration of the signiﬁcance of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the worship of God, understood as ‘that relationship in which there is full human ﬂourishing with God, each other and all creation’.95 Mark 10:45 is regarded by Ford as making the link between Jesus’ politics and his death. The conﬂicts and exchanges during the ﬁnal days in Jerusalem (including his entry on a donkey’s colt, and demonstration in the Temple) raise questions about power, authority and God, which culminate in ‘his “willing victimisation” and his powerlessness on the cross’.96 All of the Gospel narratives portray Jesus’ last breath at the moment of death; however, as Ford notes, the dead face of Jesus has not been the focus of atonement doctrines. Ford himself has not only built up a case for the importance of ‘face and facing’ for engaging in ideas of self and salvation, but through his treatment of the Eucharist has dealt directly with Christ’s death and has related New Testament narratives to ordinary living. In order to engage with the dead face of Jesus, Ford focuses on word panim in the Old Testament material. He notes the diversity of translations – including presence, sight and countenance as well as face – and the range of feeling moods and dispositions expressed.97 Such a detailed survey of the uses of panim in the Pentateuch, Psalms and prophecies gives what Ford describes as a ‘rich, subtle and salvationoriented background for the understanding of the dead face of Jesus on the cross’: the dynamics of Israel’s tradition in worship and prophecy and the life and ministry of Jesus culminating in the events of Holy Week converge on that face.98 That face is bound up with the resurrection. Ford writes of how the resurrection which focuses
Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 190–91. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 191. 96 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 192. 97 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 193. 98 Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 202–3. Ford himself notes that his own summary could be endlessly nuanced, and I have not had time to discuss it in detail here, but for the issues I wish to raise in relation to transformation and the Eucharist, his interpretation is more than adequate. 95
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the ‘attention of memory on the cruciﬁxion’ and regards this ‘time of utter deadness’ to be of signiﬁcance to the act of remembering.99 He acknowledges that resurrection does not entail a ‘simple reversal of all that proceeded’.100 This is a point that Rowan Williams makes very strongly in his exploration of the transformation of memory in the light of encounter with the risen Lord.101 Ford stresses that Christ’s lordship always has at its heart the humility, abandonment and powerlessness of the cross, which was perceived as a victory for those whose power he challenged, and which brought grief and disappointment to his followers. However, it is this face which transforms ‘our conception of what it is to be loved’.102 It is a love which, given the nature of human beings and the world, leads to suffering, misunderstanding and humiliation to the point of martyrdom. Ford offers us studies of the lives of Thérèse of Lisieux and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as examples of this. This does not represent only exceptional Christian lives, but lies at the heart of baptism: ‘the sign of the cross on the forehead responding to the face on the cross’.103 To belong to Christ through baptism entails an acceptance of responsibility on the part of the community of faith. To encounter Christ in the Eucharist – to stand before his face in remembrance – draws the Church into the dynamics of his way of sacriﬁcial living in serving others and resisting the forces of oppression. For Ford, the dead face of Jesus signiﬁes simultaneously the ultimate carrying out of responsibility and the complete handing over of it. Before the dead face one can recognise both someone who gave himself utterly for God and for us ... [and] it is being dead for us, being absent for us, being one who creates by his death a limitless sphere of responsibility for us.104
The exercise of such responsibility is both individual and corporate, involving political and social spheres and systems of power. As Ford illustrates in using the examples of Bonhoeffer’ and Thérèse, the awesome responsibility can be agonising. The resurrection appearances are ‘events of reconciling forgiveness’ and calls us to ‘joint, expanding responsibility in the Spirit of the cruciﬁed Jesus’.105 The face of Christ the victim was considered both as scandalous and foolish, and the remembrance of that image presented a continuing challenge to all religious and 99
Ford, Self and Salvation, pp. 203–4. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 204. 101 Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’ in Open to Judgement, p. 78f; Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994). 102 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 204. 103 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 204. I will not be able to examine Ford’s reﬂection on their lives in detail here, but it is that context that Ford explores the signiﬁcance for ‘relating and being transformed of having the face of the cruciﬁed Jesus Christ shining in our hearts’, p. 206. 104 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 206. 105 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 207. See also Rowan Williams on the resurrection encounters’ call to transformation and challenge in ‘Remembering for the Future’ in Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994), pp. 237–42 and Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994). 100
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political power. It is a ‘dangerous memory’.106 Such a memory lies at the heart of Christian faith and practice, and is indeed the missionary imperative encountered in the sacrament. The framework of interpretation that Ford uses to discuss the resurrection can be summarised as ‘God acts; Jesus appears; the disciples are transformed’.107 It is a ‘God-sized event’ which can only be fully afﬁrmed if all these elements are incorporated: God is free to do ‘new and self-revealing things’; the ﬁrst witnesses’ testimony that Jesus Christ died and is risen is to be trustworthy; in and through all that, transformation is made possible by the Holy Spirit.108 The disciples are drawn into a ‘new facing of God’ and each other by the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He has offered true worship in the form of ‘sacriﬁcial, substitutionary responsibility’, which challenges and exposes that worship which does not bring together love of God and neighbour: his way of facing God and others is revealed as being true to God.109 Worship is transformed: ‘the self of Jesus, given for others in worship of God, is the reconstitution of facing and so is saviour and salvation ... salvation for the self is therefore to be “christomorphic” in its facing of him and “being transformed from glory to glory”’.110 It is not surprising to ﬁnd Ford returning to the Eucharist as the most consistent and fruitful representation of such worship that leads us to encounter Christ and to be loved and held accountable by him.111 He summarised the understanding of Jesus Christ within the Eucharist as being the ‘blessing of God’, because it is through him that God blesses and is also blessed. In the worship focused on the Eucharist ‘death is denied ultimacy, life is “timed” in a new way, a covenant community which obeys the imperative “Do this!” is shaped, and the “non-identical repetition” realised in the resurrection of the cruciﬁed Jesus Christ is celebrated’.112 It is through the Eucharist then, that blessing is received, and in which we learn to bless. Thus, Ford places the emphasis predominately on the effects of anamnesis, and these effects are construed in terms of interpersonal relationships. Ford on Radical Orthodoxy Ford is concerned with the distinctiveness and future of British theology, as we have seen in relation to the pursuit of wisdom.113 Therefore it is worthwhile to reﬂect on his engagement with Radical Orthodoxy, which is one of the most distinctive and well publicised theological movements of recent years. To do so, also brings Ford
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 208. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 212. 108 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 213. 109 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 213. 110 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 214. 111 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 214. 112 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 215. 113 See also a series of articles in The Christian Century April 2000, re-written for the Church Times, May 2001. 107
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into direct engagement with Catherine Pickstock, whose contribution to Anglican eucharistic theology we explore in the following chapter. He summarises the manifesto of Radical Orthodoxy under the slogan to be ‘more mediating but less accommodating’: to reafﬁrm a rich and coherent Christianity in the face of the superﬁciality and nihilism of secularism, grounded in a rethinking of the patristic and medieval roots. The ﬁrst question that Ford raises is about the movement’s cohesion. Ford claims that this is questioned by what he perceives as deep differences within the group as well as by their geographical dispersal. In their introduction, the editors of Radical Orthodoxy refer to a diverse group of critical sympathisers. Ford identiﬁes the concern for ‘intelligent orthodoxy informed by worship’, the centrality of the Trinity to doctrine, the articulation of a ‘Christian response to modernity’ – amongst other things – as being the bed-rock of such sympathy.114 Inevitably Ford raises concern about the claim that Duns Scotus should be singled out as bearing the responsibility for the separation of philosophy and theology, and the consequences. Such causality is criticised, along with the tendency of the essays in Radical Orthodoxy, as an a-historical account of the development of ideas that misses the nuances of and complexity of the interaction between such ideas and other aspects of history.115 Ford summarises these criticisms of the essays thus: the weakness of Radical Orthodoxy on christology and soteriology; its revelling in an intellectual virtuosity which often sits lightly to the particularities not just of Jesus Christ but of scripture and history; its need to be more self-aware about its own immersion in modernity; and its sense of detachment from the messiness of actual Christian communities and what it takes to renew them, lead them, teach them, or keep them ... in something approaching faithful existence.116
Whilst Ford suggests that these are weaknesses of the whole Radical Orthodoxy enterprise, I would suggest that they also ﬁgure in Pickstock’s treatment of the Eucharist, especially the lack of particularity with regard to the reality of the Church. By considering that the work of Donald MacKinnon, he notes that there is a need for ‘incessant attention to the mediation of God in the practical, the factual, and the dark places of human existence ... the tragic ... a wrestling with the intractable complexities and conﬂicts of history, ethical life, and politics’.117 Although Ford himself focuses much of his theology on abundance, joy and feasting, there is still room for the realities of pain. To wrestle with these contingencies refuses easy resolution. This is a signiﬁcant challenge to Radical Orthodoxy that demands consideration. It is of particular interest that Ford uses the theology of Rowan Williams to critique some elements of Radical Orthodoxy. In relation to the Eucharist, Pickstock 114
Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 394. Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 391. 116 Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 394. 117 Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 395. The sense of the tragic is something with which John Milbank has taken issue. See New Blackfriars vol. 73 (June 1992). 115
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does indeed raise issues of mutual concern, and offers a theology which has a great deal in common with Williams’ own approach, however there are signiﬁcant differences. One of these pertains to history. Ford sees in Williams’ work an attention to history which is lacking within Radical Orthodoxy. Such attentiveness relates to Williams’ ‘concern to trace the particularities of developments, crises and conﬂicts and his reluctance to subscribe to overarching narratives with “diagrammatic accounts of ideological options”’.118 Williams’ stress on learning is identiﬁed by Ford as a fruitful contribution to modern theology, and is exempliﬁed in the way in which Williams patiently traces how the Christian contribution to history is gradually discerned through learning, negotiation and betrayal. Ford then raises the question which he perceives as the most signiﬁcant. That is, about the place of Scripture in the Radical Orthodoxy enterprise. On the one hand, he notes that it must be important to their work, not least because Augustine, Aquinas and the eucharistic liturgy all derive their authority from the Bible, and inhabited it in imaginative ways; conversations about the church and ordinary life were bound up with conversations around Scripture. On the other hand, Radical Orthodoxy’s ‘re-envisioning of Christianity in continuity with this tradition’ does not have as a ‘central concern to engage afresh with scripture’ as one might be led to assume.119 Ford claims that this lack compromises the continuity which they claim. He sees this issue as fundamental, making it harder for the movement to allay the doubts about particularity, history and other disciplines out lined above. It is in stark contrast to his own theological approach which is explicitly grounded in a detailed and imaginative engagement with biblical texts. There is a connection between Radical Orthodoxy’s idealism and lack of particularity about the Church and the failure to engage with Scripture. Ford argues that ‘a theology that does not inhabit the Bible in lively ways is very unlikely to be more than a set of ideas unable to reach beyond a very limited “high culture” milieu’.120 He also notes that there are no biblical scholars in the list of sympathetic critics, and laments the potential for impoverishment of any Christian theology that fails to engage in such intensive biblical study. He does admire their commitment to academia, church and society – the three-fold commitment central to his own pursuit of theological wisdom – and hopes that their imagination and intellect will be deepened by attentiveness of the contingencies of history, the dynamics of particularity and the senses of Scripture. Catherine Pickstock replies to the criticisms raised by David Ford’s assessment of Radical Orthodoxy. She addresses the assertion that it is ‘ecclesiologically rootless’ by reference to the movement’s ecumenical credentials.121 It emerges from
Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 396, also citing Williams contribution to New Blackfriars (June 1992), which responded to Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory. 119 Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 398. 120 Ford, ‘Radical Orthodoxy and the Future of British Theology’, p. 398. This can be compared with Ford’s own concern to be deeply engaged with the biblical text. 121 Catherine Pickstock, ‘Reply to David Ford and Guy Collins’ in Scottish Journal of Theology vol. 54 no. 3 (2001), pp. 405–22.
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the non-denominational context of British theology, and has been espoused by those from differing ecclesial backgrounds. She refutes the claim that the stance taken by Radical Orthodoxy means sitting lightly to questions about the theological responsibility of churches, and church practice, but it is that ‘these considerations become more complex in an ecumenical context’.122 However, as we have seen, considerable progress has been made through ecumenical dialogue, with a much greater focus on the effects of the Eucharist in shaping the corporate life of the Churches. Pickstock does not take account of this work. She goes on to make certain comments about the Church order in an attempt to allay anxieties about ecclesial rootlessness, and imprecision with regard to ecclesiology. In board terms she afﬁrms support for episcopacy, the declarations of the early ecumenical councils and ‘a Church seen as given by the Eucharist’.123 This will be an important point in the discussion of her work in the next chapter. In his response to Pickstock’s substantial reply, Ford makes ﬁve points. He extracts several phrases used by Pickstock, such as ‘continuing conversation’ and ‘an explicitly ecumenical theology’, and suggests that these comments ‘add up to something similar to what [he is] trying to suggest in terms of a conversational, wisdom-seeking future for British theology’.124 He goes on to reassert anxieties about the way in which Radical Orthodoxy conceive and recover participation, but acknowledges that they have ‘identiﬁed a crucially central and integrative reality in Christian truth’, the reality of which is also of central importance to him.125 It is a concept that demands continual rethinking in theology and practice. Whilst welcoming Pickstock’s assurance that Scripture would be addressed in the future, Ford considers it strange that a Christian theology should have postponed this.126 Conclusion The pursuit of wisdom is a prominent theological concern within Ford’s work, indicating a shift from traditional theological categories towards a wisdom based model of theological engagement. He roots this in a creative and imaginative engagement in Scripture. It is a theology aware of the responsibilities beyond the academy, to both Church and society. A similar awareness permeates his thought on the Eucharist. His emphasis is on the interpersonal, and he shows a concern to engage with wider social and political issues because the Church is drawn into face to face encounter with Christ, which he describes as an encounter with a ‘dangerous memory’.
Pickstock, ‘Reply to David Ford and Guy Collins’, p. 407. Pickstock, ‘Reply to David Ford and Guy Collins’, p. 408. 124 Ford, ‘A Response to Catherine Pickstock’, in Scottish Journal of Theology vol. 54 no. 3 (2001), p. 423. 125 Ford, ‘A Response to Catherine Pickstock’, pp. 423–4. 126 Ford’s collaboration with Frances Young which led to the publication of Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians (London: SPCK, 1987) illustrates the importance of the biblical text to his own work. 123
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Although much of his work does not focus explicitly on the Eucharist it clearly permeates his thought. His theology of the Eucharist is also rooted in the particularity and ‘messiness’ of ecclesial life, which he criticises Catherine Pickstock and others for avoiding. Despite this, his focus on abundance, joy and feasting can dominate the reality of pain and the tragic. This gives the impression that there is a straightforward theological resolution to this tension, or could be misread as a naive optimism, neither of which would be an accurate representation of Ford’s position. It is interesting to note the way in which he develops the notion of ‘non-identical repetition’ as a means of acknowledging the complexity of this. In addition, there are points of similarity between his approach and that of Rowan Williams, which will be explored more fully in a later chapter – in particular with regard to the reconciling forgiveness in encounter with the resurrected Christ, and the recognition that there are no simple reversals. Such an appreciation of the nature of anamnesis is important and dynamic. His appeal to the concept of gift, and his emphasis on transformation (with consequences for the social and political as well as the personal and ecclesial), also stands in sympathy with Williams’s contribution to sacramental theology. Memory and time may be less explicit concepts in Ford’s work, but certainly in his eucharistic theology there is appeal to both of these, and he is aware of the dangerous and subversive power of the memory of the face of Jesus Christ, which ﬁnds its focus in the Eucharist. For Ford, the source event of the Church is bound up with the face of Christ in its death and resurrection, as anticipated at the Lord’s Supper and remembered at the Eucharist. He talks extensively about those events, and moves quickly beyond anamnesis as a language of connection to its present effects. Although this transformation is sacramental and ecclesial (and found beyond those limits), his focus in very much on the interpersonal dimension. This is particularly clear in the prominence of the image of the face, and the language of facing. Luke 24 must be taken seriously as a pattern of the processes of memory are preserved, setting the stage for the recognition of Christ, and the transformative reforming of the Church for mission. Ford uses the word ‘fullness’ to describe God’s nature. To focus on anamnesis as the means of mediating that fullness strengthens the connection between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. Ford is right to take seriously the eucharistic imperative. If anamnesis is to be taken seriously, attention has to be given to the means of transformative connection and eschatological fulﬁlment – the anamnetic retrospection and expectation, not just its effects. Ford’s description of the Church’s faithful innovation upon Christ’s commands powerfully the nature of encounter with Christ whilst conveying the demands of service and mission. In this way, Ford attempts to give content to both memory and hope.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him Introduction Catherine Pickstock’s theological and philosophical concern is to respond to the culture of postmodernism, and the dichotomies of life and death; presence and absence. In After Writing she writes of the need to unify the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ, aiming to reverse the shift in understanding which she believes took place in the medieval period.1 She discusses the way in which the eucharistic action is limited to a miracle to be observed, cut off from the drama of salvation, rather than being understood as an event within the Church’s narrative action. She examines the way in which anticipation and remembrance are drawn together within the Eucharist, and argues that in liturgy God is met in our remembering of Him.2 She explores the Eucharist in terms of non-identical repetition, which stands in continuity with the original source event. It connects memory with encounter in a way that has the potential to be transformative, nourishing and Church generative. Pickstock utilises the concept of memory in relation both to time and to the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, working from a philosophical perspective. She stresses the necessity of the ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist, in particular in overcoming the dichotomy between presence and absence. Recollection and repetition are situated within the community. Its narrative and liturgy are shaped by memory and hope. She writes that participation in the Eucharist is an encounter with Christ that should enable us to live it ‘again differently in our own lives’.3 However, she does not develop the implications of this in as explicitly social or political a way as Ford and (as we shall see below) Williams do; nor does she engage with Scripture, or the complexity of history. There may be reasons for this, such as her primary commitment to the academy in challenging post-modernity’s assumptions. For Pickstock the source event itself is multifaceted, and she stresses the transformative encounter with Christ. However, she risks privatising or foreclosing the signiﬁcance and impact of this by neglecting the missiological, social, political effects of mediating the fullness of Christ’s body to Church.
C. Pickstock, ‘Can my Eating Slake your Hunger? On the Evacuation of Liturgy’ in After Writing (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), pp.121–66. 2 Pickstock, After Writing, p. 233. 3 Pickstock, After Writing, p. 271.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Pickstock’s concerns are wide ranging and arise from the crisis she perceives in the post-modern world. At the heart of her quest for an understanding of life and meaning, as supremely expressed in doxology, is the Eucharist: in particular the powerful potential of its construal in terms of transubstantiation. Only this, she claims, can ‘fully do justice to a view of language as freed from the limits imposed by the necrophiliac order of immanentism’, restoring the ‘integration of word and action’ and outwitting the ‘distinction between both absence and presence, and death and life’.4 Grounded in Augustine and Aquinas and indebted to Rowan Williams, among others, her contribution to the discussion of liturgy – although limited to one particular text – is both fascinating and challenging. This chapter will explore her work within the context of Radical Orthodoxy, the aims and ﬂaws of which have been examined by David Ford. I will then engage with the way in which she deals with the issues and concepts under discussion here: namely the role of memory in relation to the connection to the Church’s source event; the transforming gift of Christ received at the Eucharist and the effects generated by such an encounter. Summary of the Radical Orthodoxy Project Radical Orthodoxy came to widespread attention in 1999 with the publication of a series of essays under the same name.5 Its contributors included Roman Catholics and High Church Anglicans, lay and ordained, who were mainly based in Cambridge, although they now form a diaspora. The opening of Radical Orthodoxy sets out an ambitious project: ‘to reclaim the world by situating its concerns and activities within a theological framework … in the face of the secular demise of truth, it seeks to reconﬁgure theological truth’.6 To do this, the editors claim that they are not just returning to the pre-modern with nostalgia. Instead, they assert that they are in fact seeking to attend to those areas in which secularism has invested itself and attempt to relocate them in a Christian perspective: hence it includes chapters entitled Knowledge; Desire; Friendship; Bodies; The City; Aesthetics and Music. Central topics for this initiative are the Trinity, Christology, the Church and the Eucharist. Each essay in Radical Orthodoxy conveys the notion that every discipline must be framed by a theological perspective to prevent those disciplines from deﬁning a ‘zone’ apart from God, and ‘grounded in nothing’.7 4
Catherine Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia: The Middle of Modernity a Study of Death, Signs and the Eucharist’ in Modern Theology Vol 12: 4 October 1996, p. 406; After Writing (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), p. 253. 5 Throughout a distinction will be made between the project itself (Radical Orthodoxy), and the collection of essays (Radical Orthodoxy). It should also be noted that the project’s origins lie in Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory, which argued that many allegedly secular discourses operated with theological assumptions, albeit implicit ones. However, whilst sharing a common vision the range of inﬂuences varies between contributors, of which the link between Rowan Williams, David Ford and Catherine Pickstock is just one. 6 J. Milbank, G. Ward and C. Pickstock, Radical Orthodoxy (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 1. 7 Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 3.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
As a theological movement it claims to be orthodox in two senses. Firstly, it is committed to creedal Christianity and in particular to its patristic foundations. Secondly, it wishes to reafﬁrm a rich and more coherent Christianity, which it believes was slowly lost following the late Middle Ages. On this basis Radical Orthodoxy aims to transcend confessional boundaries, mingling ‘exegesis, cultural reﬂection and philosophy in a complex but coherently executed collage’.8 The movement contention that it is ‘radical’ is also founded on interrelated principles. It is radical because of its return to both patristic and medieval roots, subscribing to Augustine’s vision of ‘all knowledge as divine illumination’, thus overcoming dualisms between faith and reason, and grace and nature. Its claim to be radical is also based upon the aim to use this vision to criticise modern society – its culture, politics, art, science and philosophy – in a systematic and bold way. It also necessitates the acknowledgement of the criticisms of the Enlightenment made by Christian thinkers, who showed that secularity had actually denied or ruined those things that it most celebrated: ‘embodied life, self-expression, sexuality, aesthetic experience, human political community’.9 Such realisations, so Radical Orthodoxy’s proponents claim, should lead to the articulation of a ‘more incarnate, more participatory, more aesthetic, more erotic, more socialised, even “more Platonic” Christianity’.10 The ﬁnal point worth drawing out about Radical Orthodoxy is the identiﬁcation of the central theological framework within which the movement operates: that is ‘participation’. Their use of it is deﬁned as follows: it is a concept ‘developed by Plato and reworked by Christianity, because any alternative conﬁguration perforce reserves a territory independent of God ... participation, however, refuses any reserve of created territory, while allowing ﬁnite things their own integrity’.11 Everything derives from God, and therefore shows a little of what God is like. The appeal to eternal stability contrasts with the way in which the information culture of postmodernity treats language as an instrument of control.12 Matter points beyond itself to the spiritual realm. Duns Scotus is a focus for criticism. He is identiﬁed with a shift in the understanding of participation, which breaks this relationship, leading to a dualism between the spiritual and material realms. Pickstock argues that it is a short step from this position to the separation of reason and faith, with the latter being invoked as a supplement to the former.13 Milbank, Ward and Pickstock conclude that it is the theological perspective of participation that is capable of saving appearances. It does so ‘by exceeding them’, by recognising that ‘materialism and spiritualism are false alternatives’ and by insisting that behind the density of art, language, and so on, there ‘resides an even
Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 2. Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 3. 10 Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 3. 11 Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 3. 12 Pickstock, After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), p. xiii. 13 C. Pickstock, ‘Is Orthodoxy Radical?’ in Third Millennium 6 (2004), p. 4. 9
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
greater density’, by saying that ‘all there is only is because it is more than it is’.14 It is certainly an ambitious project, setting out a bold vision of how radical Christian theologians and philosophers need to be in exposing, and addressing the perceived malaise of our present age. However, the practical implications of such a project are not always obvious. Pickstock’s own theological outworking fails consider fully its relationship to the Church’s social embodiment. It remains abstract and theoretical, a concern mirrored in her choice of texts. Within Radical Orthodoxy, there is an emphasis on the particularity of the humanity of Jesus and the cosmic Christ results in a high Christology. This has implications for eucharistic theology. Through the resurrection, Christ’s body is returned and transﬁgured: ‘the broken God is also the resurrected God’ whom we receive in the Eucharist.15 The Church as the body of Christ feeds on the eucharistic body and participates in the social and political realms. Pickstock herself writes that ‘God offers us a just community based upon collective sharing and the search for a common purpose ... participation in God involves social participation’.16 This is a bold statement of the transformative potential of the Eucharist with exciting consequences for the shape of the Church’s mission. Radical Orthodoxy has also developed a sacramental semiotics. In the performance of the Eucharist, Christ promises that the bread is his body, and that the wine is his blood. Pickstock argues that belief in this reference leads to faith in all representation, and that this overcomes the dichotomy of presence and absence: God draws near in the Eucharist, but also withdraws, at once satisfying human desire and inducing further desire. The ideas of responding to lack, the overcoming of dichotomies, gift and the interrelation of the embodiments of Christ are all themes which permeate Pickstock’s work. Liturgy: Memory and Hope The central thesis of Catherine Pickstock’s After Writing is that liturgy is central for theology, providing the latter with its inspiration and highest expression. Such a simple statement belies the complexity and depth of this book. In the ﬁrst section – ‘The Polity of Death’ – Pickstock sets out to offer a critique of modernism and postmodernism. Her quest is for an understanding of life and meaning that is ultimately expressed in doxology. Against Derrida’s insistence on the subjectivity of meaning, she seeks to reassert Plato’s preference for orality, with reference to Phaedrus. Trust in the oral word is based upon its ‘temporality, open-endedness, and link with physical embodiment’.17 She also aims to demonstrate the mainly doxological nature of language – that its ultimate purpose and meaning is to be found in the praise of the divine. This, she argues, keeps space and time in a ‘balanced interplay’.18 She describes how the erosion of the doxological and liturgical in the late-medieval/early 14 15 16 17 18
Milbank et al., Radical Orthodoxy, p. 4. Pickstock, ‘Is Orthodoxy Radical?’, p. 14. Pickstock, ‘Is Orthodoxy Radical?’, p. 15. Pickstock, After Writing, p. xiii. Pickstock, After Writing, p. xiv.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
modern period led to the substitution of space for eternity; the disunity of life and death. Pickstock contends that language ceases to make sense when cut off from the liturgical. The second part of the book, ‘The Sacred Polis’, is primarily made up of a detailed interpretation of the medieval Roman Rite. She describes the way in which the worshipper is drawn into the worship of God, and into the Church’s sacramental life. Her analysis of the medieval Roman Rite focuses on four dichotomies: language regarded as primarily written, versus spoken; a prioritisation of space over time, versus the resolution of their opposition; a construction of the real as given, versus the real as gift; the realisation of ‘an essentially empty subject ... versus an wholly unironical, liturgical subject which is coherent but not foreclosed’.19 These dichotomies are developed in such a way as to allow Pickstock to claim that the Roman Rite balances the oral and written, overcoming their opposition. Similarly, she suggests that the space-time dichotomy is surpassed. Pickstock holds that the dichotomy of sign and body is overcome in the Eucharist: it is ‘an example of the coincidence of sign and body, death and life ... only a realistic construal of the event of the Eucharist allows us to ground a view of language which does not evacuate the body, and does not give way to necrophilia’.20 Pickstock’s conclusion is that it is the event of transubstantiation which is the condition that makes possible all human meaning. However, Andrew Louth raises some concerns about her close reading of the Roman Rite, noting that liturgy is an action (involving a whole community doing different things) not a text. He suggests that her position that language is rooted in liturgy as celebrated by a community is somewhat frustrated because her theological context is theoretical, and therefore lacks the ‘living engagement in the communion of the Church’ upon which orthodoxy depends.21 Kenneth Stevenson also comments upon the lack of historical perspective in relation to liturgy and theology, obscuring the reality that the development of the Eucharist during the Middle Ages was a more subtle process.22 In After Writing Pickstock is concerned with the uniﬁcation of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. She locates the fundamental shift in understanding these dimensions of the theological body in the medieval period. Concern for the sacramental body of Christ as the corpus verum rather than the Church increased from the twelfth century onwards, the sacramental action came to be regarded as a ‘miracle’, rather than a ‘non-identical repetition’ continuous with the original event.23 Eucharistic celebrations became more static, as attention was placed on the ‘spectacle of the passion in abstraction from the whole drama of salvation’.24 The understanding of the Eucharist as an event within the ‘narrative action’ of the 19
Pickstock, After Writing, p. xv. Pickstock, After Writing, p. xv. 21 A. Louth, review of After Writing in Heythrop Journal, Vol 41:4 (2000), p. 480. 22 K. Stevenson, review of After Writing in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol 50:2 (1999), p. 454. 23 Pickstock, After Writing, p. 160. 24 Pickstock, After Writing, p. 165. 20
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Church’s liturgy as a whole (deﬁned broadly as a mode of life, including the political, familial and economic realms), as well as a particular celebration, was lost. The unity of the Church as the Body of Christ with the historical and sacramental embodiments is an important point to develop. Anamnesis has the potential to speak of this effectively without risking a static focus. The notion of non-identical repetition helpfully illustrates the place of continuity and ongoing transformation within the particularity of differing Church contexts. Pickstock is right in wanting to see the Eucharist in connection with the narrative action of the Church, including the political and social realms. Whether she manages to adequately connect these dimensions is something that will be examined later. Pickstock suggests that the liturgy with its character as both oral and written offers a radicalisation of modernity’s dichotomies. In particular, she explores the way in which the transgression of historical time takes place in the Institution Narrative: this time of in-between when God descends is also that of the ultimate sacriﬁce instituted in the evening in advance of itself at the Last Supper ... The blood which we are commanded to drink is the blood which had yet to be shed [and by participating in the event of the Eucharist] ... we occupy the sacriﬁcial moment before the Passion, the moment anterior to itself, which we both anticipate and remember.25
This offers an interesting way of locating the source event of the Church’s life and call into anamnesis. In the Eucharist the Church actively remembers a past event, but does so in the light of the resurrection. In doing this in remembrance, the transformative potential of Christ’s fullness is made accessible here and now. Pickstock writes that the liturgical ‘journey’ is through space, rather than of space, it moves backwards in memory and forwards in desire, and ‘the occasion of our meeting God is our remembering of Him’.26 This journey towards memory and encounter is located within the ‘communal and temporal ecclesial space’.27 Such comments echo some elements of the preceding discussion of anamnesis. The Church stands within the dynamics of memory and hope, grounded in the past events that shape her life – Christ’s life, death and resurrection – and awaiting the fulﬁlment of God’s Kingdom. The anamnesis within the Eucharist weaves these strands together in the particularity of the Church’s corporate worshipping life, and is a locus of encounter. From a philosophical perspective, Pickstock is keen to utilise the concept of memory both in relation to time and to the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. The speciﬁcity of communal location and the dynamics of the liturgy are emphasised, as is the movement of giving and receiving. God’s gift of grace and our gift of gratitude are held together. She goes on to stress the necessity of the ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist, in particular in overcoming the dichotomy between
Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 222–3. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 230–31. This sentiment echoes Augustine’s meditation on memory in Book X of the Confessions trans. H. Chadwick (Oxford: OUP, 1998), in particular X.xxv–xxvii, pp. 200–201. 27 Pickstock, After Writing, p. 233. 26
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
presence and absence.28 Recollection and repetition are situated ﬁrmly within the community, its narrative and liturgy shaped by memory and hope. Participation in the Eucharist is an encounter with the life of Christ in such a way as to enable it to be ‘lived again differently in our own lives’.29 However, despite the conviction that the body of Christ nourishes and transforms the ecclesial body, her assertion that this has an impact on the way in which human lives are lived before God remains in the abstract. The Trustworthy Sign Pickstock’s exploration of sacramental encounter with God in the Eucharist, understood as participation in divine truth, forms part of a collection of essays Truth in Aquinas. To begin with, Milbank and Pickstock summarise some of the main attitudes towards truth in contemporary thought. These range from doubt in its possibility; conﬁning it either to practice or theory; to a ﬁdeistic afﬁrmation of a form of religious truth. It is in response to this crisis of truth that they return to Aquinas. They believe that his understanding of truth opens up a different approach which allows for a recovery of correspondence without a sense of redundancy ... to regard truth as at once theoretical and practical ... to demonstrate that all truth is a matter of faith as well as reason, and vice versa ... to indicate that truth is immediately accessible to the simplest apprehension, and yet amenable to profound learned elaboration.30
Their response to the contemporary crisis, mediated through the work of Aquinas, focuses on the retrieval of truth as correspondence, linked with a metaphysics of participation. They argue that reason and faith represent different degrees of participation in the ‘divine light of illumination’.31 Reason needs faith because it presupposes the operation of grace; faith requires discussion and debate, but enjoys a deeper participation in divine reason. According to Aquinas, theology supplements metaphysics with history; the ‘theoretical ascent to truth’ is completed by a meeting ‘of the divine descent in liturgical practice’, which begins at the Incarnation.32 Thus, Christ provides a ‘sensorial access to truth’ which is both contemplated and reproduced in the sacraments.33 It is through our liturgical and artistic attempts to praise God that we are enabled to see something of the reﬂection of the invisible in the visible, because in the liturgy we are participating in the truth of God.34 The most intense disclosure of this is in the seeing, touch and taste of the Eucharist, and it is this liturgical completion that Pickstock elaborates in her chapter, ‘Truth and Language’: 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 253 ff. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 271. Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas (London: Routledge, 2001), p. xiii. Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas, p. xiii. Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas, p. xiii. Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas, p. xiv. Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas, p. xiv.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
here it will be shown how we can have a certain anticipation of the beatiﬁc vision in this life because God descends in the Incarnation and its perpetuation in the Eucharist to our immediate sensory awareness, wherein alone we enjoy intuitive understanding ... the lower reason ... is required to educate our higher reason ... priority of the sensory is accompanied by a linguistic and emotional play between presence and absence.35
Pickstock is right to emphasise the sensory dimensions of the Eucharist, but the importance of materiality should not be limited to appreciation of truth by our higher reason; for if the sacrament is to be lived again differently in our own lives, it must also be reproduced in our social, political responses. Our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, our anticipation of the beatiﬁc vision, should be what inspires the Church to share in the mission of God here and now. In ‘Truth and Language’ Pickstock develops an argument set out in ‘Aquinas and the Quest for the Eucharist’.36 She begins with a critique of Derrida, before returning to the theme of signs in the Eucharist to explore whether they are indeed capable of overcoming the dichotomy of presence and absence.37 Derrida, according to Pickstock’s exposition, is unable to break out of this paradigm. His notion is that ‘every sign rationalistically denotes the perfect object, which is death’, whereas in the Eucharist ‘every sign mediates and repeats the resurrection’.38 Pickstock also wrestles with this issue in relation to the dichotomy of life and death.39 Desire, mystery and participation are crucial recurrent concepts, which are central to her understanding of the sacramental encounter. It is interesting that here Pickstock’s emphasis is on the way in which the resurrection is mediated by the Eucharist, whereas elsewhere her focus has been on the anticipation and remembrance of Christ’s sacriﬁce.40 Our anticipation and remembrance are focused through the lens of the resurrection. Pickstock notes that post-medieval theology of the Eucharist may suggest that there is a privileging of presence over absence given the focus on ‘transubstantiation’, for example. However, she contends that it is possible to construct a different account, which genuinely overcomes the dichotomies which she identiﬁes elsewhere. In order to do this she suggests that we must understand the Eucharist as ‘an essential action within the Church which constantly reproduces the Church, and not simply as either an isolated authoritative presence or merely illustrative symbol’.41 As we have noted, the balance between the Church making the Eucharist, and the Eucharist making the Church, is one of the important issues to discuss in relation to Pickstock’s discussion of the sacrament.42 Previously, M.C. Boulding had identiﬁed 35
Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas. p. xiv. Published in Modern Theology, Vol 15: 2 (1999), pp. 159–80. 37 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, in Truth in Aquinas, pp. 99–111. 38 Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia: The Middle of Modernity a Study of Death, Signs and the Eucharist, in Modern Theology, Vol 12:4 (1996), p. 406. 39 This will be discussed later as it develops the eucharistic understanding of signs in connection with a wider set of issues. 40 Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 222–3. 41 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 92. Here she is following the contribution of de Lubac. 42 For example, ‘Thomas Aquinas and the Quest for the Eucharist’. 36
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
a shift in the medieval view that regarded the Eucharist as the corpus verum rather than the Church, moving from a dynamic to a static understanding of the Eucharist and breaking the link between the eucharistic body and the mystical body of Christ.43 This shift is discussed at length by Pickstock, but Boulding focuses at greater length on the two-way dynamic between Church and Eucharist: the Church makes the Eucharist and is made by it. This dynamic is essentially purposeful, enabling the Church to be sustained, nourished and challenged; enabling individuals to become part of the body of Christ equipped for service in the world by receiving the gift of Christ in the sacrament. For Pickstock, however, the pressing point of her discussion the assertion that the key to overcoming the dichotomy of absence and presence in Eucharist lies in the logic of ‘mystery’.44 There is an ‘ontological coincidence of the mystical and the real’, which prevents the eucharistic signs becoming either merely illustrative or else the site of a miracle: both options would disconnect the symbolic and real in an attempt to give priority to one or other.45 She argues that extremes fail to allow the sacramental mystery its full potential within the Church’s action; indeed it is the ‘ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist’ as linguistic and signiﬁcatory actions are fundamental to avoid both the static and localised presence of sign or miracle.46 Presence and sign have to be understood as a part of a sacramental mystery that is bound up with the ‘continuing coming-to-be’ of the Church, to use Pickstock’s phrase. The Church performs the Eucharist, and is brought into being as the body of Christ by consuming Christ’s body: ‘ingesting of this same body which is at once a real and symbolic consuming’.47 Without this context the sign and signiﬁed become disconnected, and through this dynamic the historical, sacramental and ecclesial are held together. At ﬁrst glance, there is much to commend Pickstock’s understanding of the relationship between the Church and the Eucharist. Like Rowan Williams, she rejects any sacramental theology which immobilises Christ’s presence on the altar, or reduces it to subjective recollection or illustration.48 Along with many other theologians within the Anglican tradition (including Laud and Andrewes) she is convinced of both the reality and the mystery of Christ’s presence. She is not alone in emphasising that the Church is in a process of becoming: being nourished, sustained and brought into being through participation in the Eucharist, by consuming Christ’s body and blood. However, her stress on the importance of the ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist is unfulﬁlled. She omits to develop the signiﬁcance of the Church’s sacramental life in becoming Christ’s body for the world; encounter and transformation are cut off from the Church’s mission.
M.C. Boulding, ‘The Church Makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist Makes the Church’, The Michael Ramsey Memorial Lecture (Durham, 1993). 44 Pickstock hesitates about using the term ‘logic’ in this context. 45 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, pp. 92–3. 46 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 93. 47 Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 164. 48 See Williams’s introduction to K. Stevenson and H. McAdoo The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Anglican Tradition, (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1995) p. xi.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
In recent ecumenical dialogue, attempts were made to avoid the use of theological or philosophical concepts that had been a source of division or misunderstanding. In Pickstock’s work we ﬁnd that she defends an account of transubstantiation: which ‘depends upon the idea that Christ’s Body and Blood are “present” only in the sense of the ecstatic passing of time as gift, and not in the mode of punctual moment abstracted from action, under the command of our gaze’.49 She describes how the moment of most extreme philosophical scepticism leads to a guarantee of the reliability of appearances. Indeed ‘only the symbols of an outpoured body nourishing us, give us an expanded sense of the character of this divine body: disclosing it as an imparted and yet not exhausted body, quite beyond the norms and capacities of an ordinary body’.50 Graham Ward writes of the displacement and extension of the body of Christ, through transﬁguration, the Eucharist, the cruciﬁxion, resurrection and ascension. He confronts the ‘ontological scandal’ of the words of institution, and describes the way in which Christ’s displacement and absence announces the ‘plenitude of God’s presence’.51 He continues, that the logic of the Eucharist means that ‘the Church is his body, the fullness of him who ﬁlls all in all ... the Church is now the body of Christ, broken like bread, to be food dispersed throughout the world’.52 This appears to reach beyond Pickstock’s discussion of the Church as the body of Christ, the ‘fracturing and sending out of the We’ is seen as a transgression of the institution; liturgical activities ‘performed within a sacred world view’ are seen as a ‘creative act, expressing, being, a gift to what is other and divine’.53 The Church participates in a ‘rhythm of gathering and dispersal that shapes its pilgrimage. The erotic community it forms moves out in love and desire, produces a complex space’.54 Yet, as with Pickstock, the creativity, the gathering, participating and dispersal of the eucharistic liturgy is foreclosed. The connectedness to social and political concerns, the ripple effect of transformation in the Eucharist, is lacking.55 Pickstock does not explore the consequences of our meeting God in our remembering of him, but focuses her attentions on the metaphysical implications of transubstantiation: a doctrine which seems to collude with the sceptical notion that appearance is no guarantee of reality, but it balances this ‘by the certainty of the afﬁrmation of faith: here is the Body and Blood’.56 Transubstantiation enables this move from scepticism to trust; faithful reception of elements in the sacrament enables us to experience the world as a vehicle for the divine. As ‘unknown depth behind things’ cannot be avoided, Pickstock claims that ‘this benign scepticism upheld by a faith in a hidden presence of God ... [can] fully defeat the more threatening scepticism 49 50 51
Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 93. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 94. G. Ward, ‘Bodies: The displaced body of Jesus Christ’ in Radical Orthodoxy, pp. 167,
Ward, ‘Bodies’, p. 175. Ward, ‘Communities of Desire’ in City of God (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 176–7. 54 Ward, ‘Communities’, p. 154. 55 Both Williams and Ford express this in terms of interpersonal or social relationships. Such self-offering is a strong strand within Anglican eucharistic theology. 56 Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 165. 53
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
of philosophy’.57 With the eyes of faith we can perceive in the Eucharist the divine bridging of the rupture between God and the fallen world. For truth to be disclosed, the Incarnation must continue to be ‘made present’: ‘Christ as the divine presence can only be made known to us signifyingly and sensorily, in the sacraments, just as his “truth” is in part disclosed in the later historical improvement of humanity he has effected’.58 Baptism transmits this renewed divine image in humanity, and the Eucharist allows us to participate in the divine life. There are parallels with natural and sacramental development: Baptism is like birth; the Eucharist like nutrition. The divine person of Christ is mediated in time through broken and eaten bread.59 There are echoes of Hooker in Pickstock’s appreciation of the place of Baptism and the Eucharist within the Christian life: the former as sacrament of initiation and the latter as ongoing nourishment. He too uses language of participation, but is more explicit about the fruits of the Eucharist, including fullness of life and spiritual gifts. If Christ is made present in the eucharistic anamnesis, if truth is disclosed in the participation in the sacrament, then our discussion cannot be limited to a metaphysical realm. Pickstock’s analysis of transubstantiation leads her to conclude that the Eucharist situates us more inside language than ever. She focuses on the rupture between sense and reference: in the words of institution it appears that they change places, or collapse into each other. Sense is drained of its usual ‘absence’ as there is only sense ‘via speciﬁc reference’ (to the Body via the bread), and reference is drained of its usual ‘presence’, because we are not presented with tangible content (reference is afﬁrmed without identiﬁcation).60 Using the Eucharist in this way to explore language and truth may fulﬁl her argument, but sacramentally it omits to engage with the implications of our meeting with God in that anamnesis. She writes that when we take the bread as ‘symbolically disclosing an inexhaustible Body’ – when we ‘re-understand Christ’s divine-human body as what nourishes our very being’ – we can see how a missing sense of Body and a missing identifying reference for Body can be supplied.61 As the Church celebrates the Eucharist, participants are indeed nourished by Christ’s body, but Pickstock’s conclusion that the sacrament is administered by language and underlies all language misses the missiological and ecclesiological challenge. Pickstock goes on to examine the instructions set out by Aquinas to enable worshippers to be in the right state of mind to discern the body of Christ. There are several stages of advance towards preparedness. The ﬁrst phase of this preparation is divine praise, including the Introit, Kyrie and Gloria, and a prayer that the people might be made worthy of the mysteries, which Pickstock calls ‘a preparation for preparation, a desire for there to be desire ... a liturgical liturgy’.62 Phase two comprises of the instruction of the faithful, guiding the emotions so that people are worthy of the mysteries. Pickstock aims to show how the ‘narrative logic of imitation 57 58 59 60 61 62
Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 94. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 95. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 95. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 166. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 166. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 100.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
in the liturgy is underpinned by a metaphysical logic of participation’ and that the transformation and reception of the elements at the Eucharist is the culmination and fusion of these elements.63 Phase three, is the celebration of the Mystery. At the momentous and climactic moment the people are reminded of their desire and love for one another (the Lord’s prayer, Peace and Agnus Dei), hence ‘metaphysical participation extends to the political domain, ensuring that here a participation in the social sense precedes the individual self’.64 Desire has been elevated, and the people have been restored to each other; the sacrament can now be received. Pickstock’s interpretation of these liturgical stages appears to focus on the individual. A moment of recognition of corporate love precedes reception. This undermines the powerful language of fracture: of the many participating in one broken body in order to become one body. According to Pickstock, for us to desire the Body of Christ ‘it must not only be withheld, but also, in a measure, be given’.65 In the Eucharist, ‘there is a tasting of God through direct physical apprehension, conjoined with a longing for the forever absent’.66 The bread and wine continue to nourish us: ‘God causes the accidents to act as if they were substantive ... the rendering of the normal and continuous as miraculous is the greatest miracle of all, and helps us to re-understand the miraculously created reality of the everyday’.67 That the Eucharist is repeated, that the Church is continually coming to be, means that there is both participation, and longing. However, Pickstock’s articulation of desire for, and absence and inexhaustibility of, Christ’s body does not do justice to the ecclesial body of Christ. Aquinas says that to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine has become the means of deiﬁcation: ‘we are incorporated into the food’.68 Thus, Pickstock writes that there is no end to receiving the Eucharist, and the whole liturgy is designed to direct us to preparing people in the proper attitude of receptivity. This appeal is made to ‘our minds through our bodies, rather than the other way around’.69 Through the Eucharist, a desire for truth is incited in our hearts, and that truth ﬁxed in our memories.70 God provides us with a ‘foretaste of His eschatological presence’, and our desire for Christ arises from the fact that our imaginations have been engaged by a combination of ‘verbal and sensory devices’.71 Again, such engagement with the Eucharist fails to do justice to the transformative potential of anamnesis, which is more dynamic than the ﬁxing of truths into human memories. In the Eucharist we glimpse something of the future fulﬁlment of God’s
Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 170. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 171. However, Pickstock fails to build on the implications of this for the Church. This is in contrast to the work of both David Ford and Rowan Williams who place more emphasis on the outworkings of this social sense. 65 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 104. 66 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 104. 67 Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 174. 68 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 107. 69 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, pp. 107–8. 70 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 108. 71 Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 107. 64
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
purposes, but this should impel, rather than override, our concerns for the present life and mission of the Church. Pickstock acknowledges that it is important to note that desire for God should not just be taken in an individualistic way, but with regard for the collective and historical. For human beings to believe in God they have required signs that convey his reality, which they can trust – and Pickstock describes fallenness as the absence of ‘trustworthy signs’, a situation that the Passion takes to extremes.72 She describes how such nihilism is qualiﬁed in the Gospel because it offers ‘even in the extreme of the death of the divine, an image of something trustworthy, in such a way that vulnerability to the point of destruction discloses the eternity of reason’.73 The resurrection is a sign of promise, reiterated in the Eucharist. In a paragraph worth citing at length, Pickstock articulates this poetically: the shedding of Christ’s Blood is transformed into the gift of the Eucharist. And in every Eucharist, the extreme contrasts that one sees in the Passion are repeated, and repeated in their reconciliation. Every Eucharist is a representation, a re-actualization of the sacriﬁce of Christ; it is therefore a continuation of His loss and destruction - this bitterness is also tasted. However, since the loss feeds us, such ultimate dereliction is also revealed as the pure essential food that is substantive passage. And this death as food can therefore act as the ultimate trustworthy sign - the passage of the Eucharistic food is also the unique passage of sacriﬁce to sign which constitutes the very nature of a sacrament.74
This points towards a line of thought that is thoroughly developed by Rowan Williams: the juxtaposition of betrayal and transformation at the heart of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist there is anticipation, remembrance and fulﬁlment. The participant is caught up in the Last Supper in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection through anamnesis, which becomes a place of encounter and transformation in the present, connected to a future of hope of fulﬁlment. In the passage cited above, Pickstock notes repetition, reconciliation, bitterness, feeding and a trustworthy sign. She hints at a future hope grounded in the anamnesis of Christ’s life, death and resurrection in the Eucharist, yet the implications of such a nourishing encounter for the Church in the present are left untapped. This disrupts the connectedness between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. Pickstock has argued that the Eucharist is situated between presence and absence. She speaks of the way in which the elements of bread and wine become signs of promise. The importance of materiality and its transformation is also prominent in Rowan Williams’s discussions of the Eucharist, where he develops the relation with memory and encounter. Pickstock writes of the way in which the giving of the Body and Blood in the Eucharist gives rise to the Body of the Church: ‘The Eucharist both occurs within the Church and gives rise to the Church in a circular fashion’.75 Thus, to trust in the eucharistic event means trusting in the past and future of the Church. She comments that ‘trust in the Eucharist draws all historical processes 72 73 74 75
Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 108. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 108. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, pp. 108–9. See also ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 177. Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 110.
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and then every physical thing along with it’.76 However, in Pickstock’s broader discussions of the Eucharist there appears to be an uneven distribution of emphasis, which prioritises the Church making the Eucharist, rather than the Eucharist making the Church. There is a level of tension between the ideal of the Church, and its particularity than is present in the other writers under discussion, which is something that we will come back to. Pickstock concludes with an exploration of the relation between the allegorical text of the Holy Grail and the Eucharist: she writes that this allows us to link the notion of ‘non-cancelled desire with the idea that trust in the Eucharist points us back towards trust in everything, and especially the ordinary and the everyday’.77 Pickstock characterises the Eucharist as ‘desire’. This desire is not as ‘absence, lack and perpetual postponement; rather, desire as the free ﬂow of actualization, perpetually renewed and never foreclosed.78 Her contribution may present a challenge to post-modern philosophy, but this engagement with the Eucharist risks denuding the Church of its missiological imperative. The liturgy is foreclosed: the eucharistic anamnesis gives substance to, and enables, the dismissal. Sacred Time and Creedal Statements In her essay on the Nicene Creed Pickstock discusses the theological implications of shifts in syntax. Some of her comments about remembrance and anticipation illuminate the nature of anamnesis within the eucharistic liturgy. She seeks to demonstrate that changes made to the form of the Nicene Creed during the liturgical revisions which culminated in the Alternative Service Book 1980 (ASB), carried out in the name of transparency, are far from innocent. In order to do this, she makes several syntactical distinctions between asyndeton, the omission of a conjunction between parts of a sentence; hypotaxis, the subordination of one clause to another by a conjunction; and parataxis, the juxtaposition of clauses in a sentence without the use of a conjunction.79 Pickstock argues that the adoption of contemporary language as an alternative to the wording of The Book of Common Prayer 1549 (BCP) affects our understanding of the nature of sacred time and doxology. Pickstock begins by looking at the way in which these changes shape our understanding of the doctrine of God as three-in-one. Although the word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the BCP Nicene Creed, Pickstock writes that it performs its catechetical function as a ‘performative act of faith, summarising the narrative of salvation, and assimilating the events of history within the aegis of the Trinity’.80 It does not explicitly elucidate the doctrine of God as three-in-one, but it performs the boundaries of belief, the communal boundary of the participants, and Trinitarian doctrine. The Creed is written in continuous prose, with three identiﬁable sections, 76
Pickstock, ‘Truth and Language’, p. 110. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 179. 78 Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 179. 79 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 321. Collins English Dictionary (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 1998) consulted for deﬁnitions. 80 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 323. 77
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
within which each clause develops in a linear form from its precursor, and is balanced by complicated ‘anaphoric modiﬁcation’.81 The end result, Pickstock claims, is that the syntax of the Creed entwines the persons of the Trinity in ‘organic, hypotactic and paratactic relation’: no clause stands alone, but each is dependent on the whole for its meaning, whilst referring back to the opening ‘I believe in one God’, thus enacting the complex simplicity of the Trinity.82 In contrast, the Nicene Creed in the ASB is broken up into lines, rather than continuous prose, and Pickstock suggests that such fragmentation and the sense of discontinuity impacts upon the performance of the Trinitarian doctrine. Pickstock observes that an act ‘motivated by syntactic simpliﬁcation’ has led us to a point where we are instead engaged in ‘Trinitarian complication’, because the lack of explicit conjunctions is unable to convey logical relations between things, and thus reduces both the catechetical and performative function of the Creed.83 She goes on to state that because the text does not perform the verbal relations, they become categorised as objects, and instead of pointing from itself towards God, the text directs us towards objects of knowledge. As the ASB deserts performance, it casts the ‘language of doxology in the idiom of scientiﬁc knowledge’.84 Bridget Nichols’ work would challenge Pickstock’s contention that the ASB deserts performance. There is an intrinsic narrative element to the liturgy (including the Creed), within which Nichols identiﬁes ‘threshold positions’ that would suggest that modern liturgical rites are capable of much more than a straightforward narration of events: that would reduce worship to scientiﬁc knowledge.85 The greeting and dismissal are central to deﬁning the identity of the assembly and its common understanding. The opening from Rite A is the ﬁrst threshold position.86 It draws the mortal sphere of human action into divine presence. Through the teaching, confession and exchange of the peace, the worldly concerns of the worshipping community are reconﬁgured. It is the repetition of this initial greeting that marks the second threshold position. The ministry of the Word leads people to the point of participating in the Eucharist where they receive the body of Christ. There is a concern to unite sacred and secular: the Creed summarises the Church’s belief and the intercessions bring Church and world before God.87 In relation to the Eucharistic Prayer in particular, Nichols describes the simple narrative as unavoidably personal: ordinariness and the extraordinary are inextricably 81 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 323. Pickstock outlines several instances of such complex ‘embedded syntax, but space does not permit a detailed examination of them here. 82 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, pp. 323–4. 83 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, pp. 325–6. Pickstock illustrates this point by reference to the portrayal of the events of descent and incarnation as two distinct stories, and the disjoining of the work of the Holy Spirit from that of the Church. 84 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 326. 85 B. Nichols, Liturgical Hermeneutics: Interpreting Liturgical Rites in Performance (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996), p. 97. 86 The Lord be with you/and you/ also with you or The Lord is here/His Spirit is with us. ‘The Order for Holy Communion Rite A’, in The Alternative Service Book 1980 (Colchester: Clowes, 1980), p. 119. 87 Nichols, Liturgical Hermeneutics, pp. 95, 100–101.
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linked; materiality is embedded in the incarnate life; the community of the faithful are caught up in the events of the Last Supper (something Williams dwells on).88 The Eucharist is multilayered: holding together the saving acts of the past, the present, and the eschatological consequences. The Eucharist is therefore a decisive threshold moment. It anticipates transformation, according to Nichols, although I would suggest that it actually inaugurates it, through participation in Christ. However, she is right in asserting that there is a further stage to eucharistic performance, that is the dismissal.89 It is a threshold moment that marks the recrossing of the boundary between Church and world. Nichols regards the imperative as the desire to carry the eucharistic experience out into the world.90 This imperative ﬂows from the primary imperative identiﬁed by Ford, the ‘Do this’. Seen alongside Pickstock’s description of the mediaeval Roman Rite, there are points of harmony, even if the description less ecstatic. Nichols is more concerned with the operation of the liturgy than the perception of, and participation in, Christ. There is a sense in which the notions of reconciliation and preparation overlap, but Nichols considers more explicitly the importance of the dismissal and its wider social participation. The complex syntax of the BCP Creed, according to Pickstock, is paramount in the assertion of a sacral temporal order, both within that text itself, and also with regard to its position in the Holy Communion service, and this is linked to its use of tense. She identiﬁes two tenses – the present and the aorist – which she associates with two temporal planes: the ‘sacral’ and the ‘inhabited’.91 The present tense is used in performative verbs (I believe, for example) and also describes the ontological attributes of the persons of the Trinity (e.g. the Spirit proceedeth and the Son is described as being of one substance), whereas the aorist is used for the narration of events in salvation history. The reader is engaged in an act which is ‘both anamnetic and expectant’.92 An engagement with the concept of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist has revealed the necessary connection between these dimensions, without recourse to the grammar of the liturgical text; it is the nature of the Church to be living memory and hope.93 Building on the thought of Augustine in De Trinitate, stating that all thought is caught up in the interplay between memory and desire, understanding can only occur in the context of something known and searched for, remembered and desired. Such creedal desire, incorporating retrospection and anticipation, is not a ‘negative lack’: it ‘knows’ ‘what is being longed for, it is the tacit knowledge of anticipation. Within this Christian model, desire does not lack its object. The act of desiring is simultaneously that of attainment’.94
Nichols, Liturgical Hermeneutics, p. 110. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord/In Lord/ the name of Christ. Amen. A.S.B., p.
Nichols, Liturgical Hermeneutics, pp. 113–14. Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 326. 92 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 327. It is interesting to note the use of ‘reader’ in this context given Pickstock’s stress on the performative nature of liturgy. 93 W.T. Stancil, ‘Eucharist and Hope’ in New Blackfriars October 1997, pp. 411–17. 94 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 328. 91
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
Pickstock argues that the creedal form of the ASB performs a ‘humiliation of sacred time’, dissolving instead into its own time.95 By reference to Genette’s classiﬁcations of narrative, she goes on to illustrate how asyndeton introduces a static component which is highly undesirable. The distinction analysed by Pickstock between summary and scene, Creed and Institution narrative, leads her to conclude that asyndeton is an intrusion, because it imposes the ‘tyranny of mundane time’, the levelling of difference and the disjunction of those things originally intended to be connected.96 It is static, rendered pure, yet ‘powerless by its punctuation’.97 Thus, there is no distinction or suspense in the narrative. Christ’s words at the Last Supper, as represented in the BCP 1549, are differentiated from the linear narrative (in the aorist), are spoken in complex syntax, using asyndeton internally. Pickstock draws attention to such usage, because it acts as a reminder that in ‘every liturgical performance ... human reason is incomplete ... the work of praise is never ﬁnished’.98 This, she would argue, stands in sharp contest to contemporary language which, despite its claims to be open, is a closed system, because no distinction is made between human rationality and God’s wisdom. It is the apparent foolishness of the Cross which reveals the nonsense of human reason. Thus, ‘by the asyndetic silence which binds [Christ’s] anamnetic utterances at the Last Supper, his speech opens a void, and arena of emptiness (fuller than fullness) which no words can “explain”, for it is a mystery that can only be performed, received, and then repeated’.99 The world is compelled by Christ’s mysterious, unfathomable words to perform the task of restoring reason, by acknowledging that God’s ‘unreason’ is far superior to human reason. Pickstock does not believe that the ASB Creed is capable of mystery, because it is limited to the order of mundane time. Christ’s words are not restricted by chronology; they are universal and are not bounded by temporality, making them pertinent everywhere. The repeated command to repeat (the present imperative ‘Do this in remembrance of me’) is a ‘recall that is anticipated, a detour not by the past but by the future’, and disturbs our ideas about retrospection and anticipation.100 Pickstock relates Paul’s assertion that God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom to her contention that though Christ’s asyndetic emptiness, ‘fuller than plenitude, He nulliﬁed the false fullness of ‘reason’. Divine absence is yet more apparent than earthly presence, for in God there can be no such distinction between presence and absence’.101 The revised Creed of the ASB, according to Pickstock’s analysis, does not fulﬁl the traditional functions of the Creed. It does not offer a performative enactment of Trinitarian relations, or catechesis, or doxology or the representation of the sacral 95 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 328. In a footnote, Pickstock uses the change from ‘sitteth’ to ‘is seated’ to show how the diminution of temporal boundaries is effected, leading to a description of seatedness, which characterises the mundane present moment. 96 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 330. 97 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 330. 98 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 335. 99 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 335. 100 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 336. 101 Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 337; 1 Corinthians 1:23–23.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
temporal order. However, the more serious charge, in Pickstock’s view, is that the enforced absence leads to the introduction of desire as lack, rather than ongoing searching. The fragmentation of salvation history distorts its purpose and continuity, giving rise to the notion that there is a ‘ready-made precise content which fulﬁls and deletes a need ... the accumulation of asyndetic clauses repeats this need-acquisition model ... inducing new desires ... each one parading as the commodity to end all desires ... but there is no real object of desire’.102 Finally, she accuses liturgists of ‘impeding the route to the divine, and holding up a mirror which both mimics and perpetuates the secular (dis)order’.103 Although Pickstock’s primary concerns with regard to her discussion of syntax in the alternative Creeds diverge from the main focus of this thesis, some of her comments are worth noting. Christ’s words at the Last Supper are universal. Pickstock comments on their mystery and on the demand made to repeat them, and indeed the eucharistic anamnesis challenges our ideas about retrospection and anticipation. We stand at a moment of anticipation as we participate in the anamnesis, which is itself a place of connection and encounter with the source event of the Church in the present, and which also looks to an eschatological future. For all her appreciation of the complexity and profundity of such connectedness, Pickstock’s concern for the impact of grammatical constructions on our understanding of time, desire and encounter stops short of the wider purposes of being drawn into the liturgical performance. To meet God in our remembering of him is a nourishing encounter, enabling the Church to become the Body of Christ. There is an ongoing cycle of desire and encounter in the anamnesis, but this cannot be disconnected from social and political concerns, and the mission of the Church. Resurrecting the Sign Pickstock reﬂects at some length on the difference between contemporary attitudes to human existence and life lived before God in the liturgical sphere. She traces what she calls the ‘deathly lineaments of the unliturgical world’, and contrasts it ‘with the Eucharistic view of life and death as belonging together’.104 The anamnesis of the Eucharist connects us to Christ’s life, death and resurrection; it nourishes the Church’s life, and also confronts us with weakness and failure in such a way that there is a transformative encounter. Pickstock describes what she calls the ‘necrophilia of modernity’, which she believes to have emerged as a result of cultural shifts in attitudes to death and dying. She identiﬁes a move from a cultural familiarity with death, understood as part of life, towards an attitude of denial and mystiﬁcation. She comments that the Enlightenment triumph of reason rendered death the only unconquered scandal. In addition, the progress of medical science has led to a reduction in untimely death, and the belief that all diseases, and therefore ultimately death, could be overcome. 102
Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 339. Pickstock, ‘Asyndeton’, p. 339. 104 Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia: The Middle of Modernity a Study of Death, Signs, and the Eucharist’, in Modern Theology, Vol 12:4 (1996), pp. 405–406. 103
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
Necrophobia reﬂects the paradox that the approach of a scientiﬁc vanquishing of death exacerbates fear and evasion of death. Necrophobia is at work ‘on all occasions where artiﬁce replaces the horror of impermanent reality ... [such that] “necrophilia” is a better name for it’.105 If death and life are seen as opposed, then Pickstock argues, existence itself becomes an object, and is thereby given over to death. Modernity, in grasping after life, effects precisely this process in her opinion, because it ‘gives life over to death, removing all traces of death only to ﬁnd that life has vanished with it ... there is a nihilistic logic to this necrophilia ... life [is] reduced to equivalence or death’.106 Pickstock links what she calls the ‘baroque anguish’ about death to the obsession with accumulation and security based upon the assumption that death is unnatural to life. Security, in a positive guise, appears to offer something that we ‘suddenly need’ – whether this is life insurance, medical cover or legal protection – and consequently we are caught up in a process ‘ceaseless warding off’.107 We are encouraged to prolong our lives by means of certain ‘sacriﬁcial investments’.108 The post-modern response to the modern ﬁxation with a denial of death is, in Pickstock’s terms, a ‘gesture towards the void’.109 She writes that, over and against this, the moods of ‘desire, hope and faith’ are ‘genuine instances of the unknown felt within the inhabited known, in the same way that commemoration of a past event ... involves the non-identically repeated sacriﬁcial return of time as the proleptic condition of possibility for any present act of remembering’.110 Within the context of the Eucharist, anamnesis encapsulates faith, hope and desire for encounter as it connects the Church with its source event; it is endlessly repeated, emphasising continuity, particularity and the ongoing process of transformation. She challenges this notion of death as the ‘ultimate ethical good’, the only example of pure, unreturnable, gift. She quite rightly suggests that death is not the only thing which is one’s own, for the particularity of our life, and the unique circumstances which we encounter, are also our own. She develops this a stage further by introducing the theological challenge that in fact ‘nothing is one’s own, but rather that everything, life and death alike, arrive not as possessions but as gifts’.111 In her ﬁnal section, Pickstock deals with the resurrection of the sign, and aims to show that where death and life are not held in opposition. It is her contention that the Eucharist provides the best locus for such a reintegration, because of the way in which that sacramental event unites word and action. The eucharistic sign shows that, in contrast to post-modern understanding of signs outlined by Pickstock, there is no opposition between presence and absence. The outwitting of metaphysical dichotomies is possible because when the Eucharist is understood as an ‘essential action, and not as an isolated presence or merely illustrative symbol, the (mystical) unknown is not reductively conﬁned to a negative nothing’: it is a genuine ‘open 105 106 107 108 109 110 111
Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 407. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 409. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 411. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 412. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 412. In this Pickstock challenges Derrida. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 414. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 416.
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mystery’ because it is partially imparted by the sign’ and is ‘recognisable as mystery’, the positive content of which is not fetishisable.112 This relates to issues surrounding the concept of anamnesis. The nature of the connection to the source event and transformative encounter with the risen Christ is not merely a matter of subjective recollection; its objectivity does not immobilise Christ either. The fullness of Christ mediated by the sacrament enables the Church to become Christ’s body in the world. Pickstock’s positive account of the mysterious, and consequently of the sign, is in accordance with patristic understanding of ‘mysterion’ as both mysterium and sacramentum. Even when the sacramental mystery is revealed it remains obscure, and at the Eucharist ‘human rationality becomes less an attempt to make logically consistent, and more a recognition of an intimation of secret intelligibility’.113 This act takes place in the community which is ‘founded by and as’ the utterance ‘This is my body’, because the Church is the ‘essence and repetition’ of that body, in both sign and secret.114 Through its perpetual realisation of the historical sacriﬁce of Christ’s body, it represents the absent body in its ritual of consecration, and it is also the ‘mystical, literal’ conﬁguration of the Body – received and dispersed as gift.115 By receiving the sacramental body of Christ, the Church is connected to the historical body, in order to become Christ’s body. Indeed, the Church is founded by and as the Lord’s phrase ‘This is my body’, and this is made possible through by anamnesis: by obedience to the command to repeat. Having received the gift of Christ’s body dispersed among the many who are gathered together, the Church must also be dispersed as a gift in the world, to love and to serve. Pickstock does not take seriously the implications of this. Pickstock stresses the importance of the ecclesial and relational context of the Eucharist to avoid alternatives – as a thing or sign cut off from the Church’s liturgical action – which deny the sacramental mystery its full potential. She bases her own positive account of the sign upon the structure of the secret, which includes the historical text, the sacred and ecclesial action and the sacraments themselves, whilst not denying the Eucharist its central place. She goes on to stress the consistency of connecting sign and secret in relation to the mystical body of the sacrament, as secrecy is an ambiguous notion, being neither fully revealed (and no longer secret), or completely unrevealed (and therefore totally unknown). It is this partial imparting that deﬁnes secrecy’s ‘particular mode of presence ... this medial position between known and unknown, continuous and discontinuous, and present and absent’ and is the place where Pickstock wishes to place all signs, and particularly eucharistic signs.116 Pickstock’s challenge to the distinction between presence and absence, death and life, ﬁnds its starting place in the words which Christ utters over the material elements of bread and wine. They reveal that it is possible for presence and absence 112 113 114 115 116
Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 421. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 421. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 421. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 422. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 423.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
to coexist, without collapsing into ‘nihilistic nothingness’.117 The verb used – the ‘existential “is”’ – precludes a crude transition from one substance to another. She suggests that Jesus’ words are a ‘bringing-about in language that is both inﬁnite and immediate’.118 The appearance of bread remains in its transitive materiality; it is not a substitutional sign for the body. It is the actual eating of the bread that is the ‘moment of the sign ... that the Body of Christ is our nourishment and that it is a social body’.119 The implications of what it means for the Church to be such a body are not explored by Pickstock, whereas for Ford and Williams such considerations are crucial. The bread and wine point away from themselves. As signs they partially disclose the ‘gift character of the Body and Blood’, whereas, as things they hid it.120 It is this view of bread and wine as a ‘literal participation in and essential symbolization of the Body, including ... The sacramental Body ... the historical body of Jesus and the ecclesial body’ which means that for Aquinas to use ontological terms of substance and accident to discuss eucharistic presence was not at all inappropriate.121 The interrelationship between these embodiments of Christ is central. Pickstock contends that the language of transubstantiation is vital to maintain this. She uses such language to develop a philosophical position which opposes Derrida; but from a theological point of view, it is possible to maintain and describe the interconnection of historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ without it. The concept of anamnesis provides one such alternative. In obeying the command ‘Do this in remembrance of me’, the Church is connected to its source event; transformative encounter with Christ in the present demands that Christ’s fullness is mediated to the world in ethical, social and missiological action. Pickstock writes that in the Eucharist death is claimed as ‘an act of giving’: Christ points away from himself and to the bread, in order to point to himself – my body – and thus he disperses himself as ‘gift’.122 Christ bequeathed his Body and Blood – giving death as life – and in receiving this bequest through participation in the Eucharist, we do not, and cannot, possess it as a thing. Instead we are required to bequeath ourselves in return, for we are part of the very body which we receive.123 Pickstock does not explore what it means for us to ‘bequeath’ ourselves in response to receiving the gift of Christ. Participation in the Eucharist draws us into Christ’s body, but whereas Ford and Williams give content to the implications of this (in terms of interpersonal relationships, or particular kinds of social, ethical and political action), she does not. Having reﬂected on the paradox of John’s Gospel, that Jesus is the fulﬁlment of all signs, yet he is revealed through a series of signs, Pickstock comments that the repetition of the Eucharist does not suggest an insufﬁciency of the sign, instead, 117 118 119 120 121 122 123
Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 424. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 424. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 424. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 425. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 425. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 428. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 428.
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‘the event is its subsequent repetitions’.124 This reﬂects something of the importance of the process of ongoing transformation as the Church continues to respond to Christ’s imperative of anamnesis. There is continuity with the past and future, and the speciﬁcity of encounter and response. The resurrection is central to the way in which the Church understands memory and transformation. Pickstock writes of the ‘resurrection life which is characterised by the act of worship ... [which] is in turn the space of story’.125 There can only be story because of the resurrection. Indeed, it is the lens through which the Church views Christ’s life and death. It means that at the Eucharist we can stand with the disciples on the night that he was betrayed in the hope of transformation, rather than reversal, as the story of Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ emphasises. Resurrection is the process at work in ‘non-identical repetition’; as a result of the resurrection there is no ﬁnal end to the story.126 The resurrection body is completely ‘imparted’, because it is turned into a series of signs, which ‘empty Jesus out’, turning the body into ‘gift’.127 In addition, the resurrection has an openness, because it lacks both beginning and end: as ‘death and life are here no longer held in opposition there can be analogous repetition, and so its story is ... compatible with inﬁnity and non closure’.128 However, if the Eucharist enables encounter with the gift of the risen Christ, then it is necessary to consider its effects in terms of transformation, the healing of memories of hurt and betrayal and the radical call to mission as the body of Christ, which are all integral to the Gospel narratives of encounter. Mediating between Art and Politics Pickstock’s consideration of the Church’s liturgy within contemporary world leads her to examine its potential to mediate between art and politics. In doing so, she offers a critique of the way in which secular modernity produces what she describes as an ‘anti-liturgy liturgy’.129 Beginning with Plato’s Laws, she asserts that: the ideal aspect of human life is not a kind of optional extra, but is essential to speciﬁcally human action ... the most realistic actions with a pragmatic and functional character nonetheless also exceed themselves by indicating the unquestioned and transcendent, which is the horizon within which they operate. It can be asserted as an ontological claim about speciﬁcally human existence, that it must be liturgical in character by the same token that it is linguistic and social.130
Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 429. Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 429. Rowan Williams in particular focuses on this in Resurrection. 126 Pickstock relates this to John’s omission of the Ascension. 127 Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 430. 128 Pickstock, ‘Necrophilia’, p. 430. Pickstock’s comments on resurrection, renewal of memory and the telling of stories mirror some concerns of Williams. 129 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’ in Modern Theology 16 (April) 2000, p. 159. 130 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 160. 125
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
It is necessary to consider her exploration of liturgy in this context in order to discern whether this allows her to develop a connection with the Church’s transformative participation in the liturgy and its activity in the world. Pickstock believes that modern Western society risks losing the characteristics of the liturgical. These include the way in which liturgy makes it possible to mediate between the public and private spheres. Such ‘co-dwelling’ ‘relativises the everyday without denying its value’: personal joys are seen within the context of ‘continuous collective celebration and personal sorrows can be ‘redeemed and transﬁgured’.131 In addition, because liturgy points beyond itself, it has the capacity to offer a critique of society from its heart, rather than from the margins; similarly the individual liturgical subject is open to development. Such comments seem to hint at a concern for transformation and challenge that has been largely absent in her reﬂections on the Eucharist. It leads her to the fusing together in the liturgical of ‘real life’ with ‘art’.132 Reﬂecting on the relation between liturgical time and real time – the way in which festivals allow temporal moments to signify something – Pickstock argues that in the ‘liturgical context, every ordinary moment points beyond itself to the eternal ... no moment is completely without signiﬁcance ... every moment becomes a gateway to transcendence’.133 Thus, she suggests that the liturgical coming together of life and art overcomes the separation of work and enjoyment in society. According to her assessment ‘only the liturgical holds the ethical and the aesthetic together’.134 She goes on to relate the way in which liturgy is bound up with economics. As in After Writing she cites the high middle ages as being a time when feasting, the economy and acts of charity were bound together. Charity, she argues, was ‘seen as an holy event, a sacred state of being that had to involve a real exchange and intimacy between the participants’ which prevented charity being remote and bound up with bureaucracy.135 This she contrasts with modern Western society, which has rejected the liturgical. Such a refusal is described by Pickstock as resulting in a lack of ‘differentiations of time and space’, to be living in ‘a perpetual virtual space of identical repetition’.136 This is typiﬁed by the ‘24/7’ culture, with all day shopping; increased working hours and leisure, but without a day of rest. In response to the pseudo-liturgy she identiﬁes, Pickstock argues that Anglican and Roman Catholic liturgical practices are capable of combining the universal and particular. Liturgy links ‘the most remote unknowable and unpredictable transcendence with the most immediate and particular sacramental presentation’.137 This gives it the potential to be tolerant, allowing local 131 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 161. The modern alternative she suggests is absorption into the media world, or seeking refuge in private delight. 132 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 162. Pickstock attempts to ‘unthink’ such a dualistic legacy that separates off ﬁne art from craft, for example. 133 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 163. 134 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 163. 135 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 166. This may be a somewhat idealistic rendering of the period as others have suggested e.g. A. Louth and K. Stevenson. 136 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 167. 137 Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 172.
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variation in rites. Pickstock goes on to claim that the rite is ‘in principle free from any exclusions’, because by virtue of their humanity anyone can be admitted to the Body of Christ; baptism enables individuals to become more fully who they are, rather than setting up a barrier between their previous and initiated selves.138 Such comments could be related to anamnesis and the ongoing transformation of the eucharistic encounter. Pickstock also connects her liturgical approach to boundaries of sacred space, in which sacred sits are celebrated, but not in an exclusive way. Instead the attitude is one of pilgrimage. The space of the Christian is ‘to be before God, and God as transcendent endlessly recedes, this space is a space of journeying now coterminous with time’.139 Although some hierarchy exists, it is not a person that stands at the top, but the Eucharist. The Church is ‘only the Body of Christ insofar as it receives the Body of Christ, that is to say, receives itself from the Eucharist. Hence, authority here is not fundamentally a person, but rather a sign. Since all receive this sign, all receive the Eucharist’.140 The assertion that the Church is only the Body of Christ because it receives that Body in the sacrament is not developed. There is no sense in which Pickstock moves on to consider what it is to be Christ’s Body, even though she writes elsewhere of the connection to charity, ethics and politics. However, she writes at length about the Church receiving a gift, and offering that back to God. The elements of bread and wine are offered to God, and are returned differently – as ‘divinised’ – and then consumed.141 In Christian liturgy we are offered ‘the free receiving of an entirely free gift from God without conditions except that we receive it, and at the same time, a free offering by us of this gift back to God with no attempt to constrain Him’.142 Pickstock writes that the ‘eucharistic community does not just receive gifts from the divine, it receives community itself as gift, and persists as a community only by offering itself back again, without reserve’.143 The dynamic of offering in response to the Eucharist has a central place within the Anglican tradition, but theologians have gone on to give some content to what that offering entails in terms of almsgiving, mission, in being the hands and eyes of Christ in the world.144 A further comment about the relationship between gift and ecclesial community is worth citing in full: Only this gift gives the community as peace: the integration of time and space, individual with collective, universal with locality. The gift is not an abstract liberal formula ... nor a spatial plot ... but a divine person, Christ himself, who must depart from us in order that we receive him as the gift of peace ‘dispersed’.145
138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145
Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 172. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 173. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 174. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 175. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 175. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 175. See Chapter 2. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 178.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
The point that Pickstock does not go on to develop here, is that as Christ’s gift is dispersed amongst the community, so that Body of Christ is indeed dismissed and dispersed into the world. At the conclusion of her argument she edges closer to articulating this dimension, but stops short. She asserts that metaphysical participation is the pre-requisite of social participation and that liturgy is able to offer the gift of love in a way that opposes the privatised and sentimental reduction of love. Liturgy might ‘offer us a way of aligning ourselves with social order ... through the natural turning towards the series of human others’.146 Ford and Williams both develop more fully this interaction with others which ﬂows out of the transformative encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. Conclusion Within Pickstock’s theological approach to the Eucharist there are some ideas and concepts that are helpful in terms of developing an understanding of anamnesis as a language of connection. She is explicitly concerned about the unity between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. She emphasises the importance of understanding the Eucharist as a ‘narrative action’ in the Church’s liturgy, non-identically repeated in continuation with the original event. This leads to brief remarks which afﬁrm that the ecclesial and indeed relational context of the Eucharist are essential to avoid the static and localised presence of sign and miracle. Christ’s presence is part of a sacramental mystery, enabling ‘continuing coming to be of the Church’.147 This reﬂects the interconnection between sacrament and ecclesial body: the Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church. However, at some points in her discussion, Pickstock has a tendency to prioritise the one over the other, although in her most recent work a more effective balance is presented. Pickstock does not shy away from engagement with the reality of Christ’s presence in the non-identically repeated Eucharist, with a conviction that this transforms and nourishes the Church. However, this assertion remains abstract. She does not work it out socially. Much of Pickstock’s work points towards the kind of ethical, social, political implications set out by Ford and Williams, but she leaves them on a theoretical level. This tension between the ideal church and the particular or concrete reality is a particular problem. She does stress the importance of the social dimension of the ecclesial community, but she does so without engaging with the reality that part of the Church’s coming to be, its embodiment of Christ’s fullness, is about being the body of Christ in and for the world. If Christ is received as the gift of peace dispersed as Pickstock claims, then the body receiving it is also dismissed and dispersed. Her explicit agenda is to engage with issues arising from the work of those such as Derrida. However, I would contend that as a theologian, part of her responsibility is to look beyond the academy to both the Church and
Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’, p. 179. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 164.
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wider society, and to make explicit the implications of the eucharistic theology she is so attentive to. Her conception of sacramental theology is focused on the particularity of the Eucharist, and she takes up the challenge of engaging with areas that have been fraught with tension and disagreement. In particular, not only does she tackle the concept of Christ’s presence in the sacrament directly, but she does so in the language so deliberately avoided by ARCIC, within the conceptual framework of transubstantiation. Philosophically, this raises issues of language, reference and meaning, which she presents as a challenge to post-modernism. Theologically, she challenges the Church to look afresh at Aquinas’ framework of understanding drawing upon Aristotelian categories. This is particularly interesting given the avoidance of such language within ecumenical discussions. However, it is far from certain how far this presents a positive, helpful and necessary contribution to eucharistic theology. Indeed it could be suggested that the dynamism and sacramental reality that she seeks to engage with and convey can be more effectively articulated in other categories. Anamnesis is not a concept that Pickstock makes extensive use of. However, she tantalisingly offers some interesting comments, which are not fully developed in relation to concerns articulated in this thesis. She writes that in the eucharistic liturgy we meet God in our remembrance of Him, ‘the communal and temporal ecclesial space’ is the locus of the journey towards memory and encounter.148 She examines the way in which historical time is subverted in the Institution Narrative, and writes that by participating in the Eucharist we both anticipate and remember as we ‘occupy the sacriﬁcial moment before the passion’.149 This tension is something that Williams engages with and develops. Although she lacks the ethical/political dimension to her work, which is so central to both Ford and Williams, her discussion of the importance of materiality and transformation, and considerations of the issues of presence and absence draw her brieﬂy into reﬂection on the role played by story and memory. On one level, her description and discussion of the eucharistic liturgy is profoundly transformative, precisely the dynamic which is central to the argument of this thesis. Yet, for all its almost charismatic power, it appears individualistic and sectarian in its failure to do justice to the corporate dynamic or to acknowledge the discussion of how it relates to the world. Thus, although she discusses God’s gift of grace, and our gift of response, and the nourishing of the Church by Christ’s body in the sacrament, she forecloses the dynamic of the Eucharist. She stops short of developing her own observation that participation and encounter with the life of Christ enable it to be ‘lived again differently in our own lives’.150 Pickstock stresses the importance of the interconnection between the historical body of Christ, the sacramental body and the ecclesial body, and the distinctiveness of anamnesis as being about ‘non-identical repetition’. However, anamnesis is not just about articulating connection to the
148 149 150
Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 230–31, 233. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 222–3. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 271.
Meeting God in our Remembering of Him
past and transformation in the present: the social, political and ethical implications alluded to by Pickstock are central to a fruitful understanding of the Eucharist.
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On the Eucharist: Memory, Time and Transformation Introduction Rowan Williams’s theological work spans a range of interests in history, literature and social critique, within which he considers the nature and function of memory. He explores its relation to human and divine time, its creative and critical dynamics and its capacity to transform and challenge, which ﬁnds its focus in the Eucharist, which is itself socially disturbing. He shares with Pickstock a concern for understanding the nature of sign-making and the importance of the language of gift in relation to the sacrament. However, he develops more fully the social and ecclesial implications of participation in the Eucharist. The Church, claims Williams, should be a place of challenge as well as a place where voices are heard. His consideration of memory and the Eucharist illustrates the way in which this can take place. Williams is quite clear that the creative dynamic of memory is not just a reafﬁrmation of collective memory or mere mental recall. By virtue of the resurrection there is the potential for memories of defeat and failure to be restored through encounter with the risen Christ. Thus remembering has a future dynamic that enables transformation; it is a recapitulation rather than a reversal.1 This is most explicitly and effectively realised in participation in the Eucharist. Williams talks a great deal about memory and remembering: about source event and transformation. The effects emerge in political convictions about the nature of society. This mirrors Ford’s shift into the dynamics of interpersonal encounter and ethical responsibility. For Williams too, encounter with Christ in the Eucharist is transformative and demanding. Given the range of Williams’s theological writing, it is important to locate him within his methodological framework. For him, the theologian is someone rooted in the practical and historical context of their community sharing the task of interpreting life lived before God. He goes on to divide the theological task into three styles: the ‘celebratory, communicative and critical’.2 He speaks of the celebratory as a mode of theology that intends to ‘evoke a fullness of vision’; it is an enterprise of seeking after God’s glory.3 The language of hymnody exhibits this celebratory style. Williams believes that this is where theology begins in ‘an attempt to draw out and display connections of thought and image so as to exhibit the fullest possible range 1 2 3
R. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’ in Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994), p. 13. R. Williams, On Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), p. xiii. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xiv.
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of signiﬁcance in the language used’.4 Williams notes a potential risk associated with such a methodology. If images and patterns become densely worked, with intricate cross referencing, it becomes harder for the reﬂective processes be renewed or modiﬁed by engagement with the environment.5 Theology in the communicative style seeks to witness the capacity of the Gospel to relate to different cultural environments. It shows conﬁdence in the belief that the Gospel can ‘be rediscovered at the end of a long and exotic detour through strange idioms and structure of thought’.6 There is scope for illumination, modiﬁcation and renewal, and it reveals trust and conﬁdence in the categories of belief within the tradition.7 Williams cites examples from the use of Marxist categories in liberation theology and the inﬂuence of feminist theory in theology. When trust is placed in the tradition, it is possible to allow categories of belief to be brought into rigorous engagement with other theories or philosophies about the world. However, the process of such engagement is challenging and the unfamiliar can lead to moments of crisis. It is this questioning and probing of ‘fundamental categories’ that constitutes critical theology.8 This dimension warns against the temptation of becoming too rigid in our deﬁnitions of God and our understandings of his relation to the world. Williams notes that critical theology that is shaped by negative, philosophical or post-modern theology can lead either to agnosticism or to a renewed sense of the mysterious and thus the celebratory. Negative theology reminds the theologian of the limitations of our own speech in the quest for ﬁrm deﬁnitions of the divine. Within philosophical and post-modern theology there are new challenges about the intelligibility of religious discourse. Williams does not set these categories out in order to present them as a rigid paradigm, but to acknowledge that theology is weakened by the isolation of one mode or other. Instead there is a mobility and restlessness between them, which ‘reﬂects the eschatological impulse at its heart, the acknowledgment that the events of Jesus’ life and death open up schisms in any kind of language any attempt to picture the world as immanently orderly or ﬁnished’.9 Williams’s theological method resonates with that which operates within the Anglican tradition. As was shown in the second chapter, theologians were creative in their use of language; engaged with their cultural context and history; showed a concern for the mystery of God. Theological integrity lies not in the reductive ‘insistence upon a monolithic and supposedly scientiﬁc mode of engagement with the material’, but in the ‘coherence of a biography’ which is itself a reminder ‘of the inescapable place of repentance in all theological speech worth the name’, and of the ‘possibility of the reality of our own transformation in Christ’.10 Like Ford, Williams stresses the necessity of 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xiii. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xiv. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xiv. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xiv. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xv. Williams, On Christian Theology, p. xvi. Williams, On Christian Theology, pp. xvi, 28.
On the Eucharist
nurturing a eucharistic lifestyle which resonates through daily life; like Pickstock, he challenges the post-modern lack of trust in meaning, and engages fruitfully with what it means for Christ to be present. However, he also speaks at much greater length than they do about memory: about repentance, transformative encounter and future action, about the events of Jesus’ life death and resurrection, the Church and the eschatological hope. This opens up the possibility of being drawn into a richer understanding of anamnesis. Memory and Time Williams’ work on memory and time reveals the way in which he takes history seriously. It is easier to opt out of the consideration of history, or to rework it, rather than facing the difﬁculties it presents. Within history there are signiﬁcant moments of realisation or transformation, powerful moments of encounter with the risen Christ. A rich and deep understanding of history means that these transformative encounters cannot be substituted for the complexity of the contingencies of history. By engaging with Williams’ understanding of memory as it connects the past and present with a future goal, it will be possible to form a basis from which to assess whether this translates into a richer understanding of eucharistic anamnesis, which mediates Christ’s fullness from source event to the Church’s mission. Williams notes that John’s Gospel is permeated by the concept of time, and in particular the coming ‘hour’ of Christ’s glory. Taking the text John 7: 6, ‘my time has not yet come, but your time is always here’, he draws out the relationship between God’s time and a purely human consideration of time, which lacks challenge or decision. Johannine talk of the ‘hour’ relates to the moment when the Father’s purpose will be fulﬁlled, when the Son’s glory is made manifest: the moment of the cry, ‘it is accomplished’.11 Thus, the hour of glory, God’s hour, is the time of the Son’s ‘humiliation, betrayal, murder ... at which the world is judged, its fears and lies brought into the open’.12 However, this time of judgement is not the end in itself, because it brings forth ‘discovery and conversion’.13 It is but the beginning: the ‘painful glory of the mercy that can only be uncovered after the uncovering of the ultimate darkness of the human heart is beginning to break through’.14 Williams contrasts this with the world’s conception of time, without the conscious waiting for God’s moment of truth. This means that the Church is to wrestle with glory and darkness, living responsibly and challenging complacency. Williams rightly notes that we should be suspicious of any easy rhetoric about decision and witness, especially apocalyptic accounts of the implications of our present situation. However, equally dangerous is the ease with which we can become complacent, accepting society’s ‘collective reasonableness’.15 Williams identiﬁes such reasonableness as including scepticism about the disturbing consequences of 11 12 13 14 15
John 19:30. Rowan Williams, ‘God’s Time’ in Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994), p. 47. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 48. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, pp. 47–8. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 48.
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a policy of abortion on demand, or the sidelining of anxieties about nuclear fuel. We might well include recent developments in genetics and industrialised farming, climate change and fertility treatments as further examples of the trust and conﬁdence placed in the accepted corporate pragmatics. Complacency may mean that ‘we refuse to see tragedy in abortion or question the quantity of energy necessary to maintain our economy or standard of living’; again the list could go on.16 However, Williams argues that John’s Gospel challenges this easy acceptance and conﬁdence. It is because the Christian is mindful of the Father’s hour that they can never hear the voice of real pain and anxiety ‘without taking to heart the question “have I or we allowed ourselves to become the people whose time is always here, who do not hope for or fear God’s judgement ... when we are called to decision”’. This has implications for the Christian community: ‘when the Church is living in the truth, it is a place where we are becoming people capable of bearing such a question, and so too capable of decision and witness, of coming into the light, that it may be seen that what we do, we do in God’.17 The Church can become a place where danger can be faced if it allows the voices of anger or fear to be heard, and if it provides that alternative freedom to go beyond the superﬁcial: ‘as we look into the darkness of our humanity we shall, the gospel tells us, meet the compassion that takes us through this darkness into the life of Christ, the forgiveness that establishes us in love and freedom, and creates in us the capacity for witness’.18 The challenge that Williams lays down to the Church is for it to come under judgement, to learn what it means to be obedient to God’s word, because it is only when the Church makes claims on our honesty and courage that it becomes a place where we can ‘hear the word of grace’ and be ‘remade and equipped for witness’.19 Thus, the Church is called to be a place of challenge and a place where voices can be heard. The hour of judgement and glory equips Christ’s Church for witness in the world, including challenging complacency. Williams’s social/ political concerns are interwoven with his theological statements, and permeate his understanding of the Church’s mission. Williams writes that it is only when the Church, through ministering to each other, is brought to the time of Christ’s agony and glory that God’s grace is able to break into the time that is ‘always here’.20 Here Williams’s argument could be accused of leading to a vision of the Church that only comes into existence when certain conditions are met, or when certain forms of behaviour are practiced. Yet the Church is always caught up in the process of continually coming to be, however imperfectly. When the Church gathers to participate in the Eucharist, it is participating in an act remembering which connects the community with the agony and glory. Such anamnesis is the well spring of the Church’s mission. In the light of Christ’s death and resurrection we remember the night of betrayal, yet this also becomes the point at which God’s grace is able to bring about transformation, allowing the Church to 16 17 18 19 20
Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 49. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 50. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 50. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 51. Williams, ‘God’s Time’, p. 51.
On the Eucharist
become Christ’s body ministering to and challenging the world, looking towards a future shaped by openness to God. Memory plays a critical role in shaping future hopes within Jewish and Christian tradition. Williams explores Israel’s self-understanding in relation to their history and their future within prophecy of Isaiah: the Jews have ‘no history apart from the memory of the Land and the hope of return’.21 For the prophets, the city had to be rebuilt, with God’s help, on the earth of the old one. It was necessary to return to the ‘memories of the painful, humiliating past and [bring] them to redemption in the present’.22 Of course, memory can be destructive. The defeats and disasters of the past are still remembered and resented, haunting the present, but alongside this is the afﬁrmation that ‘my future will not be mine without the concrete memories of my past’.23 Self-understanding, both corporate and individual, is dependent on the acknowledgment that memories are important: they have to be brought into the present in order that restoration can begin, so that a future can be built. This is not just typical of the God’s message to Israel, as conveyed by the prophets, but is fundamental to the Gospel message. Williams looks at the particular instances of encounters with the risen Lord, noting that Christ meets the disciples where he met them before. He meets them in the upper room and on the sea shore, not in some new and unrelated place. By returning to the place of their ﬁrst call and response, the disciples with their own memories of ‘terror and betrayal come back to their beginnings ... where Christ comes to repair their devastation’.24 Peter’s threefold denial becomes a threefold confession. It is both the memory of his calling and the memory of his failure that become the foundations for his future, ‘his pastoral authority, his martyr’s crown’: the ‘memories of defeat’ are transformed in the ‘presence of the undefeated, ever faithful Lord’.25 Memory, in particular of past failings and humiliations, can be transformed by encounter with Christ. Here, Williams’s emphasis on the creative dynamic of memories, however painful, within the Bible does not involve a reversal, but a ‘recapitulation’ as they are taken up and healed, rather than obliterated. He does not avoid the messiness of life, and the need for the hope in the midst of complexity. The post-resurrection narratives are important, according to Williams, because they highlight this: the resurrection is a recapitulation of the history of Jesus and of his disciples. They communicate something of the continuity between Jesus’ risen life, with his ministry and passion, and the continuity of the disciples’ experience. There is no ‘shattering conversion that wipes out the pain and betrayal of the past’, instead they are led through it again by Jesus himself.26 It is within this understanding of memory and transformation that the anamnesis within the celebration of the Eucharist can be understood. It is not just a reafﬁrmation 21 22 23 24 25 26
Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’ in Open to Judgement, p. 76. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 77. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 77. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 78. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 78. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 78.
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of the collective memory, nor a mere memorial of past events. In the Eucharist the past is remembered in order to transform the present and future: Here I called you, here I broke bread with you, here you betrayed me; and here I still stand with you, calling you and breaking bread with you again, and giving you a destiny in love. Do we not remember all this every time we celebrate the Eucharist? ‘In the night that he was betrayed, he took bread ...’ Don’t forget that: but here it is, made into grace and healing.27
Anamnesis connects the Church to the source event. We stand at the moment of betrayal, which also becomes a place of transformation in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection. The encounter with Christ in the Eucharist is repeated, and on each occasion participants can bring their whole lives before God. It is tempting to shut out memories that seem too painful, too irreconcilable, too unredeemable; to hide them away from our own consciousness, away from our Christian community and away from God. However, the light of Christ makes its way into those corners, and if we speak of ‘resurrection of our bodies’ part of that entails looking for the ‘restoration of all our memories’.28 The bringing of our memories into God’s presence is intrinsic to Christian prayers for confession. As the alternative form of corporate confession in Common Worship expresses it, ‘In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, our God.’29 In confession there is forgiveness and release. Although personal history might remain, when it is turned into memory transformation can occur, leading to a renewed hope in the future. The Christian hope, like the hope of Israel, is linked to the past, because God can build a future out of defeated aspirations and misguided ideals. Hope for the future also entails the expectation that our actions will be modelled on God’s will, for justice, love and mercy. The reality that ‘our memories can be healed and transformed’ and the subsequent restoration of hope is central to the Christian Gospel, and is powerfully expressed is the Eucharist.30 Williams’ analysis of the place of memory does indeed offer a way to deepen our understanding of the importance of anamnesis. It must be distinguished from any notion that Christ’s presence and our transformation is dependent on the function of human memory as a mental activity, or that Christ’s continuing action can be contained and limited by that action of the community. There is an objective reality as well as subjective engagement. Such a claim is ontological. It acknowledges the reality of an ongoing spiritual transformation. In fact, remembrance only fully makes sense if it is caught up in the dynamics of present change and future hope of the kind embodied in the Eucharist. It is vital for humanity to hold on to even the bleakest of memories, for example the legacy of the Holocaust, ‘the dead must be named, otherwise the reality of their living and dying
27 28 29 30
Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, pp. 78–9. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 79. Common Worship, ‘Holy Communion, Order One’, p. 169. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, p. 80.
On the Eucharist
is set aside for the sake of our illusory comfort’.31 Each generation needs to come to terms with the reality that their world has been made and is shared with others, and that it is not a ‘pristine place’, but a place that is in a process of becoming within which our own freedoms are constrained: we have been ‘bought at a price’ and we must not obscure, as the nostalgic heritage industry tries to do, that we are the heirs of violence and pain as well as generous benefactions.32 Although we neither change nor obliterate the past, we can use the memory of it for the transformation of the present for the future. As Williams puts it, ‘the past is what we cannot change (it is that which even God cannot change), but the memory of cost can be deployed in more than one way to change the present; hence, the phrase “remembrance for the future”’.33 All too often the past is claimed and owned in order to exert power, not just for those who have exercised violence and oppression, but also by those who have suffered violence and oppression at their hands and therefore seek vindication. Such a strategy on the part of the victims of history appears attractive, offering a possible means of liberation. However, according to Williams’s notion of the role of remembrance, seeking vindication is only part of the reality. The past can be used to search for understanding rather than vindication. Indeed, by ‘bringing such acts [of violence] into the focus of memory, we acknowledge the unspoken cost and become capable of asking in our present where the victims of today’s “historical action” are to be found’.34 The recognition of the abuse of power in the past gives us freedom to hear the voice of the powerless today. As we have seen, Williams believes that when the Church fulﬁls its vocation, one of its roles is to be a place where moves towards understanding can occur. In this way memory is able to provide a creative and critical voice in spheres beyond the ecclesiological.35 Like Ford, Williams is concerned to stress the integration of theological concerns with those of the social and political realm. Williams grounds his discussion of memory in the Eucharist. He uses Augustine’s thought on memory and spirit to develop the way in which remembrance and the search for understanding converge in the Eucharist: ‘God is found through the memory, in one sense, because memory makes us aware of how little of ourselves is at any one moment accessible to the light of consciousness: we see what we thought was our selfhood as a small part in an incalculable network of forces’.36 This ‘network’ can sustain the ‘reality of spiritual movement that issues, for Augustine, in the confession: the acknowledgement of an everlasting love, holding together the fragmented, deceitful and directionless self’ is how memory leads Godwards.37 Such remembrance is at the heart of the pivotal act of Christian worship: ‘the naming of the dead Jesus as the lord and judge’ at the Eucharist is where the lines of history 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, in Open to Judgement, p. 237. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, pp. 237–8. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 238. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 239. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 241. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 241. Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 241.
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converge.38 Williams, recalling Charles Wesley’s phrase ‘Remembrancer Divine’, highlights the role of the Spirit as the one who makes the past of Jesus present to us now.39 Within eucharistic worship there is scope for renewal, innovation and continuity. As Jesus was the victim of religious and political systems of meaning, he becomes the paradigmatic bearer of the cost of history: he was killed because he spoke ‘of the unbearable hope of a humanity free from violence ... for and of the purpose and future for humanity beyond goals of sectional and local intent, because he speaks of and for God’.40 Through the resurrection God takes the side of the poor and their perspective becomes one with his, pronouncing that ‘there is an end to the perspective of the oppressor. There is a future and a voice for the voiceless’.41 Jesus is at the heart of Christian remembrance. Such remembrance is orientated towards the future, for all men and women and especially for the powerless or voiceless. Thus, memory is not static; it is not concerned about maintaining the status quo. Instead its role is to enable change in the present: remembrance in the Christian context demands transformation, and the Eucharist is the place par excellence where this can take place. The Spirit as ‘remembrancer’ enables the naming of the dead Jesus to take place, and instigates transformation by renewing experiences of betrayal, as Williams makes explicit in ‘Building up Ruins’. Williams, like Begbie, is interested in the way in which an exploration of music, time and memory shape our understanding of the Eucharist. Although Williams does not go into the technical details of musical composition he explores the way in which music challenges our conception of time in such a way that it can become a means of change, challenge and transformation.42 To begin with, Williams discusses the way in which music draws the listener into a series of relations and transformations by imposing its own time. Thus, although bars 1 and 4 of the ﬁrst Prelude of Bach’s 48 are identical, the passing of time creates a difference: ‘time has passed, and we cannot at the end hear what we ﬁrst heard’.43 Like Begbie, Williams likens this to the impact of the liturgical year.44 Although philosophers have traditionally compared music to mathematics as ‘timeless’, Williams wants to draw attention to the gulf that really lies between them. Mathematics is timeless in the sense that it can be grasped visually on the page, which enables the practitioner to move both backwards and forwards; on the other hand music ‘keeps and is kept by time, and requires my time, which is my ﬂesh and blood, my life, for its performance and reception’, its meaning depends on its movement.45 Therefore, music is a fundamentally contemplative art, not because it 38
Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 241. The phrase ‘Remembrancer Divine’ draws our attention to the intrinsic connection between anamnesis and epiclesis in relation to the Eucharist, both theologically and liturgically. 40 Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 241. 41 Williams, ‘Remembering for the Future’, p. 242. 42 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’ in Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994), pp. 247–50. 43 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 247. 44 Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 169. Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 249. 45 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 248. 39
On the Eucharist
takes us into the timeless, but because ‘it obliges us to rethink time’: time is not for domination, achievement or action, but is simply ‘for feeding upon reality’, which parallels the ‘patient openness to God’ that forms religious contemplation.46 Williams compares music to a narrative in the way in which it extends itself over a given period, transforming positions and opening up possibilities. The art of music is celebrated by Christianity because of the belief that this is how we learn what we are, and how we ‘learn the wisdom of creatures’.47 Although our human wisdom is not God’s, it does reﬂect it: ‘the joy and harmony that is God’s eternally, we can know and share in only as growing and changing souls; by being patient with uncertainty’.48 The Christian commitment to music, Williams argues, is grounded in the fact that Christian identity rests upon the ‘encounter with God’s reality in narrative and movement’.49 Again the liturgical year illustrates how the Church renews its understanding of itself and the world in and through the process of story. Year after year, we are led through the swiftly changing perspectives of Jesus’ birth, passion, death and resurrection which require our contemplation, in ‘ﬂesh and blood, patience and passion’ so that we allow ourselves to be ‘changed and enlarged’.50 Such engagement teaches us what it is to live with and before God, and brings us to the realisation of a ‘service that is perfect freedom’.51 The time that we relinquish is given back as a time in which ‘we have become more human, more real ... [and] ... changed’, because we have been taken into the wisdom of God, and have opened ourselves to his gift which draws out our energy.52 Williams’s considerations of memory reveal its power to transform and challenge.53 As discussions of memory ﬁnd their focus in the anamnesis of the Eucharist, connections are made to the nature of the Church’s mission. Resurrection and Memory In the Christian narrative and in each Eucharist the relationship between memory, betrayal and transformation is seen through the lens of resurrection. Williams’s provisional deﬁnition in preaching the resurrection is that it is an ‘invitation
Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 248. Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 248. 48 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, pp. 248–9. 49 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 249. The concept of the soul will be explored more fully later with reference to Lost Icons: Reﬂections on Cultural Bereavement (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2000). 50 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 249. 51 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, pp. 249–50. 52 Williams, ‘Keeping Time’, p. 250. 53 Williams, Christ on Trial (London: Fount, 2000) also illustrates the ethic of the Church being a place where the powerless and voiceless can be heard focusing on the art of ordinary life, resurrection as gift rather than reversal, and the relationship between memory and transformation pp. 136, 139. 47
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to recognize one’s victim as one’s hope’.54 This reiterates his stress on the nonnegotiability of the past, the power of our memories and the potential of those memories to transform our lives when deployed appropriately. Indeed, he comments here that ‘salvation does not bypass the history and memory of guilt, but rather builds upon and from it’.55 This is done in part through the transformation of the judge-victim relationship so that there can be renewal. This is brought about through God’s subversion of judgement in Jesus. He is the victim, so can judge without condemnation. He offers divine judgement of the world that ‘is not delivered from a supernatural place, but is enacted within the relations of human beings to each other’.56 This brings us back again to memory. Forgiveness is not abstract. It is a process whereby ‘my memory becomes my memory, the memory of a self with a story of responsibility. And to remember in this way is to have restored to me part of the self that I have diminished’.57 Memory can be healed in this way only when it is ‘exposed as a wound, a loss’.58 Memory is grounded in a God who saves, who gives us back our past: a God to whom all things are present. Through this divine mediation: all things can be made present to us again, present through his presence. The concept of God’s ‘memory’ as holding or keeping open the past overthrows the delusion that our violence is ﬁnal and irremediable ... God receives the victim’s pain into an inﬁnite selfhood and self-presence; and so ... guarantees the hope of healing because its resources and possibilities cannot be exhausted or extinguished by the world’s destructiveness.59
Jesus himself is part of the human story, but is ‘remembered as one who absorbed and did not transmit deprivation and violence’.60 This is, as Williams points out, paradoxical. It is through a detailed engagement with the Gospel narratives that he endeavours to engage with the connections between memory and liberation, mission and responsibility. This enables a movement from judgement and justiﬁcation to sanctiﬁcation.61 Williams writes that ‘God is the agency that gives us back our memories, because God is the “presence” to which all reality is present’.62 This takes us to the heart of the Christian understanding of memory mediated through the resurrection narratives and actualised in participation the Eucharist. Returning to memory is painful. It is also profoundly necessary from a theological and pastoral point of view, because God is concerned with the whole self. The self is made, part of an ongoing story: it ‘is what the past is doing now, it is the process in which a particular set of “given”
54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Williams, Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994), p. 11. Williams, Resurrection, p. 12. Williams, Resurrection, p. 14. Williams, Resurrection, p. 20. Williams, Resurrection, p. 21. Williams, Resurrection, p. 23. Williams, Resurrection, p. 25. Williams, Resurrection, p. 27. Williams, Resurrection, p. 29.
On the Eucharist
events and processes and options crystallises now in a new set of particular options ... it is continuity ... it is necessarily memory’.63 This opens up the possibility of memory being the basis of hope. Again Williams returns to Augustine’s understanding of memory as the self, as a means of selfawareness. This is crucial because it means that: I am not trapped and conﬁned in the present moment: as a conscious subject with a remembered past, I ‘transcend’ these limitations. I can understand them, put them in perspective, and move on from and through them. Thus, whatever stimulates and nourishes ‘transcendence’ in this sense has to do with presence to myself, and so with memory. Without this, my bondage is complete.64
Even so, the question remains that if recall of the past is bound up with pain, rejection, humiliation, or guilt, how can that be liberating or transformative? In Open to Judgement Williams explored this issue in relation to Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ on the shore of Galilee.65 It is an encounter that is transformative precisely because the past of betrayal and failure is recognised, assimilated and brought to a fruitful outcome. As we have noted this relates to the church’s transformation through participation in the Eucharist, through which transformation is brought about through the acknowledgment of failure. In Resurrection Williams uses the episode about Peter’s encounter with Christ to show how such a restoration of memory is different from regression. He states that ‘memory is never simply the recovery of lost innocence ... Galilee is the place where the past is recovered in such a way as to make it the foundation for a new and extended identity, the soil on which a redeemed future may grow’.66 Thus, Williams illustrates that vocation and forgiveness are bound together beyond the resurrection. The past of hurt and vulnerability is not returned unchanged. Through the resurrection ‘the memory is given back in a particular kind of context – in the presence of Jesus’.67 This is painful, even excruciating, and the possibility of this encounter will not be universally welcomed. Nevertheless, it is bearable because Christ – the victim who does not condemn, as Williams describes him – waits in love for us to respond and receive the memory so that we can enter into a new stage of the relationship. Christ continually calls, forgives, accepts and absorbs the pain. We like Peter can learn that the memory of failure is the context for being called forth in hope – ‘however [Peter] may fail, his life is constantly capable of being opened to God’s creative grace: God’s presence in Jesus will not fail him’.68 Again we are 63
Williams, Resurrection, p. 29. Williams, Resurrection, p. 31. 65 Williams draws on Augustine’s understanding of memory in Resurrection and elsewhere. His engagement with the episode from John’s Gospel of Peter’s transformative encounter with Christ also echoes Augustine’s reﬂections in In Joannis evagelium tractus: Tractates on the Gospel of John trans. J. Rettig (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1994). 66 Williams, Resurrection, p. 35. 67 Williams, Resurrection, p. 35. 68 Williams, Resurrection, p. 36. 64
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brought back to the Eucharist. The charcoal ﬁre on which the risen Christ prepares breakfast for his disciples recalls for Peter a moment of: crisis, misunderstanding, illusion and disaster when he hovered near a ﬁre and betrayed Jesus. Thus, that meal recovers not only the memory of table-fellowship, but the memory of false hope, betrayal and desertion ... [they] restore that poignant juxtaposition of his unfailing grace and their rejection, distortion and betrayal of it all.69
For this reason, Williams argues the Eucharist can never be a simple fellowship meal: the self-gift of Christ and betrayal are continually juxtaposed. Our inﬁdelity breaks the fellowship, but it is restored. The Eucharist constantly operates between the poles of Gethsemane and Emmaus: we do not eucharistically remember a distant meal in Jerusalem, nor even a distant death: we are made ‘present to ourselves’ as people complicit in the betrayal and death of Jesus and yet still called and accepted, still ‘companions’ of Christ ... those who break bread with him.70
The anamnesis is such that the Church is fully reconnected to its source event, rather than it being a mere recollection of a historical moment. We stand at the moment of betrayal, and are faced with the reality of our vulnerability and failures; we stand at the moment in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection, which transforms betrayal into discipleship. In encountering the fullness of Christ in this way, the Church is enabled to accept its mission as the Body of Christ. There is fellowship in the present and memory of misplaced trust or betrayal, but that is not the end. Betrayal is not the ﬁnal word. There is something of a ‘perpetual Easter’ in the Church’s life.71 This reality is not about the restoration of a past identity. It entails the recognition and transformation of the destructive and the deceptive. It means having to grapple with resistance to the truth: The whole of that past that is shared with Jesus is now transformed: as we learn the truth of its tragic character, we learn also that the tragedy is interwoven with hope ... truth in this world is a stranger, essentially and profoundly vulnerable ... Easter [shows us the] interconnectedness of the human world, reversed, so that truth draws untruth up towards the light.72
The risen Christ restores memory in hope. Furthermore, the Spirit is ‘given for recollection of Jesus and witness to Jesus’, and as a result we are given a future – ‘a vocation’ – as well as a present and a past.73 This vocation involves proclaiming hope, having received it. Williams has stressed that forgiveness is not abstract, but concerned with a particular past. Similarly, this future vocation is far from abstract. It entails the 69 70 71 72 73
Williams, Resurrection, pp. 39–40. Williams, Resurrection, p. 40. Williams, Resurrection, p. 41. Williams, Resurrection, p. 41. Williams, Resurrection, p. 42.
On the Eucharist
diversity of gifts given by the Spirit, which builds up the common life. This leads to a community that ‘lives in the exchange, not simply of charisms in Paul’s sense, but of stories, of memories ... the gift given me to give back to the community, is my self ... my story given back to give me a place in ... the web of gifts, which is Christ’s Church’.74 This giftedness is bound up with love – a love that can be shared precisely because there has been struggle, loss, failure, repentance and learning. The vocation of the Church as described by Williams illustrates that anamnesis is not just about an encounter with Christ. Receiving the gift of his body brings about effects in the present. The disciples on the Road to Emmaus are not satisﬁed with their own renewed understanding as they glimpse their risen Lord in the breaking of bread, they return to Jerusalem in order to share with others. In the same way, having received the gift of transformation and hope the community must proclaim it. Such encounters are also personal. There is a particularity of place and encounter, conversion and growth. For example Mary’s encounter with her risen Lord in John 20 is used by Williams to draw attention to the power of hearing the risen Christ speak one’s name. In this narrative ‘the moments of recognizing (or remembering) self and recognizing (or remembering) God’ are united.75 Mary’s transformation entails the alleviation of personal grief and distress. She is also empowered to act as a witness to the other disciples. There is something hopeful about this release into freedom, about the conversion of an individual and a community. Williams is careful to avoid danger of an easy resolution. It is not a swift and uncomplicated move from darkness and fragility into light. He recognises that ‘the resurrection is not properly preached without an awareness of the human world as a place of loss and a place where men and women strive not to be trapped in that loss’, and even when there is truthful acknowledgment of pain and oppression and engagement with it ‘it may on occasion take forms barely recognizable as hope’.76 Even so, trust is made possible through the resurrection, and the Church has a vocation to show this forth in the world. For the Church to fulﬁl its critical role in the world, judgement and criticism has to be built into its own life and structures: ‘only a penitent Church can manifest forgiven-ness’.77 Forgiveness does not occur without relationship and transformation. Williams describes it as an ‘irritant’ that stimulates protest at ﬂawed and damaging social and personal relationships, and the means of providing us with a sense of what it is to relate to God and each other: ‘once we grasp that forgiveness occurs not by a word of acquittal but by a transformation of the world of persons, we are not likely to regard it as something which merely refers backwards’.78 The Church is called to take risks: to risk unpopularity, to risk being on the margins, to risk causing offence, and to risk vulnerability. The practice of anamnesis in the Eucharist is central to the dynamic of enabling the fullness of the embodied Church to engage in this task.
74 75 76 77 78
Williams, Resurrection, p. 44. Williams, Resurrection, p. 44. Williams, Resurrection, p. 49. Williams, Resurrection, p. 53. Williams, Resurrection, p. 52.
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Williams does not seek to avoid the pain, messiness and complexity of the world. This is seen in the depth of his political conviction which infuses his theology. Prophecy and protest emanate from attention to the shared life of the believing community, trusting in God. Thus, he can argue that prophecy which ﬂows from such a centre is authentically a form of non-violent resistance: non-violent, because it does not aim simply to identify and locate blame so that it can condemn, exclude, and disparage; but resistance because it speaks of a drastic refusal of certain styles of individual and corporate life.79
Williams reﬂects on the example of the L’Arche community, where there is giving and receiving in dignity, where transformation is enacted. For the Church to address itself to human violence, abuse and oppression it must ﬁrst – and repeatedly – recognize ‘its failing as a community to be a community of gift and mutuality, and warn itself of the possibility of failure’.80 In the Eucharist we stand at the moment of betrayal, and of hope. No individual failure stands on its own, and rather than being an end of gift, it is the opportunity to be challenged, to learn of God’s love and forgiveness afresh, and to be transformed in hope and trust. The Church is made whole by the memory of its capacity for violence and its witness to the risen Christ in the midst of it. It is in the Eucharist the Church identiﬁes itself with the ‘oppressor and traitor ... the penitent and restored’.81 When the Church performs the eucharistic action ‘it is what it is called to be: the Easter community, guilty and restored, the gathering of those whose identity is deﬁned by their new relation to Jesus cruciﬁed and raised ... as forgiven ... in praise and gratitude ... it is a transforming, a recreative act’.82 This is what the Church’s life in community means. Participation in the sacrament ‘allows the source-event, the mystery of the cross and resurrection, to become present again, and so opens itself to the rich resource of that event’.83 Such a remembering is central to the process of the Church becoming the body of Christ. Jesus’ life exempliﬁes the way of non-violence within the limitations of human existence, and in his resurrection we see a powerful assertion of God’s work. Now, Jesus’ life has transcended the boundaries of time and space. His life can be woven into the very ‘fabric of lives ... not simply as narrative memory, but as an active and transforming presence, never exhausted or assimilated ... it is in confrontation with his presence that human lives are restored and reshaped’.84 In addition, the Church’s own remembrance of the past it inherits – unattractive and afﬁrmative – enables it to feel something of the ‘hurt’ of the Body of Christ.85 This is a powerful and dynamic rendering of what it means to be a community grounded in anamnesis. The fullness of Christ, mediated through the Eucharist, enables the Church to fully 79 80 81 82 83 84 85
Williams, Resurrection, p. 54. Williams, Resurrection, p. 55. Williams, Resurrection, p. 58. Williams, Resurrection, pp. 58–9. Williams, Resurrection, p. 59. Williams, Resurrection, p. 62. Williams, Resurrection, p. 65.
On the Eucharist
become that body, indeed to embody that reality. It means that the community should be ‘the place where he is shown’.86 This leads to an outworking of the meanings of catholicity and mission. Its aim is to ‘keep open and expanding the frontiers of the community of gift’.87 It is risky. It demands attentiveness to the diversity of personal and cultural circumstances. The new horizons it seeks in living out the gospel are found under Christ’s kingship. The diversity of the Church’s history, and the diversity of its engagement in the present, leads Williams to relate this to the historic ordained ministry, its continuity and relationship to the tradition. This touches on the points raised in A Gift of Authority.88 Williams states that the minister ‘is the custodian of the Church’s memory, as a teacher and interpreter; and this will involve a reminding of the present Church that its past is ﬂawed and calls for penitence’.89 However, he is clear that this does not mean setting up walls around the faith. The role of the Church in relation to judgement and prophetic witness means that the Church is also responsible for the memory of victims, naming them before the world. To link memory of suffering with the nature of Church’s human and relational life, and the way that is embodied sacramentally, is demanding. It means that the challenge can also be ‘an offer, and a manifestation, of new life ... without a credible corporate life based on the “memory of suffering”, the moral imagination remains unfertilised. And the credibility of that life involves its availability to all: repent, believe, and be baptized’.90 Ford identiﬁes something dangerous about the memory of Christ.91 It can be too easy for the challenge of Easter to be domesticated and controlled, for the Church to become complacent and secure, to stop risking attentiveness to the stranger and the vulnerable. Williams is also acutely aware of this danger, and of the abuse of suffering: that egotistical claim that ‘if I suffer I am in the right, because God “endorses” my pain’.92 Then suffering becomes a weapon. We risk being left with a void. For ‘if we come in search of the “God of our condition” at Easter, we shall not ﬁnd him’.93 The possibility of change, individual and corporate, is fundamental to Easter, but only if a sense of ‘ownership’ of the cross is abandoned. Williams suggests that the meaning of Easter is found ‘in coming to the memory of Jesus, looking for consolation, and ﬁnding a memory that hurts and judges, that sets a distance, even an alienation between me and my hope, my Saviour’. It reveals a void, an absence which challenges our desire for a neat and swift resolution, we ﬁnd Jesus as ‘a living stranger’.94 He goes on to make the distinction between the Church as a community encountering the risen Christ to the place where the world can meet him too, and the Church as an institution preserving the memory of Jesus’ words and actions. The risen Lord ‘cannot be contained in the legitimating and supporting 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94
Williams, Resurrection, p. 63. Williams, Resurrection, p. 64. A Gift of Authority, p. 24. Williams, Resurrection, p. 66. Williams, Resurrection, pp. 67–8. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 208. Willams, Resurrection, p. 78. Williams, Resurrection, p. 79. Williams, Resurrection, p. 82.
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memory of a community’.95 The Church’s practice of anamnesis is dynamic as it gathers to encounter Christ, and becomes a place where the possibility of encounter is extended. Williams refers to the Lukan narrative of the disciples’ encounter with the Christ on the Emmaus road as a means of undermining the suggestion that the risen Lord is a projection of the community’s belief, because of the centrality of ‘the otherness, the unrecognizability’ of Christ.96 Christ does not condemn the inadequacy of the disciples’ understanding, but there has to be a fresh start: ‘they must “learn” him afresh ... must begin again’.97 This sheds light on the theological understanding of the dynamic anamnesis that this thesis seeks to develop because there is emphasis on encounter, renewal and effects. For if the Lordship of Jesus ‘is not constructed from a recollection but experience in the encounter with one who evades our surface desires and surface needs, and will not subvert the requirements of our private dramas’, then the place of the Eucharist within the community’s life becomes more, not less, radical.98 It is not just a moment of mental recall, or the immobilising of Christ upon the altar. There is continuity with Christ – through the interrelationship of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ – but this entails judgement, call and recreation.99 The Church: may be Christ’s ‘Body’, the place of his presence; but it is entered precisely by the ritual encounter with his death and resurrection, by the ‘turning around’ which stops us struggling to interpret his story in the light of ours and presses us to interpret ourselves in the light of the Easter event.100
In participation at the Eucharist, we lay ourselves open to interpretation, challenge and transformation. Williams goes on to make clear that although there is a strangeness about the risen Christ, his presence is such that it establishes a profound connection between his life and the life of the community. It establishes a new order of being, but it also stands in continuity with what went before. The relationship: is not suddenly privatised, turned into an obscure reverential memory. In his ministry, Jesus created and sustained the community of his friends by speech and touch and the sharing of food ... after his resurrection, that community is maintained in the same way.101
The eucharistic anamnesis embodies this in the challenging, transforming, sustaining connection, which demands action. We must not reduce it to something harmless or individualistic. Williams also reminds us that the basis for the community’s faith lies beyond its own life. Its object is to be found in the ‘message from the tomb’,
95 96 97 98 99 100 101
Williams, Resurrection, p. 82. Williams, Resurrection, p. 83. Williams, Resurrection, p. 83. Williams, Resurrection, pp. 83–4. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 121–66. Williams, Resurrection, p. 84. Williams, Resurrection, p. 101.
On the Eucharist
to which its own life is the answer.102 The resurrection is the consummation of the embodiment of grace in Jesus. This brings us to the centrality of hospitality, given and received by Jesus, to and from those on the fringes of society. Those at the very margins are among the ﬁrst to proclaim the resurrection. The shared meals of Jesus’ ministry are the extension of what it is for grace to be embodied. It is a demonstration of his vocation of ‘self gift’: ‘on the eve of the passion, Jesus performs an act which fuses together the hospitality and acceptance of his ministry and the radical self-offering he is to accomplish on Calvary’.103 The taking and sharing of food is grounded in the ‘deeper act of selfsharing which is nearing its consummation ... “This is my body”’. The breaking and sharing of bread signify, have weight and resource, because they belong to the breaking and sharing of Jesus’ selfhood’.104 Our transformation depends on this participation in his self-offering. The Eucharist as the meal of the Christian community becomes the embodiment of the grace made available in Christ’s death and resurrection. It is the: meal which presents to us the reality of Jesus’ giving and recreating activity, [it] is never a commemoration of Maundy Thursday alone, nor merely an extension of an ordinary ‘fellowship meal’ of Jesus with his friends ... , nor even a re-presentation of Calvary tout simple: it enacts for us the risenness of the cruciﬁed as the inexhaustible gift of mercy among us, in our common life.105
What then does it mean for Jesus to be materially present? Williams’s answer to this question relates to the purpose of a transformative encounter with God. The Church is called to share in God’s mission and in order to accomplish that task her members are nourished with the body of Christ. To partake of the bread of life is to recognise the giver of the gift behind it, and so to eat Jesus’ ﬂesh: ‘without the material presence of Jesus in the meal which his community shares, restoration and enrichment do not occur ... his work is not done’.106 Williams acknowledges that there are places where the bread of life may be offered un-named, and where reconciliation is brought about. However, there is the risk that the life of the community could potentially undermine the transformative potential of the presence of Christ in its midst as it celebrates the Eucharist, the reality that Paul challenges in 1 Corinthians 11. There Christ comes as judge, challenging the community to be truthful and mature. It illustrates the way in which the Church’s participation in the Eucharist is demanding. Williams forcefully reiterates this when he comments that the Eucharist ‘is the uniquely full articulation and bringing to light of Jesus’ restoring grace in an authentic manner only when it is the meal of a community that actively seeks to live in reconciliation’.107 The dynamic of giving and receiving is crucial. We offer up the elements of bread and wine so that they may be returned to us by Christ in such a way that 102 103 104 105 106 107
Williams, Resurrection, p. 107. Williams, Resurrection, p. 108. Williams, Resurrection, p. 108. Williams, Resurrection, p. 108. Williams, Resurrection, p. 110. Williams, Resurrection, p. 110.
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we receive life from him. Although there is anxiety about using the language of offering, Williams rightly notes that ‘the moment of relinquishing what is ours’ is a central part of the Eucharist.108 This is crucial in the Eucharist, but it is not limited to the sacramental action. Indeed, if its occurrence is so limited, and is divorced from the community’s wider life, then the nature and purpose of the sacrament is undermined. It is vital to regard the world as a gift from God, so that the dynamic of gift between human beings can be released, unlocking Christ’s risen life. Then ‘the Eucharist, and every “eucharistic” activity in which the meaning of the material world is transformed from possession to gift, is a sign not only of restoration and peace among human beings, but of the ultimate Lordship of the risen Jesus in which this restoration of peace is grounded’.109 The social outworkings of the Eucharist are essential to the meaning and purpose of the sacrament, what Ford calls the fulﬁlment of the ‘eucharistic imperative’. The Eucharist itself is a sign that the material reality can be transformed by Christ’s risen life, and thus it proclaims ‘hope for the whole world of matter’.110 Thus, there is an eschatological dimension to this: the Eucharist is a foretaste of the Kingdom. Anamnesis connects the Church to the past in the present for the future, and also reveals something of the wisdom of God. This returns us to a central theme for Ford in his theological framework, and eucharistic theology.111 Williams articulates it thus, ‘our attempt to live eucharistically, to transform our world into a community of gift, is more than merely obedience to a command, more than the imitation of a remembered historical pattern of life: it is the uncovering of the eternal sapientia of God’.112 It is grounded in the activity of gift and sharing, which is fundamental to God’s being. It is the activity that enables attentiveness to the words of both judgement and grace, to identity and the source of meaning, and to the demanding call to transformative action. Such a connection between resurrection and community life and ritual was grasped within the earliest Christian communities.113 In between the empty tomb tradition, and the conviction of a judging and loving presence of Jesus as the community gathered for worship we are left with a certain amount of theological untidiness, or obscurity. Williams does not regard this as a bad thing. It can be helpful, and indeed healthy to be pointed back to that which is ‘disorienting’.114 To speak of Jesus’ resurrection is to speak of ‘one’s own humanity as healed, renewed and restored, re-centred in God’.115 The life of grace can only be perceived though a mirror that is the risen Jesus: his ‘risenness and our risenness are
108 Williams, Resurrection, p. 111. This anxiety can be seen in the changes made in Common Worship to the offertory prayer, which substitutes ‘set before you’ for ‘offer’. This new form of words is less dynamic. 109 Williams, Resurrection, p. 112. 110 Williams, Resurrection, p. 113. 111 Ford, Rumour of Wisdom. 112 Williams, Resurrection, p. 114. 113 Williams, Resurrection, p. 115. 114 Williams, Resurrection, p. 121. 115 Williams, Resurrection, p. 120.
On the Eucharist
visible only obliquely, in relation to each other’.116 This is made manifest in worship, and in active discipleship. It is ‘eucharistic’.117 Transformation and the Eucharist The uniqueness of Christian memory is bound up with Christ’s life, death and resurrection, so too are the sacraments. Williams also explore the way in which, as human beings, we are conscious of ‘living in time with memory and hope’.118 Through reﬂection on David Jones’ work on art and sacraments, Williams considers the essentially religious nature of artistic activity. Being human is bound up with language and culture and the process of looking for and creating meaning: fashioning patterns of order, and developing a web of shared perception 119 As well as making signs, we make ourselves through signs, and ‘therefore that project has no necessary termination, it becomes ... a sign, something to be “read”, questioned and answered’.120 Such ‘sign-making’ is what binds together the art of human beings and God. Human beings are essentially committed to body and art, and consequently to sign and sacrament, and it is though signs that human beings come to the ‘knowledge of someone, or something, other than ourselves’.121 Drawing on Aquinas, Williams develops the importance of showing or signifying God’s spiritual work for our salvation materially. Aquinas is fully aware of the danger of resorting to abstract expressions in trying to signify God and his work, because discussions of minds and ideas in a vacuum leads us as human beings to forget what we are, that is time bound ﬂesh and blood.122 In reality, the ‘otherness of God’ is much more radical, and it is only by speaking of, and engaging with the material world in a particular way that we come to a true expression of, and proper response to, God’s otherness.123 It is because being human – being bodily, and being a user of signs – are inextricably linked that sacramental practice makes sense. Williams argues that we should begin with that reality rather than working from a general principle that the world is naturally sacramental, or epiphanic.124 Signs and symbols are not stumbled upon at random or capricious elucidations of experience: human beings are capable of ‘recalling and re-moulding what is given to us and taking it forward and remoulding ourselves, the horizons of understanding and our hope’.125 To focus on the
Williams, Resurrection, p. 120. Williams, Resurrection, p. 121. 118 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 199. 119 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’ in On Christian Theology, pp. 197–8. 120 Williams, reﬂecting on David Jones, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, pp. 199–200. 121 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament, p. 200. Williams does not relate his theological reﬂections on sign-making to a particular theory of semiotics. 122 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 200. 123 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 201. 124 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 201. 125 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 201. 117
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world’s intrinsic sacramentality obscures the reality that signs are made: even if their creation is in response to a glimpse of God’s glory in the world. It may seem obvious, or even prosaic, to suggest that the history of such sign making illustrates the ways in which communities endeavour to make sense of themselves, or to make explicit or implicit statements of identity. However, reﬂection on the Judeo-Christian tradition shows how powerfully signs express God’s nature, and demonstrates their power to reconﬁgure individuals through the new covenant. Williams begins by explaining how Israel’s concern for separateness – both as a people, and the separation between the holy and the profane within the nation – can be understood with reference to the ‘absolute and untouchable holiness of God’: God’s nature was expressed in the life of his people.126 By the daily observance of the Torah it was possible for Israel to survive the Temple’s destruction. We are enabled to look anew at the actions of Jesus of Nazareth by engaging with and understanding the history which lies behind the Christian revelation of a people who used social and ritual signs to embody the nature of God who had called them into relationship with him.127 Jesus, argues Williams, acts for a community that does not exist as yet, that is the Kingdom of God: the ‘sense’ that he [Jesus] is making is entirely rooted in the fundamental Jewish conviction that God is the God who, by his free commitment, brings a people into being; yet the ‘people’ in whose name he acts, whose forms and signs he constructs in his healing and fellowship, both is and is not identical with the Israel that now exists.128
Jesus’ ﬁnal ‘sign’ of the Kingdom makes this paradox patently clear. The unexpected variation of the Passover announces a new covenant which will be sealed by his imminent death. The Last Supper is not simply a fellowship meal, but an act which intends meaning as the event that ﬁnally sets Jesus and his followers apart from the continuities of Israel and marks the beginning of the re-deﬁnition of God’s people. It is in the ‘costly gift’ of Jesus, God’s chosen and beloved, to the risk of rejection, betrayal and death that God ‘uncovers the scope of his commitment in a way that alters the whole quality of human trust and commitment to him’; indeed Williams suggests, it ‘creates faith’.129 The language of ‘gift’ is central to Williams’ understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist. He regards it as being fundamental to the life of the Church, for ‘what we do is now to be a sign, above all, of a gift given for the deepening of solidarity ... if our acts with one another speak of mutual gift and given-ness, they are signs of the radical self-gift which initiates the Church’.130 Jesus’ life is sacramental in a matchless sense because his life ‘not only points to God, but is the medium of divine action for judgement and renewal’.131 Williams describes Christ as ‘an effective sign, 126
Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 202. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 203. 128 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 203. 129 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 204. 130 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 204. Williams relates his understanding of ‘gift’ and ‘givenness’ to the ethics described by Paul of building up the body of Christ. 131 Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 204. 127
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a converting sign’ who proclaims, and realises, the imperatives of the kingdom in his life and death, presenting the gracious liberty of the creator, and exposing us to the action of liberty within us, and who begins to make the possible community actual in the post-Easter experience of his followers.132 So, how does an understanding of Christ’s life as profoundly sacramental impact upon our understanding of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist? Williams indicates that it is not the fact of ‘doing sacramental things’ that is special, but what the Church ‘signiﬁes in doing these things’ that is important – that is, the new covenant in Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.133 It is through the performance of sacramental acts that the Church comes to make sense of itself, but such self-understanding is dependent on God’s creative activity in Christ. It is true that the Church’s self-understanding is developed through the rhythm of the liturgical year and through the reading of Scripture in non-eucharistic worship. However, as Ford suggests (and as is worked out in his own theology), the Eucharist stands at the heart of this process as the locus for receiving the gift of Christ’s body, in order to become that body. In anamnesis the Church confronts both the reality of failure and transformation. The fullness of Christ is mediated in broken bread and outpoured wine received as gift. Williams highlights how the Church is often inept at recognising that the meaning of its actions depends moment by moment on God’s creative grace.134 Rather than viewing the spiritual and divine as something sitting alongside the material and human, Williams asserts that the sacraments are performed in obedience to Christ, by those who are already caught up in God’s work, having received God’s promise: by their acts they open themselves up to the converting sign, that is to Jesus himself, and these acts are the means of receiving. Thus, ‘our signs are created by what Christ creates – his own self as gift of God’.135 The Church then is not sustained by her own creative ability, nor are her sacramental actions an independent response. Instead, the Church’s acts of making sense of herself, performed in obedience, are thoroughly contingent upon Christ’s self-giving action: derivative, then, but really, the Church’s sacramental action is the Father’s art, not our own unaided reﬂection on human existence, nor even our attempt to render present an absent divine act or a distant promise; they are the drawing of believers into the life of the Kingdom of God. All our discussions of regeneration and sacriﬁce, eucharistic presence, indelible character or whatever suffer to the extent that they fail to take proper account of the utter dependence of our sign-making on that of God in Christ.136
Williams acknowledges both that there is a respectable theology of devotion to the consecrated eucharistic elements, and also that there is always the danger of such devotion becoming an abstraction of Christ’s presence from the full context of the eucharistic action. Such distortion isolates the ‘sacrament as a sign of the divine 132 133 134 135 136
Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 205. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 205. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 205. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 206. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 206.
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power’s capacity to produce a miraculous “thing”’.137 Any theological devotion should continue to respond to God as active, rather than treating the divine as passive. Williams himself points beyond such objections to a deeper objectivity. Thus, he states that ‘signs are signs of what they are not: they are transformations of the world by reordering it, not destroying it, so that the tension of “otherness” remains, itself part of the ﬂuid and dynamic nature of sign-making’.138 The earthly realities of bread and wine are not diminished in order to make room for the divine reality of Christ’s presence; if this was the case then the eucharistic elements would no longer represent all bread and wine. Williams argues that we do not encounter God in the displacement of the world in which we live, or by suspending our bodily and consequently historically and culturally conditioned nature: ‘God acts in emptiness by being resurrection and transforming union, not by lifting us to “another world”’.139 Williams can thus assert that ‘all sign-making is the action of hope, the hope that this world may become other, and that its experienced fragmentariness can be worked into sense’.140 Such hope is ﬁrmly rooted in the Christian sacraments, and reﬂects the conviction that all signiﬁcant human action is established in the action of a God who is fundamentally committed to drawing all people into the order of healing and communion. Thus, ‘he makes the world, in Christ, to be his “sign” a form of living and acting that embodies his nature and purpose. Christian sign-making – in the whole of the community’s discipleship as in ritual acts – is a working in and with the creative energy’.141 By relating this to Williams’s own discussions of the function of memory in relation to hope and transformation, it becomes evident that Christian acts of sign-making are intrinsically rooted in the concept of anamnesis. The Eucharist engages and transforms the personal and often painful memories of human existence through creative encounter with the memory of God’s action in Christ. Within such a framework it is possible to assert that ‘no person ... can ﬁnally fall out of God’s purpose, God’s “sense” for the world – which is, as the sacraments themselves intimate, not an explanation or justiﬁcation but eternal renewal, transﬁguration.’142 In order to discuss what this re-ordering and renewal might entail, Williams describes how sacramental action traces a transition between two sorts of reality. Firstly, it describes a ‘pre-sacramental state’, the place where we habitually are, which is not neutral but a place of ‘need or loss’.143 Secondly, the sacrament requires us to exchange a ﬂawed identity for a different identity given to us in the rite. When this takes place ‘the presence and the power of the sacred is believed to be at work’.144 The sacramental actions of the Church, which recapitulate the narrative
137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144
Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 206. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 207. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 207. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 207. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 208. Williams, ‘The Nature of a Sacrament’, p. 208. Williams, ‘Sacraments of the New Society ’ in On Christian Theology, p. 209. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 209.
On the Eucharist
of Jesus’ death and resurrection, shapes the life of the believer and also allows the Church to imagine a new society. Williams writes that the Eucharist demonstrates the ‘pivotal conviction of the givenness of the new world’.145 It is socially disturbing. It is a narrative or drama of transition. The crucial transition is associated with a death; a death which is presented as leading into ‘new solidarities’: the outpoured wine is a sign of the shedding of Jesus’ blood, which is the mark of a new covenant being made.146 The Eucharist recollects an event which is already complex as it is interpreted as a ‘sign of Jesus’ death and its effects’ or it is understood as ‘the death of Jesus metaphorized as breaking and sharing of bread’: either way there is a movement towards a proclaimed commitment on the part of God, which is assured by Jesus’ death.147 Such a commitment given by God is not perceived by us as certain, or assured, when regarded from what Williams calls our ‘pre-sacramental state’, because such a state, whether it is termed profane or secular, is a condition of uncertainty; we are unable to trust God’s faithfulness.148 Until the tokens of the covenant are received we remain tied to sin, but thereafter we become covenanted, not only to God, but also to one another. It is the divine initiative of ‘promise’ that creates a ‘bonded’ or ‘faithful’ people.149 Such a transition from ‘untrusting’ to ‘faithful’ depends, Williams observes, on a transition on a different level. The transition that takes place at the primary level pertains to the material elements of bread and wine, which, by the prayer associating them with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, become holy. This assertion is not dependent on, or excluded by, any particular theology of Christ’s eucharistic presence within different Church traditions. This is because, Williams explains, ‘there is invariably a setting aside of the elements and a narrative recalling of Jesus’ selfidentity with the bread and wine as “representative” bits of the creative order’.150 It is this symbolic transformation which reveals a profound association or unity between different orders. It is by actually putting himself into the hands of agents that Jesus signiﬁes his forthcoming ‘helplessness and death’.151 It is this deeper level of transition which Williams sees as not only the most basic, but also the most disturbing, precisely because of the unavoidable association between death and the beginning of a new order. The transformation into a people who are able to trust God’s faithfulness and commitment by means of God’s decisive act in Christ, which shifts from action into passion, an act of ‘utter withdrawal’.152 This act of surrender into the material forms of bread and wine not only anticipates his own betrayal and handing over, but also makes it ‘void and powerless’, which 145
Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 214. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 214. 147 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 214. 148 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 215. Williams notes that the position of a penitential rite at the beginning of most western liturgies suggests that the fundamental condition of ‘untrustfulness’ is bound up with sin. 149 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 215. 150 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 215. 151 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 216. 152 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 216. 146
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turns the betrayers themselves into guests, making with them as he does so ‘the promise of divine ﬁdelity’, a covenant which cannot be undermined or annulled by their unfaithfulness.153 Thus, at the very heart of the Eucharist lies a profoundly transforming and powerful paradox. It is the relinquishing of power in the face of betrayal and denial, violence and desertion that allows the Jesus of the narrative to shape and structure the situation, to determine the identity of the other agents in the story. All become ‘recipients of an unfailing divine hospitality’.154 This is anticipated in the Last Supper by the simple gesture of Jesus’ identiﬁcation of himself with elements of material creation. The movement made from untrustfulness to faithfulness is, according to Williams, both sustained and explained by the series of interwoven transitions which he identiﬁes. The Eucharist can be viewed in continuity with the Jesus’ table fellowship throughout his ministry, and as the climax of his extension of hospitality to those regarded as on the fringes of acceptability or as thoroughly disreputable. Therefore, Williams can assert that in practice the covenant is the ‘guarantee of hospitality’.155 Our view of the material world cannot remain the same once we have regarded it from the perspective of the Eucharist: the objects of creation can no longer be used as tools for power. Sacramental practice alters the way in which we see and reﬂect on matter. However, this does not translate into a ‘sacramental principle’ which enables us ‘to recognise divine presence in all things’: rather it is that the ‘divine presence is apprehended by seeing in all things their difference, their particularity, their “not-God-ness”’.156 Material objects serve as the basic building blocks for human creativity, but Williams’ believes that the Eucharist intimates a paradox surrounding the circumstances in which they are capable of bearing their fullest meaning. The Eucharist suggests that ‘material things carry their fullest meaning for human minds and bodies – the meaning of God’s grace and the common life thus formed – when they are the medium of gift, not instruments of control or objects for accumulation’.157 It is important to identify an action during the liturgy at which we relinquish what is ours. Such a movement is intrinsic to the Eucharist’s process. Ultimately, the Eucharist tells us that matter is transformed, or transﬁgured, when it is not used to show power or dominance. Thus, sacramental practice communicates something of solidarities that we do not choose for ourselves, of both dependence and interdependence as well as loss, and means that the quest for personal good becomes the search for good that does not ‘violently dispossess any other’ because that which calls and sustains us, sustains us all.158 However, it is not an imposed collectivism, because it is appropriated by trust and the recognition of the ‘hidden unities of human interest: our own transition ... into the need of the other, wherever
153 154 155 156 157 158
Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 216. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 216. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 217. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 218. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 218. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 219.
On the Eucharist
and whoever the other may be’.159 Such an attitude may not be welcomed in today’s social context. Nevertheless, it is one which has been tried and is being worked out within the L’Arche communities, set up by Jean Vanier, which Williams takes as an example of common life that obliges us to redeﬁne the meaning of autonomy. It is a recognisable demonstration of the eucharistic vision, which does not rely on the individual’s ability to set goals, and pursue their execution, but which demands the skill of ‘knowing whose aid and companionship you need’.160 The Church’s sacramental life can and should inspire the ‘New Society’ of Williams’ title. We have explored on one level the way in which this functions, but it does not exist in order to stimulate political endeavours to bring about changes and improvements in society. However, by the faithful performance of, and participation in, the Eucharist, our normal, and accepted, forms of sociality come under judgement: ‘the Church declares symbolically, that there is a form of common human life that ‘means’ or communicates the meanings of God, and is the form of life in which unchosen solidarities are more signiﬁcant than ‘elective afﬁnities’, and the status of invited or desired guest is accessible to all’.161 To receive the gift of Christ’s body has wide ranging ramiﬁcations. For, ‘unless we grasp that the characteristic form of God’s dealing with us is the formation of a community that manifests the possibility of human healing and justice’ we shall not see why there is a eucharistic community at all.162 Williams’ discussion of the Eucharist is consistent with earlier comments about the nature of memory in relation to the sacrament. It asserts both the objectivity and effects of participation in the act of anamnesis. Lost Icons For Williams, the Eucharist challenges the social order. In his analysis this is not a piece of abstract theology, but a serious issue for the Church as it engages in mission in contemporary society. In Lost Icons he addresses what he describes as the present ‘cultural bereavement’, in which certain areas of discourse are becoming inaccessible, endangering the possibilities of ‘corporate sense-making’ and ‘just social order’.163 Williams is concerned with making sense of the self, in relation to others, and ‘an Other’; and also about the way in which time is imagined; and about the transformation of human culture.164 These are all themes that have been touched 159
Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 219. Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 219. 161 Williams, ‘Sacraments’, p. 220. Williams pertinently relates this fundamental point to the much criticised ‘culture of dependency’ or ‘welfarism’, in which the idea of collective welfare becomes disabling because those who ﬁnd themselves in need are not needed, and are frozen in the position of suppliants. Consequently discussion of rights and claims becomes uncritical. 162 Williams, ‘Imagining the Kingdom’, p. 10. 163 Williams, Lost Icons: Reﬂections on Cultural Bereavement (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), p. 4. 164 Williams, Lost Icons, pp. 7–8. 160
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upon in relation to the Eucharist. The icons he examines are childhood and choice; charity; remorse; the soul. These are things that the Church should be concerned about as she seeks to proclaim the Kingdom of God. To illustrate the meaning of ‘social bondedness’ in relation to God’s action and the worshipping community, Williams reﬂects upon the public procession of displaying the sacramental body of Christ and the mystery plays of the medieval period.165 Such celebrations reveal the way in which social meaning works ‘by a kind of “resting” of frames of reference within each other: the social body, the Church as Body of Christ, the sacramental presence of Christ’s body in the Eucharist; a subtle crossing and recrossing of the boundaries between ﬁelds of discourse’.166 This is Williams’s only explicit reference to the Eucharist, and it is worth noting that this comment resonates with some of Pickstock’s work on the interrelationship between the historical, sacramental and ecclesial ‘bodies of Christ’. Within such a context, the practice of charity provides an opportunity to suspend relationships characterised by rivalry and competition.167 This is in stark contrast with today’s cultural climate with its focus on rights. A complex situation can in part be understood as a response to a history of inequality, and the denial of a voice to those who have been oppressed. To oppose this in some sense colludes with that oppression; yet, Williams observes, to present ourselves as victims or claimants only isolates us from each other even further.168 There is no simple solution to moving beyond imbalance to charity, and Williams writes that the challenge lies within the realm of imagination: ‘with imagining relationships other than those of master and slave, advantaged and disadvantaged, and imagining a deﬁnition of my or our interest and identity that would require the presence and welfare of others with whom I was not forced constantly to struggle for precedence’.169 This type of imaginative response has been articulated by Williams elsewhere in relation to understanding the demands of the Eucharist and its potential for transformation, embodied in the robust practice of anamnesis. It requires the recognition that no ‘project is just mine’, regardless of whether rights or responsibilities are prioritised: ‘to recognize the presence and the possibility of the social miracle involves a demythologizing, even a dissolution of my picture of what a self looks like’.170 We have seen how the voices of the voiceless can be heard through the remembrance of Christ, here that challenge is presented afresh raising the question of how the self is understood. In the chapter ‘Remorse’, Williams addresses the issue of how the self is seen in relation to the past. He reﬂects upon cultures which value honour (where 165 Williams draws upon the work of Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi. The Eucharist in Late Mediaeval Culture (Cambridge: CUP, 1991). 166 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 55. See also ‘Imagining the Kingdom: some questions for Anglican worship today’ in The Identity of Anglican Worship (London: Mowbray, 1991), p. 9. ‘admission to the company of faithful people who receive the mystery of Christ’s body and blood has something to do with tangible forms of love and charity’. 167 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 56. 168 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 85. 169 Williams, Lost Icons, pp. 85–6. 170 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 93.
On the Eucharist
‘self-regard’ is understood as a way of ‘being in society’) where shame is both a personal and social penalty, and goes on to relate this to therapy, which can lead to a retreat into ‘an enclosed frame of reference in which the story of victimisation acts as a total explanation and justiﬁcation’.171 Without remorse there is no hope, yet ‘acknowledgement and the will to charity can guarantee nothing’.172 There is nothing automatic in the relationship between remorse and change. What is undeniable is the vulnerability and powerlessness associated with remorse, with the acknowledgement of the past. It is this that offers the possibility of ‘thinking history, living consciously in time’.173 Such a perspective echoes the hopes expressed in his articulation of a Christian understanding memory: seeking understanding, transformation and healing, that is both critical and creative. Williams moves on to consider ‘a self formed in time and in relational space, in the uncertainties of language and negotiation about what was once called the soul’.174 As well as resisting timelessness, he is critical of the use of narrative in relation to the self. For if: my narrative is simply a cumulative story of things happening, I shall treat each event as an abstract item to be catalogued, and I shall fail to see how what happens reorders what I have been as well as shaping what I shall be... The self lives and moves in, only in, acts of telling – in the time taken to set out and articulate a memory, the time that is a kind of representation ... of the time my material and mental life has taken ... To step aside from this kind of telling and retelling, this always shifting and growing representation of the past, is in effect to abandon thinking itself or language itself.175
It is precisely because this process of constructing a self through narrative is so habitual that it goes unnoticed, resulting in the corruptions discerned by Williams. Within the context of the Eucharist, anamnesis enables the reordering and shaping, honesty and transformation which is lacking in the way in which the self is shaped by narrative in the secular world. In his discussion of the self in relation to love, desire and lack, Williams writes that ‘the self is, not because of need but because of gift’.176 For whereas the secular psychoanalyst may speak of the ‘non-existent or absent or ideal Other the religious observer will ask whether such a secular discourse can ﬁnally sustain the load placed upon it’.177 This tension between therapy and religion is something that has been touched upon in the context of memory earlier in this chapter, in particular in terms of the nature of transformation. Williams goes on for any self to be set free to enable another’s freedom means that it must be in some way aware of the actuality, not only of the possibility of a regard beyond desire and so of its
171 172 173 174 175 176 177
Williams, Lost Icons, pp. 99, 105. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 109. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 109. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 138. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 144. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 160. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 160.
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own being as a proper cause of joy, as gift ... It is only something outside the world of negotiation that makes possible the festal abrogation of rivalry, the social miracle’.178
Here once again we can perhaps hear echoes of the difference between remembering and anamnesis within the Eucharist. Williams examines the way in which ‘transactions of power, the sheer mechanics of desire (understood as simple lack) play themselves out’.179 There is the loss of the possibility of ‘understanding what it might mean to say that I require a faithful presence to hear my narrative’ for without narrative continuity the signiﬁcance of the ‘faithful interlocutor is lost’, which impacts upon the understanding of bodies.180 Sexual relationships can become reduced to a matter of will and gratiﬁcation: Sexual activity separated from promise and acceptance, from ordinary, prosaic ﬁdelity, becomes one more expression of the plight of the self unable to imagine what is involved in developing an integrity over the passage of time. It is the sacriﬁce of the body – as a carrier of shared social meaning – to the needs of an isolated and abstract subject, reduced to will and need.181
The Church’s response? Williams’ perception is that it is one of ‘panic stricken moralism’.182 It has the resources, however, to offer something richer.183 The skills that have been lost, contends Williams, are those of ‘being present for and in an other’, resulting in mistrust rather than attentiveness.184 To recognise that resources for the future do not have to be reliant on individual choice is a risky process. Indeed ‘the self that is present to itself and others without violence or anxiety, the self that might possibly be called the soul, exists in the expectation of grace ... by deferral, by refusing what I conceive myself to want or need, I invite what I don’t know, the “non-existent-Other”’.185 Souls occur when such a trust is demonstrated. Williams relates this to Steiner’s observation in Real Presences that the contract between word and world has been broken, leading to the disintegration of the self: ‘if there is no presence in words, there is no presence in speakers. If you can’t trust the contract between word and world, speech and what it’s trying to respond to, you can’t trust what you may think you perceive “within” either’.186 This reinforces what Williams has said in relation to sexual activity. The loss of the soul is not just
Williams, Lost Icons, p. 161. Williams, Lost Icons, p. 166. 180 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 166. 181 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 171. 182 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 171. 183 The earlier sections of this chapter illustrate something of what Williams envisages in relation to this, and his essay ‘The Body’s Grace’ indicates one way in which the Church can reﬂect theologically on grace, transformation, divine and human desire (Theology and Sexuality, ed. E. Rogers (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 309–21). 184 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 175. 185 Williams, Lost Icons, pp. 175–6. 186 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 176–7; G. Steiner, Real Presences. Is There Anything In What We Say? (London: Faber, 1989), p. 99. 179
On the Eucharist
about the loss of an individual body, but of a ‘social body’ too.187 Set alongside Pickstock’s discussion about trusting the eucharistic sign, and its connection with the formation of the social body of Christ, this could prove potentially fruitful for eucharistic theology.188 To speak of the ‘non-existent-Other’, the ‘giver of a gift’ may be seen as the imaginative construction of something beyond desire that returns us to bondage, not freedom. This is a response of ‘unqualiﬁed abstractness’ from a Buddhist perspective that Williams sets against the risk and paradox of speaking of ‘a self-dispossessing divinity ... that is unqualiﬁed gift’.189 In both positions emphasis is placed upon corporate ritual, and the frustration of desire, but Williams identiﬁes within Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition centrality accorded to gratitude, articulated in creation ex nihilo. There is an ongoing struggle to reach a correct and adequate expression of theology, and ‘unsaying’, the cataphatic and apophatic traditions: By all means struggle to get the least misleading formula, because words do matter, and how you represent God affects what you are going to ﬁnd possible for yourself and for the human community; but equally, don’t mistake the words of a description of what it is like to be God, of the ‘essence’ of the divine.190
Such a quest for a ‘resourceful language for the “non-existent Other”’ in the light of ‘a complex historical narrative of divine action. .. is at the foundations of speech and sociality’.191 In the midst of this struggle between saying and unsaying, Williams points to a Christian icon in the fullest theological understanding. It gives directions. It offers an invitation to stand in a new place. It presents a new perception. It subverts expectations. To read an icon means letting go, in order to ‘be seen and read’ and the iconic eye ‘acts, searches, engages’.192 The lost icons that Williams has faced ﬁnd their focus in the lost soul: And this loss ... is inextricably linked with the loss of what is encoded in the actual icons of Christian tradition and usage – the Other who does not compete, with whom I don’t have to and can’t bargain; the Other beyond violence, the regard that will not be evaded or deﬂected, yet has and seeks no advantage. What has been culturally lost, the sense of being educated into adult choice, the possibility (tantalizingly both political and more than political) of social miracle, active appropriation of a common good, the possibility of letting go of a process and defended image of the moral self, abstractly free, self-nurturing
Williams, Lost Icons, p. 179. Such issues, whilst noted here, will be explored fully in the ﬁnal chapter. 189 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 182. 190 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 183. 191 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 183. 192 Williams, Lost Icons, p. 185. In Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2002) Williams explores the way in which icons show bodily realities as permeated by the divine, that we can read and be read. Christ on Trial (London: Fount, 2000) also illustrates the way in which our judgements can be unsettled by the Gospel. 188
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– all this will remain lost without a recovered conﬁdence in the therapeutic Other, not ‘there’ for examination, for contest, even for simple consolation.193
Whatever the risk, Williams argues that we have to force ourselves to talk of hope of what cannot be lost. Although he does not focus on the Eucharist as such an icon, his comments in other work about the place of the sacrament in the transformative healing of memory, and building up of social bonds do sit alongside his conclusions here. When it comes to envisaging social order in anticipation of a ‘redeemed humanity’ – imagining the Kingdom – the life of the Body of Christ is to be a ‘touchstone for human community’.194 In the Eucharist the Other with whom we have no need to bargain or compete offers himself as gift, we are met, challenged and restored in the hope of a different future. The act of anamnesis embodies the connection with Christ, sustaining the social body. Conclusion In discussing Lost Icons, I have hinted at the way in which there is an implicit outworking of much that Williams has written about memory and transformation in relation to the Eucharist. Undoubtedly there are recurrent concerns and themes, at the heart of which is the Eucharist, and indeed a deeper understanding of memory which resonates with positive contributions to the debate made by Ford and Pickstock. Williams’ contribution is particularly powerful because he engages with the particularity of the encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist, and places substantial emphasis on the social and political implications of this. Williams writes at length about memory and remembering, and in so doing it could be argued that he misses some of the speciﬁcity of anamnesis as understood in explicit relation to the dynamic of the Eucharist. The way in which he discusses memory in general, and its transformative power, is consonant with his theology of the Eucharist, and he makes reference to the sacrament, its source event as well as its effects in these contexts.195 He refers to the way in which the Church is shaped by its reading of Scripture, and by the dynamics of the liturgical year. However, it is through the anamnesis of the Eucharist that the fullness of Christ and its transformative potential is made accessible. For Williams, the Eucharist is not a simple fellowship meal; it is not a recollection of a distant historical event; it is not merely a matter of reafﬁrming corporate memory. It is a place of encounter and transformation, and he uses the narrative of Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ as recorded by John to illustrate this time and again. The pattern of calling, failure and recalling is replicated at the Eucharist. The night of betrayal, the breaking of bread becomes an opportunity for healing and transformation. We stand at the moment before Christ’s death in the light of his resurrection; Christ’s identiﬁcation of himself with bread and wine allows his 193 194 195
Williams, Lost Icons, pp. 187–8. Williams ‘Imagining the Kingdom’, p. 5. Examples of this can be found in Resurrection and Open to Judgement.
On the Eucharist
self-gift to be made objectively available in the eucharistic anamnesis. Williams identiﬁes the source event of the Church as the mystery of the cross and resurrection, and acknowledges that it is the act of remembering that is central to the process of becoming the body of Christ. A particular strength of Williams’ approach is that he takes seriously the depth of personal spiritual transformation, and ongoing growth and transformation. This focus on the depth of inward spiritual development is lacking in the work of Ford and Pickstock and reminds us that the effects of encounter with the risen Christ are not just a matter of ethical behaviour. Williams engages with the nature and intentionality of the source event, and the way in which anamnesis connects participants with that. He describes the challenge that this transformative encounter entails. The performance of the Eucharist is to bring social life under judgement; it is to form a community that manifests healing and justice; it is to take risks. The Church’s vocation is described as being a sanctuary of transformation where the voices of the voiceless can be heard. There is a strong political dimension to this vision, with a clear conviction about the connection between the condition of society and the place of the Church. The effects of anamnesis are perceived in these terms, not in the language of Church generation and mission. Anamnesis embodies an encounter with Christ that means that transformed failures become the grounds of service. Williams articulates the political and social dimensions of mission but is also clear about the role that the Eucharist plays in creating the Church. The fullness of Christ mediated through the Eucharist overﬂows into concern for the world.
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Anamnesis and the Eucharist: Consequences for Mission Introduction This consideration of the concept of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist began with reﬂection upon perspectives taken from ecumenical dialogue, cultural memory, music and, in particular, the Anglican tradition. This gave a wide ranging introduction to the issues surrounding anamnesis in general, and provided a context for the contributions of three contemporary Anglican theologians. It also illustrated that the range of interpretations need not be construed negatively, but that the diversity opened up creative potential. In the preceding chapters we have explored the way in which Ford, Pickstock and Williams engage with the Eucharist, and have considered their use of, or engagement with, anamnesis as a central concept for understanding Christ’s transforming presence and its implications. It is important to identify where their emphasis lies both in relation to the source event from which the Eucharist derives, and with regard the consequences in the present and for the future. This will include exploring the way in which they shape our understanding of the place of the sacrament in individual transformation and shaping the Church’s life.1 In particular, it is important to consider how their theological contributions impact upon our understanding of mission. Resources from Ecumenical Discussion The opening chapter drew our attention to the richness and depth of interpretations of anamnesis. A diverse range of approaches emerged, coloured by the theological differences of Protestant and Catholic traditions.2 However limited it may appear to be to discuss anamnesis in terms of sacriﬁce, mental recall and actualisation – and using such terms to create division – the range of their meaning can also make a 1 The term ‘source event’ and the use of the phrase ‘language of connection’ were explained in the Introduction. The former is used as a summary expression referring to Christ’s life, death and resurrection which is the culmination of God’s acts in salvation history. The prefaces of the Church’s eucharistic prayers give thanks for the scope and fullness of this, focused on the Last Supper. To speak of the Church’s ‘connection’ conveys the way in which the effects are perpetuated today in proclamation, encounter and mission, in the hope of eschatological fulﬁlment. 2 Noted in the differences between J.D. Crichton, R.T. Beckwith and C.P.M. Jones in their respective articles in The Study of Liturgy.
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positive contribution to an understanding of the Eucharist. Ecumenical conversations aimed to take the debate beyond such divisions into a fruitful appreciation of the Eucharist; its relation to Christ’s life, death and resurrection, the source event of the Church; the effects of participating in the sacrament in inspiring the Church’s mission; and looking forward with hope to the eschaton. Engagement with some of the considerations of anamnesis that emerge from ecumenical discussions are important in this context as they acknowledge recurrent difﬁculties surrounding the term, but may also move us to an insightful exploration of the way in which the Church becomes the body of Christ, proclaiming the Gospel. On the one hand, ARCIC addresses the unease and apprehension surrounding the concept of anamnesis, but does not allow these issues to obscure its potential in understanding the relationship between Christ’s sacriﬁce and the Eucharist which proclaims and makes it effective.3 The comments in The Final Report aim to understand the relationship between Christ’s sacriﬁce and the Church’s participation in his self-offering through which she becomes more fully the body of Christ. On the other hand, BEM focuses on the retrospective and anticipatory nature of anamnesis, which attests the continuity between Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Church’s mission and the eschatological fulﬁlment of the Kingdom.4 The Report goes on to consider the ‘living and active presence of Christ in the Eucharist’, connecting participation in the sacrament with the commitment to follow Christ’s way of service in the world.5 The Eucharist gives a set of values and priorities which are mission focused. To celebrate the Eucharist is about more than abstract concepts; it is also about a transforming encounter that takes the imperative to loving seriously. These reports received a positive, though not unquestioning, welcome from the Church of England. This is important: both documents illustrate the way in which anamnesis enables the Church to connect to its source event; Christ’s fullness is mediated to the Church through the Eucharist; the transformation brought about by participation in the sacrament generates the Church’s mission as it proclaims the Gospel and lives a life of service. The retrospective and anticipatory dimensions of the Eucharist are held together. ARCIC and BEM express something of the potential of anamnesis within eucharistic theology and do so in such a way as to enrich understanding of the Church community too. The Church receives the body of Christ to become Christ’s body in the world. At the heart of the Eucharist lies the transformation of ordinary gifts and ordinary people. This process is set within the memory of the Church’s source event and in anticipation of the Kingdom of God. It has consequences in the present because to become the ecclesial embodiment of Christ is called to share in God’s mission in the present. These trends in ecumenical dialogue are encouraging because it shows a commitment to reach a deeper understanding of the purpose of the sacrament, rather than focusing exclusively on theological issues which are still divisive. It is surprising in this context that Catherine Pickstock should seek to recover the use of the language of transubstantiation in her own work on the Eucharist. Radical 3 4 5
ARCIC, The Final Report, pp. 14, 19. BEM, p. 11b. BEM, pp. 12a, 14a.
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Orthodoxy sought to establish a cross denomination theological approach to issues facing Church and society. However, Pickstock’s approach to the Eucharist appears more theoretical than the contributions of the formal ecumenical movement itself. Ford and Williams both go further than Pickstock in articulating the effects of the Eucharist in terms of transformation and a renewed commitment to a life of service and mission. The concerns and insights that come out of ecumenical dialogue are reﬂected in their work. It is important not to see individual Anglican contributions in isolation from wider discussions. Yet the way in which ecumenical theological engagement operates at a formal level (involving conversations over a number of years, focusing on particular topics of concern, followed by a process of reporting and responding) can make this difﬁcult to avoid. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see the degree to which there is a resonance in the language used and the connections made between Eucharist, Church and mission. Anamnesis and Proclamation Both Welker and Begbie offer important insights into the nature of anamnesis in terms of proclamation. It is important for our consideration of the Church’s approach to mission to appreciate the place of the Eucharist in proclamation, rather than focusing on a verbal declaration of the Gospel. Welker’s examination of the dynamics of collective memory leads him to consider the Eucharist as an event that conﬁrms the remembrance of Christ, drawing the participants into the fullness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.6 He also emphasises the centrality of the proclamation of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, rather than individual internalisation, and expounds the connection between God’s reconciling action in Christ, made present in the Eucharist, in anticipation of the Parousia. As we have seen, the retrospective and anticipatory aspects of anamnesis are prominent in the Anglican tradition and the work of the contemporary contributors. Welker also hints at the relationship between encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and the Church’s mission. The reconciliation of memories and the transformation of the world are grounded in the remembrance of Christ, and he places emphasis on the role of the Spirit in the act of anamnesis and witness.7 Again, anamnesis is associated with the Church’s source event, encounter in the present, missiological effects and a future hope of fulﬁlment. It is interesting to note that Ford, Pickstock and Williams place their emphasis in different places; Pickstock neglects the ecclesiological affects altogether, whilst Ford and Williams locate the consequences of transformation in the interpersonal, ethical or political spheres. All three theologians reﬂect on the implications of repetition and incompletion, and the phrase ‘non-identical repetition’ is a recurrent one. It expresses several important dimensions of the Eucharist: the complexity and particularity of the Church’s context; the ongoing nature of transformation; the relationship between historical realities and their subjective. Every Eucharist stands in connection with
Welker, What Happens?, p. 126. Welker, What Happens?, pp. 131–2.
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the multifaceted source event of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, which ﬁnds its focus in the Last Supper; every Eucharist stands in hopeful anticipation of the time when God will be all in all. In the present, the Church is gathered to, and dispersed from, the Eucharist, connecting it to the particularity of routine activity and social relationships. Begbie brings his musical talents into creative engagement with his doctrinal interests in a unique way. Thus, he relates his work on musical repetition to the Eucharist, drawing out the integration of sameness and difference; the connection between past, present and future; encounter with Christ; and healing and transformation.8 The Church is drawn together in the act of anamnesis not to be cut off from the world, but to rediscover its generative theme and to demand the transformation of that world.9 Begbie concludes that just as there can be no identical musical repetition, so each celebration of the Eucharist is shaped differently by the social context, and it is to be continually received afresh as a gift.10 Begbie’s work highlights some important insights to eucharistic theology, which have been used and developed by others. Ford and Williams write in different ways about the innovative effects and giftedness of the Eucharist in a way that attempts to relate to the particularities of the Church’s context.11 However, although gift and non-identical repetition also play an important part in Pickstock’s eucharistic theology, she fails to make such connections.12 The Eucharist is a profound form of proclamation: remembrance and hope, encounter and transformation are held together in such a way as to call forth and enable mission. Anglican Heritage The exploration of the Anglican tradition had to balance the need to be comprehensive in its treatment of its diversity with the practical limitations of space. Therefore the focus was on anamnesis seeking to identify perspectives which would illuminate the work of contemporary theologians. This meant looking at the relationship between the Church as the body of Christ, the source event it celebrates each time it participates in the Eucharist and the effects such an encounter has. The richness of this tradition emerges in part from its rootedness in historical particularity as in each generation theologians sought to express the mystery of Christ’s presence and sacriﬁce in relation to life of the Church. This demands creativity in the use of language, and responsiveness to the context; confronting the demands of theological distinctions and present circumstances whilst acknowledging the mystery of the sacrament. In relation to the concept of sacriﬁce, the uniqueness of Christ’s self offering on the cross is preserved, but such self-giving is also to be characteristic of the Church’s life. Responsiveness to the anamnesis of God’s saving work in Christ includes 8 9 10 11 12
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 90. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 167. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 172. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 160; Williams, Resurrection, p. 108. Pickstock, After Writing p. 271 and ‘Truth in Aquinas’ p. 164.
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thankfulness, almsgiving and service in the fulﬁlling of Christ’s commandments. Participation in the Eucharist provides spiritual nourishment and future hope, which renews such commitments.13 Commemoration is necessary to make God’s grace available to the Church, uniting the Church to Christ her head.14 Theologians differ in their understandings of the nature of Christ’s presence, but diversity does not limit reﬂection on anamnesis to one particular aspect of the tradition. An evangelical such as Meyrick writes of anamnesis and self-offering in the nineteenth century using language and concepts akin to Andrewes and Laud. There is a spiritual profundity and richness within such engagements with the notion of sacriﬁce than is evident in the contributions made by the contemporary theologians under discussion in previous chapters. It is vital that such notions of responsiveness, generosity and service are articulated and lived out within the worshipping community. They illustrate the consequences of our participation in the body of Christ. The Church engages in active service and mission in obedience to our Lord’s command and we are nourished by his presence as we do so. Cranmer used the language of nourishment to express the connection between partaking in the sacrament and spiritual transformation at a time when the issue of the nature of Christ’s presence in the sacrament was particularly sensitive.15 Hooker wrote of the way in which Christ mediates fullness of life in the Eucharist, drawing participants to the richness of human life.16 However such encounter with Christ was understood, transformation and renewal was connected with self-offering in the life of the communicant. F.D. Maurice, writing in the nineteenth century, made such connections the basis of his principles of Christian socialism. Recollection of Christ’s life, death and resurrection could not be separated from the desire to be inspired by that same spirit of sacriﬁce.17 William Temple wrote in Christus Veritas of the way in which connection with God in the Eucharist led to service of neighbour; thus God’s purposes and ethical concerns came together. In the eucharistic anamnesis a historic action is repeated in the present to inspire a life of service for the hope of the future Kingdom. Memory, encounter and hope are held together in the Eucharist in order that God can draw his people to share in his mission. Brevint, whose eucharistic theology inspired the hymnody of the Wesleys, identiﬁed four aspects to the Eucharist: the anamnesis of Christ’s death, the nourishment of the Church by grace, a pledge of the future Kingdom, the selfoffering of participant.18 Although not every theologian identiﬁes these dimensions in a systematic way, the connection between obedience to the command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’, encounter with Christ in the present, leading to fullness of life and costly self-giving, and future hope are identiﬁable strands in theologians from Andrewes and Hooker to Bickersteth and Temple. Underhill writes suggests that the celebration of the Eucharist is a time to be attentive to God’s action in the 13 14 15 16 17 18
Andrewes, The Private Devotions p. 187; Laud, The Works pp. 339–41. Forbes, Considerationes pp. 577–9; Waterland, A Review p. 241. Cranmer, Writings of the Sacrament p. 79. Hooker, The Works Vol. 2, pp. 83–4. Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ, p.65f. Brevint, Christian Sacrament, pp. 37–40.
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past and an opportunity to contemplate our future commitment to his service.19 A.G. Hebert also develops the relationship between the Eucharist and mission. The body of Christ received in the sacrament enables the Church to become what she is called to be: the body of Christ at work in the world.20 The Anglican tradition, in all its richness and diversity, reﬂects many strands of eucharistic theology and their own rootedness in particular historical situations. However, from the perspective of the concerns of this thesis, there is a concern to understand the way in which the Church is connected to the source event of her life. Anamnesis may be reﬂected upon with different emphasis, but common to all is a concern to articulate the nourishment and demands of participation in the sacrament. These are expressed in terms of almsgiving and love of neighbour, and in the more explicitly social and political contributions to the tradition. Set within the context of the future hope of the Kingdom, these are all expressions of the Church’s mission and proclamation. It is important to maintain the realism about history inherent within Anglicanism. Although writers and theologians within the tradition have sought to maintain a focus on the eschatological hope, they have not used this as a way of opting out of engaging with the complexity of history and society. Indeed, the language of self-offering, mission and building the Kingdom of God are prominent within eucharistic theology. It is important to hold to the insights from the Anglican heritage at a time when discussions about mission have been reluctant to engage with the Eucharist. Anglican Contributions It has been my contention that anamnesis provides an appropriate means of understanding the Church’s connection to the source event through the Eucharist, and its effects in terms of individual transformation and corporate mission. The fullness of Christ is mediated through the Eucharist enabling the Church to embody and express that fullness in action. By focusing on Catherine Pickstock, Rowan Williams and David Ford it has been possible to draw attention to dimensions of the possibilities within anamnesis. Their work has, to different degrees and in different ways, attempted to articulate the nature of the Church’s source event and the way in which the Eucharist connects the embodiments of Christ across time. They each handle discussions about the reality of a transformative encounter with Christ in the sacrament with different emphases. On the issue of the wider ethical, social or missiological signiﬁcance of the anamnetic imperative there is some divergence in their attempts to speak of what it is for the Eucharist to be Church-generative. To describe the concept of anamnesis as a language of connection describes the integration of historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. Engagement with the concept of anamnesis reveals the complexity of the meaning of the source event of the Church’s life: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are focused on the Last Supper, which is both remembered and anticipated at the
Underhill, Worship, p. 234f. Irvine, Worship, Church and Society, p. 109.
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Eucharist. However, as the preface to the eucharistic prayer makes clear, the Church also calls to mind all of God’s acts in creation and redemption. Bound up with this is the possibility of transformative encounter with the risen Christ. The Church is formed as the body of Christ as its members participate in the sacramental body of Christ; and obedience to Christ’s command ‘do this in remembrance of me’ is not divorced from obedience to the diaconal imperative ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. The transformation and healing brought about by encounter with Christ in the sacrament has consequences as the Church is called into being. The missiological, social and political effects are the fruits of rootedness in Christ. It is important to Anglicanism that integration of remembrance of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, future hope and present commitments at the Eucharist is repeated within history. However, the appreciation of and engagement with history of the three contributors are very different. Pickstock is trans-historical in her approach, whereas Ford takes it very seriously, as does Williams (particularly in social terms). Pickstock As we have seen, Catherine Pickstock is explicitly concerned for the integration of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. She locates a shift in the understanding of these dimensions of the theological body in the medieval period. From around the twelfth century onwards, consecrated elements – sacramental body of Christ – was regarded as the corpus verum, rather than that phrase referring to the Church. She develops this critique in her description of the way in which the sacramental action came to be regarded as a ‘miracle’; the focus became static; it became a ‘spectacle of the passion in abstraction from the whole drama of salvation’.21 She suggests that the sense of the Eucharist as a ‘narrative action’ in the Church’s liturgy, non-identically repeated in continuation with the original event, was lost.22 Pickstock’s use of the term ‘non-identical repetition’ in the context of the Eucharist is an important contribution, particularly in connection with anamnesis. It emphasises the necessity of the ongoing transformation of the Church in different contexts; that it is continually involved in a process of coming to be Christ’s body; and that whilst the objective reality of history remains, healing can take place. Pickstock afﬁrms that the ecclesial and indeed relational context of the Eucharist is vital, and claims that such a focus avoids the limitations of understanding the sacrament as a static and localised presence of sign and miracle. Christ’s presence is part of a sacramental mystery, and the ‘continuing coming to be of the Church’.23 She writes that in the eucharistic liturgy we meet God in our remembrance of Him; ‘the communal and temporal ecclesial space’ is the locus of the journey towards memory and encounter.24 She examines the way in which historical time is 21 22 23 24
C. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 160, 165. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 165. Pickstock, ‘Thomas Aquinas’ in Modern Theology 15 (April) 1999, p. 164. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 230–1, 233.
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subverted or transgressed in the Institution Narrative, describing it as a ‘time of inbetween when God descends’ which is also the time of the ‘ultimate sacriﬁce ... the blood which we are commanded to drink is the blood which had yet to be shed’.25 By participating in the Eucharist we both anticipate and remember as we ‘occupy the sacriﬁcial moment before the passion’.26 Such comments provide a powerful insight into the way in which the Church is connected to its source event and the potential for encounter and transformation that this embodies and enables. Recollection and repetition are situated within the community, its narrative and liturgy shaped by both memory and hope. God’s gift of grace and our gift of gratitude are held together. The body of Christ thus nourishes the body of Christ. It is through participation in the Eucharist that the life of Christ is encountered in such as a way as to enable it to be ‘lived again differently in our own lives’.27 The strength of Pickstock’s approach is that it does indeed aim to assert the essential connectedness of the Body of Christ. The Eucharist mediates Christ’s presence; the Church is formed into the body of Christ by receiving his sacramental body, and is thereby related to the historical Christ. There is continuity and encounter, within which the Church is in the process of becoming the body of Christ. She does not shy away from engagement with the reality of Christ’s presence in the non-identically repeated Eucharist, with a conviction that this transforms and nourishes the Church. However, this assertion remains abstract; she does not work it out socially. So much of Pickstock’s work uses positive and dynamic language about the Eucharist, however in this respect her account of history and of transformation in and beyond the ecclesial community is deﬁcient. Part of the Church’s coming to be, its embodiment of Christ’s fullness, is about being the body of Christ in and for the world. If Christ is received as the gift of peace dispersed as Pickstock claims, then the body receiving it is also dismissed and dispersed.28 However, in her own theological engagement with the Eucharist, its mystery becomes misconstrued as a performative gnosis, which is cut off from the complex realities of Church, society and history. In the process of pursuing her objective of restoring trust in signs, the Eucharist itself becomes a self-enclosed symbol akin to the static spectacle she wishes to avoid. It was noted in an earlier chapter that the theological treatment of the Eucharist within Anglicanism has been coloured by the particular challenges and questions posed by ecclesial, political and social upheaval and, more recently, ecumenical considerations. It is not surprising to ﬁnd that Pickstock’s concern to address some of the philosophical issues raised by Derrida and others about the nature of truth inﬂuences her contribution to eucharistic theology. Within her work we glimpse something of the concern to explore the way in which the Church is connected to an historical event through the eucharistic action in the present, and that this is directed towards a future hope which is present within the Anglican tradition. And, the need
25 26 27 28
Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 222–3. Pickstock, After Writing, pp. 222–3. Pickstock, After Writing, p. 271. Pickstock, ‘Liturgy, Art and Politics’ in Modern Theology 16 (April) 2000, p. 178.
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for self-offering and action is also consistently afﬁrmed.29 However, we have noted that Pickstock does not develop a theological understanding of the way in which the Eucharist is Church generative, or the missiological imperative that this demands. As we have seen, she is not alone in pursuing such a line of theological enquiry in relation to the Eucharist; Ward and Milbank also stand within the Anglican tradition whilst involving themselves in the programme of Radical Orthodoxy.30 Thus, although it may be argued that Pickstock neglects certain aspects of her own tradition in the pursuit of the recovery of truth in the face of post-modern philosophy, she represents a movement which has aroused considerable, though not uncritical, interest within contemporary theological discussion. As such, her contribution cannot be ignored, but it must be seen alongside other approaches to the Eucharist. Williams I turn now to Rowan Williams, whose consideration of memory reﬂects on the nature of the source event of the Church and focuses on the potential for a transformative encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist. The concept of anamnesis has an important role in enabling this connection, but how this happens is less easy to describe. For him, anamnesis is not just a reafﬁrmation of corporate memory or the recollection of a distant death. The Eucharist is not a simple fellowship meal. Through participation in it, we are made present to ourselves and to Christ. Williams illustrates this with reference to the dialogue between Peter and Christ in John 21: 9–19 and to the Eucharist. Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ in John’s Gospel is used by Williams as a model for the way in which the Eucharist can become a place of encounter and transformation.31 Peter’s threefold denial becomes a threefold confession. The memory of his calling and his failure become the foundations for his future ministry. In confronting the reality of his life in the presence of Christ, Peter is made present to himself and the future becomes hopeful and fruitful. It is a moment of self-awareness. Memory is ‘never the recovery of lost innocence’, it is never a reversal, but it can bring healing.32 Williams writes that by participation in the Eucharist we are also made present to ourselves and to Christ. In the sacramental act of anamnesis we are drawn into the source event of the Church in the present, so that we can acknowledge our own betrayal and hope for healing through the presence of Christ. Thus, Williams says of Christ’s encounter with us at the Eucharist: Here I called you, here I broke bread with you, here you betrayed me; and I still stand with you, calling you, breaking bread with you again, and giving you a destiny in love. Do
See Chapter 2 above. G. Ward, Cities of God; J. Milbank and C. Pickstock Truth in Aquinas; Ward, Milbank and Pickstock (eds.), Radical Orthodoxy. 31 R. Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, pp. 35ff. 32 Williams, Resurrection, p. 35. 30
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we not remember all this every time we celebrate the Eucharist? ‘In the night that he was betrayed, he took bread’. Don’t forget that: but here it is made into grace and healing.33
The past is remembered, bringing about transformation in the present, for the future. At the Eucharist then, we stand at that sacriﬁcial moment before the passion identiﬁed by Pickstock. Yet we do so in the light of the cross and the resurrection: through anamnesis the transformative potential is released in a way that sets us free. Williams comments that participation in the Eucharist ‘allows the source event, the mystery of the cross and resurrection, to become present again’ and so we open ourselves to ‘the rich resource of that event’.34 The Church needs to obey the anamnetic command in the present to embody that connection to the source event, enabling a transformative encounter, which leads to self-offering and a future hope. It is a corporate, dramatic act of anamnesis. On the eve of his passion Christ performs an act that fuses together hospitality and the acceptance of his radical self offering accomplished on Calvary. Our transformation depends on participation in that self-offering. The Eucharist is the embodiment of grace. It is a meal which presents to us the reality of Jesus’ giving and recreating activity ... never a commemoration of Maundy Thursday alone, nor merely an extension of an ordinary ‘fellowship meal’ of Jesus and his friends ... nor even a re-presentation of Calvary tout simple: it enacts for us the risenness of the cruciﬁed and the inexhaustible gift of mercy among us, in our common life.35
The transformative process of being incorporated into Christ’s self-offering is signiﬁcant. Here Williams touches on the power of anamnesis to the Church’s commitment to service in the light of thankfulness, nourishment and future hope which has been highlighted in relation to the Anglican tradition. Remembering is central to the process of the Church becoming the body of Christ. Jesus’ life, he writes, can be woven into the ‘fabric of our lives ... not simply as narrative memory, but as an active transforming presence, never exhausted or assimilated ... it is in confrontation with his presence that human lives are restored and reshaped’.36 Here Williams gets close to a statement about anamnesis as the bond of connection, and its capacity to transform us inwardly, reaching to the depths of our identity. Part of the Eucharist’s inexhaustibility lies in this appreciation of inward transformation, which is not touched upon by the other writers. This adds a spiritual depth to Williams’ contribution. It also reminds us that transformation is more than just outward ethical activities. We have noted the way in which Pickstock speaks of the importance of understanding the Eucharist as being non-identically repeated without acknowledging the complexity of history and daily life. In relation to such issues, Williams risks avoiding these questions in the way in which he focuses on the nature of encounter with the risen Lord in the Eucharist. He writes powerfully
33 34 35 36
Williams, ‘Building up Ruins’, pp. 78–9. Williams, Resurrection, p. 59. Williams, Resurrection, p. 108. Williams, Resurrection, p. 62.
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of the way in which we are brought into the presence of the risen and cruciﬁed Lord who transforms lives. Williams reﬂects at length about the impact of such moments, which provide hope. The impact of such moments is more tangible in the lives and faith of individuals, rather than bringing about a corporate restoration of hope. The strength of his political and social convictions prevents the Eucharist from being understood merely as a self-enclosed symbol. The danger is that this could be interpreted as implying that within the contingencies of history and the messiness of life there are transformative encounters with Christ, and thus signiﬁcant moments of encounter are substituted for a thorough immersion in history. Approaching anamnesis in the context of the Eucharist demands engagement with the dynamics of history and a recognition that although the objectivity of historical contingencies may remain, memory acts as a form of subjectivity bringing a means of release and healing. Williams does not opt out of considering these dynamics. Whereas for Pickstock, anamnesis draws the participant into a transformative encounter within the ecclesial community, Williams takes the recovery of hope as the basis engaging with the realities of the world. The restoration and reshaping brought about by such an encounter with the fullness of Christ is not limited to common life of the eucharistic community. Like Peter, our failures and recalling are the foundations of our service. Obedience to the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ challenges the Church, as well as sustaining it. Williams writes that when the Church performs the eucharistic action and is identiﬁed with ‘the traitor, penitent and restored’, yet standing at Gethsemane and Emmaus the Church ‘is what it is called to be ... transforming, recreative’.37 The faithful performance of the Eucharist brings normal and accepted forms of social life under judgement – ‘unless we grasp that the characteristic form of God’s dealing with us in the formation of a community that manifests the possibility of human healing and justice ... we shall not see why there is a Eucharistic community at all’.38 Participation in the Eucharist challenges the Church to engage in God’s mission. It is therefore striking that one of the most signiﬁcant reports published in recent years overlooks that connection.39 Williams locates the Church’s obedience to Christ, living eucharistically in order to transform the world, in God’s wisdom (sapientia).40 This not only marks a deep spiritual rootedness, but also reﬂects a change in focus within current forms of theology: moving from doctrine to wisdom. As we have seen elsewhere, Ford is beginning to explore the implications of such a shift. Eucharistic anamnesis can provide a creative and critical voice within the life of the Church (for the whole body and individuals within it), acknowledging pain and failure, bringing forgiveness and hope and restoring the future. Williams takes this further in suggesting that the Church contributes a fresh way of engaging with the world. He writes that the vocation of the Church, as a community gathered in 37
Williams, Resurrection, pp. 58–9. Williams, ‘Imagining the Kingdom’, p. 10. 39 Church of England Mission and Public Affairs Council, Mission-shaped Church (London: Church House Publishing, 2004). 40 Williams, Resurrection, p. 114. 38
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anamnesis, is to be a place where the risen Christ is shown; where voices of the voiceless can be heard; where risks can be taken. Williams emphasises engagement with the political realm, yet he is weaker on articulating his conception of the Church as a corporate body. By not going on to describe the nature of the ecclesial body in which the risen Christ is revealed, he risks reducing it to a cipher: something profoundly transforming occurs, and is transmitted to society. Ford comments that the vocation of the Church is ‘to be a sanctuary of transformation’.41 Thus, he focuses more exclusively on the implications of responding to the eucharistic imperative. Ford Ford believes that participation in the Eucharist is necessary to inspire and maintain a sacriﬁcial lifestyle. It is an act of praise and thanks with the cruciﬁed God at its heart. The Church gathers round the ‘body broken for the world’ to which people can bring their whole selves – sins, joy, hopes, guilt – to be fed and transformed.42 Ford describes the climax of the Eucharist as the ‘face-to-face sharing of peace, bread and wine, in memory of the Last Supper but also in anticipation of the feast of the Kingdom of God’.43 Although this echoes Pickstock’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ in recollection and anticipation, she does not relate the Church’s continual coming to be to its fulﬁlment in the Kingdom. It is an important part of the Anglican tradition to see eucharistic anamnesis as being for the sake of the coming Kingdom, both in its eschatological fulﬁlment and the Church’s mission now. Immersion in history in anticipation of the Kingdom is central to Anglican eucharistic theology. Ford notes that the conclusion of the liturgy is that we are sent back out in to the world to live and work to God’s praise and glory. The Church is committed to practical obedience to Christ’s commands ‘follow me’, ‘do this in remembrance of me’, ‘I send you’, and the response ‘my Lord and my God’.44 ‘The self’ is shaped through eucharistic worship: ‘remembering of this person through this event becomes the context for one’s own vocation and bond of one’s community’.45 Such remembering is false if is it is not connected with ‘entering more fully into the contingencies and tragic potentialities of life in the face of evil and death’.46 Sometimes Ford’s writing seems to focus on joy and feasting to the detriment of acknowledging the painful and complex realities of life. However, he does not allow this to become a cheap optimism, but a deeper joy that emerges out of costly service. John’s account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet provides a rationale for relating the anamnesis to the imperative to love, and an ethos of obedient service. 41
D. Ford and A. McFadyen, ‘Praise’ in P. Sedgwick (ed.), God in the City: Essays and Reﬂections from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Urban Theology Group (London: Mowbray, 1995), p. 98. 42 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97. 43 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 97. 44 Ford and McFadyen, ‘Praise’, p. 103. 45 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 147. 46 Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 147.
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This focus allows Ford to take seriously the way in which the fullness of Christ is mediated to the world. That is, by what he calls the ‘faithful innovation’ upon the ‘all embracing command’ to ‘do this in remembrance of me’.47 At the heart of Church’s understanding of transformation is the life, death and resurrection of Christ and his presence in community. There is connectedness and encounter. Like Williams, Ford writes that resurrection is not a straightforward reversal. At the Eucharist, the Church comes face to face with the one who commands that it be done in remembrance of him. There is an immediacy to this encounter, which is heightened by Ford’s use of the language of facing. It becomes an almost mystical conception. The Eucharist is described as a face to face encounter, and everything else seems to ﬂow from it. It characterises a conversational, interpersonal mode of theology and community. In writing about the anamnesis of the Eucharist, Ford calls it a ‘dangerous memory’.48 There we do encounter the risen Christ, but he reminds us that the face of Christ the victim remains: both scandalous and foolish. Remembrance of that image presents religious, political, ethical and social challenges. Facing up to those challenges is necessary for effective mission. Ford’s focus is on the effects of participation in the Eucharist, which are understood in predominantly interpersonal and ethical terms. His understanding of the self – in worship, in ethical behaviour and in relation to the other – reveals the depth of his engagement with Levinas, Jüngel and Ricoeur. Pickstock fails to address the dynamics of personal relationships lived in response to Christ’s self-offering and encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. She only alludes to the importance of the relational context of the sacrament. Thus, Ford’s work does bring to the discussion an important dimension to consider when looking at the effects of anamnesis. Although Ford writes about one-to-one relationships, the corporate nature of the Church is more than that: the sum total of such encounters does not equate to the fullness of the ecclesiastical body. However, in comparison with Williams, Ford grounds the effects of participation in the Eucharist in obedience to a command, and is not as concerned with the nature of inward spiritual transformation brought about by encounter with the risen Christ. Christ’s own act of self-offering is remembered by the Church as it stands on the eve of betrayal in the light of the resurrection in such a way as to enable a recreative encounter, which inspires thankfulness and service. Such transformation inaugurates a change in spiritual life; it impacts upon who we are, and who we are in relation to other people. The depth of this is not fully explored by the writers here, although Williams does begin to. We have noted that Williams locates the practice of eucharistic anamnesis and lifestyle in the wisdom of God. Ford is also in the process of exploring attentiveness to wisdom, in scripture, prayer and worship. Although he speaks of the ‘wisdom of habitation’ embodied in liturgical practices, which shape daily life, there is more that could be developed within this discussion. It may reduce the sense of the self as being self-contained, and allow for a richer discussion of the nature of the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and its connection with the complexity of the source event, as well as the effects. 47 48
Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 160. Ford, Self and Salvation, p. 208.
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
The Signiﬁcance of Eucharistic Anamnesis Through engagement with the work of Pickstock, Ford and Williams we have been able to explore something of the place of anamnesis with eucharistic theology. The aim has not been to provide an Anglican eucharistic theology, but to consider the place of anamnesis in relation to the Eucharist, and to engage with three Anglican contributions to that discussion. They each approach the concept in different ways, placing emphasis on different aspects of its potential to deepen our understanding of the sacrament. Whatever their particular strengths, insights and omissions, together they provide the grounds for a constructive debate on the way in which anamnesis provides the Church with a language that not only speaks of the connection between the source event of her life, transformation and renewal in the present, and the future consequences of that encounter, but also embodies that connectedness. The diversity of approaches to anamnesis, and the differing interpretations which results from, them enriches eucharistic theology: it provides fresh grounds for discussion and consensus and challenges the Church’s understanding of its mission as the body of Christ. The Eucharist is not a transformative intrusion breaking in upon the complex realities of life, and cut off from it. The potential for transformation brought about by the anamnesis in the Eucharist is not just about politics, ethics or the restoration of meaning and trust. These positions are characterised by Williams as transformation brought about by a movement from the one to the many (political change), or in the one-to-one interpersonal encounters described by Ford (ethical behaviour), or in Pickstock’s theology in transformation for its own sake (a quest for philosophical trust). The Eucharist is Church-generative, and therefore demands attention to explicitly missiological issues. It is about becoming Church – the body of Christ nourished by the body of Christ – so that the Gospel may be proclaimed in word and deed in a way that engages with the complexity and particularities of life. The Church needs to be connected by anamnesis to the source event (which we have seen is multifaceted). The Church gathers and stands at the point of betrayal in the hope of resurrection; it obeys Christ’s command in the present to enable a transformative encounter, which involves self-offering and brings about a future hope. By participating in the life of Christ the Church is incorporated in the process of becoming more fully Christ’s body; it is an ongoing process of encounter, healing, transformation and self-giving. That is why the language of non-identical repetition is crucial. It takes seriously the realities of human situations, of betrayal, hurt and hope, and draws them into the fullness of God in the act of anamnesis, and anticipates the fullness of his Kingdom. Thus, the process is incomplete. The Eucharist is repeated, but also unrepeatable. There is a continuity of anamnesis. There may be consequences for personal relationships, ethical or political challenges to face, and an ongoing search for truth before God, yet these effects are not ﬁnal resting places. Each celebration of the Eucharist comes to an end, and in that sense is ﬁnished, but it is not fully completed as it is inexhaustible. Here it is worth recalling the work of Begbie, who uses the idea of the various waves within musical repetition to reﬂect on the history of God’s saving acts. He writes that the Eucharist becomes an empty symbol when it is understood in term of completeness; instead it
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
is the ‘repeated embodiment of God’s summons ... the Holy Spirit opens our present (and us) to Christ’s past and future’.49 There is seasonal variation and experiences change, yet each celebration is related to Christ’s life, death and resurrection and to his future. The Church gathers to participate in the sacrament, and is dispersed in peace to love and serve the Lord who commanded ‘Do this in remembrance of me’, only to be drawn together again in anamnesis. Not only does this maintain the Eucharist as a place of encounter between the historical particularity of the source event and the anticipation of the eschatological future in the midst of present complexity, but it also maintains an openness of meaning: it cannot be owned. The Church is fully immersed in history, yet embodies a meaning that is indeﬁnite and profound. As a body, nourished and transformed by encounter in the act of anamnesis, the Church is sent out to declare the Gospel, to engage in mission.50 The Eucharist is in essence an act of remembrance for and within the Church: it involves retrospection and anticipation as well as having effects in the present. Worship is a corporate activity which forms identity through various acts of remembrance, but at its liturgical centre is anamnesis, and although its meaning is disputed, the sacramental action is repeated. By drawing on the insights of Pickstock, Williams and Ford it is possible to develop a vision of eucharistic theology grounded in anamnesis. They are each signiﬁcant contributors to the academic study of theology, and for all of them the writing on the Eucharist has a central place. The priests, bishops and theologians of the Anglican tradition were inﬂuenced, as our contemporary contributors are, by issues and concerns of their time. Yet they were also concerned to acknowledge the Church’s connection to a historical source event in its present eucharistic celebration, and to articulate the way in which encounter with the risen Christ leads to transformation and self-offering, embodying God’s love for the renewal of the world. Remembrance which is both retrospection and anticipation forms a connection between Christ’s ministry, the sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ, the communion of saints and the eschatological banquet. Such connectedness depends upon an encounter with the risen Christ, an encounter that is nourishing, transformative and challenging. Williams, Ford and Pickstock offer a range of important insights into the Eucharist in their work. However, they do not fully develop their understanding of the way in which the Church is formed through participation in the sacrament. When seen in relation to the Anglican tradition, it becomes noticeable that eschatological references tend to drop out of view. Another avenue that could be pursued further is the relationship between the Eucharist and mission. This is a particularly important question to consider at a time when much discussion about mission is cut off from
Begbie, Theology, Music and Time, p. 173. This is modelled in the narrative of the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. The risen Christ encounters them in the midst of their confused memories and expectations and they recognise him as he breaks bread with them. Their response to this act of encounter, remembrance and transformation is to return to Jerusalem to share the news and there the body of Christ, the Church, is coming to engage in that mission. 50
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theological work on ecclesiology, the sacraments and the place of pastoral care. Connected with this is the absence of the language of the Kingdom of God. Creating the Church: the Eucharist in a mission-shaped Church Mission-shaped Church is one of the most widely read and warmly received reports produced by the Church of England.51 It reﬂected upon some of the fresh expressions of Church emerging in response to cultural changes within society and sets out some methodologies and frameworks for enabling the Church to proclaim the Gospel afresh in this generation. It also sought to set out a theology for a missionary church. The report acknowledged that without the authorised the practice of baptism and celebration of the Eucharist, a mission initiative is not yet ‘Church’ as understood by Anglicans. However, it gave scant attention to the sacramental aspects of the Church’s life.52 The theological resources of both historic and contemporary Anglicanism, reinforced by comments from ecumenical dialogue, challenge and address this omission. The notion that the theology and practice of mission can exist cut off from sacramental theology cannot be accepted as normative assumption. It is vital to reassert that it is the presence of the Eucharist at the heart of the Church’s life that holds together patterns of mission, sustains community life and expresses the Church’s reliance on the divine initiative. The Eucharist is central to the way in which the Church proclaims the Gospel; it is central to its very being as the Body of Christ in and for the world. Mission-shaped Church discusses the Eucharist in relation to marks of the Church. Having established as stated above that an Anglican understanding of Church depends upon the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, we read the following: Churches are eucharistic communities, irrespective of their church tradition, or the frequency of eucharistic worship. The Eucharist lies at the heart of Christian life. It is the act of worship (including the ministry of the Word) in which the central core of the biblical gospel is retold and re-enacted. New expressions of church may raise practical difﬁculties about authorized ministry, but, if they are to endure, they must celebrate the Eucharist.53
This is the main paragraph within the report on the Eucharist appears to regard the sacrament as both essential and as a potential difﬁculty. In the light of such a statement makes it is even more surprising that the Eucharist does not merit more discussion within the report itself. If no attempt is made to explore the theology of the Eucharist in relation to mission and what it is to be Church, then the fears over practical difﬁculties will remain. Worship itself is fundamentally a corporate activity, through which people are embedded into a particular kind of society. The opening words of the liturgy gather 51
Church of England Mission-shaped Church. At a Diocesan conference the response to this lack of engagement with the Eucharist indicated that was not considered an obvious starting point for reﬂection on the theology and practice of mission. 53 Church of England Mission-shaped Church, p. 101. 52
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those present in the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The community shares in the Eucharist and is then sent out in love and peace to love and serve the Lord. But this is more than the formation of a social structure. It is about an encounter with Christ: receiving the gift of his body. It is about creating the Church. As such the Eucharist is both a place of transformation for the individual and lies at the heart of the Church’s mission. The theology of the Anglican tradition, much neglected by the report is a key resource in reafﬁrming the importance of the connection between the sacramental encounter and the life and witness of the body of Christ. First, I will return to the passage of Scripture with which I began the introduction: the episode from Luke 24 about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Then I will return to the question of why the Eucharist has a central place in the understanding of mission, and how, without it, our understanding of church and mission are diminished. The Church is a community that is in a profound sense formed and shaped by ongoing participation in the sacraments. Through baptism new members are initiated into the Church. The Eucharist plays an important role in and sustaining, challenging and nourishing them within it. The narrative of the disciples on the way to Emmaus in Luke Chapter 24 illuminates the dynamics of this activity, pointing forward to the formation of the church and the beginning of its mission. Interestingly, this biblical passage is not dealt with or cited in Mission-shaped Church. The risen Lord Jesus draws alongside the disciples in their confusion and distress as they leave Jerusalem. When he had ‘explained to them in the whole of scripture the things that referred to himself’ the risen Christ makes as if to go on, but the disciples call him back and invite him to stay. Jesus ‘broke the bread, and offered it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him ... Without a moment’s delay they set out and returned to Jerusalem’.54 This passage is a rich resource for the nature of Christian discipleship.55 However, I want to explore what the climax of the story. The moment when the risen Christ breaks bread with the disciples offers an insight into the Eucharist and mission. Just as in the liturgy, the disciples hear Scriptures explained to them; then they recognize the risen Christ the breaking of bread. Jesus’ actions stand in continuity with the Last Supper (and with his ministry of feeding and fellowship). Along with this connection to the past, there is a present encounter: a transformative moment. However, the narrative does not end there. The disciples return to Jerusalem where they join with their fellow disciples; there the Church comes into being and begins to engage in mission.56 The Church is dependent on its act of remembrance, encounter and purposeful transformation that is oriented towards the future. Her life and witness over two thousand years has been punctuated by obedience to the command ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. It is a practice that is both retrospective and anticipatory. In 54
Luke 24:27, 30–31, 33. For example, the Emmaus programme which uses the language of accompanied discipleship as a basis for Christian nurture and formation. 56 This moment of recognition and transformation is captured brilliantly by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in The Supper at Emmaus (1601), National Gallery, London. 55
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the Eucharist we remember God’s acts in salvation history, culminating in Christ’s life, death and resurrection and focusing on the Last Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus we encounter Christ in the present to be nourished and transformed. The Church is called into being. The Church makes the Eucharist, and is created by it. The Eucharist has effects in the present as the Church is sent out in service and mission as his Church, anticipating the future Kingdom. As we share in broken bread and out poured wine we share in the body of Christ, and we become the body of Christ in and for the world. The Church celebrates the Eucharist and is formed by participating in it. We have seen how the various aspects of the Eucharist – remembrance, nourishment, future hope and self-offering – are held together through creative engagement with the concept of anamnesis. Not every theologian identiﬁes these dimensions in a systematic way. Even so, the connection between obedience to the command ‘do this in remembrance of me’, encounter with Christ in the present, leading to fullness of life and costly self-giving, and future hope are identiﬁable strands in thought of theologians from Andrewes and Hooker to Bickersteth and Temple. Underhill writes of the contemplation of God in the Eucharist as a matter of attentiveness to his past action and openness to future service.57 Hebert takes this dynamic seriously in his explicitly missiological theology of the Eucharist. The Church received the gift of the body of Christ in order to become that body in the world; to be a sign of the Kingdom, not a theoretical construct.58 The language of self-offering, mission and building the Kingdom of God are prominent within Anglican eucharistic theology, which is also grounded in the reality of particular social contexts and demands. Mission-shaped Church offers perceptive insights into the nature of faith commitment and social networks in twentyﬁrst century society, and reveals a passionate – and practical – desire to use this understanding to proclaim the Gospel; to become a missionary church. However, it lacks the sacramental theology of previous ages and traditions. It even fails to include this dimension from within the work of those contemporary theologians the report notes as having similar aims.59 Therefore, the resources outlined in our consideration of the signiﬁcance of anamnesis provide a timely and positive contribution to the Church’s theology and practice of mission. Conclusion Church and mission are embedded in the being, activity and purposes of God. In order to celebrate the Eucharist, the Church ﬁrst gathers in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; at its conclusion the people of God are called to obey the command ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. At the heart of the liturgy, there is an encounter with the risen Christ. A gift is given and received. The Church is the primary agent of God’s mission in the world. If it is to be sent in this way – an 57
Underhill, Worship, p. 234f. Irvine, Worship, Church and Society, p. 109. 59 For example, several quotation are taken from Dan Hardy’s Finding the Church, but his conclusions about Church, mission and Eucharist are not referred to. 58
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apostolic body – it also needs to be sustained and nourished. In the Eucharist the Church community touches and tastes the ground of its being; it is refreshed and enlivened with a vision of what is called to be: indeed, what the Church already is as a result of God’s action: the body of Christ. Mission-shaped Church raises the challenge of how we proclaim the Gospel in the midst of contemporary society. Inevitably a tension emerges between those looking for new ways of being church – ‘fresh expressions’ – and those deﬁning the Church solely in terms of inherited patterns and structures. Historically Anglicanism has maintained a healthy engagement with the changing patterns of society, seeking to proclaim afresh the Gospel, whilst also placing the Eucharist at the heart of both continuity and improvisation. The Church needs to continually respond to the call to share in the mission of God and undoubtedly Mission-shaped Church has ensured that that vocation is considered a priority. For all that is positive about this report, it is appropriate that the concerns surrounding the omission of any substantive work on the Eucharist should be challenged. As Mission-shaped Church acknowledges, Churches are eucharistic communities. But we need a more conﬁdent articulation of what this means. As Rowan Williams expresses it: ‘At the moment we probably need a much more robust defence of the supernatural, God-initiated side of our church life and the signiﬁcance of the sacraments as actually creating the Church week by week.’60 There are signiﬁcant resources within the Anglican tradition which can be drawn upon to provide such a robust defence of the sacramental inspiration of mission. The encouraging and challenging dimension of this heritage is that reﬂection on the meaning of obeying the command to ‘to this in remembrance’ is not limited to one particular strand of the tradition. Writers from across the theological spectrum have sought to engage with the practice of anamnesis and its consequences. Sometimes this has meant wrestling with categories such as presence and sacriﬁce; or else using language in a creative way to express a mysterious truth as seen in Hooker’s use of the term participation. Each time the Church gathers to celebrate the Eucharist God is met in our remembrance. We connected with praise and thanksgiving to the past; we receive spiritual nourishment through encounter with Christ in the present; we are equipped for future service. As we have seen, Ford, Pickstock and Williams all stand within this tradition. They have been formed by it in various ways, and they continue the process of reshaping that theological inheritance in the light of today’s theological challenges. We need to rediscover the place of sacraments in creating and sustaining our Church life, and they each offer something profound to that conversation. We have seen the way in which they understand the process of anamnesis and the integration of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial embodiments of Christ. To receive and become the body of Christ is to face the challenge of mission. All three theologians offer insights into what that might entail and we have engaged with the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches. Their work presents a challenge to the thesis of Mission-shaped church in seeing the Eucharist as a 60 ‘Theological Resources for re-examining church’ in The Future of the Parish System ed. Steven Croft (CHP: London, 2006), p. 60.
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resource for, rather than a hindrance to, mission. To place the sacraments at the heart of mission has consequences for the way in which the Church trains its priests and ministers; it will shape the nature of the worshipping communities into which people are drawn. Such consequences are beginning to be addressed, leading to a renewed sense of conﬁdence in mission.61 Our theology of mission – grounded in Scripture and shaped by the experience and wisdom of previous generations – should help us make the most of the opportunities around us. To be a holy, catholic and apostolic church is to be in communion with God, in community with one another and to engage in communication with the world62. This vision of Church and mission is sustained – despite all the practical problems and tensions that confront us – because the Church is the body of Christ. As such we are gathered and sent. Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus the momentous and transforming encounter which enables this is in recognizing the risen Lord in the breaking of bread. Obedience to the command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ also entails faithful innovation and a social/ethical outworking on the part of the Church. Anamnesis requires obedience to the diaconal imperative: ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. In so doing the fullness of Christ, mediated through the Eucharist, is made present in and for the world. Yet, we only glimpse this fullness, for, to cite Williams, ‘our attempt to live eucharistically, to transform our world into a community of gift, is more than obedience to a command, more than the imitation of a remembered historical pattern of life: it is the uncovering of the eternal sapientia of God’.63 To stand before God seeking that truth shapes the Church’s being as a community, the body of Christ. To live eucharistically is to follow a way of service; to proclaim the Gospel; to engage in mission. To uncover God’s wisdom in eucharistic anamnesis is also to recognise something of its indeﬁnitely profound meaning, to realise that it cannot be owned and limited and that the process of non-identical repetition allows the fullness of Christ to be embodied in and for the world, in the hope of eschatological fulﬁlment.
61 For example, S. Croft ed., The Future of the Parish System: Shaping the Church of England for the 21st Century (CHP: London, 2006), P. Bayes and T. Sledge, Mission-shaped parish: traditional church in a changing context (CHP: London, 206), Stephen Cottrell, From the Abundance of the Heart (DLT: London, 2006). 62 Cottrell From the Abundance of the Heart, p. 12. 63 Williams, Resurrection, p. 114.
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Sykes, S., ‘Story and Eucharist’, Interpretation 37 (1983), pp. 365–376. ——. ‘The Sacraments’ in Christian Theology: An Introduction to it Traditions and Tasks eds., P.C. Hodgson and R.H. King Second Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), pp. 274–301. ——. and J. Booty, J. Knight eds., The Study of Anglicanism revised edition (London: SPCK, 1998). Talbot, E.S., Some Titles and Aspects of the Eucharist (London, 1895). Taylor, J., The Worthy Communicant (London: Longmann, MDCCCL). Temple, W., Christus Veritas: An Essay (London: Macmillan, 1924). Thorndike, H., The Work of Herbert Thorndike (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1844). Thornton, L.S., The Common Life in the Body of Christ (Westminster, Dacre Press, 1946). Thurian, Max, The Mystery of the Eucharist (London/Oxford: Mowbray, 1981). ——. The Eucharistic Memorial – The Old Testament trans. J. G. Davies (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1960). ——. The Eucharistic Memorial - The New Testament trans. J. G. Davies (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1961). Torrance, T.F., Space, Time and Incarnation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964). Turner, D., Faith Seeking (London: SCM Press, 2002). Underhill, E., Worship (London: Nisbet &Co., 1936). Vasey, M., Reading the Bible at the Eucharist (Bramcote: Grove, 1986). Wainwright, G., Eucharist and Eschatology (London: Epworth, 1971). ——. and C. Jones, E. Yarnold eds., The Study of Liturgy, (London: SPCK, 1978). ——. ed., Keeping the Faith: Essays to Mark the Century of Lux Mundi (London: SPCK, 1989). Ward, G., ‘Bodies: The displaced body of Jesus Christ’ in Radical Orthodoxy (London: Routledge, 1999), pp.163–181. ——. Cities of God (London: Routledge, 2000). Waterland, D., A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1880). World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper No. 111 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982). Weil, L., Sacraments and Liturgy: The Outward Signs (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988). Welker, M., What Happens in Holy Communion? (London: SPCK, 2000). Wesley, J., The Works of John Wesley, ed. F. Baker, Vols. 3, 4, 7 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983). Whaling, F. ed., John and Charles Wesley – Selected Writings and Hymns (London: SPCK, 1981). White, J.F., ‘The Language of Space’ in Introduction to Christian Worship (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, Revised Edition, 1990), pp. 88–121. White, S., ‘The Theology of Sacred Space’ in D. Brown and A. Loades eds., The Sense of the Sacramental (London: SPCK, 1995), pp. 31–43. Wilberforce, R.I., The Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist (London: 1853). ——. Sermons on the New Birth of Man’s Nature (London: 1850).
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Williams, Rowan, Eucharistic Sacriﬁce – the Roots of the Metaphor, Grove Liturgical Study, 31 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1982). ——. and Kenneth Leech (eds.), Essays Catholic and Radical: A Jubilee Group Symposium for the 150th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Oxford Movement 1833-1983 (London: Collins Fount Paperbacks in association with Faith Press, 1983). ——. ‘Imagining the Kingdom: Some Questions for Anglican Worship Today’ in The Identity of Anglican Worship (London: Mowbray, 1991), pp. 1–13. ——. Open to Judgement (London: DLT, 1994). ——. Resurrection (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1994). ——. ‘Interiority and Epiphany: A Reading in New Testament Ethics’ in Modern Theology 13 (1997) January, pp. 29–51. ——. Christ on Trial (London: Fount, 2000). ——. Lost Icons: Reﬂections of Cultural Bereavement (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000). ——. On Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). ——. Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin Mary (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2002). ——. ‘The Body’s Grace’ in Theology and Sexuality, ed. E. Rogers (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 309–321. ——. Anglican Identities (London: DLT, 2004). Wolf, J. ed., The Spirit of Anglicanism: Hooker, Maurice and Temple (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1982). Woods, R., Christian Spirituality: God’s Presence though the Ages (Allen: Texas, Christian Classics, 1996). Wyan, O., The Altar Fire: Reﬂections on the Sacrament of the Eucharist (London: SCM Press, 1954). Yates, N., The Background to the Oxford Movement (London: John Murray, 1983). ——. Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain 1830–1910 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999). Zwingli, U., ‘On the Lord’s Supper’ in Zwingli and Bullinger, introduced by G.W. Bromiley, Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXIV (London: SCM Press, 1953), pp.185–238.
Liturgical texts The Book of Common Prayer (1662). Alternative Service Book (1980). Common Worship, ‘Holy Communion, Order One’ (2000). Scriptural references are taken from The New Revised Standard Version.
absence and presence dichotomy, Eucharist 6, 80, 81, 85, 91, 92–3 Alternative Service Book 1980, revised Nicene Creed 86, 87, 89–90 anamnesis Anglican contributions 138–9 in Anglican tradition 136–8 ARCIC on 14–15, 18, 134 in BEM paper 15–16, 17–18, 134 and Christian identity 17 Church’s dependency on 1, 81 and collective memory 18–23, 30 continuity of 146 deﬁnitions 10–14 in ecumenical discussion 14–17, 133–5 epiclesis, connection 3–4 eucharistic 2, 49, 103, 105–6, 143 signiﬁcance 146–8 Ginn on 13–14 Hebert on 46–7 Holy Communion as 24, 25 integrative function 3, 10, 20, 23, 30–1, 33, 47–8, 64, 118 interpretations 9, 11–12, 133–4, 146 Kasper on 2 as language of connection 3, 138–9 and the Last Supper 10 in liturgy 10 and mission 27, 54–5, 147–8 and musical repetition 26–30 as offering 17 Patrick on 41 process 1–2 as proclamation 11, 12, 16, 23–6, 135–6 as representation 11, 16 rubric 10 source event, connection to 3, 13, 16, 18, 31, 93, 106, 133fn1, 134, 146 Temple on 42–3 transformative effect of 1, 2, 3, 16, 31, 84–5, 146 WCC on 15–16
and worship 147 see also Eucharist anaphora 10 Andrews, Lancelot Preces Privatae 35 Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmine 35 on sacriﬁce 34–6 Anglican tradition, memory in 33–49 Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission see ARCIC appropriation theory, Eucharist 12–13 Aquinas, St Thomas 79, 83, 84, 119 ARCIC (Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission) 4 on anamnesis 14–15, 18, 134 The Final Report 14, 134 The Gift of Authority 10, 19 Assmann, Jan, on collective memory 24 Augustine, St, on the Body of Christ 45–6 authority, in the Church 19–20 baptism 83, 149 and formation of self 63 Barth, Karl 22 Barton, J., and J. Halliburton, Believing in the Church 22 Beckwith, R.T. 11 Begbie, J. 5, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 63, 135, 146–7 Theology, Music and Time 26 BEM (Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry) paper 4, 14, 21, 134 anamnesis in 15–16, 17–18, 134 Bickersteth, Edward eucharistic theology 44–5 on prayer 45 Treatise on the Lord’s Supper 44 Body of Christ 2, 48, 77, 78, 84, 93, 97, 114–15, 130, 134 Augustine on 45–6 Church as 45
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discernment of 83–4 participation in 137 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich 61, 67 The Book of Common Prayer 1549 86 Boulding, M.C. 80, 81 Brevint, Daniel 137 on sacriﬁce 44 The Christian Sacriﬁce and Sacrament 44 Cambridge Platonists 40 canon biblical, and Christian identity 25 and collective memory 24, 25 Carruthers, Mary 19 on medieval idea of memory 9, 19 Christ face of 56–7, 66–8, 72, 145 presence in Eucharist, and memory 38–43 as sign 120–1 words, at Last Supper 59, 89, 90, 149 see also Body of Christ Christian identity and anamnesis 17 and the biblical canon 25 formation 57 and narrative 22–3 Christian Socialism 48 Christology, emphasis, Radical Orthodoxy 76 the Church anamnesis, dependency on 1, 81 authority 19–20 as Body of Christ 45 Body of 85 bridge between, Last Supper/Kingdom 43 centrality of Eucharist in 18, 81 face orientation 56–7 Ford on 56 and God’s mission 2, 7, 43 Hebert on 46, 138 mission–shaped, Eucharist in 148–50, 151 renewal, through liturgy 109 role, Williams on 7, 101, 104–5 Church of England Doctrine Commission, Believing in the Church 10, 19, 21 Mission–shaped Church 148, 151
collective memory 10 and anamnesis 18–23, 30 Assmann on 24 and canon 24, 25 ministry of 21 protection 21 Thiselton on 21–2 and tradition 20 transmission 19 communication, and salvation 62 Cranmer, Thomas 137 on sacriﬁce 34, 38–9 Crichton, J.D. 11 Cudworth, Ralph, eucharistic theology 40 cultural memory characteristics 24–5 and the Eucharist 23 Welker on 24–5, 26 Davie, Gracie 9, 19 the dead, memory of 106–7 death, contemporary attitudes to 90–1 Derrida, Jacques 76 Pickstock’s critique of 80 desire, Eucharist as 86 Dix, Gregory 4, 11 on the Eucharist 13 Duns Scotus 69, 75 Easter, meaning of 115 Elizabethan Settlement (1559) 39 Emmaus encounter 1, 25, 36, 112, 113, 116, 147fn50, 149, 150 Ephesians 57, 62 and repetition 63 epiclesis, anamnesis, connection 3–4 Eucharist 1, 3 absence and presence dichotomy 6, 80, 81, 85, 91, 92–3 approaches to 63 appropriation theory 12–13 Catholic/Protestant understandings 12–13 centrality, in Church’s life 18, 81 Christ’s presence in, and memory 38–43 and cultural memory 23 in daily living 59 deﬁnition 10 as desire 86 Dix on 13 Ford on 55, 144
Index as gift 29, 43, 96–7, 120, 121, 136 giving and receiving 118 Gregg on 12–13 Last Supper, recalled in 3 Marion on 29 meal, signiﬁcance 117, 142 memorial theory 13, 106 in mission–shaped Church 148–50, 151 mystery, logic of 81 as narrative 77–8, 79, 97, 139 participation in 2, 79, 145 and Passover meal 40 resurrection in 85 as sacriﬁce 12, 40, 41, 136–7 self–formation by 65 signs in 80, 81 social order, challenges to 125 through musical improvisation 28–9 repetition 26–9, 136 and transformation 63, 106, 119–25, 130–1, 135, 141–3 Williams on 117–18, 126, 141–2 see also anamnesis eucharistic praise 56 Eucharistic Prayer 87 Evangelical Alliance 44 face of Christ 56–7, 66–8, 72, 145 orientation, the Church 56–7 Farrer, A.M. 47 Forbes, William Considerationes Modestae et Paciﬁcae 37 on sacriﬁce 36–7 Ford, David 22, 29, 31, 144–5 on the Church 56 daily life, practical wisdom 58–60 on the Eucharist 55, 144 eucharistic theology 51–72, 144–5 on formation of self 60–8 on narrative in theology 52–3 Radical Orthodoxy, critique of 68–71 works A Long Rumour of Wisdom 53 Self and Salvation 3, 5–6, 51, 57, 60, 61, 62, 65 The Shape of Living 58 forgiveness 112, 113 Frei, Hans, The Identity of Jesus Christ 22
the future, and memory 43–7 Gethsemane 112 gift Eucharist as 29, 43, 96–7, 120, 121, 136 Last Supper as 120 Ginn, R.J. 12 on anamnesis 13–14 God in the City 54–5 Gore, Charles, eucharistic theology 48 Gospels, Synoptic 25 Gray, Donald 48 Gregg, David 10 on the Eucharist 12–13 Grisbrooke, W.J. 10 Halliburton, J. see Barton, J. Hebert, A.G. on anamnesis 46–7 on the Church 46, 138 on liturgy 46 Liturgy and Society 46 The Parish Communion 46 Holy Communion, as anamnesis 24, 25 Holy Grail 86 Holy Spirit 20, 28–9, 65 preservation of Christ’s memory 26, 135 Hooker, Richard eucharistic theology 39–40, 137 Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity 39 on participation 39–40 hope, and memory 106–7, 111 icons, Williams on 126, 129–30 identity formation, by participation 1 and memory 8, 19 see also Christian identity improvisation, musical, Eucharist through 28–9 Jeremias, J. 11, 12 Jerusalem 1 John, St, Gospel, time in 103 Jones, C.P.M. 11 joy, and transformation 60 Judaism, memory in 105 Jüngel, E. 61, 62 Kasper, W., on anamnesis 2
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
Kilpatrick, G.D. 11, 12 Kingdom of God 120 Kingsley, C. 41 L’Arche community 114, 125 Last Supper 1, 2 and anamnesis 10 Christ’s gift 120 Christ’s words 59, 89, 90, 149 in the Eucharist 3, 138–9 life and death in 63–4 memorial act 25 reenactment 19 Laud, William, on sacriﬁce 36 Levinas, E. on the self 61 Totality and Inﬁnity 61 Liturgical Review 11 liturgy anamnesis in 10 Church renewal through 109 deﬁnition 10 Hebert on 46 mediating function 94–6 Pickstock on 76–8, 94–6 Loughlin, Gerard 23 Louth, Andrew, critique of Pickstock 77 Ludlow, J. 41 McFadyen, A. 55 MacKinnon, Donald 69 Marion, Jean–Luc on the Eucharist 29 God Without Being 29 mathematics, timelessness of 108 Maurice, F.D. eucharistic theology 41–2, 137 Kingdom of Christ 41 memorial theory, Eucharist 13 memory Anglican tradition 33–49 and Christ’s presence in Eucharist 38–43 of the dead 106–7 dynamic role 108 and the future 43–7 Holy Spirit’s role 26, 135 and hope 106–7, 111 and identity 8, 19 interest in 9–10 in Judaism 105 medieval idea of 9, 19
ministry of 21 and renewal 111–12 and repetition 26, 140 and resurrection 109–19 and sacriﬁce 34–8 and time 9–10, 103–9 and transformation 105, 112 use 4, 107–8 Pickstock’s 6, 78 Williams on 7, 101, 105–9, 111, 130 see also collective memory; cultural memory Meyrick, Frederick 137 on sacriﬁce 37–8 Milbank, J. 79 mission and anamnesis 27, 54–5, 147–8 Church’s, and the Eucharist 148–50, 151 God’s 2, 7, 43 music as narrative 109 repetition and anamnesis 26–30 and the Eucharist 26–9, 136 and time 63, 108–9 mystery, logic of, in Eucharist 81 narrative(s) and Christian identity 22–3 Eucharist as 77–8, 79, 97, 139 institution 64, 78, 89, 98, 140 music as 109 post–resurrection 105 and self–formation 127 in theology, Ford on 52–3 necrophobia 90, 91 A New Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship 10 Nicene Creed Pickstock on 86–7, 88, 89–90 revision, in ASB 86, 87, 89–90 Nichols, Bridget 87–8 Niebuhr, Reinhold 22 offering, anamnesis as 17 the other, and the self 62, 125 panim, meanings 57, 66 see also face parish communion 46, 47 Parish Communion Movement 48 Parousia 135
Index participation in the Body of Christ 137 in the Eucharist 2, 79, 145 framework, Radical Orthodoxy 75–6 Hooker on 39–40 identity formation 1 Passover 11, 59, 120 meal, and the Eucharist 40 past, and understanding of present 107 Patrick, Simon, on anamnesis 41 Peter, St 111, 112, 141 Pickstock, Catherine 3, 7, 29, 31, 52, 69, 76, 139–41 Derrida, critique of 80 eucharistic theology 73–99, 139–41 on liturgy 76–8, 94–6 memory, use of 6, 78 on the Nicene Creed 86–7, 88, 89–90 Radical Orthodoxy, reply to Ford 70–1 on resurrection of the sign 91–4 on the Roman Rite 77, 88 Louth’s critique 77 works After Writing 6, 73, 76, 77, 95 and J. Milbank, Truth in Aquinas 79 Plato Laws 94 Phaedrus 76 prayer, Bickersteth on 45 Prayer Book (1552) 34 proclamation, anamnesis as 11, 12, 16, 23–6, 135–6 the Psalms 55 Radical Orthodoxy 6, 51, 141 aims 75 Christology emphasis 76 essays on 69, 74 Ford’s critique 68–71 Pickstock’s reply 70–1 manifesto 69 participation framework 75–6 project 74–6 radicalism 75 sacramental semiotics 76 Scripture in 70 secularism, attack on 74 Radical Orthodoxy movement 6 remembrance see anamnesis remorse, Williams on 126–7 renewal, and memory 111–12
repetition effects 27 and Ephesians 63 and memory 26, 140 musical, Eucharist through 26–9, 136 non–identical 6, 28, 63, 64, 73, 139 representation, anamnesis as 11, 16 resurrection in the Eucharist 85 and memory 109–19, 140 of the sign, Pickstock on 91–4 Williams on 109–10 Ricoeur, Paul, self and the other 62 Roman Rite, Pickstock on 77, 88 sacriﬁce Andrews on 34–6 Brevint on 44 Cranmer on 34, 38–9 double sense 34 Eucharist as 12, 40, 41, 136–7 Forbes on 36–7 Laud on 36 and memory 34–8 Meyrick on 37–8 Taylor on 44 Temple on 42 Underhill on 45 Waterland on 37 Williams on 43 sacriﬁcial theory, Eucharist 12 salvation and communication 62 and self 61 Scripture in Ford’s theology 72 in Radical Orthodoxy 70 in the Tradition 20 secularism, Radical Orthodoxy attack on 74 the self blessing of 65 commanding of 65 formation of by baptism 63 by Eucharist 65, 144 by worship 63 Ford on 60–8 in narrative 127 Levinas on 61 and the other 62, 125 placement of 65
Anamnesis and the Eucharist
and salvation 61 timing of 65 Williams on 127–8 sign Christ as 120–1 resurrection of, Pickstock on 91–4 sign making 119–20 signs in the Eucharist 80, 81 and God’s nature 120 and transformation 122 social order, and Eucharist 125 source event of anamnesis, 3, 13, 16, 18, 93, 106, 133fn1, 134, 146 meaning 3 Steiner, George 64 Real Presences 128 Stevenson, Kenneth 33, 77 Stroup, G.W. 23 The Study of Liturgy 11 Taylor, Jeremy on sacriﬁce 44 The Worthy Communicant 43–4 Temple, William on anamnesis 42–3 Christus Veritas 42, 137 on sacriﬁce 42 theology academic 53–4 critical 102 task of 101–2 wisdom–focused approach 53–4 Thérèse of Lisieux 61, 67 Thiselton, A., on collective memory 21–2 Thorndike, Herbert, eucharistic theology 40–1 Thurian, M. 12 time God’s, and human time 58, 103 in John’s Gospel 103 liturgical, and real time 95 and memory 9–10, 103–9 and music 63, 108–9 William’s on 103–5 Torah 120 Tractarianism 48 tradition and collective memory 20 scripture in 20
see also Anglican tradition transformation effect, anamnesis 1, 2, 3, 16, 31, 84–5, 146 and the Eucharist 63, 106, 119–25, 130–1, 135, 141–3 and joy 60 and memory 105, 112 and signs 122 transubstantiation 80, 82, 83 Trinity 86 truth, attitudes to 79 Tyndall, E.D. 47 Underhill, Evelyn 137–8 on sacriﬁce 45 Urban Priority Areas 6, 51, 56 Vanier, Jean 125 Ward, Graham 82 Waterland, Daniel Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist 37 on sacriﬁce 37 WCC (World Council of Churches) on anamnesis 15–16 see also BEM Welker, M. 5, 135 on cultural memory 24–5, 26 What Happens in Holy Communion? 23–4 Wesley, Charles 108 Williams, Rowan 3, 7, 29, 31, 49, 63, 67, 69–70, 101–31, 141–4, 151 on the Eucharist 117–18, 126, 141–2 on icons 126, 129–30 on living eucharistically 152 on memory 7, 101, 105–9, 111, 130 on remorse 126–7 on role of the Church 7, 101, 104–5 on sacriﬁce 43 on the self 127–8 task of theology 101–2 on time 103–5 works Common Worship 106 A Gift of Authority 115 Lost Icons 125, 130 Open to Judgement 111 Resurrection 43, 111
Index World Council of Churches see WCC worship and anamnesis 147 centrality of 65
169 as corporate activity 1, 148–9 eucharistic 62 and formation of self 63 healing nature of 59