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Sacrament As Gift by
Publication Date: 2012-02-29
This study proceeds from an appreciation for recent phenomenological developments in sacramental theology to construct a bridge between such developments and pneumatology. A rationale for such construction is the postmodern critique that seeks to move beyond modern metaphysical notions of God as necessarily interpreted by the subject, to a phenomenological insistence on letting God reveal as Godself. To aid in this project, the recent reclamation in the West of pneumatology, brought to prominence in Vatican II's liturgical-theological framework, is employed and drawn into a postmodern reconsideration of sacramental theology. The author also seeks to lessen the Christological-Pneumatological tension by advocating a biblically based sense of salvation history as God's self-communication, enacted in the Son's and the Spirit's interrelated missions and thus highlighting the inherent Trinitarian dimensions. With these foundations, the Holy Spirit's activity is then presented as central to the symbolic mediation experienced through sacraments, both the traditional seven sacraments and the Church as sacrament. The study draws in depth upon the sacramental theology of Jean-Luc Marion to argue for understanding divinity as revealed through "icon" and thus as God's pure givenness, expressed without "interference" from a subject as conceived in the modernist scheme. Thus in Eucharist, our openness to the iconic gaze allows for recognition of the divine in the species of bread and wine, transformed through the Spirit's activity rather than through our ritual transaction in language and symbols. Sacraments as gift are agapic expressions that humans cannot adequately reciprocate; this realization entails that humans freely respond and affirm the gift, in the grateful stance of love answering love.