Sacrifice As Gift

Sacrifice As Gift

Michon M. Matthiesen
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Sacrifice As Gift
    Book Description:

    Sacrifice as Gift is a timely presentation of a forgotten vision of eucharistic sacrifice, one that reconfigures the current philosophical and theological divide between sacrifice and gift.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2004-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    This study reconsiders the question of sacrifice for contemporary eucharistic theology through the thought of Maurice de la Taille, S.J. (1872–1933), whose masterwork, Mysterium Fidei, has been largely forgotten. To be sure, the topic of sacrifice is not without controversy. On the one hand, an emphasis on sacrifice tends to be emblematic of a growing segment of Roman Catholics who ostensibly desire to return to a pre-Vatican II eucharistic piety and worship style. Greater reflection is warranted on the question of whether the Tridentine, or 1962 Latin Rite, is, in its enactment, particularly susceptible to projecting an image of...

  6. Part 1. De Sacrificio

    • 1 The Nature of Sacrifice
      (pp. 31-54)

      A first indication that Mysterium Fidei offers a decidedly different approach to eucharistic theology, different from that of the eucharistic treatises that populated the theological field from the early medieval period up to the manuals of de la Taille’s own time, is his decision to treat “sacrifice” before “sacrament,” thereby inverting what had become the classical structure for explicating the Eucharist. De la Taille defends this bouleversement as a rightful attending to the “natural order” or sequence of events: that is, dealing with what came first—the sacrifice offered by Christ—before considering the daily sacrifice of the church.¹ However,...

    • 2 Christ’s Sacrifice
      (pp. 55-91)

      Having explicated the key components of de la Taille’s definition of sacrifice, we can begin to trace these formative lines in the whole of his eucharistic theology. Much of the controversy surrounding the publication of Mysterium Fidei, controversy that perpetrated its later dismissal, stems from a failure to see accurately the shaping nuances of sacrifice in his depiction both of Christ’s passion and of the church’s sacrificial offering. This chapter attends specifically to the events of the Last Supper and the passion, noting how de la Taille illuminates them in terms of the theory of sacrifice outlined above. Two crucial...

    • 3 The Ecclesial Sacrifice
      (pp. 92-116)

      We have thus far detailed how de la Taille’s theory of sacrifice shapes his doctrine about the unicity of the supper-cross sacrifice and how it founds the concept of a celestial victim—eternally accepted and sanctified and held by God. In forging a response to the contentious question of how the Mass is “true and proper sacrifice,” de la Taille unfolds the logic already advanced in these two principles. This chapter on the church’s sacrifice divides in a threefold way. First, we shall explicate de la Taille’s theology of ecclesial sacrifice, showing how it undercuts post-Tridentine assumptions and theories about...

  7. Part 2. De Gratia

    • 4 Eucharistic Union and Divinization
      (pp. 119-152)

      In the first three chapters on eucharistic sacrifice, I have elucidated de la Taille’s theory of sacrifice, highlighting his nuanced use of the dynamic aspects of gift: oblation and devotio. I have intended to diffuse a crude view of his thought and to reveal that his theology of sacrifice is solidly rooted both in scripture and in the patristic literature of the East and West. The second part of this study retrieves de la Taille’s thought on sanctifying grace, an aspect of his eucharistic treatise that contributes crucially to a proper understanding sacrifice. This integral connection between sacrifice and grace...

    • 5 The Grace of the Redeemer
      (pp. 153-187)

      How does the preceding discussion of the grace of union to Christ in the Eucharist fit into a broader theory of grace? In book 3 of Mysterium Fidei, de la Taille plunges into the depths of eucharistic grace, providing a treatment of sin and the salvific power of grace. We turn now to a more technical discussion of grace, sin, and soteriology, a discussion that commences with a careful analysis of grace in Christ and that concludes with a reflection on Christ’s headship and the necessity of the Eucharist. For it is Christ’s grace that permits the theologian to conceive...

    • 6 “Created Actuation by Uncreated Act”
      (pp. 188-210)

      The previous two chapters have focused on de la Taille’s theology of grace as it was articulated in Mysterium Fidei, particularly in book 3—“De sacramento.” We observed, first, his exposition of the threefold signification of the Eucharist, which immediately alerted us to de la Taille’s propensity to think of grace in terms of deifying union to Christ and of the fulfillment of that grace in resurrected glory. De la Taille’s predilection for the thought of Cyril of Alexandria accentuated that sharing in divine life depends on the willingness of Christ to take up the believer into his own flesh...

  8. Part 3. De Contemplatione et De Baptismo

    • 7 The Nature of Contemplation
      (pp. 213-237)

      The preceding three chapters on grace have acted as a kind of yeast upon the detailed exposition of sacrifice that began this study, for I have intended to make manifest how the dynamic of eucharistic sacrifice is subsumed in the life of grace. De la Taille’s thought on grace also reveals why oblation and the movement of desire are central to his theory of sacrifice-as-gift. Our chapters on grace have shown that all grace flows from the immolated and vivifying flesh of the Son; that God’s self-gift to the soul—which is a real union—constitutes de la Taille’s first...

    • 8 Contemplation and the Eucharist
      (pp. 238-260)

      This chapter develops more fully de la Taille’s theology of contemplation, going beyond basic questions of the nature and role of contemplation in the spiritual life to more specific issues concerning contemplative experience and theory. We shall witness de la Taille’s serious engagement with the contemporary discussions over mystical theology, as well as his effort to enunciate an analogy between contemplation and the grace of the Eucharist. His impressive “Théories mystiques” uses Dom Cuthbert Butler’s appended text to Western Mysticism as a springboard to engage some important and controversial questions on passive prayer. Three of these questions will occupy our...

    • 9 Baptismal Mortification and the Eucharist
      (pp. 261-286)

      In this final chapter, the threads of this study converge under the topos of baptism, the sacrament that, for de la Taille, decisively orients the Christian to the ritual offering of sacrifice and to the reception of the eucharistic gifts of divine life and union. We have just seen that the contemplative places herself willingly in the path of purgative prayer, to the end that her desire for the divine beloved may be ever more purified. In de la Taille’s theology, the continual mortification of disordered love falls under the purview of baptismal profession, for contemplative and non-contemplative alike.


  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 287-298)

    De la Taille’s early-twentieth-century work on eucharistic theology provides a new (and not new), forward-looking (and ancient) vision of sacrifice. Mysterium Fidei accomplishes this largely through a retrieval of biblical and patristic sources. But de la Taille also casts a discerning eye toward the best history-of-religions research available at the turn of the twentieth century and seeks an impressive integration of Thomistic thought, as well. His methodology aligns him closely and nascently to the spirit of nouvelle théologie emerging in the second quarter of the twentieth century—but not to the increasingly trenchant refusal of scholastic categories tout court.¹ As...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-312)
  11. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 313-317)
  12. Index of Names
    (pp. 318-320)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)