Eucharist and Eschatology

Address by Father Louis Aldrich of Taipei

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TAIPEI, Taiwan, FEB. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered by Father Louis Aldrich of Taipei, during a recent worldwide videoconference of theologians, on the Year of the Eucharist. The Vatican Congregation for Clergy organized the videoconference.

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The Church Militant and each Christian lives within the eschatological reality of an “already” and “not yet” achieved salvation. The Kingdom of God is already among us, we already share in the heavenly banquet; but this sharing in God’s Kingdom and this banquet has not yet been achieved in its final, definitive fullness.

The Church, therefore, lives in hope of attaining this final fullness, a hope strengthen by already participating in the eschatological promises.

The promise of final salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ is experienced as “already” present in a pre-eminent way in the Eucharist. For in the Eucharist not only are the saving graces of Jesus made available, but Jesus himself is really present among us, body and blood, soul and divinity.

In “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” John Paul II explains how the Eucharist is the pledge of all our eschatological hopes:

“The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ; it is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the ‘pledge of future glory.’ In the Eucharist, everything speaks of confident waiting ‘in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.’ Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection.”

Those who participate in the Eucharist and “share in the first fruits of a future fullness” are strengthen to work for bringing the Kingdom of God among us now.

Cardinal Arinze has emphasized the following points in this regard. Participating in the Eucharist calls us to effective action for the sake of the poor, the sick and all those in need: “Christ washed the feet of his apostles to teach them that the Eucharist sends us to actively love our neighbor.” This active love includes “initiatives to promote development, justice and peace.”

One positive example of the relationship between the Eucharist and the Kingdom of God is seen in the work for the poorest of the poor done by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Negatively, we see the vicious cycle of declining participation in the Eucharist with the increasing dominance of the culture of death in formerly Catholic nations.

In conclusion, let us follow the advice of Cardinal Arinze and implore the Father that the Eucharistic sacrifice “becomes for each of us the center of our day and our week.”

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