Date of Award

5-7-2007

Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology

Department

School of Theology • Seminary

First Advisor

Anthony Ruff, OSB

Abstract

After our Prayer of Thanksgiving thunders to its climax with the singing of the Great Amen we are led to the altar-table to feast on the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This ritual moment is the high point of the Eucharistic celebration. Our reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is both a profound statement of faith and a paradigm for how we are to live in the world as Christians. When we step forward to receive Holy Communion we declare our assent to be transformed into Christ’s hands and feet for the life of the world. Unfortunately, far too often the presence of Christ in the gathered assembly is not reflected or honored in our liturgical praxis and, thus, a personal piety vaunted from centuries of solitary focus on the sacredness of the eucharistic species still haunts this point of the liturgy. In many parish communities the assembly sings the liturgy with gusto until the communion rite where their lips fall silent. Even more problematic, postures and gestures of members of the assembly often reflect a private “inward” piety that runs contrary to the communal/ecclesial nature of the sacramental action. Celebrated well, through robust communal song, gesture and symbol, the ritual unfolding of the communion rite can serve as proclamation of our unity in the Body of Christ and as a model for Christian living. This study will examine each element of the communion rite and will show how, through careful preparation and diligent catechesis, parish communities may celebrate well this ritual that is central to our faith.

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