THE EUCHARIST AS SYMBOL IN THE WRITINGS OF PETER JULIAN EYMARD (1811-1868): A HERMENEUTICAL PROBLEM IN SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY

JOHN A KEENAN, Fordham University

Abstract

Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, proposed the Eucharist as the absolute center of Church life and Christian spirituality. Eymard, educated in conventional nineteenth-century French seminaries, devoted extraordinary energy to personal study of Scripture and theological sources.^ After 1850, Eymard's understanding of the Eucharist began to take a distinctive, and yet unsystematic, characteristic, separating him progressively from the French devotional approach to the Eucharist. His dedication to the sources of Catholic dogma and his own evolving appreciation of the Eucharist as the integrating factor of Christian religious experience, combine in making Eymard a thoroughly orthodox yet controversial precursor to contemporary sacramental spirituality. By emphasizing the Eucharist as the condition for an unqualified encounter with the person of Christ, Eymard elaborated a spirituality which integrated prayer, Church, and social responsibility.^ This dissertation is a presentation of the evolving thought of Eymard on the nature of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, its relationship to the Christian in society, and its centrality in the Church. An examination of Eymard's manuscripts indicated key sources for investigation. The Retreat of Rome in 1865 and the Directoire of 1867-68 are critical. Microfilmed copies of Eymard's conferences, notes, and letters provided material indicating the gradual changes in Eymard's appreciation of the Eucharist from an unexceptional nineteenth-century approach into an integrated spirituality which emphasizes the lived, experiential reality of the Eucharistic mystery.^ Insights from the ego-psychologist D.W. Winnicott and contemporary theologian Heribert Muhlen are examined as they apply to Eymard's unique sacramental spirituality.^ The topics treated in this dissertation are Eymard's concept of the Eucharist as a symbol and as a reality, the personal presence of Jesus, the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, the nature of the Church as a family, and Eucharistic service. ^

Subject Area

Religion

Recommended Citation

KEENAN, JOHN A, "THE EUCHARIST AS SYMBOL IN THE WRITINGS OF PETER JULIAN EYMARD (1811-1868): A HERMENEUTICAL PROBLEM IN SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020065.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020065

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