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Eucharist As Covenant
An Aid To Christian Unity
by Pat Seaver
Leading a Church of England confirmation group recently, I was surprised by the look of shock on several faces when I explained that many Christians sincerely believe that at the Eucharist the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. On explaining the range of theological viewpoints that exist within mainstream churches, not one candidate saw the Eucharist as anything other than a simple act of remembrance.
Pat Seaver, a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland sets out to overcome many of the theological differences that exist between, and within church traditions. He does this by viewing the Eucharist not as a shared meal or as a sacrifice, but as a covenant.
Drawing on some of the most ancient examples of covenantal religious practices, Seaver traces the evolution of the Eucharist as covenantal drama in which everyone present is an active participant, not solely the priest observed (or even hidden).
This approach has enormous merit, not least, as Seaver intends, in terms of ecumenical dialogue, as clearly the Eucharist remains a significant point of separation, if not division, between catholic and protestant.
The book is written with an assumption that the reader is a Roman Catholic and perhaps it is with his own community that Seaver seeks to communicate. Others though may find it reassuring to know that there are active voices within Roman Catholicism seeking to bridge the continuing divide within Christ's church.
This is a useful contribution to that ongoing dimension of Christian mission.
Reviewer: David Ford (11/02/14)