Remembering and Misremembering Vatican II

I. Remembering Vatican II

On a sunny October 11, 1962 I stood, with countless others, in the vast Saint Peter’s Square, observing the last untroubled procession of the counter-Reformation Church, as mitered prelates wended their way into the Basilica for the solemn inauguration of the Second Vatican Council. I was a seminarian, recently arrived in Rome, about to begin four years of theological study at the Gregorian University.

Even on the periphery of the Conciliar proceedings, one was perforce caught up in the event of the Council, following the daily reports avidly and attending numerous evening lectures by luminaries such as Congar, Rahner, and Chenu. Another memorable date: November 20, 1962. On that day, the document “On the Sources of Revelation,” prepared by the Theological Commission (led by Cardinal Ottaviani) was voted on by the Council fathers. There had been considerable discussion of the document in the days preceding the vote, and it had received much criticism for its style—overly scholastic and abstract, insufficiently biblical, historical, and ecumenical—a product of the reigning neo-scholasticism of the time.

Summoned to vote, more than 60% of the bishops chose not to accept the draft. But, according to the rules of the Council, it required a two-thirds negative vote to remand the document to committee. Then, Pope John XXIII, exercising blessed common sense, intervened. He ordered that the document be re-composed, and created a new Commission for the task, joining Ottaviani’s Doctrinal Commission with the Secretariat for Christian Unity headed by Cardinal Bea. The impression created among those of us in Rome was electrifying. We sensed that we were witnessing a radical new beginning, a veritable revolution.

What emerged from the new joint commission was the epoch-making Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum. Its biblical, personalist, and pastoral style, helped set the tone for all the documents of the Council.[1] In interpreting the Council, in establishing an appropriate “hermeneutic,” the four “Constitutions” play a decisive role. They are, of course, Sacrosanctum concilium, Lumen gentium, Dei Verbum, and Gaudium et spes. However, in many ways it is the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, which holds a primacy among them.[2]

For if God does not truly reveal himself, there is no foundation for the Church. It becomes only a human association and organization. Furthermore, if God has not given himself definitively in Christ, there is no basis for the liturgy. It becomes a merely human gathering, bereft of transcendent reference.

Distinctive to Dei Verbum’s presentation of revelation is that it is explicitly Christocentric. Though it celebrates God’s revelation in the course of the history of the people of Israel, it confesses that God’s revelation attains its fullness in the person of Jesus Christ.[3] It is this Christ-centered understanding of God’s revelation and promise that permeates the documents of Vatican II—prominent not only in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium, but also in Gaudium et Spes. It is this Christological “depth grammar” which belies any facile separation of “doctrinal” and “pastoral.” Nor can the Council be read as promoting a “pastoral paradigm” in opposition to a “doctrinal paradigm.”

The distinguished Church historian, John O’Malley, has written of three categories that help elucidate “the dynamics of the Council.” The three are: aggiornamento, development, and ressourcement. And he contends: “Of the three categories, ressourcement was the most traditional yet potentially the most radical.”[4] For it is on the basis of principles retrieved from the Church’s memory that the present is normed and evaluated. Hence, “aggiornamento was a consequence, not the starting point.”[5] The present situation, the “signs of the times” are always discerned “in the light of the Gospel.”[6]

Ressourcement” is a term associated with those theologians who contributed to the movement known to their detractors as “la Nouvelle Théologie.” They were certainly interested in retrieving the texts of the Great Tradition, especially those of the fathers of the Church: Les Sources Chrétiennes. But their animating concern sought, through the texts, to apprehend anew the true source of the Church’s faith: Jesus Christ himself. Already in 1938 Henri de Lubac wrote in Catholicism: “The whole Christian fact is summed up in Christ—as the Messiah who was to come—who had to be prepared for in history, just as a masterpiece is preceded by a series of sketches; but as ‘the image of the invisible God’ and the ‘firstborn of all creation,’ he is the universal Exemplar.”[7] And , in 1950, Yves Congar wrote this of ressourcement: “It is re-interrogating texts, but something more also, and more essential: it is re-centering upon Christ in his Paschal Mystery.[8]

For some forty years, I have insisted that Vatican II’s premier accomplishment was its re-sourcement: its new realization of Christ as the living Center of its faith and life, its vision and mission.[9] In this regard I  recall another date of particular significance. On September 29, 1963 Pope Paul VI opened the second session of the Vatican Council with these memorable words. “The starting point and the goal [of the Council] is that here and at this very hour we should proclaim Christ to ourselves and to the world around us: Christ our beginning, Christ our life and our guide, Christ our hope and our end.”[10] Paul had succeeded John XXIII the previous June, and the pressing question was whether he would reconvene the Council. His decision to do so was welcomed with joy and hope. In this opening address he charted that Christocentric way that would orient and guide the Council’s labors.

Vatican’s II’s ressourcement sought to know Christ in a new way: to re-discover the Person of Jesus Christ—not only through propositions about him, but by inviting and fostering a personal encounter with him. An encounter that leads not merely to an assent of the mind, but a consent of the heart, and, hence, to transformation of life. And it sought to bring that renewed sense of Christ’s reality and primacy into all facets of the Church’s life and its relation to the world. Indeed, to proclaim Christ as Lumen Gentium. For, as Gaudium et Spes confesses, with lyric exultation: “The Lord is the goal of human history, the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn, the center of the human race, the joy of all hearts and the fulfillment of all desires.”[11]

In his study of the Council John O’Malley, makes the important observation that, “the universal call to holiness” weaves through the documents of the Council like a golden thread. He suggests that such an emphasis is unique in the history of ecumenical councils. O’Malley writes: “Among the recurring themes of the Council expressive of its spirit, the call to holiness is particularly pervasive and particularly important . . . It is the theme that to a large extent imbued the Council with its finality.”[12] Indeed, O’Malley counts this call to holiness a crucial component in what he construes to be Vatican II’s unique “style” (a pastoral, dialogical style), which distinguishes it from all previous councils of the Church.[13]

However, I would stress, more than O’Malley does, that, for the Council, the source and enabler of that call is the holy One: Jesus Christ himself. The call to holiness has, in the mind and heart of the Council, a distinctive Christological foundation. The revelation of the uniqueness of Christ is not primarily a propositional truth for our instruction, but an existential summons to transformation of life according to the image of Christ: being clothed with Christ, taking on the mind of Christ, living life in Christ. Thus, the Council’s call to holiness is an “invitatio in mysterium Christi,” an invitation to enter into the mystery of Christ, and, even more explicitly, an “invitatio ad participandum in mysterium paschale Christi,” an invitation to participate in the paschal mystery of Christ.

Thus, among the attributes of Vatican II’s distinctive style, besides biblical, pastoral and dialogic, suggested by O’Malley, I would add and underscore “mystagogic.” In this regard, chapters one and five of Lumen Gentium, “The Mystery of the Church” and “the Universal Call to Holiness,” are intimately, mystagogically, linked. The call to holiness is the call to appropriate more fully and enter more deeply into the Mystery of Christ who is the Light of the nations.[14]

Thus, it is imperative to highlight a neglected aspect of Vatican II’s achievement. Its employment of the term “paschal mystery.” The term has become so commonplace we fail to attend sufficiently to its innovative appearance and usage at the Council. In an address commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Abbot Jeremy Driscoll noted that Pius XII’s encyclical, Mediator Dei (1947) “did much to prepare the way for Sacrosanctum Concilium; yet, one of the ways of measuring the difference and the progress between the two documents is to note that ‘paschal mystery’ is never mentioned in Mediator Dei.”[15] And the “progress” to which Driscoll alludes is well summed up in the title of a book by Father Dominic Langevin: From Passion to Paschal Mystery.[16]

The book argues that in Pius XII’s treatment of the sacraments “the accent . . . remained singularly and solely upon the Passion of Christ.” Vatican II, however, reaped the fruits of such pioneering work as Louis Bouyer’s Le Mystère pascal (1945) and François-Xavier Durrwell’s La Résurrection du Christ, mystère de salut (1950). The result of such studies, as well as the reform under Pius XII of the Holy Week liturgies (1955), was that “when the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council assembled, they did not find it difficult to affirm that both the Passion and the Resurrection are mutually salvific.”[17]

A salient text is Sacrosanctum Concilium, section 5, where the Council teaches that “the work of human redemption and of the perfect glorification of God” was accomplished by Christ the Lord “especially through the paschal mystery of his blessed passion, his resurrection from the dead and his glorious ascension, by which, dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life.”[18] Thus the “paschal mystery” is both the culmination of Jesus’s life and ministry and the cause of our salvation: his dying destroyed our death, his rising restored our life.

This new realization of the decisive importance of the paschal mystery finds striking reflection in the new liturgical books and celebrations stemming from the Council’s ressourcement. Jeremy Driscoll asserts: “there can be no question that one of the great theological achievements of the Missal of Paul VI is the way in which the paschal mystery emerges with clarity as the center of the liturgical year and, indeed, as the center of every celebration of the Eucharist… In the Missal of Paul VI the word paschal in various of its forms occurs in 120 texts, many of which are repeated numerous times. In the pre-conciliar missal of 1962 it occurs in 17 texts.”[19]

By the late 1980s its appropriation had become so widespread and established that it serves as the organizing principle for the treatment of liturgy and sacraments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Chapter one of Part Two of the Catechism is entitled: “The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church;” and chapter two is: “The Paschal Mystery in the Church’s Sacraments.”

Pastorally and experientially, in the span of a lifetime, we transitioned from a solemn funeral Mass, whose tone was set by the Dies Irae, to a “Mass of the Resurrection” where homily and eulogy (often indistinguishable) sound suspiciously like “Santo subito!” If it was characteristic of pre-conciliar liturgical understanding to concentrate upon the passion and death of the Lord, today paschal mystery seems often reduced to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Thus, it is commonplace to refer simply to the “Easter Triduum,” instead of the fuller “Paschal Triduum.”

A further remark to which I will return to in part three. Though Sacrosanctum Concilium, section 5 helpfully exegetes “paschal mystery” as Christ the Lord’s “blessed passion, his resurrection from the dead and his glorious ascension,” in the post-conciliar Church, the Ascension seems relegated to a refurbished limbo—just as the liturgical feast wanders in search for a place to lay its head.

Nonetheless, Sacrosanctum Concilium can still serve as a beacon as we continue to enter more deeply into the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ, provided we realize and insist that the “participatio plena, conscia, et actuosa” (§14) to which it summons has far less to do with liturgical activism, as with the challenge to transformation. It calls all to a participatio plena, conscia, et actuosa in mysterium paschale Iesu Christi.

Concluding this section, I recall another significant date: October 11, 2012. Providentially, I was again in Saint Peter’s Square for the Mass commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. One of the few others present, who had also been there fifty years before, was Pope Benedict XVI. In his homily Benedict stated that the Council’s deepest desire was “to immerse itself anew in the mystery of Christ” and “to communicate Christ to individuals and to all men and women, in the Church’s pilgrimage in history.” Benedict insisted that both Paul VI and John Paul II had reaffirmed the Council’s conviction that Jesus Christ is “the center of the cosmos and history.” They advanced the Council’s “apostolic imperative to proclaim him to the world . . . For the Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ.”[20]  

II. Misremembering Vatican II

I will abbreviate my remarks in this section, since I have elsewhere lamented and attempted to chart the loss of Vatican II’s Christological ressourcement in many academic and pastoral circles since the Council. I characterize this declension from the robust Christological vision of Vatican II as the case of “the decapitated Body.”[21]

Among other symptoms of this malady I have pointed to a unitarianism of the Spirit in which the names of “Jesus” and “Father” are expurgated; the not so benign neglect accorded Dei Verbum’s affirmation of Christ as both “mediator and fullness of revelation” (DV §2); the soteriological relativism that places a hesitant question mark after the Council’s bold confession of “no other name” (GS §10); the widespread “liturgical horizontalism” (decried by Benedict XVI) in which almost exclusive focus is placed on the community celebrating—often expressed in the reductive slogan: “what’s important is who is around the altar!”[22].

I contend that this concern about Christological amnesia has animated the theological labors of Joseph Ratzinger—from his 1968 Introduction to Christianity,[23] through the statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Dominus Iesus (accorded a frosty reception in many theological circles)[24], to his 2007 volume, Jesus of Nazareth where he calls for a “Christological hermeneutic, which sees Jesus Christ as the key to the whole and learns from him how to understand the Bible as a unity.”[25]

Recently, this concern at the loss of the Christic center spurred the 2021 Lenten sermons of the Preacher of the Papal Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa. He lamented that consideration of the Church often transpires “etsi Christus non daretur!” I leave to the reader’s own discernment this diagnosis of Christological deficit in Church and theology, and the identification of further instances of its corrosive spread.

III. The Paschal Rekindling of the Catholic Imaginary

I will now offer some thoughts which build upon and develop what I have been arguing is crucial to the achievement of the Second Vatican Council: its return to the origin and sustaining source of the Church’s life: Jesus Christ himself. I do so by accenting the importance of two pillars of Christian faith: Ascension and Transfiguration. And, borrowing from Charles Taylor’s use of the notion of the “social imaginary”[26]—that complex network of symbols, images, and concepts that articulate and orient a community’s understanding of reality—I suggest that Ascension and Transfiguration are critical dimensions of a rekindled ecclesial imaginary. Poets, musicians, liturgists, even theologians, must realize (in Newman’s strong sense of “realize”) and re-imagine these two inexhaustible mysteries of the faith. Realize by reimagining.[27]

An essential moment in such realization is to insist, with Sacrosanctum Concilium, section 5 that Christ’s paschal mystery embraces the Ascension: “the paschal mystery of Christ’s blessed passion, his resurrection from the dead and his glorious ascension.” The Ascension is the very telos of the Incarnation. It is not a “postscript” to the life of Christ, but its salvific fulfillment. Ascending, Jesus Christ “opens the gates of heaven.” Indeed, heaven is Christologically constituted. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote, in Introduction to Christianity: “Heaven and the Ascension of Christ are indivisibly connected; it is only this connection that makes clear the Christological, personal, history-centered meaning of the Christian tidings of heaven.”[28]

Christ’s Ascension constitutes a new redeemed order of existence, a re-configuration of space and time, centered around the person of Jesus Christ, which is the present visible order brought to transfigured fulfillment. Moreover, contrary to an impoverished imaginary, which “pictures” the Ascension as Jesus’s absence, almost as though he were on a much deserved “sabbatical,” a deeper perception realizes with Benedict XVI that he “has not ‘gone away,’ but now and forever by God’s own power, he is present with us and for us . . . His going away is in this sense a coming, a new form of closeness, of continuing presence.”[29]

This “continuing presence” of the ascended Lord, is not a static presence, but an active, dynamic one. Christ’s presence is both transcendent and transformative. He is the Head upon whom the Body remains ever dependent for its supernatural life. As Benedict insists in his apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, “Christ himself continues to be present and active in his Church, starting with her vital center which is the Eucharist . . . For the Eucharist is Christ himself who gives himself to us and continually build us up as his body.”[30] Without this sustaining, life-giving presence of its Lord, the body has no life in it. A decapitated body is only a corpse. Paul Griffiths rightly accents this nexus between Ascension and Eucharist:

The principal condition of the possibility of the Eucharist is exactly that Jesus has ascended . . . After the Ascension, his flesh, veiled as bread, and his blood, veiled as wine, can be touched and tasted everywhere and at once, without constraint by the metronome of time or the map and grid of space.[31]

And in the Great Tradition’s vision of reality, the Ascension is the telos not only of the Head, but of the members of his body as well. The Collect for the Mass of the Lord’s Ascension prays: “where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow” (in the terse Latin: “quo processit Gloria Capitis, eo spes vocatur et corporis”).

In the rich Catholic imaginary of a former age, Dante Alighieri launches his pilgrim into the heights of Paradiso by bolding announcing in the very first canto the theme of this concluding portion of his pilgrimage: “trasumanar” (l. 70)—transformation beyond the human. And the final sublime canto of the entire Commedia poeticizes Dante’s transforming vision of the Trinity. To his astonishment the pilgrim discerns that the second of the revolving circles bears human imprint: “la nostra effîge” (l. 131). The graced destiny of the pilgrim/poet’s transfiguring journey is divinization. And the condition for its possibility is the Ascension of the Incarnate Word.

Seven centuries later, Charles Taylor, in a little noticed retrieval, challenges a secular age to recover a sense of theosis. To move beyond merely human flourishing to that “further greater transformation”[32] that breaks through the constricted and ultimately dehumanizing “immanent frame.” It entails a purification of the spiritual senses that enables one to perceive, in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins (whom Taylor invokes in his final chapter “Conversions”) that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God” and that “Christ plays in ten thousand places/ lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/ to the Father, through the features of men’s faces.”

Christ’s Ascension has definitively broken the bounds of the “immanent frame” and inaugurated the new creation of humanity’s transfiguration in the glory of God. As the Collect for the Mass of the Ascension proclaims: “Christ’s Ascension is our exaltation!” The Ascension brings into bold relief the unique Headship of Jesus Christ and founds the new identity of Christians as members of his body. In a rich and stimulating study on the theology of the Ascension, Douglas Farrow:

The Ascension of Jesus is the act by which God in principle—or rather in Person—completes the formation of man and perfects his image in man. In bearing our humanity home to the Father, Jesus brings human nature as such to its true end and to its fullest potential in the Holy Spirit. He causes it to be entirely at one with God, and so become the object and (for other creatures) the mediator of God’s eternal blessing.[33]

That “perfected created image” of the Triune God is not the Head alone, but the Head together with the members, forming the totus Christus, beloved of Augustine. It is the new, supernatural order of redeemed and transfigured relations which is vividly imagined and celebrated in the final chapters of the Book of Revelation.

What “interpretation of reality” is offered by an “ecclesial imaginary,” that sees and confesses Christ’s Ascension as integral to his Paschal Mystery and that sees transfigured humanity as perfected image of its Creator? It is a vision of reality as constitutively relational, of being as communion. Few have realized so fully the generative and transforming power of the Paschal Mystery and its implications for Church and theology as clearly as Louis Bouyer. In his pioneering work, Le Mystère pascal of 1945, Bouyer has a chapter on believers’ oneness in Christ that is as bold as Augustine. Bouyer writes:

By our new and supernatural subsistence in Christ, founded upon the Incarnation and conserved in all of us by the Eucharist, we form a single new being in the body of Christ, or, more profoundly still, in the whole Christ, in the plenitude of Christ . . . New relations are established between us, uniting us indissolubly, since henceforth we all have no longer but a single life—that of Christ in us.[34]

Allow me, in closing, to recall one final date: July 24, 1965, two months before the start of the Council’s last session: the day of my ordination to the priesthood—a priesthood lived in the light of Vatican II’s ressourcement. In preparation for ordination, I had two commemorative cards printed. The first offered a quote from the Letter to the Ephesians:

Christ gifted some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up on the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to that perfect man [eis andra teleion], to the measure of the stature of the fullness [plêrômatos] of Christ” (4: 11–13).

That perfected image of God who is the whole Christ come to fulfillment. On the other hand, the second card displayed a quote from Saint Augustine’s Homilies on the First Letter of John:

The sons of God are the body of the unique Son of God. And since he is the head and we the members, the Son of God is one. Thus he who loves the sons of God loves the Son of God . . . Who are the sons of God? The members of the Son of God. And by loving, she herself becomes a member, and through loving is joined to the body of Christ. And there shall be one Christ, loving himself (X, 3: my translation).

I already intuited then, and am even more convinced now, that a rich Christological ontology is adumbrated here—a joyful and hopeful vision of reality, yearning to be more fully imagined and realized.[35]

[1] For a careful discussion of many aspects of the ecclesial and theological drama of Vatican II, see Jared Wicks, S.J., Investigating Vatican II (Washington, D.C.: CUA:, 2018).

[2] Wicks concurs with this privileging of Dei Verbum. See: Investigating Vatican II, 223–24.

[3] Dei Verbum, no. 2.

[4] John O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 301.

[5] Ibid., 301.

[6] Gaudium et Spes, no. 4.

[7] Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Mankind, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 173-4.

[8] Yves Congar, Vraie et Fausse Réforme dans l’Eglise (Paris: Cerf, 1950), 336 (my translation and emphasis).

[9] See Andrew Meszaros, “Christocentrism in Theology and Evangelization in the Thought of Robert P. Imbelli,” in ed. Andrew Meszaros, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2021), 1–25.

[10] Cited in Matthew Levering, An Introduction to Vatican II as an Ongoing Theological Event (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2017), 1.

[11] Gaudium et spes, no. 45. John Cavadini comments regarding Gaudium et spes: “It is from this perspective of the recapitulation of man, of homo, of the human being, in Christ, that the Church wishes to engage in dialogue with the modern world.” (Church Life Journal March 17, 2021).

[12] John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II, 310.

[13] For O’Malley’s important consideration of “style” as the true “spirit” of the Council, see ibid., 43–52 and 305–308.

[14] Pope Francis captures this Christ-centered mystagogy of the Council in Evangelii Gaudium. He writes, apropos the homily, “preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist” (no. 138). In addition, he calls for a “kerygmatic and mystagogical catechesis,” with special attention paid to the aesthetic, to the “via pulchritudinis” (nos. 163–168).

[15] Jeremy Driscoll, “Reviewing and Recovering Sacrosanctm Concilium, Origins, 43, 29 (December 19, 2013), 479–487, at 486, n. 26.

[16] Dominic M. Langevin, O.P., From Passion to Paschal Mystery (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2015).

[17] Ibid., 370.

[18] In his Memoirs, Louis Bouyer comments somewhat sardonically about the title of his path-breaking book: “Everyone today imagines it was a current expression among the Fathers of the Church and the Middle Ages. In fact, however, as I pointed out to no effect, while Christian Latin does have Paschale sacramentum, it does not have mysterium paschale.The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer, translated with a Preface by John Pepino (Kettering, OH: Angelico, 215), 156.

[19] Driscoll, 483.

[21] Robert P. Imbelli, “No Decapitated Body,” in Nova et Vetera, 18, 3 (Summer 2020), 757–775.

[22] For further elaboration see Andrew Meszaros, ed., The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, 1–25.

[23] See Robert P. Imbelli, “Joseph Ratzinger’s ‘Spiritual Christology’,” in Gift to the Church and World: Fifty Years of Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, ed. John Cavadini and Donald Wallenfang (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2021), 189–212, at 198-199.

[24] See Robert P. Imbelli, “The Reaffirmation of the Christic Center,” in Sic et Non: Encountering Dominus Iesus, ed. Stephen J. Pope and Charles Hefling (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 96–106.

[25] Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York: Doubleday, 2007), xix.

[26] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: HUP), 171-176.

[27] For the importance of the “imagination” in Louis Bouyer’s theological epistemology (as it had been for his fellow Oratorian, John Henry Newman) see Keith Lemna’s study: The Apocalypse of Wisdom: Louis Bouyer’s Theological Recovery of the Cosmos (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico, 2019), chapter one: “Imagination and Wisdom.”

[28] Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 313.

[29] Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 283.

[30] Sacramentum Caritatis, nn. 12 and 14.

[31] Paul Griffiths, Christian Flesh (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018), 51.

[32] Taylor, 737.

[33] Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2011), 122.

[34] Louis Bouyer, The Paschal Mystery, trans Sister Mary Benoit (Chicago, IL: Regnery, 1950), 121.

[35] A significant contribution is Klaus Hemmerle, Theses Towards a Trinitarian Ontology, trans Stephen Churchyard, (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2020. Hemmerle writes concerning “substances:” They . . . “go beyond” themselves “in relation.” “Substance there comes to ‘transubstantiation,’ to ‘communion’” (44).

Featured Image: Second Vatican Council Mass, photo taken by Lothar Wolleh; Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0


Fr. Robert Imbelli

Fr. Robert Imbelli is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and Associate Professor Emeritus at Boston College. He is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination: Theological Meditations for the New Evangelization.

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