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Document Details :

Title: Nieuwe paden in een oude tuin
Subtitle: Sacramentele theologie en antropologie
Author(s): HILKERT, Mary Catherine
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 50    Issue: 1   Date: 2010   
Pages: 108-122
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.50.1.3203429

Abstract :
Tracing the shifts in Schillebeeckx’s sacramental theology and theological anthropology, the author argues that the conviction that the created world constitutes the widest arena in which human persons can encounter God (extra mundum nulla salus) permeated Schillebeeckx’s writings from the time of his dissertation to his final unfinished manuscript on the sacraments. In his writings before the Second Vatican Council, notably Christ, the Sacrament of the Encounter with God, Schillebeeckx drew on the resources of existential phenomenology to highlight the sacramental principle that the mystery of God can be encountered by bodily human persons only through the mediation of historical, embodied, and created realities. In the mid 1960s Schillebeeckx recast his sacramental vision in response to the radical secularization, which was pervasive in Western Europe and the USA Death-of-God movement. Christian hope could be ‘verified’, Schillebeeckx suggested, only by liberating activity on behalf of the kingdom of God. That activity constituted a form of ‘secular worship’, which was sustained and empowered by the grace of God. Explicit faith was necessary, however, to perceive and celebrate the religious depth dimension at work in the secular realm. For Christians, that faith is formed, nurtured and sustained by participation in explicit sacramental celebrations (‘church liturgy’). Because worship is a human activity that exceeds the boundaries of rational, utilitarian, productive, and technocratic views of what it means to be human, Schillebeeckx argued that liturgy reminds us that human identity is not finally secular. In the face of radical and dehumanizing suffering on a global scale and ecclesial structures which failed to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council, Schillebeeckx later described sacramental celebrations less as ‘anticipatory signs’ of the reign of God, and more as ritual metaphors which are meant to interrupt the story of the dominant culture by enacting the alternative vision of human life embodied by Jesus. If Schillebeeckx’s earlier writings stressed the anthropological and existential meaning of the sacraments, his later writings emphasized the critical impact of sacramental celebrations of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and their power to transform human and ecclesial life. That living remembrance of Jesus — ‘distilled to ritual’ in the sacraments — is the source of hope for an alternative future as well as an interruption and prophetic critique of all that falls short of the vision of the reign of God which he embodied and preached.

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