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Liturgical Press

Eucharist as Meaning

Critical Metaphysics and Contemporary Sacramental Theology

Joseph C. Mudd

Eucharist as Meaning
Eucharist as Meaning

ISBN: 9780814682210, 8221

Details: 270 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 06/26/2014

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This study moves beyond postmodern trends in Catholic eucharistic theology by exploring the works of Bernard Lonergan and Louis-Marie Chauvet: "Having learned from both Chauvet's critique of metaphysics and Lonergan's development of a critical metaphysics, we hope to offer a fruitful understanding of traditional eucharistic doctrines that is able to respond to some contemporary problems and shed some light on the great mystery that stands at the center of Christian worship" (from the introduction).

Postmodern theologians have been critical of using metaphysics to interpret the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, liturgical sacrifice, and sacramental causality, preferring instead a symbolic approach. Lonergan's critical metaphysics, however, offers an account of knowing and being that resists attempts to pit metaphysics against the symbolic and moves sacramental theology into the real world of meaning. The result is a theology of the Eucharist grounded in tradition that speaks to today's believers.

Joseph C. Mudd is assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University. He holds a PhD from Boston College in systematic theology. His work brings the methods of Bernard Lonergan into conversation with questions in contemporary sacramental theology.


"Mudd's challenging book, with its patient and focused scholarship deserves attention by Lonergan scholars and sacramental theologians alike."
Jonathan Martin Ciraulo, Theological Studies

In this book, Joseph Mudd brings the insights of Bernard Lonergan to bear on the field of sacramental theology, providing an appreciative but important critique of the significant achievement of French theologian Louis-Marie Chauvet. Responding to both old and new questions in that field, Mudd's work is satisfying and challenging. This book will more than repay the efforts of those who open its pages again and again.
Timothy Brunk, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology, Villanova University

This book heralds a major step forward in sacramental theology and especially in the theology of the Eucharist. Mudd deftly proposes that the critical realism of Bernard Lonergan, opening on an ontology of meaning, enables an integration of the best of such hermeneutical approaches as that of Chauvet with a correct understanding of the metaphysical proposals of Aquinas. The dialogical and irenic approach that critiques Chauvet's work in the context of basic appreciation is exemplary.
Robert M. Doran, Marquette University

"All those interested in the work of Bernard Lonergan should put this book on their reading‐list. I cannot recommend this book too highly to all those interested in Lonergan, and to all those interested in Eucharistic theology."
Raymond Moloney, S.J., Milltown Studies

"Highly recommended to liturgical and systematic theologians who mediate between religion and culture. It may inspire them to purse necessary doctrinal clarifications regarding the mysteries of faith in the context of contemporary cultures."
Louvain Studies

Mudd offers a transposition of doctrines stated in metaphysical categories into categories of meaning that allow us to retain the truth of statements while developing a fruitful analogical understanding of their meaning. . . . He writes well and makes a good argument against Chauvet's attempt to do the same thing he is doing: claiming that the medieval categories associated with transubstantiation, sacrifice, and presence make no sense to postmodern philosophers, theologians, or people in general. Although he never says is such a claim means that the continual use of these categories are a lie to the true doctrine because no one understands them in their original meanings. If my interpretation of this statement is correct then one of the central acts of every Christian Sunday Eucharist is done without traditional meaning. There is a great deal of work to be done by theologians and catechists to argue over this traditional meaning and how to convey it to each oth er and the non-specialists in its original context.
Nathan R. Kollar, Catholic Books Review

"This may be the most significant work of eucharistic theology in English produced in the last twenty years."
John F. Baldovin, SJ, Worship

"In this book Mudd engages the theology of Chauvet and Lonergan to assess the way forward for the contemporary sacramental theology looking specifically at the Eucharist. It contains very good insight as it challenges one to reflect on the contemporary understanding of the Eucharistic celebration in our daily lives."
Emmanuel Ndlovu CMM, St Joseph's Theological Institute, Cedara

Joseph Mudd carefully works with Bernard Lonergan's epistemology and metaphysics to achieve what the Jesuit foundational theologian only outlined with regard to eucharistic theology. The results should make for welcomed reading among Lonergan scholars and all concerned with philosophically grounding the fundamentals of Christian belief and practice.
Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, Vanderbilt University