Sacramentality in the Fathers

JPI 646/865

As we can see in the writings of the New Testament and of the Fathers, the person of Christ was considered to be the fulfillment of the law and of the prophecies given in the Old Testament. Christ’s excessive and unexpected fulfillment of the Old Testament’s expectation of salvation, which is only seen with the eyes of faith, brought forth a typological and symbolical reading of Scripture over against reductionist (e.g. Marcion) and gnostic interpretations of Christ. The Church Fathers’ approach to Scripture and to reality as such aspired to do justice to the historical and bodily dimension of salvation history and the deeply mysterious way in which God’s revelation takes place within history. Importantly, for the Fathers, revelation did not simply mean an intellectual transmission of information, but most of all God’s mysterious, sacramental and nuptial self-gift to human beings, as it can be experienced and participated in the Church’s liturgy and Christian life. In the 20th century, Henri De Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar, among others, made it their goal to recover and develop the sacramental thought of the Fathers, which we can even term a sacramental ontology, and discover its fruitfulness and relevance for today. 


Course Texts for Spring 2022

  • Scripture. Ignatius Press Bible or 2nd edition of RSV (English translation).
  • Ambrose. “The Mysteries.” In Theological and Dogmatic Works. Translated by Roy J. Deferrari. The Fathers of the Church. A New Translation, vol. 44. Washington, DC: CUA Press, 1963, 5-28.
  • (Pseudo-)Cyril of Jerusalem. Lectures on the Christian Sacraments: The Procatechesis and the Five Mystagogical Catecheses Ascribed to St Cyril of Jerusalem. Translated by Maxwell E. Johnson. Popular Patristics Series, n. 57. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Press, 2017.
  • Hunter, David (Transl. and ed.). Marriage in the Early Church. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001.
  • Pitre, Brant. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper. Repr. New York, NY: Image, 2016.
  • Pitre, Brant. Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Repr. New York, NY: Image, 2018.
  • Ratzinger, Joseph. Collected Works. Volume II: Theology of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2014.
  • Course Compendium – available from Cognella

Associated Faculty

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