John Chrysostom, Theologian of the Eucharist
Despite the fact that John Chrysostom wrote more on the Eucharist than any other Greek Church Father, there has never been a full treatment of his doctrine in English. In this book, Kenneth Howell brings together a wide array of sources from which he develops a many-sided portrait of Chrysostom's eucharistic thought. While the Antiochene preacher assumed the real presence and the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, he focused more on the moral and spiritual implications of communion. At the root of his theology lies the conviction that the Eucharist with its home in the liturgy is the extension of Christ's incarnate life through space and time. All that Christ accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection is present and available to the communing Christian who stands in union with the angelic hosts in the liturgy of the church. John's preaching at times reaches encomiastic proportions as he never tires of praising the benefits and power of the Eucharist and he deftly applies the sacrament to the struggle of virtue and vice as he explores both the invitation and the obstacles to communion. Among the moral implications of the Eucharist, John seems to distinguish well between sins arising from human weakness versus malicious dispositions freely chosen. He is especially keen to exhort his hearers to lay aside the remembrance of evil (mnesikakia) done to them in their past lives. Humility and forbearance are two essential virtues in arriving at forgiveness of past injuries. And lack of forgiveness is like greed in that both constitute a turn in on oneself. The Eucharist demands love of neighbor and active ministry to the less fortunate of the world. For John, God is interested in golden souls more than golden chalices.
About the Author
Kenneth J. Howell is Academic Director of the Eucharist Project and President of the Pontifical Studies Foundation.
"Howell provides a significant contribution to scholarship on Chrysostom and on the early Church's teaching on the Eucharist in a way that benefits disciplines in the academy (e.g., patristics, sacramental theology) and also is admirably accessible to general audiences of Christians from both East and West."—Andrew Hofer, OP, author of The Power of Patristic Preaching: The Word in Our Flesh
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