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The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom Paperback – June 21, 2003
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The purpose of the Eucharist is "partaking of Christ, who has become our food, our life, our manifestation as the body of Christ" (226). Fr Schmemann orders his thoughts around the anaphora, the movement of ascent into the heavenly places. It is going out from this world into heaven (60). This somewhat explains the intricate symbolism (I know he will shun that word) behind Eastern sacramentology. Fr Schmemann makes numerous, if sometimes vague, criticisms of Western Sacramentology, particularly Catholic transubstantiation. For the East, however, the key moment, if one may use that phrase, is in the *epiklesis,* or the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
Fr Schmemann loosely defines a sacrament as embracing the entire mystery of the salvation of the world and mankind by Christ and in essence the entire content of the Christian faith (217). That is the most important sentence in the book, in my opinion.
This book is much harder to follow than For the Life of the World. He refers to many internal discussions in Eastern Orthodox seminaries, much of which is lost on the outside reader. If he would have briefly defined a few of them, it would have helped out. But no matter, the book was superb and an essential study in liturgical theology. It has many gems within.
As a side note, Fr. Schmemann's recently published Journals are written while he was writing this book. It is interesting to read of his struggles and insights as a companion to The Eucharist.