WEDDING FEAST OF THE LAMB. Eucharistic Theology from a Historical, Biblical, and Systematic Perspective. By Roch A. Kereszty (Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60622, 2004), 270 pp. HB $35.00.
Since Pope John Paul II has declared 2005 to be the year of the Holy Eucharist, this new book by Fr. Kereszty will help its readers to enter into the spirit of the celebration and also to understand better the theology and liturgy of the Eucharist.
The book has four parts. The first part deals with the idea and practice of sacrifice in the world religions. Then it examines the idea and practice of sacrifice in the Old Testament. The purpose here is to get a clear idea of sacrifice and to see how it can be applied to the Eucharist as understood in the Catholic tradition.
In the second part the author studies the presentation of the Eucharist in the New Testament in the four Gospels, in St. Paul, in the Letter to the Hebrews, and in the Book of Revelation.
The third part examines Eucharistic theology in history, with a special emphasis on the Greek and Latin Fathers, the scholastics in the Middle Ages, and developments from the Council of Trent to Vatican II.
The fourth and last part offers a systematic presentation of the Eucharist as the sacrament of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Mass. There are also three appendixes and a list of study questions for students.
In the Preface Fr. Kereszty says that the book is intended for graduate students, but that it also has much to offer the careful reader. In the first paragraph he offers the following summary of the book: “The Eucharist indeed is the Truth: it reveals to us the final goal of creation and cosmic history, which is the wedding feast of the Lamb, the crucified and risen Bridegroom, who gives himself to his Bride, the Church, and calls forth her loving response of pure gift” (p. vii).
The author’s goal is to present “a comprehensive view of the mystery of the Eucharist” (ibid). In the process he shows how “the Eucharist is God’s response to the universal human quest for the right relationship to the Sacred” (p. viii). Also, he does not ignore the important dimension of sacrifice in the Eucharist. Before Vatican II a very common expression was “the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” Fr. Kereszty defines sacrifice as “our symbolic self‑donation to God that, in turn, is rooted in God’s self‑donation to us” (ibid).
Throughout the book the author takes pain to relate Eucharistic doctrine to the liturgy of the Church and also to personal spirituality.
During the past thirty years many books have been published, coming from Catholic authors and claiming to be Catholic, that have failed to present the real teaching of the Church on this sublime mystery of the Holy Eucharist. This book offers a profound, authentically Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, which is in conformity with our great tradition and also makes use of the best of recent studies on the “sacrament of sacraments.” An excellent way to enter into the spirit of the Year of the Eucharist would be to purchase this book and read it carefully. The reader will find it immensely rewarding.
Kenneth Baker, S.J.