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Cardinal Ratzinger’s “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament”

In “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament,” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger analyses how Eucharistic theology led to the emergence of the tabernacle in the second millennium. The chapter reveals how spiritual development in the understanding of the Eucharist manifested through changes in language structure and forms of thought. The chapter, divisible into three sections, discusses the true meaning and goal of the Eucharist, the relationship between the Tabernacle and the Art of Covenant, and the link between Communion and Adoration.

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In the first part, Ratzinger dissects the linguistic variation between the Fathers of the early Middle Ages and those in contemporary society regarding the meaning of the Eucharist. In the early Middle Ages, the Fathers believed, as expressed in Henri de Lubac’s crucial finding, that the Eucharist’s sole objective is to transform and unite a person with Christ, both physically and spiritually. Intuitively, the only way humans, in all their inequities, can qualify as a living temple of God, is to be embodied in Jesus through the Sacrament, hence the twin terms “corpus mysticum” and “corpus verum” (Ratzinger 86). The former describes Christ’s corporeal presence in the Sacrament whereas the latter denotes the status one acquires – becoming the real body of Christ – upon consuming the Sacrament.

Ratzinger then shifts his focus to the implications of linguistic variations and changes in forms of thought that reversed the meanings of the twin terms. The reversal was such that later Liturgical theology recognized the Sacrament as the corpus verum and the Church as corpus mysticum. In Ratzinger’s view, the linguistic change represents a spiritual development. The Blessed Sacrament, he argues, “contains dynamism” aimed at epitomizing the unity of the risen Body by transforming “[humans] and the world into the New Heaven and New Earth” (87). He reiterates that “Eucharistic personalism” is bigger than an individual; its purpose is to facilitate overcoming barriers between humans and God. In this sense, it reaffirms the essence of faith: that man lives forever in the “consecrated species” (89). Moreover, it impels the need to make a proper place for such an everlasting “Presence” – the Tabernacle (89). Ratzinger concludes that the Tabernacle is not just a replacement for the Ark of Covenant, but also a fulfillment of its true meaning.

Ratzinger concludes this chapter with a rebuttal to critics opining that communion and adoration are incompatible. He contends that the two aspects are complementary and equally permissible. He expressly states that communion cannot reach its true meaning unless it is supported and surrounded by adoration (90). That is, the Eucharist Presence in the tabernacle calls for celebration and reverence; whatever facilitates Eucharistic fulfillment should not be viewed as antagonistic. Ratzinger also demonstrates the conviction that this “Presence” revitalizes the church through the presence of the Lord, which is summoned through celebration to guide and qualify humans as participants in the cosmic Eucharist.

In conclusion, Cardinal Ratzinger in “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament” discusses how Liturgical Theology in the first century yielded the Tabernacle. He explores controversies in the language and thought processes regarding the meaning of the Eucharist, focusing on the concepts of corpus mysticum and corpus verum. He concludes that the Tabernacle is man’s everlasting dwelling place, a holy space he occupies only in the consecrated body after becoming one with Christ by consuming the adoration-deserving Holy Communion.

Work Cited

Ratzinger, Joseph C. “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.” The Spirit of the Liturgy. Translated by John Saward, San Francisco, Ca, Ignatius Press, 2017.

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StudyCorgi. "Cardinal Ratzinger’s “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament”." October 13, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/cardinal-ratzingers-the-reservation-of-the-blessed-sacrament/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Cardinal Ratzinger’s “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament”." October 13, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/cardinal-ratzingers-the-reservation-of-the-blessed-sacrament/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Cardinal Ratzinger’s “The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament”'. 13 October.

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