||<p>Eucharistic sacrifice is both a doctrine of the church and a sacramental practice.
Doctrinally, it explains in what manner the sacrament is a sacrifice, or at least
its sacrificial dimension; liturgically, it refers to the offering that is made in
the church's celebration of the eucharist, that is, who and what is offered and by
whom. Since the Reformation, Catholics and Protestants have been divided over of
eucharistic sacrifice, and for most of its history after the death of the Wesleys,
Methodism somewhat uncritically followed in the Protestant tradition. Now, after
four decades of productive ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Methodists seek to discern
the points of convergence and divergence between them on this controversial doctrine.
In short, where do Catholics and Methodists agree and disagree on eucharistic sacrifice?
This dissertation is a work of systematic theology that draws from the insights of
several related fields: liturgical theology, historical theology, sacramental theology,
ecclesiology, and ecumenism. An investigation into what Catholics and Methodists
have shared with each other to date in ecumenical dialogue serves to elucidate the
state of affairs between the two churches. The traditioning voices of Thomas Aquinas
and John Wesley provide instances of detailed teaching on eucharistic sacrifice.
Aquinas' theology has continued to inform Catholic teaching, while Wesley's was largely
forgotten in nineteenth century Methodism. His theology of eucharistic sacrifice
anticipates significantly the convergence that the liturgical and ecumenical movements
have achieved on this topic through their attention to the theology of the early church,
yet only a handful of contemporary Methodist theologians have explored Wesley's theology
of eucharistic sacrifice in detail, and fewer still from an ecumenical perspective.
In recent decades, Catholic and Methodist churches have circulated official teaching
on eucharistic sacrifice and made significant revisions to their eucharistic liturgies.
An analysis of these texts demonstrates how each church currently articulates its
doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice and celebrates it sacramentally. The analysis also
allows for an assessment of the current degree of convergence between the two churches
on eucharistic sacrifice. The conclusion is that, first, Methodism has begun to recover
a strong doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice, and greater attention to its Wesleyan
heritage can only strengthen it further. Second, the two churches share more on eucharistic
sacrifice than is frequently appreciated; indeed, Methodism should recognize in Catholicism
a doctrine and a liturgy with which it can fully agree. Third, eucharistic sacrifice
necessitates a clearly-formulated ecclesiology, which is a topic in the dialogues
where Catholics can continue to prompt Methodists for deeper reflection. Convergence
on eucharistic sacrifice, if recognized by both churches, would constitute a significant
step forward on the path to full communion between them.</p>