Sacramental Ontology: Nature and the Supernatural in the Ecclesiology of Henri de Lubac
New Blackfriars 88 (2007): 242–73
This essay argues that for Henri de Lubac, a sacramental ontology provides the link between a Eucharistically based ecclesiology and the issue of the relationship between nature and the supernatural. For de Lubac it is the sacramental order of reality that draws humanity to a deeper participation in the divine life. Maurice Blondel’s substitution of Tradition for the dilemma between extrinsicism and historicism shapes de Lubac’s sacramental ontology. The latter’s concern for the social character of the Church and his opposition to an individualist ecclesiology are key to his understanding of the relationship between the supernatural and the Eucharistic character of the Church. Arguing that Eucharist and Church are mutually constituting, de Lubac wants to counter both extrinsicist and historicist approaches to the Church. For de Lubac, the Eucharist provides an avenue for the mutual interpenetration of nature and the supernatural, thereby overcoming the dualism between extrinsicism and historicism. It is through the sacramental means of Christ, the Church, and the Eucharist, that God is present in the world. This presence means for de Lubac neither an acceptance of the State on its own terms nor an exaggerated spiritu- alist critique of Constantinianism.