The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist

Synopsis

Emmanuel Falque's The Wedding Feast of the Lamb represents a turning point in his thought. Here, Falque links philosophy and theology in an original fashion that allows us to see the full effect of theology's "backlash" against philosophy.By attending closely to the incarnation and the eucharist, Falque develops a new concept of the body and of love: By avoiding the common mistake of "angelism" - consciousness without body - Falque considers the depths to which our humanity reflects animality, or body without consciousness. He showsthe continued relevance of the question "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52), especially to philosophy.We need to question the meaning of "this is my body" in "a way that responds to the needs of our time" (Vatican II). Because of the ways that "Hoc est corpus meum" has shaped our culture and our modernity, this is a problem both for religious belief and for culture.

Excerpt

It is only a step—but what an important step—from the altarpiece of the Last Judgment (c.1446–1452), by Rogier van der Weyden in the Hospices de Beaune, to the Ghent altarpiece in Saint Bavo Cathedral (c.1430–1432), with its depiction of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. The first of these altarpieces is addressed to the sick and dying, and shows them the hope of resurrection, as the crust of the Earth is broken open by the bodies of the resurrected rising from the dead. A weighty topic is made even more serious here, as I tried first to describe in one book (Le Passeur de Gethsémani [The guide to Gethsemane]) and then to develop in another (The Metamorphosis of Finitude). The Resurrected One, taking on the form of a passeur, or guide, and showing a way or a “passage through,” assumes responsibility for the blocked horizon of our existence, which he then transforms. That is what the polyptych of the Last Judgment taught us: what remained was to conceptualize it. And so in the introduction to Metamorphosis I discussed the “Beaune altarpiece or the germination of the resurrected.”

The second altarpiece (Figure 1), that of the Van Eyck brothers at Ghent (the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb), is addressed to the faithful and to communicants. It draws the eye of the spectator to a sacrificial lamb, a kind of setting for the consecrated Host, which is waiting to appear. As the last book of the Bible proclaims in a kind of beatitude echoed through the liturgy, “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb [Beati, qui ad coenam nuptiarum Agni vocati sunt]” (Rev. 19:9).

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