The Catholic University of America

Rejimon Varghese Defense

Final Examination of Rejimon Varghese

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Friday, April 13, 2012 2:30 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Kevin W. Irwin, S.T.D.


“Active Participation of the Local Church in the Enactment of the Eucharist in the Thought of Edward J. Kilmartin”

This study investigates the pneumatological-Christological understanding of active eucharistic participation as articulated by the twentieth-century American theologian Edward J.  Kilmartin, S. J. 

Based on a Trinitarian model of theology in connection with the insight gained from the ancient eucharistic prayers (participation in the transitus of Jesus to the Father), Kilmartin develops the notion of interior participation as emphasized by the Fathers at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).  He thus provides a “theological” approach to the “full, conscious, and active” participation as succinctly articulated by the Fathers at the Council.

The participation by believers in the covenantal relationship with God, in and through the eucharistic celebration, necessarily involves a union with Christ.  Kilmartin explains this union by establishing a strong pneumatological connection between Christ and believers resulting from the bestowal model of the Trinity.  This union with Christ in the Spirit allows Kilmartin to demonstrate a parallel between Jesus’ life of faith and the life of faith required of believers.  It is the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sends to his Church, which is represented by the liturgical assembly (the ordained priest and the believers) in the eucharistic celebration, that becomes the Spirit of the Church.  This Spirit enables the liturgical assembly to participate fully in the mind of Christ through appropriating the sacrificial attitudes of Christ.

With Kilmartin’s description of participation in “the Spirit of the faith of Christ” which this study explores and presents, a better understanding of the notion of active participation in the Eucharist can be attained in response to Vatican II exhortations as outlined in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium.  Furthermore, Kilmartin’s comprehensive theological treatment of the subject grounded in the Trinitarian model is capable of including the various elements of active participation of Y. Congar, F. McManus, M. Collins, and J. Lamberts as treated in this study.  This dissertation, therefore, argues that Kilmartin has made a significant contribution to the notion of active eucharistic participation in the post-Vatican II era.