Zizioulas ( The Eucharistic Communion and the World ) argues that in the thirteenth century, the earlier bonds between Eucharist and church were broken: “With the help of subtle distinctions used by thescholastic theologians of that time, the terms body of Christ, body ofthe Church, and body of the Eucharist ceased to be identical” (102).
The scholastic distinctions are useful, and do the opposite of what Zizioulas supposes.
The individual body of Christ, after all, is distinct both from the community and the bread, and the scholastics’ intention was not to separate but to integrate.Instead of sundering church and Eucharist, the notion of the “triple body” held Christology, ecclesiology, and Eucharist together in a complex unity.
Zizioulas is on safer ground when he laments the “”appearance of a sacramental theology independentof both christology and ecclesiology,” which “led to a disjunction betweenEucharist and ecclesiology and to a conception of the Eucharist as onesacrament among many. Thus, the Eucharist was no longer identified withthe Church; it became a means of grace something assisting the faithfulin their spiritual life, which was no longer regarded as manifestingthe total body of the Church. As a result eucharistic celebrations couldbecome private something unheard of in the early Church andthe sole presence of a presbyter, in the absence of the other orders ofthe Church, was regarded as sufficient for a valid Eucharist. Churchand Eucharist were thus gradually dissociated from each other both intheory and in practice” (102).
Zizioulas recognizes the advances of the Reformation in restoring communion to the laity, but notes that the infrequency of communion resulted in a perpetuation of late medieval Eucharistic instincts: Against the intentions of the Reformers, the “Reformation weakened even further the already loose link betweenEucharist and ecclesiology” (102).