Monday, May 18, 2020

If Jesus presides at the meal, can baptised followers be excluded?

So, a couple of weeks ago, a focus on the current Pandemic phenomenon of online eucharists.

This week, still with Eucharistic questions, but much longer standing ones.

Thomas O’Loughlin is professor of historical theology at the University of Nottingham, UK and (relevant knowledge here) a Catholic.

Recently he wrote Eating Together Becoming One: Taking Up Pope Francis’s Call to Theologians (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press Academic, 2019. I can't remember who brought it to my attention first, but it may have been Bosco Peters here.

His thesis is this: the Catholic church should stop excluding baptised (non-Catholic) Christians from sharing in the Mass.

The provocation for writing was something Pope Francis said in November 2015 when a woman, Anke de Bernardinis, in a Lutheran Church he was visiting in Germany - as part of the 500 years anniversary of Luther's publication of the 95 theses - asked him about inter-communion in the context of a marriage of a Catholic (her husband) and a non-Catholic (herself). (Somewhat cleverly) Pope Francis said that this was something for the theologians to deal with.

A critical part of what he said was this (cited by O'Loughlin, p. 16):

"Instead on the journey, I wonder - and I don't know how to answer, but I make your question my own - I wonder: Is the sharing of the Lord's Supper the end of a journey or the viaticum [food for the journey] to journey together? I leave the question to the theologians, to those who understand."

Note that Francis is not attending to what the theologians have generally said about the rules of the Mass, the reasons why Catholics can communicate and non-Catholics cannot, and so forth. He is posing a new challenge to Catholic theologians - yes to other theologians but the nature of this question is that Catholic theologians' answers are the ones that will shift the weight of Catholic opinion. That new challenge is whether the Lord's Supper or Mass is being correctly understood in respect of discipleship - in other words,

"an invitation to Catholics to imagine the eucharist in a rather unfamiliar way. The key question is now: How would intercommunion help all of us as we live our lives?" (p.17)

So what O'Loughlin sets out to do is to answer the Pope's question and he doesn't see many other writings yet on the matter.

The edge to his discussion is that Anke de Bernardinis question is a real question of practical import in many families lives (to say nothing of, e.g., ecumenical relationships between churches so we can always sing Evensong together but never break bread together). It would be really good to have a change on this matter which normally - on the basis of what established practice governed by rules permits/prohibits - is shut down pretty quickly whenever intercommunion is raised.

The essential argument O'Loughlin mounts - each chapter taking up a different angle on the argument - is that it is against one of the most widely shared rules of humanity to have people in one's house when a meal is being served and denying some from sharing it. (And, conversely, for a Catholic in a non-Catholic church to refuse to partake in the meal offered there is also an infringement of this rule.) That is, "The Grammar of Meals" (Chapter 2) means,

"If I am the presider, and so acting as the host at the table, then I must make everyone present welcome and ensure that those who might see themselves as strangers or visitors know that this is a place of human sharing. Good human manners means that I must assume everyone present will want to eat and drink at the table. I have not spotted them coming into the meal, so now, by virtue of the grammar of meals, I cannot refuse to let them eat. If I am one of those at the meal and see it as a meal of my church, then I should be watchful for the guests and help them feel welcome." (29)

Of course, attractive though the core argument is, and challenging too (effectively he is saying Catholics should be embarrassed by this exclusionary approach), O'Loughlin really needs to deal with some standard reasoning for exclusion of non-Catholics at the Lord's Table. This he does. But does he do it effectively?

In my experience the main "standard" re reasons for exclusion is that a non-Catholic going forward to receive might not believe what Catholics believe about the eucharist. O'Loughlin makes a great case for pointing out that (i) Catholic priests do not actually quiz every Catholic communicant as to what they believe about the eucharist (and if they did they might get a surprise at the diversity of belief) and (ii) even Catholics do not keep up with the ever changing subtleties of Catholic theology through the centuries. Nevertheless I think this is a weak point in the series of arguments because the reality (it seems to me) is that if perchance there were doctrinal examination at the door of the church before Mass, then pretty quickly doctrinal uniformity would be achieved: it is not as though Catholics are averse to following a prescribed line, witness following recent changes to the creed. (That Catholics might not follow a prescribed line on, say, contraception is not - in my experience of Catholicism - any kind of evidence that doctrinal lines on creedal and liturgical matters would not be uniformly followed).

Much stronger is O'Loughlin's finish to this particular chapter where he makes the necessary point that doctrinal differences (say, between presiding priest and visiting non-Catholic) should not constrain eucharistic hospitality:

"Paul studied the activity in Corinth and then drew out the significance of what they were actually doing, compared it with their vision of who they were as disciples, and then instructed them to do it properly. Paul reformed not their doctrine but their practice. The core of the paradosis is the bodily memory of what we do together, not what we declare to be what we deem to be the best explication of what we do (doctrine). It is always worth recalling that the words we so venerate liturgically from the gospels regarding the eucharist are a command, in the plural, to do something: touto poeite (Luke 22:19); and it is followed by a second command to action: phagete (Matt 26:26). It is not a command to believe this oo have this or  hold this or look upon this." It is sobering to notice that Paul does not see the proclamation of the mystery of faith as a matter of words, as often in contemporary Catholic liturgy, but in the activity of eating and drinking together: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (1 Cor 11:26)."

On this count, it is the eating and drinking together, rather than the doctrine to which any of the participants subscribe, that constitutes the reality of the mystery. This experience can then be examined for its meaning for the individuals and the group, and its implicit theology explored. Therefore, assuming that someone is willing to eat and drink at a Catholic celebration of the eucharist, is there any basis for excluding them because of difference in doctrine?" (pp. 138-139)

There is much, much more to the book than these few observations and citations. For example, and "of course," he reflects on the meaning of being baptised Christians willing to meet together. And, it is not a long book, 157 pages plus bibliography and indices.

In the end - and I know I am biased towards O'Loughlin's thesis - I like his argument and supporting arguments very much. I am convinced by them but I don't need much convincing and, to coin a phrase (not), it is not me he needs to convince!

Postscript: I could not help but do some reflecting while reading this book on the question of "Zoom eucharists." On the one hand, O'Loughlin implicitly mounts a strong case for my principal affirmation of meeting together physically for eucharist: it is a meal! On the other hand, to specify that the eucharist is a meal (with a grammar re hospitality and a case that the "doing" of the meal is more important than the "believing" about the meaning of the meal) is a form of doctrine. This is borne out by those of us who do not think "Zoom eucharists" can be an endorsed eucharist of the church: we could not teach that this can be so. In other words, there are doctrinal minima for even the most open of eucharists to occur and these minima, ironically at this time in history, preclude some forms of eucharist.


Anonymous said...

No, Tablet--

--not really a breakthrough. But yes, interesting.

Decades ago, Geoffrey Rowell (CoE, Europe) discussed Anglican orders with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. He describes that conversation in the book mentioned at the link above.

About Leo XIII's unfortunate misunderstanding, his future successor said that there was nothing that could be done about the papal words. He suggested however that the matter could be seen in a different way.

Well then, what of the validity of Anglican eucharists? After all, notwithstanding Leo's words, Paul VI had given his own archepiscopal ring to Michael Ramsay (see below). Ratzinger slyly replied by affirming their validity in Calvin's interpretation of the Lord's presence. That is, the conditions of order having been met, the communing faithful are caught up to heaven and there are truly fed.


Anonymous said...

From the National Catholic Reporter--

When Paul VI famously gave his ring to the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, on March 24, 1966, there were no TV cameras to record the event, no photographers standing by. That’s a pity, because the exchange marked one of the most moving chapters in the modern ecumenical drama.

Anglican Fr. John Andrew, however, was one of two witnesses to the exchange, and on Oct. 4 he told NCR the full story.

The night before, on March 23, Paul VI had dispatched a member of the papal household to the English College on Via Monserrato to find Andrew, who was then Ramsey’s private secretary. The pope wanted to give the ring he had worn as cardinal-archbishop of Milan to Ramsey, the messenger said. He wanted to know if the archbishop should be forewarned, or should it be a surprise?

Andrew consulted another aide, and both agreed: let it be a surprise.

The next morning, Pope Paul and Archbishop Ramsey led an ecumenical liturgy in Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul’s-outside-the Walls. In telling symbolism, they entered side-by-side and sat on the same level, close to each other. They also signed a “Common Declaration,” affirming their desire that “all those Christians who belong to these two communions may be animated by these same sentiments of respect, esteem and fraternal love.”

After the ceremony was over, Paul VI pulled Ramsey aside to show him some frescoes on an interior wall of the basilica. As Ramsey gazed up, Paul asked him, in his rather accented English, to remove his ring. Ramsey didn’t understand, so he turned to Andrew, who said: “Take off your ring.”

Ramsey did, handing it to Andrew.

Paul VI then took Ramsey’s right hand and placed the green-and-gold ring, with a cross in the center and four diamonds around it, on his finger. Ramsey paused a moment, allowing the significance of the gesture to sink in: the Bishop of Rome was, in effect, recognizing him as a fellow member of the episcopate, and in some sense the church he led as a “sister” to the church of Rome.

Ramsey burst into tears. Paul reached out and embraced him, and for a moment, the two men stood in one another’s arms, almost alone within the immense basilica.

Ramsey then said his tearful farewell to Paul. Andrew suddenly realized that he had a protocol problem, because he too had to take his leave of the pope, who now had no ring to kiss. Andrew knelt, gathered both papal hands, and kissed them. Paul then put his hands on Andrew’s cheeks, gently lifting him to a standing position, and bade him goodbye.

Ramsey wore Paul’s ring for the rest of his life. It subsequently became the property of Lambeth Palace in Canterbury, and it is the custom of archbishops of Canterbury to wear the ring when they visit the pope.

Two footnotes to the story.

First, on the night of the 24th, Paul VI’s messenger once again appeared at Andrew’s door at the English College. “The pope found the box for his ring,” the messenger said, “and asked that I bring it to you.”

Andrew’s response was unhesitating.

“I know my archbishop will wear that ring until the day he dies,” Andrew said. “He’ll never need this box, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep it.”

The messenger smiled.

“That’s what the pope thought,” he said. “That’s why he had me bring it to you.”

Second, Andrew, who is now retired after serving as rector of St. Thomas Anglican Church in New York, had never met Rowan Williams, the current archbishop of Canterbury, prior to his Oct. 3-5 visit to Rome. They two men greeted each other at a reception at Doria Pamphili Palace, where Andrew recounted this story for Williams. He then asked to see the ring, which Williams had put on for the first time for his visit to John Paul II.

Andrew kissed the ring.

“That’s for my dear Michael,” he told Williams.


Father Ron said...

Dear Bowman, Thanks for your reminder of the significance of the Pope's amazing gift to Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of his 'Fisherman's Ring' - a potent sign of co-leadership of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is only one of many 'happenings' that have signified a deeper commonality of Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders than might be understood by many people. For instance:

I remember being present in the Anglo-Catholic Church of All Saints, Margaret St., in the heart of London, on a Patronal Festival in the early 1970s. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster was present seated in a side entrance to the sanctuary 'virtually presiding' at the service of Evensong and Benediction, conducted by the Vicar, Fr. Michael Marshall. The Cardinal preached on our common understanding of the 'Real Presence of Christ - in the Mass and at His Solemn Worship in the Office of Benediction. (Benediction, for those who do not know of this particular devotion in the Catholic Church, is an opportunity for people to offer devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in Tabernacle or Monstrance).

Thinking, Peter, on the subject of this thread, I believe that the real issue of the difference between the Anglican and Roman Catholic understanding of the Eucharist lies in the matter of acceptance of the validity of Holy Orders. However! in this newly-discovered (for me) article in CathNews(NZ), the author - a Roman Catholic Lay Theologian - questions the whole theory of separation between clergy and laity when it comes to the celebration of the Sacraments. He questions why only the clergy are able to preside at the Eucharist, when Scripture speaks (through Saint Paul) of the 'Priesthood of all believers' (the Laity). He is questioning whether a person needs ordination to be able to preside at a Eucharistic Celebration. If this theologian's thesis were to have been allowed authentication during the recent lockdown, perhaps things might have been rather different. (Food for Thought, everyone?)

Here is the link:

Anonymous said...


"[A lay Catholic] questions why only the clergy are able to preside at the Eucharist, when Scripture speaks (through Saint Paul) of the 'Priesthood of all believers' (the Laity). He is questioning whether a person needs ordination to be able to preside at a Eucharistic Celebration."

When I say on occasion that it is time to add a few articles to the 10 --> 42 --> 39, this is one of the several befuddlements that I have in mind. Of course, there can be quibbling until the end of time, but the core truth is not much disputed. See even Ratzinger at the link above. But ignorance of it is a perennial nuisance. The revealed reality will not sink into most minds until it is defined as, literally, articles of faith. Let's try-- and then criticise-- a rough first draft of the Missing Articles.


"God is known as he reveals himself in the scriptures, old and new. As is seen in them, Christ by his whole Spirit-filled body performs both gospel sacraments and all his visible words as a holy nation in every place. These acts do not return to him empty for they are means of the Father's determination to restore all creatures to his holy will.


"God is known as he reveals himself in the scriptures, old and new. As is seen in them, he from time to time uses laws and liturgies to accomplish his will in time. They display his nature and organize creatures to accomplish what he has described in the scriptures as a whole. They are rightly interpreted and applied when they serve his eternal will, and not otherwise."


"God is known as he reveals himself in the scriptures, old and new. As was foretold by the prophets, he gives his Spirit to all those in the Lord Jesus. By so doing, he has chosen and called them as a holy nation to bear witness to his love in the world, and to intercede for all creatures as a royal priesthood bringing their praise and thanksgiving to God.


"God is known as he reveals himself in the scriptures, old and new. As is seen in them, he revealed himself to the people of the land of Israel through persons he set apart, and likewise speaks to his people in the body of Christ through persons properly ordained in his name. His revelation to Israel would have been incomplete without prophets, judges, kings, and other men of the Lord in the midst of the people; his illumination of the church would not be complete without the proper ministries of bishops, priests, and deacons in congregations of the Spirit-filled faithful.

"Each order has a part to play in the whole. Following the ancient canons, bishops supply the want of any order by ordaining persons to it or by licensing persons from another order to complete its work."


Father Ron said...

Bowman gave this quotation:

"Each order has a part to play in the whole. Following the ancient canons, bishops supply the want of any order by ordaining persons to it or by licensing persons from another order to complete its work."

Does this mean, Bowman, that it could be at the discretion of the local bishop - if necessary, in a time of priestly famine - to 'license persons from another order to celebrate the Eucharist?

This provision would certainly bring a new understanding of the need for total dependence on the priestly Order to confect the Eucharist.

(This could mean that the Sydney Diocese is ahead of all of us - in the matter of Lay Celebration of The Eucharist. EXCEPT THAT, knowing Sydney's problems with women priests; they would omit women from the company of the Baptized who could be licensed for this purpose).

Anonymous said...

Postscript-- At the risk of annoying you, dear readers, I have insisted on working from the apostolic witness toward an answer to the question rather than pasting together a collage of modern opinions and churchways. Most befuddlements arise when a (post)modern tribe has dropped the chain that anchored it in the story of Jesus-in-Israel. When that happens, perfectly intelligent tribesmen know what counts around their campfires as Catholic or Reformed, but are much less sure and clear about being in the Messiah.

As Bryden will point out-- soon I hope-- my title promises more than my comment delivers. Ideas in the draft articles above do belong in the bridge that would connect the original 10A to the rest of the 39, but they are not the whole of it.

Partly for that reason, I have not tried to fit them into the sequence of the present 39.


Anonymous said...

"Does this mean, Bowman, that it could be at the discretion of the local bishop - if necessary, in a time of priestly famine - to 'license persons from another order to celebrate the Eucharist?"

Yes. In principle, the bishop is anyway the normal celebrant of a local eucharist, so the ancient practice of presbyteral consecration has all along been such a delegation. Moreover, bishops already delegate eucharistic celebrations using the presanctified gifts to deacons in tiny parishes and missions, and even to licensed layfolk visiting shut-ins. The point is not that bishop-magic is better than other magic, but that the bishop is the figure of unity in a rite for which God commands unity as participation in the gospel. This is very simple.

"This provision would certainly bring a new understanding of the need for total dependence on the priestly Order to confect the Eucharist."

Yes, although that understanding came almost two millennia ago. At first, deacons conveyed presanctified gifts from the bishop's altar to the eleven or so stational churches in Rome where presbyters were presumably presiding. Then, with the new understanding, presbyters canonically able to concelebrate with the bishop were permitted to consecrate fresh batches of the gifts in the churches to which they were sent, but not elsewhere. That is the essence of today's practice.

"This could mean that the Sydney Diocese is ahead of all of us in the matter of Lay Celebration of The Eucharist."

Probably not. Even in extreme lockdown, it is hard to envision a situation in which neither presanctified gifts nor a presbyter would be available. Remember the other ancient tradition in which the pre-sanctified bread was even distributed to all communicants for mid-week reception. Prima facie, Sydney's innovation appears to be a solution in search of a problem, and perhaps a befuddlement among those mentioned in my 7:11.

The thread through the whole tradition East and West is that somehow the whole Body in a place is partaking of one communion, either because the gifts were sanctified in a single batch by the bishop, or else because the celebrant in each place was delegated from the bishop's central concelebration. The early insistence that the bishop's celebration is the one in which everyone in town in fact participates is analogous to other ancient canons that permit only one celebration per altar per day, etc.

These appear to have a firm scriptural warrant at the bottom of them: conserve the visible unity of the Body in that place. And that warrant reflects the Lord's work on the cross, sealing a new covenant sanctifying, not the Promised Land, but a united Body. If one is in the new covenant, one should obey its implementing canons.


Father Ron said...

Thank you, Bowman, for your latest comments.

I understand this matter of which you write. When I was Vicar of Orewa, with 4 separate congregations to minister to and a plethora of nursing homes in the parish, we petitioned our Local Auckland bishop, Archbishop Paul Reeves (of Blessed Memory), to license particular lay-people to distribute Holy Communion to parishioners in the Rest Homes. This he was pleased to do, aware of the fact that it would be impossible for me to get around to all the Rest Homes - as well as the sick of the parish. On the days of visitation, the licensed Lay-people/person would gather with me at the Daily Mass and, after receiving H.C. themselves would carry the Sacrament to those in rest homes and other places, using a form of 'Extended Communion' with prayers and Readings for assembled groups - and a shorter form for individual communicants. This was a wonderful resource for the parish, once occasioning comment from 'Head Office' questioning the large numbers of communicants in that place.

My rationale for this extension of the Eucharist was that it enabled more than those at the Daily and Sunday Eucharist to receive the enabling power of Christ in the form Jesus prescribed as needful for our spiritual and bodily health and the gift of eternal life.

We also kept (with Abp. Paul's express permission) the 'Reserved Sacrament' in 2 of our churches in order to allow instant access for communicants in times of emergencies. The churches were kept open in order for people to pray in the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament that Jesus, Himself, ordained for our material and spiritual welfare These churches became places where people were wont to say their prayers, feeling they were special places for reflection and grace.

Later, in retirement, while doing a locum in the Parish of Wanaka, we obtained the local Bishop's permission for the Blessed Sacrament to be 'reserved' in 2 of the 3 churches there, for special emergency dispensation to the sick and housebound. We also used the ministry of licensed laity to take the sacrament to rest homes in the area.

(I'm aware of the 39As' prohibition of using the Blessed Sacrament as the subject of adoration, which is one reason I have a problem with this particular regulation of the Reformatory Documents. I feel that the Presence of Christ and the sanctuary lamp denoting the sacramental grace gives a certain authenticity to a sacred space).

Jonathan said...

I came across this today, from James Alison: Much debate about communion seems to spring from the importance (or not) of doing things in a particularly Anglican (or denominational) way: hence, as I understand it, an Anglican communion presided over by a Presbyterian, is not an Anglican communion even if it is consistent with Scripture. On the other hand, everything is fitting to be done in its own proper order, and so denominations and congregations are entitled to do many things in their own distinctive way, and to insist that that is the way it is done. The thinking seems to be well established that the faults of the presbyter in administering communion are no theoretical impediment to it being truly received (they may have a practical impact obviously); whether there is room for the intent of a recipient to genuinely receive the sacrament when it is not received in an authorised process seems to be being more energetically discussed. Having said that, I have not missed receiving communion recently; what I have missed is being together with others. The most helpful point of connection with the wider church has come on walks during lockdown where connections have been made (albeit in a careful manner); individual phone or zoom calls; group zoom get-togethers; and in personal prayer, elements of the liturgy, to which Jame Alison alludes in his site. In particular, the Collect for Purity, the Gloria, and the Lord's Prayer.

Anonymous said...

" This was a wonderful resource for the parish, once occasioning comment from 'Head Office' questioning the large numbers of communicants in that place."

Very droll, Father Ron, but very heartwarming too! All of your comment was a pleasure to read, and reminds us that in today's churches-- as in those of the (sub)apostolic generations-- the facts on the ground are never as tidy as our templates for them.

Some early bishop in Rome must have faced the problem that dispatching a deacon to lug the gifts through a tenement neighborhood to a martyr's tomb simply could not carry enough to decently communicate everyone there. In the 1970s, a bishop of Western North Carolina fully loading up the car of a deacon serving a small mountain parish drily remarked that, in the unpleasant event of a fatal crash, there was no doubt where his soul would go.

So then, if a bishop faced with a shortage can either license or ordain to supply it, how does that choice get made? Even if mere prudence is the guide, it it is not obvious which option is safest.

A license expires, but a volunteer is unpaid and thinly trained; a deacon is forever, but usually only for a year. As + + Paul may have experienced with your lay eucharistic ministers, this dilemma can settle into a layman doing the work of "the inferior office" for years without the pay, training, and ordination that the work is due. That is a problem that has a well-known solution-- ordination to a perpetual diaconate-- to which nobody much objects, but which few bishops here up yonder actually choose. The scandal is not that unworthy persons are at the altar, but that the Holy Spirit is being mocked when worthy persons needed there are not being ordained.

That may be the point of the innovation in Sydney. If one is always hesitating to ordain persons doing work that is usually graced by ordination, then letting them celebrate in their own right as laymen arguably has more integrity. The community they serve will be more stably supplied, and they will not be disparaged for having magic too weak for the job. But of course this raises the question: why then is ordination normally required and conferred for the same work? More interesting than the innovation itself is that, for good reasons or bad ones or both, it has not spread elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

"Much debate about communion seems to spring from the importance (or not) of doing things in a particularly Anglican (or denominational) way: hence, as I understand it, an Anglican communion presided over by a Presbyterian, is not an Anglican communion even if it is consistent with Scripture. On the other hand, everything is fitting to be done in its own proper order, and so denominations and congregations are entitled to do many things in their own distinctive way, and to insist that that is the way it is done."

This is an interesting time, Jonathan, in which the emergency is revealing what people who do not usually talk much about liturgics understand about the eucharist. Unsurprisingly, many do, as you say, rely on denominational lore. The committed liturgists from whom we hear more often usually give that much less weight. The basic contrast that I see does not follow denominational boundaries.

For some, "eucharist" (< Greek, thanksgiving) is a recent, fancy word for what they really care about-- communion, communion, communion. They are as likely to be Anglican as say Presbyterian or Methodist or Catholic. Not to belittle them, their focus is very much on the piety of modern individuals who do not see themselves as part of any grander drama in the cosmos. Reading them, I get the impression that they like their denominations precisely as relatable workaday institutions bound by well-promulgated rules.

For others, "eucharist" is the ancient and more accurate word for a rite in which God's people intercede in behalf of the creation through the present Christ. These too are as likely to be Anglican as anything else. Of course they like receiving communion, but they see that as only part of the rite-- a part sometimes omitted-- and understand the presence in the Cup to be about more than personal reception for the remission of sins. They are seem more comfortable with the thought of doing something "with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven," and write about rites as real through time apart from anything that confessions or synods may try to say about them.

To me, this contrast echos another one in biblical scholarship.

Some see Jesus as abandoning the communal emphasis of prior Judaism for a new religion that was open to the Gentiles because it was about the salvation of individuals. Those of that mind can be conservative or liberal, confessional or existentialist. They may not quite end up with a Religion of Me, but they unapologetically start with the predicament of the solitary soul before God. To most people we know, this is the familiar brand.

Others see Jesus as broadening Judaism beyond the limitations of life in the Promised Land. To them, he in no way repudiates the Jews or even much reforms Judaism, but he does enable God's people to incorporate Gentiles, not as law-abiding inhabitants of the Land, but as transforming members of the family of Abraham, and heirs of its calling in the cosmos. These too can be conservative or liberal, but they are too communal to be confessional and too personalist to be existentialist. To most people we know, this is a newer brand.

Whether the topic is liturgical or biblical, they pass like ships in the night.


Anonymous said...

"I'm aware of the 39As' prohibition of using the Blessed Sacrament as the subject of adoration, which is one reason I have a problem with this particular regulation of the Reformatory Documents. I feel that the Presence of Christ and the sanctuary lamp denoting the sacramental grace gives a certain authenticity to a sacred space."

Father Ron, some have opined that the 39A are prohibiting only devotion to the sensible appearance of the host (eg in a pyx), not the consolation of the Lord's presence (eg in an aumbry, or indeed in the chalice). Does this make better sense to you?


Father Ron said...

Dear Bowman, In my maturing of Faith over 90 years in this naughty world, I regard the Celebration of the Eucharist as a key point in our earthly worship of the Triune God - the Real Presence of Jesus being the incarnated focus for our human sharing in the 'esse' of God-made-flesh. Christ in the Eucharist is both the focus and the means of our earthly union with God - to be 'worshipped and adored' but also (in the act of Holy Common-union) to become one in and with us, for the sake of the Whole Creation of which we humans are a part - 'imago Dei' by our coherence with Jesus - and in our intercession, helping to bring the cosmos back to its Creator God.

I believe there are 2 vital aspects that make up our common worship: 1, Adoration; 2, Intercession. These are necessary elements in our understanding of God's pre-eminence and power to redeem our lives. I believe that these two elements are most fully present when there is a visible and tangible sign of Christ's Presence among us. For me, the experience of 'Holy Hour' or 'Benediction' - is precisely what it says - an hour with Christ in the Sacrament of his provision.

Partaking of The Eucharist enables a tangible and faith-building experience of "Christ in us; the Hope of Glory" - an experience that has no equal in its physical and spiritual benefits which Jesus said was necessary for his disciples, in order to participate in a taste of eternal life in the here and now of our earthly existence. (Jesus said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day"). There will be no sacraments in the courts of heaven, we will then already be fully 'en Christo'.

"...some have opined that the 39A are prohibiting only devotion to the sensible appearance of the host (eg in a pyx), not the consolation of the Lord's presence (eg in an aumbry, or indeed in the chalice). Does this make better sense to you?"

In response to your question here, Bryden: I love the testimony of John when he speaks of his experience of the phenomenon of Jesus at the Transfiguration: 'That which we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes; that we have watched and touched with our hands: the Word, who is life - this is our subject. That life was made visible!'. This recognizes, I believe, one of the most important of the senses (sight) by which we can recognize 'Christ among us'.

It seems to me, Bryden, that the forbidding of the vision of Christ in the monstrance might be a bit like asking the congregation not to raise their eyes in devotion at the Elevation on the Host in the Mass. If we worship Jesus at the altar, why not worship him in the monstrance? But then, that's me. I am more in need of the sensory experience of the glory of God, perhaps, than some.

Father Ron said...

Dear Bowman. I mistakenly attributed a paragraph written by you in your previous comment to our colleague Bryden. Apologies to you both (Ron).
"God has gone up with trumpet sound, Alleluia!" - antiphon for The Ascension.

Jean said...

Apologies for using your blog for this Peter. Bowman in a previous thread you asked for an article reference. I have been somewhat preoccupied of late so this is somewhat late but for good measure here it is:
All the best

Anonymous said...

"I'm aware of the 39As' prohibition of using the Blessed Sacrament as the subject of adoration, which is one reason I have a problem with this particular regulation of the Reformatory Documents."

Father Ron, it would be selfish of me to say more without thanking you for an enjoyable and important discussion that is very appropriate to the week and the reality of the Ascension.

Articles XXVIII and XXIX each pose an interesting conundrum.

What happens if "the nature of a Sacrament" itself, rather than a belief in the elements' magical physical change, is what occasions reserving, carrying, lifting up, and at least venerating? That after all is what happened; Keble, Newman, and Pusey were not rogue chemists. Nor is the high sacramental practice of Lutherans and some Reformed based on an Aristotelian account of matter.

And if prior faith-- an especially laborious kind of cognition-- is required for the remission of sins in communion, then how is this condition squared with the Reformation's core idea (Article XI) that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone apart from works? Or the thought that God does not lie to believers who trust his promises when his ministers communicate them? Is a person whose mind is too limited to follow any of this wicked?

Anonymous said...

To my mind, it has always been clear that the reformers were trying to restore the Church of England to some happier time before scholastic innovations of the high middle ages had made a muddle of the sacraments and thereby obscured the centrality of Christ. Whether the first century, the fourth, or the tenth was thought happiest depends on the reformer. But anyway, uprooting transubstantiation was a logical step for all of them. Alas, a single-minded focus on that campaign in the articles led to the puzzles that later generations have tried to solve.

Early in my life, I was lucky to see that the mind of Christ is more directly expressed in the Book of Common Prayer, and that the dogmatic articles point to a path through what is perplexing or unclear in the pastoral articles. Over time, reading the articles by that heuristic tugs one, not quite to confessional Lutheranism, but away from certain Reformed distinctives and back to the broad original Protestant via media that we know as Anglicanism.

Do the articles then have any intrinsic authority? Obviously, an opinion club with a bag of marbles soteriology can adopt any group think that they want-- and can then swap spouses, drink poison, or run off a cliff as they please. This rootless and arbitrary power is what I hear you denying to the articles.

But the articles were never meant to be fascistic. And anyway the vine of grapes soteriology of the Prayerbook requires an authority that is not merely from the will of men or institutions but is rather an organic expression of the Holy Spirit's gifts. If even the sacred scriptures are not read apart from the time of the incarnation of the Lord, how can we read later documents as something brought on golden tablets by angels with swords? We can not, and so we do not.

But what I notice where the articles are deprecated is a disoriented rootlessness that frightens authority-reliant folk into following dangerous fascists. My generation here up yonder were raised with the notion that there is something deplorable about people who are too stuck on laws and leaders to adapt their thinking to the quotidian flux. But Jesus did not deplore them; he saved them. And he provided them with organic guidance through the power of the keys (St Matthew xvi 18-19, St John xx 22-23). We are Christ-like when we respect God's wisdom in making people as they intrinsically are.

With very good intentions, no doubt, the Way Forward working group lacked this wisdom. Had they just plodded through the articles with a degree of respect for the centuries of experience behind them, they would have been saved from the embarrassing idea that scarcely any Protestant marriage is valid for want of a sacrament that they themselves had just invented. Such prudence would have not required a leap of faith, or a willingness to give up iPhones and dress like the Tudors, just patience to understand the ideas that have, after all, made even the most progressive Anglicans who they are. The schism down there might still have happened, but if the high ground of tradition had not been ceded to it, would as many have left? Do those who remain know where they stand?

So yes, we have our treasure in earthen vessels. And under the apostolic canon, the 39A have never had the weight of the creed, the ecumenical councils, or even the grand C16 confessions of the Lutherans, the Reformed, and Rome. Like most opinion in religion, they are more right in what they affirm than in what they deny. But if the usual remedy for a shallow idea is a deeper one, there is a certain advantage in that very lack of pretension. Without forgetting who they are, Anglicans who know the articles have been more responsive than most communions to the whole witness of the Spirit in the pilgrim Church.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Jean! The article is more timely than when you first mentioned it.

The reporter seems to be pressing an idea, familiar to chaplains everywhere, that, because human nature recognizes some words and gestures as holy apart from religious convention, the sacred if not God himself can still be acknowledged in the most secular settings.

Father Ron seems to me to have made a similar point in comments like this one-- "I feel that the Presence of Christ and the sanctuary lamp denoting the sacramental grace gives a certain authenticity to a sacred space." A church is not secular, of course, but I take his point to be that an aumbrey or presence lamp make religious sense without religious explanation or warrant.

And Jewish in Christchurch alludes to this in yet a third way when she describes a sacred rite jumping the fence between religions. Worldwide, such syncretism is surprisingly common.

PS-- Obviously + Peter approved your post of tBe link, and I am glad that he did. But if you had preferred to bypass the blog, he would likely have relayed it to me or just given you my email address. Thanks again. Ascensiontide blessings.


Bryden Black said...

Firstly, two citations ala Bowman: “Whether the topic is liturgical or biblical, they pass as ships in the night” (May 20, 2020 @ 10:55 pm); and, the entire scope of May 23, 2020 @ 5:09 am, centred around the seminal phrase “but is rather an organic expression of the Holy Spirit’s gifts” ... [to conclude] which better enable “Anglicans who know the Articles [to] have been more responsive than most communions to the whole witness of the Spirit in the pilgrim Church.”

And so to finally conclude: people will be divided about the book that excites this thread and will reach their respective contrasting conclusions probably via what they already “understand about the Eucharist” (May 20, 2020 @10:55 pm, again).

The merits therefore perhaps of Peter’s bringing this book by Thomas O’Loughlin to a wider audience, given the weird time of a global plague of C-19 as a context and its Zooming impact, is just this: we each and all need to answer this question - which direction is your (sing/plur) Eucharistic ship sailing in?! And answers to this question will centre around and derive from ideas re the triune divine economy and so soteriology/atonement, and thereafter the vision cast by the likes of the Letter to the Ephesians (more than likely; not least, as The Windsor Report succinctly employed it, and all that that was seeking to address as well - I’ve not lost sight of all the talk here on ADU about the Articles!).

And at this point I declare a recent encounter with an article from the International Journal of Systematic Theology, 21/4 October 2019, “Reconceiving the Boundaries of Home: The ‘Oikology’ of Ephesians”, by Susannah Ticciati. Her proposals about being and being-in, and the significance she necessarily attaches to the seminal Pauline expression “in Christ”, and the fact that the Letter also incorporates the most expansive form of the NT Catechism we have in the full Biblical corpus—all this, together with my own insistence that the two dominical sacraments are indeed as I portray them in both God’s Address and The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb, subverts not only O’Loughlin’s answer to Pope Francis’ question, but also forces a yet more radical ecumenical agenda upon the churches of the 21st C. For this agenda unites indeed, as Ticciati rightly observes via a close reading of the Greek text of Ephesians, an appreciation of BOTH the oikonomia/economy AND ecology, all combined, as all the descendants of Abraham duly inherit/are duly set to inherit the world (Romans 4).

So folks: Which direction is your (sing/plur) Eucharistic ship sailing in?! NB the context, as ever!

Jean said...

Chaplains definitely seem to find themselves on the coalface of living out faith in the public square...!
Take Care BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
I fear that this brain of small bear, and perhaps other readers here, needs to ask for about one sentence more from you ... how does your take on the Dominican Sacraments subvert O’Loughlin’s response to the Pope?

Anonymous said...

Jean, this is a relative hotspot for the plague, but I am content to be a hermit. Thank you for your courtesy; I only type BW because I learned from Bryden how to be lazy with names ;-) I hope that your winter down under is more enjoyable than our summer up here is going to be. Bowman

Peter, I would be the second to admit that I have never been perfectly fluent in Brydenian. But while it is possible that Bryden also dislikes O'Loughlin's proposal for open communion (not, as I understand your OP, the inter-communion that most of us have favoured here), I suspect that he more directly objects that O'Loughlin's wedge between catholic belief and hospitable practice unacceptably reduces oblation to the Son in the Trinity to a kindly distribution of vitamins.

In the terms of my reply to Jonathan on 5/20 at 10:55, O'Loughlin could seem to be sailing, eucharistically and perhaps scripturally too, in the familiar hull of a certain modern individualism. Sometimes it is liberal and sometimes reactionary, but it always sets its bearings away from the more cosmic narrative that I keep pinning to Romans 4-8 and that Bryden's Ticciati finds in Ephesians. That is not a good direction for the largest religious body on the planet.

There is nothing wrong with caring about interfaith couples or others stressed by the granular individualism of postmodern life. But if we also care in the Lord about schisms, pandemics, unjust economies, societal divisions, and ecological catastrophes, then we want a eucharistic teaching and celebration that resonate with the whole pauline gospel, not just the consolation for conscientious individuals that was so urgent five centuries ago in western Europe.

On the blessed isles, this problem may seem more theoretical than real. But here up yonder, people have died because some churches have been so keen to supply that individualistic solace to close-packed gatherings of hundreds that they could find no religious reason of their own to care that they are spreading the plague. And even on the blessed isles you may have some who hear that there is such a thing as climate change, and understand that it is bad a bad thing, but cannot quite see why the rising seas would be a religious matter for Christians.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I would prefer discussion of O’Loughlin’s proposal not to get mixed up in implications re response to pandemics! (There are implications but the response to this pandemic is bringing together interesting constellations of theological interests etc and this is a complex discussion in its own right.)

I do see in his proposals some need for further work, e.g. is he focused on either occasional individuals turning up to Mass, or a few regular individuals such as the woman who questioned the Pope, or is he arguing that whole groups of non-Catholics could turn up (e.g. for a “Church Unity” Sunday) and expect hospitality.

But I don’t think worrying about Western individualism colliding with Catholic group identity and the preservation of doctrine tempered through two millennia of development is the key issue in the woman’s question and in O’Loughlin’s response. He is not, for example, asking for any words of the Mass to be changed to enable visitors to feel more welcome (e.g. for their beliefs to be “catered” for).

Anyway, I would be interested in Bryden’s response!

Bryden Black said...

Of course Peter I’ve not read this book and so I am entirely reliant on your exegesis - as are most of us I suspect ...

“The essential argument O'Loughlin mounts - each chapter taking up a different angle on the argument - is that it is against one of the most widely shared rules of humanity ...”, namely, “the grammar of meals.” To refuse full participation is a no-no of hospitality.

Then, to repeat his possible “much stronger finish”, he homes in on the business of practice as opposed to doctrine—as if this were at all possible. For while he correctly highlights the “doings” of discipleship (or their opposites), I’d quietly wish to remind him - and us all - of the other word, “this”: DO THIS ... do this with THIS bread, THIS cup!

That is, while he might have a serious point to make about meals in general, that’s possibly not the real point. For it’s THIS meal’s essential significance which we must address. Read again Ex 12 & 13 in their entirety (which I’ve just done). Then amplify that with the likes of Brant Pitre’s work, and - voila! [See “Online worship” thread, 5 May onwards, re Zoom Eucharists.]

May I suggest you missed the point of my entire comment. For the answer to the question about which direction your practice of the Eucharist is going in, only emerges via what you deem to be this Meal’s SIGNIFICANCE. Your doings with This Bread and This Cup are not mere meals. The Tradition conveys both a practice and its meaning; and that meaning is both grammatical and substantive - if you’ll excuse the pun.

Much as I’d LONG FOR FULL INTERCOMMUNION among ALL Christian types, O’Loughlin’s suggestion alone as to how this might be achieved and why fails at just this point of This Meal’s Meaning. Our tragic bind, due to the Church’s collective journey - or should that be the churches’ various journeys! - may not be undone only through his approach. More might be achieved if we were to orientate ourselves towards (directions again!) the position that the Eucharist makes the Church. In which case indeed the Meal becomes “food for the journey”, viaticum, as we collectively journey towards the vision of Church declared in Ephesians. Just so, this is where my comment comes in ... perhaps! And amusingly, BW’s latest, via pandemics, sea levels, and all, also directly comes in ...! For “economy” and “ecology” are directly implicated in that Ephesian vision of Church and its realisation. Not least in the realisation of those two glorious prayers, 1:15ff & 3:14ff. Now; where have we heard these couched in that way before ...? Amen!

Anonymous said...

"On the one hand, O'Loughlin implicitly mounts a strong case for my principal affirmation of meeting together physically for eucharist: it is a meal! On the other hand, to specify that the eucharist is a meal (with a grammar re hospitality and a case that the "doing" of the meal is more important than the "believing" about the meaning of the meal) is a form of doctrine."

I have meals "by myself" every day. They haven't ceased to be meals for lack of (human) company - and all my meals are in the prayerfully acknowledged presence and company of Christ. Have you forbidden clergy from celebrating communion on their "own"? Like many, I followed the Easter communion led by Stu Crosson. Why do many stumble at this? Can they really articulate their objection? I suspect "western" Anglicanism (in its liberal catholic form) is still beholden to Scholastic Juridicalism, the unreformed and unbiblical ideas of western Catholicism, sc. that it is through Physical Contact with the hands of the Episcopally ordained sacrificing Priest (Manual Acts with legally prescribed words) that the bread and wine *become* the Body and Blood of Christ, a physical, localised presence under the species of bread and wine. This is still the dominant thought for many, though it is explicitly repudiated by the Thirty Nine Articles and the BCP, and it explains why ideas like 'Communion by Extension' had a hold in the past 50 years or so - the notion that *this* particular bread and wine is 'real', a bit like a legally authorised medical prescription: they have been "prepared" by the correct hands, using the correct words. This is the real reason that rules out zoom eucharists - the wrong person is handling the bread and wine.
Where is the theological critique of this Scholastic Juridicalism?


Anonymous said...

"But while it is possible that Bryden also dislikes O'Loughlin's proposal for open communion (not, as I understand your OP, the inter-communion that most of us have favoured here)..."

"Much as I’d LONG FOR FULL INTERCOMMUNION among ALL Christian types..."

Apart from the word "types," that sounds like open communion.

"...I suspect that he more directly objects that O'Loughlin's wedge between catholic belief and hospitable practice unacceptably reduces oblation to the Son in the Trinity to a kindly distribution of vitamins."

"More might be achieved if we were to orientate ourselves towards (directions again!) the position that the Eucharist makes the Church. In which case indeed the Meal becomes “food for the journey”, viaticum, as we collectively journey towards the vision of Church declared in Ephesians."

Oikos, oikos. The eucharist is for pilgrims journeying home.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi James
Well if scholastic juridicalism is driving things, then please critique it.
My questions concern the order of the church (we order things this way and not that) and the theological significance of the eucharist as an event-with-words-and-meaning in the life of the church (is it the kind of event which permits of a Zoom eucharist or not?) and also this, I am part of a church with more questions than these.

The order of our (ACANZP) church means any change to the first is a matter for General Synod, and the second is a matter of discussion (e.g. here, but in many places these days_, while the third is a matter of working out what beliefs we respect and honour and thus do not act preremptorily.

In short, Stu may have been right in what he did, may be giving a lead for where ACANZP will end up; but currently he is not under the authority of ACANZP so I have no criticism of what he has done and assume it has been allowed for by CCANZ whose authority he is under.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden and Bowman
Your last comment about viaticum etc is precisely Francis' point and also O'Loughlin's ... so there seems to be some important agreement!!

"Significance of the Meal" ... Neither O'Loughlin nor myself would want to say either that the meal has no significance (no "This"!) or that there is not some binding point (i.e. baptism). I see O'Loughlin's case and my support of it as being support for an open, welcoming table for followers of Jesus who at least agree on this significance, this meal is spiritual food, and who agree to disagree on other aspects of the meal's significance.

I guess - at risk again of being said to miss your point, Bryden - that I am still not clear whether the eucharist can be a shared meal between Christians who disagree on its significance?

However I do thank you for what you have elaborated upon above!

Bryden Black said...

A final response in light of yours now Peter @ May 24, 2020 at 10:00 PM

I still wish to say this: We each and all need to answer this most basic question - which direction is your (sing/plur) Eucharistic ship sailing in? More of why below ...

For if all we can say, for any open kind of Eucharistic participation ala O’L, is that “this meal is spiritual food”, and thereafter we may “agree to disagree on other aspects of the meal’s significance”, then we are most probably back to those critics of the 1970s re ARCIC and the like, who were claiming that, if all this ecumenical indaba stuff was capable of producing was a mere LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) form of theology and practice, then it just won’t do! Now; while that claim was and is a bit strong, the sentiment is probably right - IMHO. It’s no way forward, after all the journeys of the churches down the centuries, to foreclose a deeper theological probing by opting for easy LCD solutions.

Just so, the basic question above. For Bowman has most helpfully put his finger on how and why many a debate around these matters becomes just like passing ships in the night. For we are actually missing the deeper differences by using seemingly similar language.

Sorry folks! While I would dearly love our ecumenical Eucharistic practice to become more open - for reasons most personal as well as theological and spiritual (can anyone actually rend asunder these dimensions?!) - I do honestly sense we’ve a way to go, as we need to engage far more deeply with our basic differences. And my question I also sense helps us to progress in this direction (in light of BW’s comments earlier) ...

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
To be clear: by "spiritual food" I mean SPIRITUAL food (John 6, 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, the full riches of the Christian tradition brought to bear on our desire for nourishment that we might attain to the fullness in Christ.)

To also be (or attempt to be) clear: O'Loughlin is NOT talking about (and Pope Francis is not talking about) a quest for a eucharistic theology which unites us at the table, with all the obvious fraughtness that this becomes an LCD theology - thin gruel etc etc. NO!

We are talking here about whether (say) an Anglican (with the full richness of Anglican eucharistic theology close at hand) might be made welcome at the table of the Lord in a Catholic context (with the full richness etc etc) ...

Now, I respect and would not attempt to dissuade you further if you are arguing for a unitive eucharistic theology (highest common denominator etc) before we come together at that Table ... that is a common approach across an interesting set of churches! (And, arguing, as in your last paragraph, that there are other theological agenda to pursue, etc etc.)

But, please don't be put off O'Loughlin by thoughts that this involves diluting theology to the point where the new wine has become ordinary water.

Rather, a more basic thought: in our theological dialogues, is sharing the eucharist off the Table because it could only occur at the end of all dialogues and only if certain agreements are reached, or is it the Table wherein we are nourished for our journeying towards the End?

Bryden Black said...

“The full riches of the Christian tradition” - is that by any chance therefore a nudge in the direction of either or both East and West? More of this below ...

“On our desire for nourishment” - is this by innuendo a reference for individuals to assuage their ‘thirst’ and get their own “vitamin” (albeit spiritual) 'fix' (ala BW), and thus the key focus of 16th C debates (again ala BW) ...? Which may of course but probably mostly doesn’t lead to ...

“that we might attain to the fullness in Christ” - is this a full blown acknowledgement of that view of the Eucharist which has front and centre the Offering of (a renewed) creation, including creation’s human apex in the divine Image, by the Representative Offerer, Jesus our Great High Priest, in whom and with whom and through whom in the power of the Holy Spirit, the whole of the Rite enables the gathered company to participate in? ... Generated from the prior Gift of Himself, the Incarnate One, the Fulsome Giver of all good gifts, so that we humans, as the original Adamic priests of God in the divine Image, may be restored to that due role of bringing the Divine Glory into the theatre of God’s creation, ala Eph 3:19b (in the context of the entire Letter of course; to say NOTHING of Rev 21-22!) - all of course (sic) on the basis of a due Epiclesis unto the Father’s Glory ... Though still with a concluding ...???

[Echoes of TF Torrance and A Schmemann ...]

From which I’m spelling out how the use of similar language might nonetheless display rather different understandings, and termini, of differing Eucharistic sailing ships ...! Which may or may not of course imply a LCD scenario ... It just all depends ...

PS: O’L probably has some further matters to explore I sense from all you’ve said ... We shall see!
PPS: "... only certain [as in some, key] agreements are reached", I sense, due to precisely BW's and my frequent reference to "ships", thus establishing at least some disambiguation ...!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bryden
In part O’L’s point is simply that a well informed/formed Anglican (e.g. yourself) should not be refused the Sacrament by a well informed/formed Roman priest, just because you and he do not agree on how exactly the Sacrament nourishes each of you!

Anonymous said...

Peter: five questions for clarification in response to your response: it the case, then, that the ACANZP forbids communion by the priest alone (as the Thirty-Nine Articles do)?
2. if so, why?
3. Is it the case that the ACANZP forbids 'zoom eucharists'?
4. if so, why? Is it because it insists that the bread and wine consumed must be physically handled by the celebrant to be "valid"?
5. In such a case, what does "valid" mean? (I mean other than 'That's just the way we do it', which is an institutional answer, not a theological one. I am trying to find the theological basis for Anglican practice and rules because it may be a long, long time - if ever - before some older and immune-compromised people are ever back in church.)


Anonymous said...

"Why, yes, [use customer name here], I hear your concern! Please let me assure you that we at the APP understand and care about your individual freedom of choice. In our communion service, your same will-- the one that chooses [name customer's disintegrative behaviour here]-- can unite through the Holy Spirit with the One in whom all creatures coinhere to the glory of the Father! And you yourself won't be changed by doing that at all. God forgives everything! And we know that what you choose is between you and yourself-- none of our business! So you see, there's nothing for you to worry about here at the APP. And please, take a minute to like us on all your social media. It helps us so much."

-- from Chapter One examples, Introduction to the Theology of Customer Service, Church Education Publications, Anglican Province of Parador.

Peter, your present reading stack allows me to pose the question that I hear in Bryden's comments with precision.

In PD chapter 9, Campbell offers a pauline critique of the liberal ** account of individual agency as the solitary will's choice between options. Supposing for clarity that Campbell's critique is true to St Paul and to the writings that we call Paul, then--

Is O'Loughlin's account of individuals at the eucharistic cup pauline (good) or merely *liberal* (evil)?

Christians like us live in polities and economies organized by that *liberal* account. There as here, churches are tempted to minimise the tension between that default and the gospel. And ordinary people assume that all gatherings honour the default assumptions of their culture. Therefore, if a sacrament is not yet another object of choice for an unchanged chooser, and the congregation not yet another user group for a brand, then the alternate assumptions must be robustly signaled. How does O'Loughlin's meta-theology affect that signal?

Does it falsely reassure us that we need not understand our agency in a pauline way as we draw nearer to Christ? That would be a perverse sort of communion- against- union with Christ. Or does it rather unite in one Body those of different churches who, through metanoia, are now choosing only in Him? In some places, that could imply that guests were more truly in Christ at the chalice than most members.

Many years ago, the dumbest pastor I have ever known-- hardworking, nice guy, clumsy with people, not a reader-- looked up in a lively discussion and pinpointed the problem with uncharacteristic brilliance--

"If communion is an initiation into Christ, then you join the church where you receive. If receiving does not join you to Christ in that church, then whatever it is, it is not communion. And a bogus communion is evil."

So even if we are unwisely indifferent to the aid and comfort that churches give to [name customer's disintegrative behaviour here]-- here up yonder that is no longer a tenable position-- we are still concerned to know how visiting communicants like [use customer name here] change in receiving and how they are incorporated in the host church.

** Obviously, I am talking here about the Locke-Madison-Mill political sort of liberalism, not the old Schliermacher-Ritschl-von Harnack theological sort.


Peter Carrell said...

Respectfully, Bowman, I think you are over thinking the situation O’Loughlin is addressing.

I think he would say, “Every Mass has a mixed bunch of people present in respect of divisions of Christians into those who are deeply enculturated into modern Western individualism and those who are deeply repented-into-a-Pauline-understanding-of-the-Body, and my point is that all are welcome to commune on the simple criterion, “You are Catholic.” So, why not also extend hospitality, as a matter of good human and divine manners to all present who are in Christ?”

Peter Carrell said...

Dear James,
1. Yes.
2. Undoubtedly there is a longer answer re history of the Reformation etc, but I would say it is because we believe Communion is a communion of people with God and not of one individual with God.
3. Effectively, Yes, because our rubrics do not prescribe it as OK that the congregation with the bread and wine of communion is scattered. (True, because the novel situation is not addressed it is also not formally proscribed.)
4. There is no insistence that communion is only valid if the bread and wine are so handled by the presiding priest but there is also no confidence that a Zoom eucharist would be valid (because that discussion has not taken place and no resulting decision has been made). Our confidence in what is “valid” is a confidence in a simple mimicry of the Last Supper: that presider, elements and congregation share in the same meal around a single table.
5. Obviously there is a lot that one can say about “validity” and I do not have time to write an essay but in 4 above is the core of such a theology, that we place theological value on the meeting of people together. So, no, I don’t think the response here is just “institutional” because I can envisage an institutional discussion (though synodical process) of the situation which theologically would end in declaration that a Zoom eucharist is not valid. (I can also envisage the opposite!).
5. There is no particular reason now we are freer to minister in one another’s homes why a well organised parish should not be ensuring that the eucharist is made available according to our rubrics and liturgies to those who need to remain at home.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply, Peter. It recalled to me some sundry anecdotes about the challenges modern life may make to old time religion.
The first was a comment I heard once on the radio that there was some clerical objection in the 1920s to the first broadcasting of church services, in case the service was overheard by men wearing hats in pubs.
The second was the scruples that Saudi mullahs had about introducing the telephone to the Kingdom, on the grounds that it was the invention of the infidel. So an experiment was set up in which one mullah read the Qur'an into a phone and another listening reported that he had heard it perfectly; so the telephone was declared safe for Muslims. Since then, Islam has had no problem in using infidel technology.
The last - and most serious - example concerns Terry Waite, who recounts that during his years of imprisonment in Beirut, he, an Anglican layman (!), "celebrated" Holy Communion with a crumb of bread and water. Was he deluded or disobedient in what he did? The analogies with the present should be obvious.
As for the "theological value on people meeting together", zoom and related programs have very quickly revolutionised the meaning of "meeting" for millions of people around the world - as indeed the internet has changed the meaning of "community" for a generation now.
And as always, the old line institutional church - which has a lot of inherited wisdom which is not to be despised - is slow to grasp the implications of this.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear James
The on thing Terry Waite will not be doing in his freedom is celebrating communion with bread and water and no priest.

The church may appear to be slow on Zoom eucharists but that is because whatever we decide about Zoom eucharists will apply well beyond the present crisis.

If we are to determine that "remote consecration" is a thing etc, and it applies for all future church history, it might just take a bit longer than a phone call which involves Scripture recitation!

Zoom has revolutionised people meeting together - indeed - but (as I have previously observed on ADU) it is no substitute - in my view - for actual face to face gatherings.

Bryden Black said...

What a delicious irony, Peter! For you may or may not know (or recall?) that one word I used in the first edition of God’s Address in association with the/a fruit of the Eucharist was “nourish”, attributed to Calvin. I guess we are in heated agreement at this point! Yet ...

In the Rev Ed I had to elaborate further, quite a bit further in fact, offering an entire Appendix, A Way of “Reading” the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It climaxes with wording which extends way beyond the Reformation debates and their appreciation of what’s going on in the Rite (they just weren’t asking the questions, unsurprisingly). It capitalises on both Eastern views and exploits TF Torrance’s sense of sacramental “depth” which he describes in his seminal essay,“The Paschal Mystery of Christ and the Eucharist”, ch.3 of Theology in Reconciliation: Essays Towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West, 106–38. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1975. My previous comment exploited some of that sense as well.

For you see Peter, I can no longer subscribe to that most frequent of Anglican views, spiritual receptionism (though you might wish to attribute this to me, apparently!). And before Ron (for example) thinks I’ve merely become some crypto Highchurchman, or something - no such luck, Ron! Neither ‘tribe’ quite cuts it any more for me at this point in my ‘reading’ of the fullest NT picture - and it is there in the canon, if one sees and joins the dots. Them’s the breaks, I guess! For the line(s) of conversation sparked by BW’s comments and taken up by me thereafter (admittedly perhaps in my own way; cannot make him guilty of my views; although thank you Bowman for your seeming support!) might just make “nourish”, on its own, run the risk of tending towards a LCD view after all ... just might!

As I say, a delicious irony! For both of us now ... And so my key, basic question re ships still, if awkwardly, remains. For the flotillas of Eucharistic barques afloat on Maria Ecclesiarum are seemingly blown by all sorts of doctrinal and practical winds after all these centuries. Nice try O’L (and perhaps thyself); but it really does all seem a long way off, this sharing at the Lord’s Table. A barometric map might assist ... ;-)

Father Ron said...

In consideration of the continuing, voluminous commentary on the Eucharistic provenance in various traditions, I see that NCR has just published news of movement towards a proposed convergence of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox praxis on the possibility of providing for Eucharistic Hospitality in common during the COVID 19 pandemic. Details can be found on my link in - kiwianglo -.

Peter Carrell said...

But, dear Bryden, what are you saying about sharing communion together?

It cannot be that your argument for "communion (I now see) is this rather than that" is snuggled in (or smuggled in!) alongside an argument that only those who share the view "communion (I now see) is this rather than that" may also share communion with you ... for you are not that kind of exclusive Christian!

So, I can only assume that your argument is an argument for a true understanding of communion which practically might have three other outcomes:
1. It is your view and you advance it as here;
2. If you could write a church's prayer book, the liturgies would express this view;
3. If choosing a church to belong to, you might make this a top criteria when making that choice.

Of course there might be a 4th outcome, that your view informs which churches you might feel most comfortable partaking of communion in (i.e. ones deemed to be closest to this view).

All very similar to (say) the Roman Catholic church (with 4 pertaining to that church's view of communion in the Eastern Orthodox church).

But O'L's case kicks in at this point (i.e. whom you might permit at the Table on the basis that you are not actually going to restrict it to those who precisely hold the same view as you) rather than at an earlier point (e.g. trying to persuade you to think differently about what communion signifies).

Incidentally O'L makes the point that although the RCC allows its members to partake in EOC communion, it doesn't seem to reckon with the fact that the EOC doesn't consider itself to be in communion with the RCC :).

Father Ron said...

Believers, like myself, who really believe that we actually partake of the fullness of the life of Christ - in our physical reception of the Holy Eucharist - may not be able to theologically explain this amazing phenomenon. All I (we) know is that we long to share its ineffable and mysterious (mystical) grace with our sisters and brothers.
"God has gone up with a merry noise, Alleluia. He has gone up with trumpet sound, Alleluia, ALLELUIA!".

Anonymous said...

"Respectfully, Bowman, I think you are over thinking the situation O’Loughlin is addressing."

"For the line(s) of conversation sparked by BW’s comments and taken up by me thereafter (admittedly perhaps in my own way; cannot make him guilty of my views; although thank you Bowman for your seeming support!"

"All I (we) know is that we long to share its ineffable and mysterious (mystical) grace with our sisters and brothers."

The most dangerous place in theology is the one between pragmatism, thick description, and mysticism. But it is exciting sometimes.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman,
Porridge ... the meal of champions, a most special if not sacred food ... and the breakfast of at least one blogger I know :)

Bryden Black said...

“The most dangerous place in theology is the one between pragmatism, thick description, and mysticism. But it is exciting sometimes.” So BW - for which my deep gratitude. I agree: three bears are mostly better than one!

Peter; I’m not sure your speculations will get any of us very far. Capitalising however upon what I hope were something akin to “thicker descriptions” helps, I sense, to better evaluate what do seriously run the risk of becoming sheer LCD forms of “pragmatism”. Especially when the Reality we are acknowledging is notably “mystical” as well in the end. For I’m afraid some forms of recent Kiwi pragmatism have shown themselves to be sheer nonsense, literally. There’s a world of difference between the non-rational world of the mystical and the irrationality of any world. For in the end, whatever might grant Christian folk to enjoy each other’s Tables needs to be not just any LCD view, but rather the HCF at play - richly and robustly at play. The first fruits of the new creation (Jas 1:18, and delightfully the entire Letter of James is a great Christian form of Wisdom Literature) deserve the best, and not the least, when it comes to probing the deep things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2). Otherwise, let’s just give up on any form of theology and enjoy either sheer pragmatism or ... ‘let’s just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!’ [caveat lector ...!]

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden (and Bowman?)
I am at a loss.
I am trying to say that O'Loughlin makes a fairly straightforward case for eucharistic hospitality in the Catholic church to be extended, not for watering down the "thickness" of Catholic eucharistic theology.
O'Loughlin, if you like thickness in your theological (porridge?? Goldilocks etc ...), then think of O'L as saying, When Benedict XVI is presiding and looks out to see John Calvin, Robert Jenson, John Webster and Rowan Williams in the congregation, he ought to say, "you also are welcome at this table which is the Lord's - the Lord of you as well as of me."
But - unless I am misunderstanding - you seem to be averse to that because you worry that ... well, I am not sure what your worry is exactly.
If it is that people with a shallow understanding of the eucharist might also receive, then O'L also takes care of that point: no one at Mass checks on whether a genuine Catholic has a deep or shallow understanding of the eucharist before they come forward to receive.

Otherwise I am left with the concern that you are arguing for exclusivity at the Table - reserved places only for those with a high view of the eucharist - which, again, I wonder where would Scripture support that with a clear teaching?

(Amalgamating John 6, 1 Corinthians 10, Ephesians etc is not clear teaching that the Table may become an exclusive preserve of those who think right thoughts.)

Puzzled of Bishopdale!

Anonymous said...

In your OP and comments, Peter, I cannot quite sort O'Loughlin's innovation (if any) from your own evaluation of it. That makes it hard for me to be as clear in reply as we would almost all prefer. It may help to say that I am trying to apply what I read, curiously not fearfully, to five observations of the life of actual eucharistic assemblies nowadays and hereabouts.

(1) O'Loughlin's innovation is not new. Since the 1970s, Roman clergy have always communicated me, usually for stated reasons close to O'Loughlin's. That is, notwithstanding a thick understanding of the Meal, (arch)bishops and priests have almost routinely taken the fact that it is a meal as entailing hospitality and within that metaphor *economy*. [Meal --> meal --> hospitality --> economy] If everybody already thinks this, then where is the predicted inter-communion? By what mechanism could this argument change anything?

(2) Local hospitality may vary. There are people who think locally rather than globally, and many of these happen to be Catholic clergy who take the diocesan and parochial texture of their church at least as seriously as they take curial politics in Rome **. Does O'Loughlin's version of the quite old [Meal --> meal --> hospitality --> economy] argument do more to make them comply with a curial directive on inter-communion or to encourage them to think [Meal --> meal --> hospitality --> economy = LOCAL DISCRETION]. Since I bear in mind that a robust pauline and johannine theology of participation equally promotes both thinking globally and acting locally, ** I wonder whether O'Loughlin's version might inspire hospitality that does not always include communion.

(3) What is hospitality amid culture wars? In my country, churches are more divided by culture wars moral questions than by their denominations' historic views on the mode of the real presence/absence.

"If it is that people with a shallow understanding of the eucharist might also receive, then O'L also takes care of that point: no one at Mass checks on whether a genuine Catholic has a deep or shallow understanding of the eucharist before they come forward to receive."

So long as everyone agrees that moral and cultural questions are not eucharistic questions, maybe. But up here that is much less agreed. Last fall, a Catholic priest turned away Joe Biden, a fellow Catholic, over his abortion politics. O'Loughlin's argument suggests that in all fairness, such a priest should apply the same exclusion to an Episcopalian pro-choice feminist. Who knows?-- maybe he does.

And not to put too fine a point on it, each of the several culture war quarrels concerns the liberal individualism that Campbell deconstructs in Chapter 9. Since the eucharist itself is God's address to the condition of the alienated individual, of course we ask--

Anonymous said...

(4) Are we saved as a bag of marbles or as a vine of grapes? In our century, the question of participation-- and in what one participates (yes, Bryden) *** -- has finally eclipsed the C16 mode-of-presence quibble that O'Loughlin is trying to circumvent. Where participation is recognised, mere human embodiment renders Zwinglian dematerialism unintelligible; where participation is not recognised, the sudden and noisy arrival of the infant Jesus on an altar some Sunday morning would make no difference. Yesterday's quarrel about the modes might better be forgotten than circumvented. And even if O'Loughlin has circumvented disagreement about the mode of vertical communion with God, has he also circumvented the one between those for whom discipleship is NECESSARILY also a horizontal joining of the grapes on the Vine and those marbles in the bag for whom it is emphatically not that? Prime facie, no.

"If it is that people with a shallow understanding of the eucharist might also receive, then O'L also takes care of that point: no one at Mass checks on whether a genuine Catholic has a deep or shallow understanding of the eucharist before they come forward to receive."

No, they verify that every Catholic communicant is within the accepted discipline of the local church, which applies standard Catholic teaching in ways that vary widely within and between dioceses. So while theological examinations on the decrees of Lateran IV are indeed rare, intervention to ensure that communicants are bona fide participants is the core job of a Catholic priest. On O'Loughlin's account, hospitality should follow a like scrutiny, provided that the priest in charge can be confident that a guest participates in a similar discipline in her home church. How does this help believers who belong to choose-your-own-adventure churches?

(5) Bag/vine quibbling among Anglicans collectively complicates others' hospitality for particular Anglicans. The c/Catholic problem at (4) has especial salience when Catholics, Orthodox, or in some places Lutherans have to decide whether to communicate Anglicans. By definition, a catholic Protestant has-- like Luther, Calvin, and Hooker-- a robustly participative theology of discipleship as ecumenical dialogues have cheerfully affirmed. Nevertheless, many of those with Anglican(-ish) affiliations attracted to Reformed *particularism* have been resistant to even the participative voices of the Reformed tradition itself, **** to say nothing of the language of the Book of Common Prayer. So on the ground, some pastors of traditions in which [no participation --> no discipleship --> no communion] have kindly complained to me that they cannot infer from a random visitor's Anglican identity alone that she is a disciple to whom eucharistic hospitality is due.

Anonymous said...

** To those with little or no theology of participation, Catholicism looks like this-- the pope decides at noon that everyone should have roast beef for dinner; at one, myriad cattle face the four last things; at two, the butchers hang them on hooks; at three, they soak in a standard holy marinade; at four, fiery ovens yawn open for them; at six (the middle of the night for Catholics in China), a billion forks are raised in unison to eat at the pope's command. But to those with a strong theology of participation-- well-instructed Catholics-- popes reliably point to the Spirit-given unity that is emergent in their global communion, and the faithful trust his pointing as they can, some snapping easily to the grid, others being nudged hard by local authorities, others gradually accommodating the unfamiliar, and a few inevitably drifting to the margins.

It is easy to get so excited about Catholic squabbles-- crazy Pio Nono or infallibility or Humanae Vitae or Ratzinger v Kung or the present Francis-- that we miss the *longue durée*. One can reject every single claim for the magical distinctiveness of the Roman see, and still see on historical evidence alone that ordinary Catholics' belief that they belong to a unified Body has been settling several controversies a day for the past millennium. The miracle is not in the papacy-- the relatively chaotic Orthodox have done something similar-- but in the Holy Spirit's blessing on participative unity.

*** I have no idea what either Bryden or Father Ron think about the presence, but I have been agreeing in depth with both of them on eucharistic matters for the past few years. Hooker's metatheology-- not in itself an account of the presence, but rather a stipulation about what a given communicant's Lutheran or Calvinist account does for her in reception-- works well for many purposes here. Whether a believer can use that metatheology with no further belief about the embodiment of the Word at all (eg receptionism or virtualism) is unclear to me. But if that can work, it will do so when her upstream recognition of participation in the Vine is moving all the freight, more or less in the Byzantine manner of say St Nicholas Cabasilas.

**** Not every catholic idea is Roman, and not every Roman idea is catholic. Here up yonder, it often seems to me that all Reformed divines from the blessed isles (eg Myk Habets, Jason Goroncy, Doug Campbell) have theologies as participative as we would expect a serious Calvinist to have, except, doubly bizarrely, Anglicans down there who say that they are Reformed. One finds oneself explaining to them eg what a bishop is much as one might to a Southern Baptist up here. Why is that?

People can think what they like, of course, but there is a hole in our discussions on ADU as throughout the Communion where the heirs of Richard Hooker should be and where Lutherans like Robert Jenson, Presbyterians like Peter Leithart, or Methodists like Geoffrey Wainwright have long been. Insofar as any Anglicans today are Reformed, they are folks like Phillip Cary, Mike Bird, Katherine Sonderegger, Hans Boersma, and now Brad Littlefield. They deserve much more attention from us than they get.


Anonymous said...

"When Benedict XVI is presiding and looks out to see John Calvin, Robert Jenson, John Webster and Rowan Williams in the congregation, he ought to say, "you also are welcome at this table which is the Lord's - the Lord of you as well as of me."

Postscript-- Yes, he should. And long ago, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was sympathetic to just such an argument when he faced this hostile question at Catholic University in Washington-- "Can you work to reconcile Protestants to the Roman Catholic Church while you are meanwhile silencing Hans Kung for his Protestant views?" His reply sidestepped a quotable comment on Kung, but noted that the "catholic substance" in the traditions of the Protestant churches (eg in Calvin) was becoming stronger through time and that the Holy See could and would work with it as it emerged. Jenson, Webster, and Williams were too junior then to have been well known to him, but they were all doing what he expected to see. What he implied to the Catholics he was mainly concerned to address was that Kung's work-- and some of their own-- was less acceptable to the Holy See than Protestant theologies of ressourcement, and that if they listened for the Holy Spirit they themselves would hear why. The key to all of it is participation through an embodied Word in the perichoresis of the Trinity.


Anonymous said...

Peter writes: "The church may appear to be slow on Zoom eucharists but that is because whatever we decide about Zoom eucharists will apply well beyond the present crisis."

To be clear then: are you saying it is intrinsic to Anglican Sacramental Theology that for any Anglican Communion Service to be valid it is necessary and essential that the bread and wine partaken shall first have been physically handled (aka "manual acts") by an episcopally ordained priest speaking the liturgically prescribed words over them?

Is this a correct understanding of Anglican Sacramental Theology? If so, I can see how this would authorise "communion by extension" (and "bringing home communion" to shut-ins) as well as prohibiting zoom eucharists. Can you (or maybe someone like Bosco who I believe studies liturgical theology) confirm that this lack of Manual Acts by an episcopally-ordained Priest upon the bread and wine is actually the reason why you cannot countenance zoom eucharists (but are happy with online preaching and praying and other Ministries of the Word)?


Peter Carrell said...

Dear James,
Anglicans argue over this and that re communion, including what consecration means, how it takes place and even when - the moment of - consecration takes place (when the priest says ... when the priest does something with his or her hands ...).

If we follow the BCP then there are rubrics which specify certain hand actions by the priest (but the question would still remain whether they are essential to consecration).

Our NZPB specifies no hand actions and has no indications re words said which can pinpoint a moment of consecration. Rather - as I understand it - the underlying idea is that the whole Great Thanksgiving prayer is the prayer of consecration, including any actions of the priest during its saying.

This is in line with my general argument here on ADU re "remote consecration" that a valid communion service involves priest, people, bread and wine being in the one space.

So, the short answer to your question is that I cannot confirm.

Anonymous said...

"This is in line with my general argument here on ADU re "remote consecration" that a valid communion service involves priest, people, bread and wine being in the one space.

So, the short answer to your question is that I cannot confirm."

Thank you for your patience with my questions, Peter. By being "in one space" I presume you mean "being close enough to the celebrant to see and hear him or her (provided you can see or hear)." This is an interesting theology (and ontology) of space, but I am not sure why this particular fact of physics is being religiously privileged or given significance. Perhaps it can be given a biblical justification (although that would imply a strange abbreviation of the power of the Holy Spirit). But then you would be ruling out that old Anglican practice of bringing home communion to people. As well as what I heard was done over 40 years ago in NZ by a Church Army officer, giving "reserved communion" on Sundays to folk in country churches. These seem to violate the theological principle you are suggesting for physical closeness as being essential for true participation in the eucharist.
I mention the "manual acts" and the narrative of institution because, as you know, Gregory Dix made great play of this in his 'Shape of the Liturgy' and for many years his arguments prevailed in Anglican circles. Of course, as you said, the 1989 NZPB doesn't specify any "manual acts" as far as I can see - quite unlike the BCP. So unless the hands and words of the priest are the Spirit-anointed instruments whereby the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ (which is standard Catholic theology), I am still not clear why a zoom eucharist could not be valid. In law, a conversation by telephone or internet is just as valid and legally conditioned as a face to face meeting where lies, promises, legal testimony, contracts etc are concerned. Civil and criminal law has understood this point for a very, very long time now. Physical distance makes no difference to the validity or liability of things said and agreed this way.
Perhaps Bosco has a view on the matter. I know that the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana was happy with zoom eucharists (and he is no intellectual slouch, he has a PhD in philosophy) until Michael Curry forbade him, but I don't know what the reasoning was.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear James
(1) I think the ontology of space here is pretty simple on the basis that we keep thinking of the eucharist as a meal ... for which, normally, people gathering for a meal sit or stand together in one space (or, maybe for a large enough meal in a small enough structure, in a set of spaces within one building). If you invite me for a meal at your house but I say, tell what your menu is, I will reproduce it at my house and we can see each other eating via Zoom I would think you would think I wasn't having a meal in your space!

(2) I am trying to take great care to not say that a Zoom eucharist is invalid because it could be that with theological reflection, synodical discussion and decision-making, we might conclude together as the church that it is valid. What I also hope I am taking care to say is that I do not see how we could say a Zoom eucharist is currently valid because we have not gone through a decision-making process which yields "the mind of the church." Validity of eucharists in Anglican terms is not something to be pronounced by bloggers, not even ones who can claim the status of "episcopal blogger." (I think the difficulty you mention in America is, at the least, a difficulty of an individual bishop determining a major question!).

(3) Bosco does have views and they are found in a series of recent posts on his website!

(4) I do not see the question of eucharistic validity boiling down to question of validity of contracts as though what the priest says and what the congregation says is sole determination of eucharistic validity. We are talking about bread and wine, which is not teleportable through wires and airwaves, and thus whether validity is about this bread and this wine in this place of this and that bread and this and that wine in this and these places.

(5) Taking consecrated communion to homes and sick beds is always a taking of the consecrated elements from a service in one space and extending that space outwards. Zoom eucharists, analogically, would work where consecration of the elements takes place in that single space and then are couriered out to individual participants in their own homes ... well I can think of a few questions etc but I hope you get the gist of that, in respect of where our rubrics are currently at.

Father Ron said...

Thank you, James and Bishop Peter, for your understanding(s) of the authenticity of 'Eucharistic validity' - relating to spacial connectivity.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Ango-Catholic (Oxford-Movement influenced), I cannot but believe that the Eucharist has to be presided over by an ordained minister (priest) using a rite approved of by her/his Catholic and Apostolically authenticated Church. I believe that there are two basic intentions that need to be observed in the Celebration - Firstly, in obedience to Christ; to remember His sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension to the Father, and the promise of His Second Coming. Secondly, (by the power of the Holy Spirit) to consecrate bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ, in accordance with an approved form of liturgical prayer - derived from Holy Scripture - so that God's people may be fed on their pilgrim journey in this world, towards God.

Catholic (and Catholic-Anglican) Tradition allows for concomitant distribution to the attending congregation and, later, to those who - for any reason (Sickness, disability, or pandemic) - cannot attend the actual Celebration.

Most Anglican Cathedrals (and every Anglo-Catholic church) observe a tradition of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament (in one kind only - usually in an aumbry in a side-chapel), where the Faithful may have access for the purpose of private prayer; and for the occasional public Exposition for devotional purposes (e.g. Holy Hour). The aumbry is also accessed for the purpose of distribution of Holy Communion for the sick and the housebound of the parish. (H.C. by extension)

(In the church of Saint Michael and All Angels, Christchurch, the Reserved Sacrament is housed in the Maori Whakahuia (Treasure-house) which is suspended above the sanctuary, accompanied by a white light to indicate Christ's perpetual Presence in the building).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Thank you for much to think about!
Relatively briefly in comparison: (My numbers, not yours, apart from 1 itself):
1. O’Loughlin’s innovation, best I can tell, is to argue that local discretion should become universal invitation. The Lutheran wife of the Catholic husband asking the Pope wasn’t talking about local discretion but about why she couldn’t receive everywhere she went with her husband (and I guess she may not have had local discretion offered to her!).
2. Yes, I see (finally!) a strong line of counter argument emerging: the Eucharist makes a church which is united around the meaning of the Eucharist (rather than around the universal Lord) so discipleship is not enough for koinonia at the Table, a participation in the common mind [understanding] is required; and makes a church with discipline, so the Table is open to those willing to subject to that discipline. (Of course, as an Anglican I am slightly bemused by this line of argument coming (if I am understanding you and Bryden correctly) from Anglicans rather than Romans!)
3. Nevertheless, I find myself continuing to ask whether anything in Scripture teaches that (2) is the case. A willingness to share the memory of Jesus’ death with thanksgiving, to be part of the Body of Christ (which at Corinth is not particularly united or disciplined), to be well mannered in love for one another (1 Corinthians 11 and 13) seems to fit better with O’Loughlin than with (2).
4. I am “with” you re the importance of participation-intrinsically-bound-with-materiality. But I haven’t thought that through re Receptionism.

Anonymous said...

Peter, your (2) appears to conflate two different arguments, one Bryden's and one mine.

Bryden argues, after Brad Pitre and Alexander Schmemann, that the eucharist makes the b/Body. His scriptural support for that is presumably in the scriptural heuristics of Pitre and Schmemann. However participative readings of St Paul and the letters we call Paul also seem to support that broad view. In insisting that receiving is always joining the community that an integral eucharist is making, Bryden appears to be refusing to pit the medicinal use of the sacrament against its initiatory use. That makes sense. Perhaps O'Laughlin has argued that they can be separated?

In a more empirical mode, I note that Catholic (and Lutheran but not Reformed) clergy IRL do conscientiously communicate their unexamined members on the basis of those members' *implicit faith* in the testimony of their respective magisteria. Saliently, both centuries of papal teaching and the Lutheran confessions have always supported this practice, not as a concession to lay ignorance, but because implicit faith has been defined in both traditions as the normal form of saving faith for all. (cf Father Ron's frequent protests on ADU.)

Hence clergy of both traditions are very reasonably disinclined to communicate those who have prima facie rejected their respective magisteria, but often make informal exceptions for individuals who otherwise manifest the implicit faith that saves. If O'Loughlin argues that Catholic clergy should treat the implicit faith of their regular unexamined members and the intentionally different and usually non-implicit faith of visitors on the same basis, how is he not begging the very old question?

Anonymous said...

Each objection intercepts a different moment in his apparent sweep of C21 ecclesiology under the rug of something called a "disciple". However two narrower proposals may survive these where his seems not to.

(i) Strictly situational hospitality to pilgrims and the dying should be formalised universally, and extended to the baptised spouses of ordinary members.

(ii) It should be clearer what can be accepted as evidence that a visitor has the implicit faith that saves, when that visitor also agrees with the formularies of a non-papal church.

For what it is worth, I have not yet found any doors closed to one affirming both justification by grace and the faith of the seven ecumenical councils.

A final question-- is late C20 inter-communion still the right goal for C21 ecumenism? Here up yonder, that was Plan B after nearly all mainline Protestant denominations had rejected the merger plan of the Consultation On Church Union (COCU) by the early 1970s. Since then, assuming that denominational merger is forever impossible, we have kept the flame alive with thin inter-communion agreements. Narcissistically wounded by the hyperbole of Leo XIII, Anglicans have been particularly fixated on getting such an agreement with Rome.

However, a lot has happened in half a century. As Miroslav Volf has pointed out, Christianity on the ground is more local and less guided by faraway elites than it was in the middle C20. Philip Jenkins's books describe old and new christianities in Africa, Asia, and South America with which we never deal because they are too busy dying or growing to learn to play major-league ecumenism. Late modern secularity continues to erode differences between national and free churches, and diaspora churches now compete with both. Denominations in many places are weak in numbers and resources, and here up yonder the majority of Protestants are loosely organised far outside of them. In short, the institutional framework of Plan B did not survive the half century.

If we had never been taught to expect that eucharistic reception should be as easy and as impersonal as using a credit card in a hurry, how concerned would we be today that expectations for that vary from place to place and have to be learned? In today's diverse world and fractured cultures, I suspect that this *counsel of perfection* is more an artifact of recent history than an actual theological scandal. Is the inter-communion sort of ecumenism a way of remaining too attached to our beloved sinking ships to regroup in seaworthy new ones?

This thread began with O'Loughlin's hearing of a comment by Francis. General Theories of Francis vary, of course. But my own is that while his immediate predecessors did their superb best to consolidate what they could of the old theological tradition, he is the first to ponder what the next fabric of Christian life should be. Running through all his most controversial thoughts is a certain localism. Francis knows what a bishop is.


Bryden Black said...

Thanks folks for sharpening up this debate usefully as well as deepening our various (attempted?!) answers to comments. If I may ...

I joined the discussion with this question: “The merits ... is just this: we each and all need to answer this question - which direction is your (sing/plur) Eucharistic ship sailing in?! And answers to this question will centre around and derive from ideas re the triune divine economy and so soteriology/atonement ...” I still reckon there’s merit in keeping this not just in the wings, but properly on the stage, as it shifts other items (ie. answers) helpfully around.

Crucially, it helps to address elements of the debate around perceived individual need(s) [now BW’s reference to “medicinal use”] versus/in relation to a broader sense of a wider, even cosmic, participation, into which the Church’s performance of the Rite initiates us.

Then secondly, perhaps my example of mathematical language in the end is not going to produce an answer we may all agree on - even if it did throw up in passing “the three bears” most insightfully and so helpfully! Rather than our focussing on LCD and HCF language then, BW’s metaphors of marbles in a bag vs. grapes on the vine not only focus on the notion of participation, but in addition allow us to address some matters of discipleship that continue to lurk in various comments. How so? Well; the BCP has strong prefatory material about consuming the elements/participating in the Rite without due diligence. I take it, with reference to parts of 1 Cor 10-11, where Paul is issuing strong warnings, as well as revealing how sacramental things operate. For the nature of their operations is necessarily somewhat double-edged! (After all; the very nature of atonement has about it, in the mercy of God, both judgement-and-salvation; back to my opening twin question again!) Just so, well formed disciples (will) approach their participation in the performance of the Rite with due care and attention - even if not quite with the anxious exactitude of a newly ordained Thomas Merton!! For furthermore, vine language (so Jn 15 - which passage I take it, after Frank Moloney’s claim that it forms the centre of a chiasmic structure to the Upper Room discourse, parallels delightfully Jn 6 and “the true Bread from Heaven” passage as well, its being halfway through the Book of Signs, 1-12; both therefore pair up and suggest a Eucharistic focus) and olive tree language (so Rom 9-11) both speak about knowing/understanding and fruiting matters, and pruning/cleaning/lopping off. All of which chimes in with Paul’s warnings in 1 Cor 10-11, even as he seeks a truer, fuller participation for the fragmenting Corinthians.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman and Bryden
I think that, in the end, while there likely is a paragraph or two in O'Loughlin to offer some comeback to points you make above, your probings are not actually engaging with two simple points being made as Pope Francis raises the question and O'Loughlin offers a way forward to an answer, namely:

1. The chief criterion to being admitted to the eucharist is baptism. There is no criterion laid down by Jesus or Paul as to what one believes about the eucharist, whether one believes "enough" let alone "deep enough" to "qualify" to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. That while all (you, me, the Pope, the previous Pope, and O'Loughlin, et al) subscribe to the belief that to be baptised is to begin a life of walking with Jesus and that walking must continue and during that walking faith, hope and love are expected through the operation of the Holy Spirit to grow and develop, only me, Pope Francis and O'Loughlin on this thread are enthusiastically in favour of the eucharist as nourishment for that journey of discipleship and available or should be to every baptised disciple no matter where they are on the journey.

To be honest, neither of you in recent comments are demonstrating enthusiasm for a view of the eucharist as "for all the baptised" or for it being food for the journey of faith. I read your comments as implying (even if this is not your intention) that there is some much more complicated view of the eucharist which we must seek before we can seriously talk about unity about the eucharist and some such complicated view of the eucharist is required in order to be worthy of participating in the eucharist.

Is the eucharist what you make of it?

It is not mentioned once in most books of the New Testament!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"...while there likely is a paragraph or two in O'Loughlin to offer some comeback to points you make above, your probings are not actually engaging with two simple points being made as Pope Francis raises the question and O'Loughlin offers a way forward to an answer..."

Yes, Peter. Insofar as Catholic Francis and Catholic O'Loughlin are trying to make room for a bit more personalism in the Catholic practice of the eucharist, they are not at all engaging Protestant Bryden and Protestant Bowman who are trying to make room for a bit more *perichoresis* in the Protestant practice of the eucharist. Different historic imbalances on the two sides of a certain old fence are being corrected in different and appropriate ways. Isn't that wonderful?

At a respected Jesuit 'zine, though, there could be controversy if a blogger opined favourably on my comments here. Why? Because Catholics have not been debilitated as Protestants have been for more than two centuries by the post-Kantian individualism (lefty Bultmannians, righty neo-confessionalists) that most of my comments here eventually subvert. Catholic readers who feel like kernels in an ear of maize corn may understandably be more excited by kierkegaardish marbles in a bag than by my perichoretic grapes on a vine. They would understand my words, but not like my points. And that would be fine with me. I do not write for them, do not try to solve their problems for them.

Conversely, there is no possibility that Anglicans can correct their own serious imbalances with the Catholic arguments of Francis and O'Loughlin. From Kung to today and doubtless into the future, we have been suckers for any Catholic voice speaking up for the lonely knight of faith to whom we have always paid exclusive attention. That is, we like these voices because they are so passionate in telling us what we already (too much) think. But these Catholics are not talking to us, not speaking to our condition.

Our problem is not the chronic Catholic one of finding too little mercy for individuals at the cup; Protestants have seldom found anything else there. Our problem-- as Zoom eucharists and rebel congregations both show-- is that of not finding the kingdom or the new creation in the eucharist as a whole. Francis does not ask about this; O'Loughlin has no answer for it. Which on their side of the fence is understandable. It's not their problem.

Insofar as Anglican-Roman inter-communion is an objective, it is about two communions looking across that old fence and seeing, if not identity, similarity. Should Francis and O'Loughlin pause from saying THAT over THERE to THEM to glance across the fence at Bryden and me saying THIS over HERE to US, then I suspect that they would completely understand not only what we say, but why and to whom we say it. Their rebalancing and ours are reciprocal; they succeed if and only if we do.

And so too are the resistances. When Francis speaks of mercy at the cup, Cathollcs who would rather be kernels than grapes push back hard. I find, and I bet that Bryden does too, that Protestants-- even Anglican ones who think that they are liberal catholics-- likewise have a dozen ways of not seeing that there is more in the Bible than that lonely knight of faith.

The irony on both sides of the fence is that anyone should think that what we are saying is complicated. Balanced faith far simpler than the contortions used to rationalise Protestantism without the Body and Catholicism without the person. It is the resistance from contortionists that turn gospel thoughts into pretzels.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman (and Bryden)

Ok - I think I see what you are saying here (and appreciate it is founded into all your comments above) ... in my words, or, "my take":

1. O'Loughlin is urging Catholic theology to rise to a challenge which is contextualised towards the plight of certain individuals (and he thinks mercy should triumph, waved on by hospitality, and salted with some decent humility). BUT:
2. He is a Catholic urging fellow Catholics to a solution re a problem re (for the most part) individuals, but what he proposes touches on another problem: inter communion in general, Catholic - Anglican, Catholic - Lutheran, etc, the subject of great commissions and councils in recent decades, and that - if resolvable - is likely to need "more" than what O'Loughlin proposes, not least, "more work" on what communion means ... at which point ...
3. Bryden rightly fears an LCD approach which fails to do justice to the wonderful depth of meaning of Communion discernible in Scripture, and
4. Bowman commends Anglicans (and others) do more thinking to reach better appreciations of the eucharist in the life of the church ("Body of Christ (really, truly) meets Body of Christ"); with, side observation,
5. (3) and (4) are two sides of the same coin of concern. Yet,
6. I doggedly think O'Loughlin has a a good argument, though it would be a better argument if actually effective, i.e. if it wins Catholic support (never mind what Anglicans such as B, B and P think!!) ... and the jury is out on that matter.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter, to your summation. But about it an open-windowed question with doors on two streets.

Francis (as I hear him) and O'Loughlin (as he seems from your OP) are taking a rather dialectical approach toward inter-communion with Protestants. A salient feature of the latter's argument is its appeal to an interpretation of a metaphor in scripture, a move that has been made in much recent Protestant scholarship discussed here at ADU.

(a) On the Catholic side, does O'Loughlin's hospitality metaphor at (6) need to be nested in Bryden's usual matrix of metaphors at (3) to persuade his Catholic "jury?" If so, then should Anglicans file an amicus curiae brief in the case?

(b) On the Protestant side, how might Anglicans and Lutherans (the original case) use the aforementioned matrix to rebalance their teaching and practise of the eucharist (4) in ways that most reassure and least frighten O'Loughlin's "jurors?"

I bear in mind that some of those jurors are happy warriors who see themselves as eldest sons or fatted calves unhappy to see a younger brother so warmly embraced by God or papa Francis.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
O’Loughlin is indeed a theologian writing to see if other theologians will here his rallying call.
But the actual jury will include a majority who currently think of (e.g.) Anglicans as younger brothers who need to return home!