Showing posts with label sacrament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sacrament. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wisdom from Carlo Carretto (3) - his testimony

Dear friends, I am so glad that many of you visit my blog each day. I know that sometimes you are so busy that the best you can do is to read quickly through whatever is there, or even just glance at it to see if anything of interest jumps out at you. 

Today, however, I would like you to find time to read this passage from Carlo Carretto (In Search of the Beyond) in a contemplative way. Those of you who are not Christians might begin to understand us. Those who focus just on the Church's institutionality with all of its scandals and evil might begin to see why we remain. And those who have not been to the foot of the Cross for some time might just experience a little renewal of love for the Saviour.

Jesus As The Truth and The Sacrament

I began to know Jesus as soon as I accepted Jesus as the truth; I found true peace when I actively sought his friendship; and above all I experienced joy, true joy, that stands above the vicissitudes of life, as soon as I tasted and experienced for myself the gift he came to bestow on us: eternal life.

But Jesus is not only the Image of the Father, the Revealer of the dark knowledge of God. That would be of little avail to me in my weakness and my sinfulness: he is also my Saviour.

On my journey towards him, I was completely worn out, unable to take another step forward. By my errors, my sinful rebellions, my desperate efforts to find joy far from his joy, I had reduced myself to a mass of virulent sores which repelled both Heaven and Earth.

What sin was there that I had not committed? Or what sin had I as yet not committed simply because the opportunity had not come my way?

Yet it was he, and he alone, who got down off his horse, like the good Samaritan on the way to Jericho; he alone had the courage to approach me in order to staunch with bandages the few drops of blood that still remained in my veins, blood that would certainly have flowed away, had he not intervened.

Jesus became a sacrament for me, the cause of my salvation, he brought my time in hell to an end, and put a stop to my inner disintegration. He washed me patiently in the waters of baptism, he filled me with the exhilarating joy of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, he nourished me with the bread of his word. Above all, he forgave me, he forgot everything, he did not even wish me to remember my past myself.

When, through my tears, I began to tell him something of the years during which I betrayed him, he lovingly placed his hand over my mouth in order to silence me. His one concern was that I should muster courage enough to pick myself up again, to try and carry on walking in spite of my weakness, and to believe in his love in spite of my fears. But there was one thing he did, the value of which cannot be measured, something truly unbelievable, something only God could do.

While I continued to have doubts about my own salvation, to tell him that my sins could not be forgiven, and that justice, too, had its rights, he appeared on the Cross before me one Friday towards midday.

I was at its foot, and found myself bathed with the blood which flowed from the gaping holes made in his flesh by the nails. He remained there for three hours until he expired.

I realized that he had died in order that I might stop turning to him with questions about justice, and believe instead, deep within myself, that the scales had come down overflowing on the side of love, and that even though all, through unbelief or madness, had offended him, he had conquered for ever, and drawn all things everlastingly to himself.

Then later, so that I should never forget that Friday and abandon the Cross, as one forgets a postcard on the table or a picture in the worn-out book that had been feeding one’s devotion, he led me on to discover that in order to be with me continually, not simply as an affectionate remembrance but as a living presence, he had devised the Eucharist.

What a discovery that was!

Under the sacramental sign of bread, Jesus was there each morning to renew the sacrifice of the Cross and make of it the living sacrifice of his bride, the church, a pure offering to the Divine Majesty.

And still that was not all.

He led me on to understand that the sign of bread testified to his hidden presence, not only during the Great Sacrifice, but at all times, since the Eucharist was not an isolated moment in my day, but a line which stretched over twenty-four hours: he is God-with-us, the realization of what had been foretold by the cloud that went before the people of God during their journey through the desert, and the darkness which filled the tabernacle in the temple at Jerusalem.

I must emphasize that this vital realization that the sign of bread concealed and pointed out for me the uninterrupted presence of Jesus beside me was a unique grace in my life. From that moment he led me along the path to intimacy, and friendship with himself.

I understood that he longed to be present like this beside each one of us.

Jesus was not only bread, he was a friend.

A home without bread is not a home, but a home without friendship is nothing.

That is why Jesus became a friend, concealed under the sign of bread. I learned to stay with him for hours on end, listening to the mysterious voices that welled up from the abysses of Being and to receive the rays of that light whose source was in the uncreated light of God.

I have experienced such sweetness in the eucharistic presence of Christ.

I have learned to appreciate why the saints remained in contemplation before this bread to beseech, to adore, and to love.

How I wish that everyone might take the Eucharist home, and having made a little oratory in some quiet corner, might find joy in sitting quietly before it, in order to make his dialogue with God easier and more immediate, in intimate union with Christ.

But still that was not enough.

Jesus did not overcome the insuperable obstacle presented by the divinity and enter the human sphere simply to be our Saviour. Had that been all, his work would have remained unfinished, his mission of love unfulfilled.

He broke through the wall surrounding the invisible, and came down into the visible world to bear witness to “the things that are above,” to reveal to us “the secrets of his Father’s house,” to give us in concrete form what he called eternal life.

What exactly is it, this famous “eternal life?”

He himself defined it in the Gospel: “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)  So eternal life is, first and foremost, knowledge. It is a matter of knowing the Father, knowing Jesus. But it is not a question of any external, historical, analogical knowledge which we could more or less imagine, possess perhaps, even now; it is rather a question of real, supernatural knowledge which, although it is still surrounded here by the darkness of faith, is already the same as the knowledge we will have when the veil is torn aside and we see God face to face. It is a question of knowing God as he is, not as he may appear to us or as we may imagine him. This is the heart of the mystery I have tried to describe as the beyond, and which is the key to the secret of intimacy with God and the substance of contemplative prayer.

In giving us “eternal life,” Jesus gives us that knowledge of the Father which is already our first experience of living, here on Earth, the divine life; which is a vital participation, here and now, in the family of God; and which means that while we remain sons of man, we are at the same time sons of God.

Jesus is the Image of the Father, the center of the universe and of history.

Jesus is our salvation, the radiance of the God we cannot see, the unquenchable fire of love, the one for whom the angels sigh, the Holy one of God, the true adorer, the eternal High Priest, the Lord of the Ages, the glory of God.

Jesus is also our brother, and as such he takes his place beside us, to teach us the path we must follow to reach the invisible. And to make sure that we understand, he translates into visible terms the invisible things he has seen – as man he acts as God would act; he introduces the ways of the family of God on to the Earth and into the family of man.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dr Pusey on the Psalms - Dr George Westhaver (from the Church Observer)

If there is something that really annoys me, something that leaves me feeling cheated at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, it is the growing practice of truncating the Psalmody of the Office. I have discovered this even at Sung Evensong in some of our great cathedrals, at the very time when many Christians of less liturgical traditions are rediscovering the power of the Psalter, as well as its Christological sense. The archive of this blog already contains a wonderful piece by Thomas Merton on the use of the Psalms in our daily prayer. Today I share with you an important article on Dr Pusey and the Psalms, written by Dr George Westhaver, Principal of Pusey House. It was published in the Easter edition of the Church Observer, the Church Union magazine.   

EVEN if his role as a leader of the Oxford movement was more than a decade away, the year 1828 was a momentous one for the young Edward Bouverie Pusey. In that year, at the age of only 28, Pusey became the Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford. Also in 1828, and after ten years of delay and frustration due to the scruples of two sets of parents, Pusey was finally able to marry Maria Baker. In the same year he was ordained both deacon and priest and became a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral.

The combination of these events is particularly fitting. For Pusey the prayers which described his marriage to Maria Baker as symbolic of the mystical union of Christ and the Church were not pious utterances to be left behind on the wedding day, but expressive of the basic reality which shaped his life and guided his work both in the University and in the Church. The union of the human and divine in Christ, the communion of the body of Christ with her Head, and the gift of the real and ineffable presence of the same risen and ascended Lord in the apparently weak symbols of bread and wine were for Pusey different aspects of one and the same mystery.

In the Incarnation, in the Church, and in the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, “Christ dwelleth in us and we in Him; whereby He is one with us, and we with Him”. Pusey struggled to adequately express this fundamental idea: “This is the comfort of the penitent, the joy of the faithful, the Paradise of the holy, the Heaven of those whose conversation is in Heaven ... spiritual peace, kindled hope, assured faith, burning thankfulness, that our Lord Jesus Christ, not in figure, but in reality, although a spiritual reality, does give Himself to us, does come to be in us.”

The prominence which Pusey gave in his sermons to the Incarnation, the Church, and the Sacraments also shaped his understanding of the Bible. For Pusey, the importance of the Bible extended beyond the information it conveyed, beyond even its role, in the bosom of the Church, as a teacher of saving doctrine.

Pusey also taught that the Bible has a kind of sacramental power by which it can serve as an instrument of communion, a means of participation in the divine life. In other words, the Bible does not just teach about the Incarnation, but rather, these “earthly words ... are full of the Word” and so communicate life to the members of his Body, the Church.

In particular, Pusey emphasised the importance of reading and praying the Psalms. He argued that both the New Testament and the writings of the early centuries of the Church encourage us to see the person and the work of Christ as the primary subject matter of the psalms.

For Pusey, finding Christ in the psalms means seeing how the whole of the Old Testament, the struggles and trials of the people of Israel, their hopes and failures, were prophetic both of what Christ accomplished and taught by his Incarnation, and of his manner of presence in his body through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If the Holy Spirit illumined David and Moses and the authors of the psalms, if the psalms have any place in the Bible, then the Spirit which inspires them testifies of Christ. This testimony is never incidental or secondary, it is the most important thing. This approach builds on the words of the Risen Christ to his disciples on the first Easter day when he told them that his teaching and work was prophesied in the psalms as well as in the law and the prophets (Luke 24.44).

However much modern approaches have changed the way people understand the Bible and the psalms, the prominence of the psalms in Christian worships, and especially the selection of psalms for particular days of the Christian Calendar, arises from this traditional approach which Pusey represents.

At the same time, Pusey’s emphasis on the psalms as prophetic of Christ does not mean that one denies the significance of the context in which they were written. Rather, the more we know about the authors of the psalms and the historical events which they describe, the more we will understand the particular way in which they reveal or speak of Christ and the Christian life also. While sometimes the psalms seem to be without any form or comeliness that we should see Christ in them (Isaiah 53.2), by the light of the Resurrection and the work of the Holy Spirit we recognize their profound beauty and truth.

Hearing Christ in the psalms is a form of recognising the risen body of our Lord which is changed and made both more real and spiritual by the resurrection, but it is not destroyed. It is also because of this transfiguration of meaning that the Christian can read the curses of the psalms as expressions of the Christians struggle against sin, as words which reveal the character of love and the voice of Christ.

Pusey’s interpretation of Psalm 40 exemplifies this approach: “I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined unto me, and heard my calling. He brought me also out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and day: and set my feet upon a rock, and ordered my goings. (Ps 40.1-2)” He finds in this psalm the prayer of the Son who waited patiently on the Father and who was raised on the third day from the pit of hell.

Pusey also finds here a description of the risen life of the Christian, how the Father “out of the mire and prison house of sin, raised us in Christ, and in Him, our Rock, gave us power to stand firmly, and in Him directed our steps toward himself”. The psalm which speaks of the Head also speaks of the Body: “Since then”, argues Pusey, “He has taken our nature, and joined it to Himself it is nothing strange but rather in harmony therewith, that the words wherein He speaks, should so include us, as at times to belong to us rather than to Himself.”

In this Pusey draws on a principle which he found in St Augustine and in his fusion of Christ’s description of marriage with St Paul’s interpretation of the union of man and woman as symbolizing the bond between Christ and the Church:“If therefore He Himself hath said, they are no more twain, but one flesh, what wonder if, as they are but one flesh, they should have but one tongue, and the same as being but one flesh, the Head and the Body”.

Pusey also emphasizes that the Psalms served as the prayers of Christ during the time of his earthly ministry: ‘“Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell: neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption” (Ps. 16.11). While Old Testament prophecy reveals what the Incarnate Son would accomplish and the Gospels describe his acts or communicate his teaching, “the Psalms (to speak reverently) shadow forth to us a reality beyond all thought, the thoughts with which He communed with his Father”’.

The psalms which both speak of the Head and serve as his prayers have a kind of “sacramental force as being used in Him, and being his words in us, addressed to the Father as the words of the Son”. Sharing in Son’s communication with the Father by praying the Psalms is a sacramental reading by which the members of the Body grow in holiness and, Pusey adds, are “fitted to receive the mind of the Spirit”.

Pusey is well known for teaching that the Incarnation, the union of Christ and his Church and the communion of the life of Christ through the sacraments were different aspects of the same reality. He also described the Old Testament, and in particular the Psalms, as possessing a “mysterious virtue”, a power analogous to the “holy mysteries”, to the sacraments, to serve as a means of communion as well as a form of revelation.

One might challenge the ardour of his language and the precise form of his argument. At the same time, we can learn from him the great privilege of praying the psalms in Christian worship and expect to find there not only the prayers of our own hearts, but also to hear and encounter the risen and ascended Lord.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Some Advent reading from Michael Ramsey

Michael Ramsey (1904-1988) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. His books always take the reader on a spiritual journey, and it’s a pity that many of them are now out of print. As an academic, priest, bishop, and spiritual guide, Ramsey was a giant. Here are two passages of his teaching - VERY suitable for Advent reading! - on pride and humility:

To be a Christian is to be very closely united to Christ as living Lord, not alone, but in the fellowship of the Church. It means an existence in which our self-centredness is constantly challenged and defeated. The more Christ becomes your true centre, the less can your own selfish pride be the centre. The more you are drawn into the fellowship of those who belong to Christ, the less are you entangled by your selfish pride.

That is why again and again the Christian life has been called a “death to self”; it is the growth in us of Christ’s own self-giving unto death. The sacraments depict this: Baptism was from the beginning the means whereby the convert died to the old life whose centre was the self, having been buried symbolically beneath the water, he stepped out into a new life whose centre was Christ in the midst of the Church’s fellowship. Holy Communion deepens our unity with Christ who, through the media of bread and wine, feeds us with himself.  But it is always his self as given to death.  It is his broken body, his blood poured and offered.

These are the great realities upon which Christian people have laid hold. Some have grasped them once, and forgotten them. Some have grasped them only in a conventional and unreal way. Some have grasped them, and courageously try to be true to them among much conflict with the reassertions of self and pride.  Some have grasped them, and have shown it in lives in which, notwithstanding some humiliating failures, Christ really has been apparent.

It all happens through Calvary judging us, Calvary bringing forgiveness to us, and Calvary defeating the pride which rules us.

Let the griefs, pains and humiliations that come to you help you. You will hate them, as they always hurt. But they help you to be near to Christ, and you will be learning not to fear them. There is the pain of disappointment when some cherished plan has gone wrong, and you are inclined to be bitter and resentful: but let it help you to think more about Christ‘s pain and disappointment; then you are nearer to him and it becomes very different. There is the pain sometimes of opposition, or of misunderstanding, or even abuse perhaps, coming to you from other people: it can feel terrible, but again it can bring you near to Christ. What if it is a part of the discipline of Christ, which we profess to believe in?

There is also the pain that comes from our own mistakes coming home to roost. But that too can bring us back to the truth of our own inadequacies, and the greatness of Christ’s forgiveness, to the decrease of self and the increase of him. These things are not things that we do or seek: they just come. They will come to you too. When they come, let them help you to be a little nearer Christ crucified; that is how we find the deep joy of priesthood and Christian life. You will come to know how truly the psalmist says: ‘Thou of very faithfulness hast caused me to be troubled’ (Psalm 119:75). Be ready to accept humiliations: they can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble, and to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord. There is nothing to fear if you are near to our Lord and in his hands.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dr John Macquarrie on Benediction

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament 
following Evensong on Palm Sunday 2003 
at All Saints' Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.

Dr John Macquarrie (1919-2007) was a Scottish theologian and philosopher. Among his many works are Principles of Christian Theology (1966), Jesus Christ in Modern Thought (1991) and Mary for All Christians (1991) Macquarrie was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, and a Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

This is a paragraph by Macquarrie about a time when his world was falling apart and he discovered the little service of Benediction (which, in the Anglican tradition usually follows Evensong):

I was serving in the British army and had received notice of posting overseas. On the Sunday evening before we sailed, I was wandering through the streets of a sprawling suburban area near to where we were stationed. I came to an Anglican Church. The bell was summoning the people, and I went in. The first part of the service was familiar to me, for it was Evensong. But then followed something new to me - the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. This new service meant a great deal to me. I did not know what lay ahead of me or when I might come back to these shores again, but I had been assured of our Lord’s presence and had received his sacramental blessing. I was reminded of Jacob, when he was far from home at Bethel and he heard the divine voice: ”Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.”

In a pamphlet on Benediction, Macquarrie writes:

Benediction is a beautiful word. It means a blessing, a greeting, and expression of kindness and love. Benedict- ion is also a beautiful service of the Church. It is a service that makes real to us in an impressive way the fact that God is always reaching out to us, to bless, to strengthen, to assure us of his loving kindness toward us. 

The greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon mankind was the sending of his Son. That was like the beginning of a new day for the human race, like a new sunrise bringing light and hope. And it is a day that will never end, a sun that will never set, for the Eternal Son has promised to be with us until the end of the world. 

He is no longer with us in the physical body that was his in Palestine many centuries ago, but we believe that he is really present among us in the Sacrament which he appointed. 'This is my Body', he said over the bread at the Last Supper with his disciples. The same words are said over the bread at every Eucharist, that it may be to us the Body of the Lord, so that he may come again among us today as he came at his first appearing in Palestine. And just as that first appearing was like the rising of the the sun over a darkened world, so today when the Host is lifted up either in the Mass itself or in Benediction, it is like the rising of the sun upon us and we receive the radiance and warmth of God's blessing through him whom he has sent. 

Many people have the idea that Benediction has become out of date in the course of the liturgical renewal of the past few years. It is true that Benediction has now less prominence than it once had in Catholic worship, but it would be sad indeed if this service were to be undervalued for it is a very helpful item in our spiritual heritage and it has special contributions to make toward building up the life of prayer and devotion in these busy noisy times in which we live. 

Let me now say something about the meaning of Benediction. 1 shall do this by developing more fully the thought that the blessing conveyed to us in this service today is simply the vivid renewal of that great blessing of God in the sending of Jesus Christ. Just as men in ancient times were waiting for the Lord, eager for a glimmer of light through the gloom, so those who come to Benediction come with waiting, expectant hearts. 

Benediction is a popular service, that is to say, a people's service. The clever and sophisticated do not come much to Benediction, but the simple, the poor, those who acknowledge an emptiness in their lives that only God can fill. Even those who might not come to Holy Communion will sometimes come to Benediction where God reaches out to them though they think they are only on the fringes. I think of some of those with whom I have knelt at Benediction: harassed city-dwellers in New York, working- class people from the back streets of Dublin, soldiers serving in the deserts of North Africa, Indian Christians living as a tiny minority in a great Hindu city . . . They have all had the grace of humility - a quality which, alas, is not greatly encouraged in our new liturgies. But those who seek a blessing come with empty hands. 'How blessed are those who know their need of God' ' (Matthew 5:3 NEB). God cannot give a blessing to the proud, the self- sufficient, the superior, those who secretly despise the simple devotion of their brethren. So we can only come to Benediction waiting and expectant. As we sing the hymns and look upon the Host, we open our hearts to God, knowing that he who sent the blessing of his Son to lighten the darkness of the world still sends through the same Son his blessing to us. 

We do not wait on God in vain. Lifting up the Host in a monstrance (sometimes in a ciborium) the Those quiet opening moments of Benediction are very precious indeed. We take time to compose ourselves, to put ourselves together, as it were. These may be only a few minutes, but they have something of the quality of eternity. We put aside our own busy plans, policies, activities, and remain passive before God so that his voice may be heard and his grace received. This brief time of quiet alone is of inestimable value in that crazy hurried world in which we all have to live nowdays. officiating priest makes the sign of the cross in blessing over the worshippers. Christ, the Light of the world, shines upon us, and my comparison with the rising sun was appropriate because the monstrance is usually fashioned to resemble the sun's disc, with rays streaming out in all directions. Through Christ, God bestows his blessing upon us and all who are willing to receive it, just as the sun shines on all, bringing light and health. 

The seekers, the pilgrims, the weary are assured of the blessing of God in Christ, and every time Christ comes to men and women it is with the promise of a new life of hope and freedom. 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined' (Isaiah 9:2). 

Then a very remarkable thing happens. For we find ourselves saying the words of the Divine Praises: 'Blessed be God' Blessed be his holy Name' We came seeking God's blessing, and now we find that we are blessing God! This belongs so naturally to what might be called the spiritual logic of Benediction. A benediction is not something that we can selfishly keep for ourselves. It makes us too want to give a benediction. 'We love, because he first loved us' (1 John 4:19). We begin by coming in our need to God, seeking his blessing. He gives us that blessing, and our response is to bless and adore him. This is indeed the goal of all our worshipping - that we may come to love God better. And we cannot love God without loving our neighbours who are God's children, so that in seeking God's blessing, we are praying that in blessing us he will make us a blessing to others. This is how it has been since the very beginning of the people of God, when the Lord said to Abraham, 'I will bless you, so that you will be a blessing . . .' (Genesis 12:3). 

These, then, are some of the meanings contained in the service of Benediction and some of the reasons for prizing it. Let us not miss this time of precious quiet while we wait upon God in humility. Let us not miss the blessing he bestows through the Christ who conies into our midst. For in such acts of devotion we learn to love him better, and he can make us a benediction to all whom we meet. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Influence of Bishop Overall

Every now and then people like me are accused of not being "real" Anglicans . . . in other words, that the things we believe about the Church and Sacraments are idiosyncratic, and only “shoe-horned” into our Church during the Oxford Movement of the 19th century. So I was glad to see on the Forward in Faith North America website that at their recent National Assembly Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church (one of the constituent groups of the Anglican Church of North America) had given a teaching on the Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, in which he looked at Scripture, the early Church Fathers, the Undivided Church and the Anglican Divines of the 16th and 17th centuries. 

One of the Divines he mentioned was Bishop John Overall (1559–1619), an academic who had been Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Overall was also one of the translators of the King James Version of the Bible. From 1614 to 1618 he was Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and then for a year before his death he was Bishop of Norwich. He was a friend of Lancelot Andrewes, and a mentor of William Laud and John Cosin, both of whom in different ways were foundational to the survival of the Church of England in the 17th century. 

In fact, as a young man, Cosin had been Overall’s librarian and secretary, and he tells us that with regard to the doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the position of the Prayer of Oblation in the Prayer Book . . . 

“. . . the consecration of the Sacrament being ever the first, it was always the use in all liturgies to have the oblation follow . . . and then the participation . . . in regard whereof, I have always observed my lord and master Dr Overall to use this oblation in its right place [i.e. the arrangement of the 1552 and 1604 Prayer Books notwithstanding! ed.], when he had consecrated the Sacrament to make an offering of it (as being the true public sacrifice of the Church) unto God, that by the merits of Christ’s death, which was now commemorated, all the Church of God might receive mercy, &c. as in this prayer; and when that was done he did communicate the people and so end with the thanksgiving following hereafter . . .” (The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, John Cosin, Lord Bishop of Durham, Parker Edition Volume 5, page 114).

This same volume contains Bishop Overall’s manuscript notes incorporated into Cosin’s interleaved edition of the Book of Common Prayer printed in 1619. Overall was emphatic about the reality of our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist. Here are his words on the “Prayer of Thanksgiving”: 

"Before consecration we call them God’s ‘creatures of bread and wine;’ now we do so no more, after consecration . . . And herein we follow the Fathers, who after consecration would not suffer it to be called bread and wine any longer, but the Body and Blood of Christ" (ibid, page 121).  

He also says, "It is confessed by all Divines, that upon the words of the Consecration, the Body and Blood of Christ is really and substantially present, and so exhibited and given to all that receive it; and all this not after a physical and sensual, but after a heavenly and incomprehensible manner.”  (ibid, page 131)  

It is against the backdrop of what we know Overall believed and practised that we have to interpret the explanation of the Sacraments in the Catechism, because that part of the Catechism was written by Overall (and added in 1604 by royal authority). While it is true that the language is soft enough to avoid giving reasonable Puritans a crisis of conscience, it is nevertheless clear that the Catholic Faith regarding the Sacraments is what Overall is teaching: 

Question. What meanest thou by this word Sacrament? 
Answer. I meane an outward and visible signe of an inward and spirituall grace given unto us; ordained by Christ himselfe, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof. 
Question. How many parts be there in a Sacrament? 
Answer. Two; the outward visible signe, and the inward spirituall grace. 

Question. Why was the Sacrament of the Lords Supper ordained? 
Answer. For the continuall remembrance of the Sacrifice of the death of Christ, and the benefits which we receive thereby. 

Question. What is the outward part or signe of the Lords Supper? 
Answer. Bread and wine, which the Lord hath commanded to bee received. 

Question. What is the inward part or thing signified? 
Answer. The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verely and indeed taken and received of the faithfull in the Lords Supper.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The power of life in the Lord's resurrection

The following wonderful quote is from Abu Daoud writing in St Francis Magazine Vol 8, No 2, April 2012

"Christianity is built on the conviction that out of the most radical and disastrous despair, God turned the tables on the Empire and the Temple that killed his Son, and his resurrection was nothing less than the victory of God. The power of life in that resurrection flowed out into a community called out by God, the Church. That community was called to be a sacrament of secret life and an imperfect but real embassy of God’s reign, which, like yeast in dough, spreads and leavens."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eucharistic Devotions

A friend suggested that links to these prayers be put on the blog for the sake of those who may not have noticed them "buried" in the Forward Ministry website. They are part of my collection, TRADITIONAL PRAYERS FOR ANGLICAN CATHOLICS, all of which is HERE. It has been printed in book form and will soon be available for purchase.

Before Mass (William Vickers)

Before Mass ("Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Angels")

Before Mass ("Lord, come to me that thou mayest cleanse me")

Before Mass (". . . incline thy merciful ears to our prayers")

Before Mass ("Cleanse our consciences, we beseech thee O Lord")

Before Mass ("As watchmen look for the morning")

Before Mass (Desiderius Erasmus)

Before Mass (From the Non-Jurors' Liturgy of 1718)

Before Mass ("Like as the hart . . .")

Before Mass (From the Diocese of Bathurst "Red Book")

Before Mass (May this offering avail . . .)
Before Mass (St Thomas Aquinas)

Before Mass (Bishop Lancelot Andrewes)

Before Mass (Bishop Thomas Ken)

Before Mass (Bishop John Cosin)

Before Mass (Thomas Comber)

Oblation (From the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church)
Uniting Heaven and Earth (Bishop Jeremy Taylor)

Encountering Jesus (Eric Milner-White)

The Holy Sacrifice (William Jervois)

The Holy Sacrifice (Charles Wesley)
Ave verum corpus (Attributed to Pope Innocent VI)

To Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (Favourite medieval prayer of Father John Hope)

Acclamation ("O Sacrament most holy . . .")

The Holy Sacrifice (William Bright)

To Jesus, the Risen Lord (i) (Brian Moore, adapted)

To Jesus, the Risen Lord (ii) (Brian Moore, adapted)

Drawing Near (From the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church)
To Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Resurrection of the Flesh and Holy Communion

This passage from St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (Against Heresies Lib. 5,2, 2-3: SC 153, 30-38) is set to be read today by those who use The Divine Office. Written around 185 AD, it is one of the classic passages on the Eucharist, giving what we might call "unintentional" evidence of the early Church's high view of the Sacrament. Irenaeus argues backwards from what he obviously regards as already traditional Christian teaching on the Eucharist to the salvation of the flesh and the resurrection of Jesus. This passage is particularly important because of how early it is in our “family history.” Irenaeus was a disciple of St Polycarp of Smyrna, who was a disciple of St John the Apostle.

If our flesh is not saved, then the Lord has not redeemed us with his blood, the eucharistic chalice does not make us sharers in his blood, and the bread we break does not make us sharers in his body. There can be no blood without veins, flesh and the rest of the human substance, and this the Word of God actually became: it was with his own blood that he redeemed us. As the Apostle says: In him, through his blood, we have been redeemed, our sins have been forgiven.

We are his members and we are nourished by creatures, which is his gift to us, for it is he who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall. He declared that the chalice, which comes from his creation, was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread, which comes from his creation, was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the word of God, the eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow. How then can it be said that flesh belonging to the Lord's own body and nourished by his body and blood is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life? Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ's blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.

The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God's word they become the eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God's power is shown most perfectly in weakness.