Saturday, December 14, 2013

Michael Ramsey on the Eucharist, the Church and the whole of life

Thank you for the emails following the post containing the Michael Ramsey quotes. I heard him speak on two of his visits to Australia, as someone said, “looking as if he’d just come straight from the Council of Nicaea.” Ramsey unselfconsciously saw everything in relation to the Eucharist. It wasn't just when he preached. He was a man of prayer, and even listening to him speak when he was being academic was like being on retreat. He didn’t seem to have much “small-talk” but he did sidle up to the one or two obvious "outsiders" in the group to help them feel comfortable. A catholic who was open to the insights of modern scholarship, he was also very supportive of charismatic renewal, and, in fact, was a particular friend of Cardinal Suenens.

Here are some key passages from Ramsey on the Eucharist, the Church and the whole of life.

The [episcopal] ministry is important as linking the Christians with the historic events of Jesus Christ, since Christian experience is not a spirituality unrelated to history, but bears witness to its derivation from Jesus in the flesh . . . Thus the Church is one Body; its members glorify not themselves and their experiences, but the one historic Christ. And its worship is one; the Eucharist is not the act of any local group, but of the one Body, represented by its organ of unity in any place. Hence the Eucharist is to be celebrated only by the bishop [and those authorized by the bishop].

- The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1990 ed)  p.68

The language and structure of worship will point away from the changing and the topical to the divine action in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to the same action now present in heaven and in the whole Church. Hence the regular and ordered movement of the Liturgy is not a cumbrous addition to Christian prayer; rather does it express the New Testament fact of worship as the divine action into which all spontaneous and congregational prayer is ever merged . . . The centre is the High priestly act of Jesus Christ in heaven and in history.

- The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1990 ed)  p. 95

The Church’s life is gathered around the Liturgy since it is not only the most important of a series of rites, but the divine act into which all prayers and praises are drawn . . . here also every woshipful thought and deed and word of men is gathered up and explained, since there the Christians, with all that they have and do and desire, are offered in union with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the one family of God.

- The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1990 ed)  p.119

Thus the service in any Christian building is not the act of the local group of Christians; it is, in inward reality and outward ritual, the act of the timeless Church, and the worshippers are pointed beyond their topical needs and feelings and interests to the one sacrifice of Christ and to the universal Church of God.

- The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1990 ed)  p.119

In the Eucharist, with the Risen Jesus present as our food, we are worshipping with the saints and angels in heaven. But the risen Jesus who is the heart of the heavenly worship is also a Jesus who was crucified, and we share in heaven’s worship only as sharing also in the Jesus who suffers in the world around us, reminding us to meet him there and to serve him in those who suffer. Indeed in the Eucharist we are summoned by two voices, which are really one voice: ‘Come, the heavenly banquet is here. Join with me and my mother and my friends in the heavenly supper.’ ‘Come, I am here in this world in those who suffer. Come to me, come with me, and serve me in them.

- Quoted in Love’s Redeeming Work: 
The Anglican Quest for Holiness,
 ed. Rowell, Stevenson, Williams (2003) p.667 


Post a Comment