Thinking allowed

The Eucharistic Assembly

Earli­er this year I atten­ded a dean­ery con­firm­a­tion ser­vice. In his address the retired assist­ant bish­op who was presid­ing posed the con­greg­a­tion a ques­tion. He asked us to con­sider what we should do if we wanted to see the face of God. After con­sid­er­ing vari­ous pos­sib­il­it­ies he sug­ges­ted we turn our heads to left and right — to see the face of God in our neighbours.

Each of us is made in the image of God; each of us is a child of God. We meet togeth­er as the people of God — a sub­set of God’s people who recog­nize that role and are able to be in that par­tic­u­lar place at that par­tic­u­lar time. The assembly, the com­munity, is trans­formed by the act of wor­ship, trans­formed by recog­niz­ing the image of God, not just in our fel­low wor­ship­pers on that occa­sion, but by recog­niz­ing that the image of God can be found in each human being.

What then does it mean that each is made in the image of God? It means a num­ber of things, among them that each per­son has value, each per­son is of worth, as an end in them­self, and not as a means to some oth­er end. That applies both to the ‘me’ and to the ‘oth­ers’: each per­son needs to remem­ber that they are made in the image of God, and that every­one else is also made in the image of God. And it applies regard­less of wheth­er the oth­er per­son recog­nizes it.

These are the people who come togeth­er reg­u­larly Sunday by Sunday, or per­haps occa­sion­ally; these are the people who togeth­er con­sti­tute the euchar­ist­ic assembly. They come in faith and hope in order to wor­ship and cel­eb­rate togeth­er, respond­ing to Jesus’s call to sin­ners and out­casts to sit with him at God’s table. Week by week, togeth­er they con­sti­tute the ‘church’ in that place, the loc­al ‘eccle­sia’. They come togeth­er as the chil­dren of God, the people of God, made in God’s image. They are nour­ished, doubly so, by the Word of God. And they go out as the Body of Christ. They come togeth­er as indi­vidu­als, chil­dren, people. They are trans­formed by wor­ship into one cor­por­ate group, one body.

They do not gath­er just to watch or listen to a show or a per­form­ance, to a great preach­er, or a won­der­ful choir, or an inspir­ing con­cert. They do not come to par­ti­cip­ate from the side­lines like a foot­ball crowd cheer­ing their team on. The liturgy is not some spec­tat­or sport or piece of theatre. Nor, equally, do they come to make private indi­vidu­al devo­tions, a private rela­tion­ship between each wor­ship­per and their God.

Instead, each mem­ber of the assembly is import­ant and has a role to play in what the assembly does as a whole; each per­son is an act­ive par­ti­cipant in the cor­por­ate wor­ship­ping group — because each is made in the image of God. The action of each mem­ber of the assembly, that com­mon pur­pose, con­sti­tutes them as the assembly, and that per­son as a mem­ber of it. With­in the assembly dif­fer­ent people have dif­fer­ent roles. Some may read, some may lead inter­ces­sions, oth­ers may lead singing or play music­al instru­ments, someone will preside and oth­ers assist, someone will preach. Oth­ers will par­ti­cip­ate by join­ing in vari­ous responses, hymns and songs. Each of these (and oth­er) roles is a min­istry, an act of ser­vice to the assembly, an act that facil­it­ates and enables the wor­ship of the whole assembly to take place. Some of these roles will have form­al appoint­ment, and oth­ers will be by inform­al agree­ment of the assembly. Either way, they per­form their roles with­in the con­text of, and with the expli­cit or impli­cit agree­ment of the assembly. Some of these roles help to con­sti­tute the assembly itself, in par­tic­u­lar the role of pres­id­ent or presider.

Togeth­er all these people, con­vened for this pur­pose, form the euchar­ist­ic assembly, the loc­al church, the eccle­sia. The adop­tion by the early Chris­ti­ans of the word ‘eccle­sia’ to describe their assembly indic­ates both their past and their future. The eccle­sia (Greek: εκκλησία) was the term used in ancient Greek city-states for the demo­crat­ic decision-mak­ing gath­er­ing of the city’s free-born men. When Chris­ti­ans began to use the term such semi-demo­crat­ic city-states were already long gone. The word indic­ates per­haps the Chris­ti­an inten­tion of a free gath­er­ing of equals. But a gath­er­ing trans­formed from just free-born males to include Roman cit­izens and non-cit­izens, slaves as well as the free, poor as well as rich, female as well as male. This was a revolu­tion­ary eccle­sia rep­res­ent­ing the people liv­ing in God’s king­dom. Truly, the euchar­ist­ic assembly, the eccle­sia, was a trans­form­ing act.

In the same way, we gath­er today as a revolu­tion­ary gath­er­ing of all sorts and con­di­tions, the people of God, shar­ing in God’s love. Recog­ni­tion of this plays a part in the trans­form­a­tion of the wor­ship­ping community. 

We are trans­formed by our wor­ship in many ways; the one that will be focussed on here is how we are trans­formed by recog­niz­ing in each oth­er the image of God. As the bish­op said, we can look to left and right and see the image of God in our imme­di­ate neigh­bours. In most churches we will not gen­er­ally see the faces of our fel­low wor­ship­pers dur­ing the ser­vice, but there too we will find the image of God.

This is an ideal: it has to be recog­nized that not all our ser­vices live up to this ideal, not all those who attend are ready or able to par­ti­cip­ate in this way, and not all our build­ings make it easy. We shall explore in future posts how the assembly can address these lim­it­a­tions, how the assembly gives legit­im­acy to its min­is­ters, how the loc­al assembly is part of a wider assembly across the world. In many situ­ations, a simple explan­a­tion to the mem­bers of the assembly, both clergy and laity, may be enough for them to begin to real­ize their voca­tion, their min­istry, as part of the assembly which comes togeth­er to wor­ship and to hear and be present with, and be trans­formed by, the Word of God.


Vestments, robes and canon law

The Gen­er­al Syn­od, meet­ing at York, on Sat­urday debated the man­dat­ory use of robes and vest­ments for clergy at some ser­vices. The record of the pro­ceed­ings states:

Private Mem­bers’ Motions

Can­on B 8 (GS 1944A and GS 1944B)

The Revd Chris­toph­er Hobbs (Lon­don) moved:

‘That this Syn­od call on the Busi­ness Com­mit­tee to intro­duce draft legis­la­tion to amend the law relat­ing to the ves­ture of min­is­ters so that, without alter­ing the prin­ciples set out in para­graphs 1 and 2 of Can­on B 8. the wear­ing of the forms of ves­ture referred to in para­graphs 3, 4 and 5 of that Can­on becomes option­al rather than mandatory.’

The motion was voted on and passed by the Syn­od. The three amend­ments were not carried.

The audio of the even­ing ses­sion is avail­able here.

The press reports this as the Church sweep­ing away the rules and allow­ing clergy to wear what they like

  • The Mail — Church gives OK to vicars in shellsuits
  • The Express — Church gives its bless­ing for vicar dress-down Sundays

John Keble

John Keble’s litur­gic­al impact, like that of Bene­dict, is indir­ect but sig­ni­fic­ant. It was on this day in 1833 that Keble preached a ser­mon at the Uni­ver­sity Church in Oxford. It was a fairly obscure ser­mon to the Assize Judges on what we might regard as an obscure top­ic (the sup­pres­sion of a num­ber of Irish bish­op­rics by Par­lia­ment), but it was regarded by John New­man as the begin­ning of the Oxford Move­ment — a recov­ery of the sense that the Church exists inde­pend­ently of the State. That Move­ment was sub­sequently respons­ible for a con­sid­er­able litur­gic­al enrich­ment and diver­si­fic­a­tion of the life of the Church of Eng­land, lead­ing to a renew­al of the Euchar­ist­ic life of the Church and an increased aware­ness of ritu­al and sym­bol­ism. Keble did not play a sig­ni­fic­ant part in these later devel­op­ments, liv­ing instead the life of a coun­try par­son, schol­ar and poet. His poetry con­tin­ues to be greatly val­ued and sev­er­al of his poems are still sung as hymns.

Keble was born in 1792, the son of a priest, and stud­ied at Oxford where he became a Fel­low of Ori­el Col­lege at the age of nine­teen. His col­lec­tion of poems, The Chris­ti­an Year, was publsi­hed in 1827, and he was elec­ted Pro­fess­or of Poetry at Oxford in 1831. In 1836 he left Oxford to became a par­ish priest at Hurs­ley near Winchester, and he served there until his death in 1866. In his memory, his friends and sup­port­ers foun­ded Keble Col­lege, Oxford.

Fath­er of the etern­al Word,
in whose encom­passing love
all things in peace and order move:
grant that, as your ser­vant John Keble
adored you in all creation,
so we may have a humble heart of love
for the mys­ter­ies of your Church
and know your love to be new every morning,
in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


Additional Texts for Holy Baptism (GS 1958)

Updated with press reports

The addi­tion­al texts for bap­tism were con­sidered by the Gen­er­al Syn­od, meet­ing at York, on Sunday after­noon, and sent to a revi­sion com­mit­tee, which is the nor­mal pro­cess. The offi­cial report records that:

Drafts for First Con­sid­er­a­tion intro­duced by the House of Bishops

The Chair of the Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, the Bish­op of Sod­or and Man, moved:

‘That the litur­gic­al busi­ness entitled “Addi­tion­al texts for Holy Bap­tism” be con­sidered for revi­sion in committee.’

The motion was approved by the Synod.

Press reports

There is cov­er­age of this in some of Monday’s papers:


Benedict, Father of Western Monasticism

Benedict’s interest to liturgy is indir­ect. As the author of the mon­ast­ic Rule that bears his name, he did much to encour­age the spread of mon­ast­i­cism in the west­ern Church, and con­sequently was a major influ­ence on daily litur­gic­al pray­er down to the present day.

He was born in Nur­sia in cent­ral Italy around the year 480. As a young man he was sent to study in Rome, but was soon appalled by the cor­rup­tion in soci­ety and with­drew to live as a her­mit at Subiaco. He quickly attrac­ted dis­ciples and began to estab­lish small mon­as­ter­ies in the neigh­bour­hood. Around the year 525 he moved to Monte Cas­sino with a band of loy­al monks. Later in life Bene­dict wrote his Rule for Monks, based on his own exper­i­ence of fal­lible people striv­ing to live out the gos­pel. He nev­er inten­ded to found an ‘order’ but his Rule was so good that it was dis­sem­in­ated and widely fol­lowed, becom­ing the mod­el for all west­ern mon­ast­i­cism. Bene­dict died at Monte Cas­sino in about the year 550, prob­ably on 21 March, but he is gen­er­ally commme­or­ated on 11 July in Anglic­an and oth­er Calendars.

Etern­al God,
who made Bene­dict a wise master
in the school of your service
and a guide to many called into community
to fol­low the rule of Christ:
grant that we may put your love before all else
and seek with joy the way of your commandments;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


trial Canadian Collects

The Anglic­an Church of Canada is tri­al­ling some new collects

The [Cana­dian] Gen­er­al Syn­od of 2010 man­dated Faith, Wor­ship, and Min­istry to estab­lish a Liturgy Task Force to work on the revi­sion of our con­tem­por­ary lan­guage litur­gic­al texts. This Task Force has, in turn, been author­ized by the Coun­cil of Gen­er­al Syn­od to release the first phase of its new texts for tri­al use and feed­back as they become avail­able. These draft mater­i­als — begin­ning with Col­lects for Sundays — are encour­aged for use where per­mit­ted by the dio­ces­an bish­ops. We ask that those who use them also par­ti­cip­ate in the pro­cess to feed back your eval­u­ation of the resources to the Liturgy Task Force for its con­sid­er­a­tion in the final edit­or­i­al phase.

The text of the Col­lects for use this year (Year A) ‘from Pente­cost to the Reign of Christ’ can be down­loaded as a pdf via the above link. Unlike the Col­lects in Com­mon Wor­ship which are determ­ined by the named Sundays after Trin­ity, these pray­ers are aligned to the Sunday read­ing cycle.

(Thanks to Phil­lip Tovey for draw­ing my atten­tion to this. Read­ers are wel­come to send sug­ges­tions of suit­able links either by email or as a com­ment on an exist­ing article.)


Parish Communion

It’s hard to ima­gine what the Church of Eng­land was like before the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment — and yet the move­ment itself is vir­tu­ally unknown today. Through the major­ity of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, cer­tainly right up until the 1960s, the move­ment was act­ive in pro­mot­ing its vis­ion of life and wor­ship in the Church of Eng­land, attract­ing sup­port from bish­ops and syn­ods. But it very quickly faded from the scene, so that even those of us who grew up in the 1960s Church may well not have come across it.

At the same time as the Litur­gic­al Move­ment was grow­ing across the Roman Cath­ol­ic Church, recov­er­ing a sense of the cor­por­ate nature of the liturgy, the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment (as it came to be called) was born and grew in Eng­land. The two move­ments seem to have begun and developed inde­pend­ently, though even­tu­ally they came into contact. 

The his­tory of the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment is told in Don­ald Gray’s book Earth and Altar: Evol­u­tion of the Par­ish Com­mu­nion in the Church of Eng­land to 1945 (Alcuin Club Col­lec­tions 68, 1986). Its roots lie in the Anglo-Cath­ol­ic reviv­al and the Oxford Move­ment, begin­ning with John Keble’s Assize Ser­mon in Oxford in 1833. The res­ult­ing interest in sac­ra­ment­al wor­ship led to an increase in the cel­eb­ra­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion, fre­quently with an increas­ing use of cere­mo­ni­al. Because of the require­ment of many Anglo-Cath­ol­ics that the sac­ra­ment should be received fast­ing, it became the cus­tom for the main cere­mo­ni­al cel­eb­ra­tion of the Euchar­ist in many such par­ishes to be almost entirely a non-com­mu­nic­at­ing act. Only the priest and per­haps one or two oth­ers would receive Com­mu­nion. For the rest of the con­greg­a­tion, attend­ing after Sunday break­fast just as they had pre­vi­ously atten­ded Mattins, this was a chor­al, cere­mo­ni­al and devo­tion­al high-point, but one in which they were pass­ive rather than act­ive par­ti­cipants. For the more ‘devout’ there would typ­ic­ally be one or more early cel­eb­ra­tions at 8am and per­haps 7am so that they could receive the sac­ra­ment before break­ing their fast. 

At the same time, Anglo-Cath­ol­ic priests were noted for their work in impov­er­ished and neg­lected areas, par­tic­u­larly in the slums and dock­lands of large Eng­lish cit­ies and ports, and vari­ous group­ings of Chris­ti­an social­ists and oth­er act­iv­ists came and went.

The Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment com­bined two main aims:

  • it strove to make the cel­eb­ra­tion of the Euchar­ist the primary ser­vice on a Sunday morn­ing in each par­ish church, and to insist that it was a ser­vice at which the con­greg­a­tion should receive the sacrament;
  • and it emphas­ised the link between that cel­eb­ra­tion of the Euchar­ist and social action

Social action was con­sidered to be very closely aligned with the Labour move­ment, which itself was grow­ing in strength dur­ing the first half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. At a time when the Church of Eng­land was still very widely regarded as the Con­ser­vat­ive Party at pray­er, the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment might be regarded as the Labour Party at pray­er.

In order for the con­greg­a­tion to receive the sac­ra­ment before break­fast­ing the time of the ser­vice had to be one that was earli­er than the norm of Mattins or High Mass at 11am, but late enough for them to have a bit of a lie-in on their weekly day of rest. 9am or 9.30am became a pop­u­lar time. Par­ishes which still have their main Sunday morn­ing Euchar­ist at this time were quite likely ones that par­ti­cip­ated in the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment. Fre­quently the ser­vice was fol­lowed by a par­ish break­fast. Not all those asso­ci­ated with the move­ment were insist­ent on fast­ing before com­mu­nion — but its lead­ers and advoc­ates were adam­ant on this point.

And what about ‘social action’? This oth­er import­ant part of the life of the Church was focussed on a weekly ‘par­ish meet­ing’, per­haps in the middle of the week, at which such issues could be dis­cussed and sup­port giv­en to vari­ous ini­ti­at­ives, wheth­er loc­al, nation­al or international.

What the pro­moters of the Par­ish Com­mu­nion emphas­ised was the cor­por­ate nature of the Church, the cor­por­ate nature of the Euchar­ist, and the essen­tial and cor­por­ate nature of the social action that was intim­ately bound up with them. The great mani­festo of the move­ment was a col­lec­tion of essays, The Par­ish Com­mu­nion, pub­lished in 1937, edited by the Revd Gab­ri­el Hebert. Momentum grew, and after the Second World War Par­ish and People was estab­lished as a group to cam­paign for the goals of the move­ment. With the real­ity of a major­ity Labour gov­ern­ment from 1945, per­haps the polit­ic­al angle of the move­ment changed. By 1962, when Par­ish and People was cel­eb­rat­ing the 25th anniversary of the pub­lic­a­tion of The Par­ish Com­mu­nion, the Chris­ti­an Social­ist Move­ment (CSM, recently renamed Chris­ti­ans on the Left) was being set up. There was much over­lap between the two groups, and the CSM fol­lowed on from a pleth­ora of sim­il­ar social­ist group­ings, but gradu­ally the two move­ments sep­ar­ated. By the end of the 1960s, hav­ing to a large extent achieved its litur­gic­al aims, Par­ish and People had faded, although it con­tin­ued to exist until the end of 2013.

What then did the Par­ish Com­mu­nion move­ment achieve, and what can be learnt from it? Primar­ily it reminded large chunks of the Church of Eng­land (and oth­er Anglic­an churches too) of the cent­ral­ity of the Euchar­ist, and of the import­ance of a cor­por­ate cel­eb­ra­tion at which all received the sac­ra­ment. It was suc­cess­ful in pro­mot­ing this ideal not only across much of the Anglo-Cath­ol­ic world in which it ori­gin­ated and across the more cent­ral groups in the Church, but also into the more cent­ral-evan­gel­ic­al parts of the Church, so that a par­ish com­mu­nion on a Sunday morn­ing came to be seen as the norm. It linked this fun­da­ment­ally with what it saw as the social justice agenda of the Church’s mis­sion — though as social­ism was tried in the sec­u­lar world this per­haps became a party-polit­ic­al pos­i­tion that did not always sit well with those who were hear­ing the litur­gic­al mes­sage. It fell short, per­haps, in a lack of atten­tion to evangelism.

These three strands — the liturgy, action for social justice, and con­cern for evan­gel­ism — are the areas that we shall explore in this blog. The social justice agenda itself will largely be left to our sis­ter Think­ing Anglic­ans blog: here our con­cern is how that is linked to the liturgy. Sim­il­arly the top­ic of evan­gel­ism itself will be explored in the con­text of the liturgy: of what we do in Church, how our build­ings serve us as loc­al centres of wor­ship, justice and evangelism.


baptismal texts: press comment

Updated Sunday morning

There is some press com­ment today on the draft bap­tis­mal texts pub­lished yesterday.

Reports say that “sin” removed in the ori­gin­al tri­al in Janu­ary has now been rein­stated, and that the response from par­ishes tri­al­ling the texts was pos­it­ive, with more than 90 per cent say­ing the con­greg­a­tion had been “more engaged” with the new liturgy and there was praise for its “unchurchy” language.

The Times: Sin makes return in revamped baptism
The Daily Tele­graph: ‘Sin’ is back but ‘the Dev­il’ option­al in new Church of Eng­land bap­tism service
The Guard­i­an: No dev­il in detail of Church of England’s new bap­tism ser­vice
The Daily Mail: Church puts the ‘sin’ back into tra­di­tion­al bap­tism services

Sunday update: Tim Stan­ley blogs for the Tele­graph Hey, Church of Eng­land: if you want to become a Chris­ti­an, you have to renounce the Dev­il — an art­icle that con­tains numer­ous errors of fact, but which does rep­res­ent the Church’s dilemma.

(Some of these reports are behind paywalls.)


Additional liturgical materials for baptism: texts

The bap­tis­mal texts to be con­sidered by the Gen­er­al Syn­od next month are now avail­able on the Church of Eng­land web­site. This mater­i­al is sched­uled to be con­sidered on the after­noon of Sunday 13 July.

Fol­low­ing the peri­od of exper­i­ment­al use, vari­ous changes were made by the Litur­gic­al Com­mis­sion and sent for con­sid­er­a­tion by the House of Bish­ops. The text agreed by the Bish­ops is now pub­lished as GS 1958 and includes an Intro­duc­tion, the pro­posed texts them­selves, and a pro­posed timetable for author­iz­a­tion. The timetable is:

July — Novem­ber: Revi­sion Com­mit­tee meets

Feb­ru­ary: Revi­sion stage at the Gen­er­al Synod
May: House of Bish­ops (if no fur­ther revi­sion stage)
July: Ref­er­ence to Con­voc­a­tions and House of Laity (if required)
July: Final approv­al at Gen­er­al Syn­od (if no fur­ther revi­sion stage)


Thanksgiving for the institution of Holy Communion

Today is appoin­ted in the cal­en­dar as a day of thanks­giv­ing for the insti­tu­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion. Appen­ded to that descrip­tion are the Lat­in words by which the Thursday after Trin­ity Sunday is more com­monly known among those who actu­ally cel­eb­rate it — Cor­pus Christi, the Body of Christ.

The fest­iv­al day has been over­laid with all sorts of rite and cere­mo­ni­al that emphas­ise a par­tic­u­lar aspect of some beliefs, namely that the ele­ments of bread and wine, after the priestly pray­er of con­sec­ra­tion really are the body and blood of Christ, and there­fore are to be adored in the same way that we might adore Christ or a rel­ic of Christ. For Anglic­ans this kind of beha­viour has to con­tend with Art­icle 28 which con­tains these words

The Sac­ra­ment of the Lord’s Sup­per was not by Christ’s ordin­ance reserved, car­ried about, lif­ted up, or worshipped.

The his­tory of this day is that it com­mem­or­ates the Last Sup­per. Maun­dy Thursday also com­mem­or­ates the Sup­per, but com­ing in Holy Week and begin­ning the great Three Days of the paschal feast, there are oth­er things that rightly take pri­or­ity. So with the three paschal days com­plete, and the fifty days of East­er­tide com­plete, and the old week (or octave) of Pente­cost com­plete, this is the first Thursday avail­able for the com­mem­or­a­tion. Pente­cost no longer has an octave of its own, being regarded as the last day of East­er­tide rather than primar­ily a feast in its own right, but the Thursday after Trin­ity Sunday is too well-estab­lished to move the com­mem­or­a­tion a week earlier.

After the Reform­a­tion the feast ceased to be cel­eb­rated in the Church of Eng­land. Not until New­man wrote Tract 90 of the Oxford Movement’s Tracts for the Times was a ser­i­ous argu­ment made against the inter­pret­a­tion of Art­icle 28. New­man argued that the Art­icle did not for­bid the reser­va­tion of the Sac­ra­ment, it just said that it was not cre­ated by ‘Christ’s ordin­ance’. This argu­ment led many Anglo-Cath­ol­ic par­ishes to restore Reser­va­tion of the Sac­ra­ment, and to intro­duce Cor­pus Christi pro­ces­sions and adoration.

So what, as Anglic­ans, should we cel­eb­rate this day? 

The clue is in the title giv­en the day in Com­mon Wor­ship: a day of thanks­giv­ing for the insti­tu­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion. We give thanks for the exist­ence of Holy Com­mu­nion. In his book Din­ing in the King­dom of God (Arch­diocese of Chica­go, 1994), Roman Cath­ol­ic priest Eugene LaVerdiere argues that rather than focus­ing on the Last Sup­per as the insti­tu­tion of the euchar­ist, we would do bet­ter to remem­ber that the ori­gins of the euchar­ist lie in a long and com­plex series of events that has the Last Sup­per … as their cli­max. LaVerdiere recog­nises that we may not con­sider all the meals in the gos­pel to neces­sar­ily be cel­eb­ra­tions of the euchar­ist, but ‘they all have some­thing to say about the eucharist’.

Sadly, the euchar­ist, and our under­stand­ing of it, can be a very divis­ive thing. One does not have to look very far to find some who find it largely unne­ces­sary (or at least, that it is unne­ces­sary to cel­eb­rate it very often), and on the oth­er hand some who think that a priest say­ing par­tic­u­lar words over bread and wine is the essence of the Church. No doubt I para­phrase each pos­i­tion a little unfairly — if so I apo­lo­gise. But my point is that even if this is an unfair rep­res­ent­a­tion of what each believes, it is how the oth­er per­ceives them.

How do we escape from this? The view expressed in this blog is that the euchar­ist is indeed fun­da­ment­al to our life as Chris­ti­ans; that where the euchar­ist is, there the Church is; that the fre­quent cel­eb­ra­tion of the euchar­ist is giv­en us as a means of growth and nur­ture. But it is also our view that this does not neces­sar­ily mean the euchar­ist as we have come to know it; how it exists today as a ritu­al­ized, ves­ti­gi­al meal, almost sep­ar­ated from real food and drink, in danger of sep­ar­a­tion from a real under­stand­ing of the pres­ence of the liv­ing Christ. Our devo­tion to the euchar­ist com­pels us to con­sider a third way, in which we look for a real bible-based sac­ra­ment­al­ity, com­bin­ing it with a tra­di­tion­al focus on its cent­ral­ity (envis­aged of course by that Arch­bish­op whom Anglo-Cath­ol­ics love to hate, Thomas Cran­mer), and bring­ing to bear our God-giv­en reas­on to try and recon­cile these views. 

And as we have said before, our euchar­ist­ic joy com­pels us to go out unto the world and share that joy by help­ing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and free the oppressed.

That said, I shall, with slightly grit­ted teeth, be swinging a thur­ible later today in a Cor­pus Christi pro­ces­sion, com­plete with rose petals, can­opy et al. Hmmm.

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