Communion in the Hand, and Those Pesky Easterners

This, brought to my attention, from Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures, toward the very end:

Approaching therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or they fingers open; but make they left hand as if a throne for thy right, which is on the eve of receiving the King.  And having hallowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying after it, Amen.  Then after thou hast with carefulness hallowed thy eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake thereof; giving heed lest thou lose any of it; for what thou losest, is a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members.  For tell me, if any one gave thee gold dust, wouldest thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on thy guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss?  How much more cautiously then will thou observe that not a crumb falls from thee, of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?

Then after having partaken of the Body of Christ, approach also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending and saying in the way of worship and reverence, Amen, be thou hallowed by partaking also of the blood of Christ.  And while the moisture is still upon thy lips, touching it with thy hands, hallow both thine eyes and brow and the other senses.  Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who has accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries.  (Mystagogical Cathacheses, V, 21-22)

One of the hills the Trad Catholics die on is reception of the Host on the tongue.  But as is the case with many things, the Eastern churches, whose sacramental validity has never been challenged, do many things in liturgical practice that haven’t sat well with their Western counterparts.  This is one of them.  Many of the “novelties” that are decried by Anglican and Catholic Trad alike are in reality imports from these churches, and as such are a real nuisance to these trads.

I did a series a few years back on Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures.  For me, it was an interesting and informative journey, and I commend it again to my visitors.

Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

Although Vulcan exported its pile driving equipment from the start, it was it’s foray into the offshore oil business that gave Vulcan a truly international perspective. That perspective put some of the world’s “hot spots” into its field of interest, and two of them are very active these days: Hong Kong and the Straits of […]

via Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

My Rimsky-Korsakov Moment in Academia — vulcanhammer.net

In 1871, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became a Professor of Practical Composition and Instrumentation at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In retrospect, given the music he composed, this is not extraordinary. At the time, however, it was amazing. He was still in active service in the Russian Navy. More importantly, although he had had private music lessons and […]

via My Rimsky-Korsakov Moment in Academia — vulcanhammer.net

Kissing Josh Harris Goodbye

Another one bites the dust:

Joshua Harris has abandoned his Christian faith, news that marks another blow to American conservative evangelicalism.

Harris authored the best-selling I Kissed Dating Goodbye in his early twenties, unleashing unnecessary angst on a generation of evangelical teens. In his early thirties, he served as pastor of a Gaithersburg megachurch. He was also an influential figure in the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement (YRR). Now, he has denounced his famous book, announced he and his wife are separating, and repudiated Christianity.

I’m not sure that this is the setback that some think it is.  It’s tempting to equate this with Bart Campolo’s abandonment of the faith, but the motivation is different.  In Campolo’s case, it was the theodicy issue, something with which American evangelicalism has set itself for trouble.  (That too entered into Rachel Held Evans’ falling down, although her break wasn’t as clean.)  In this case it’s another evangelical disaster.  As Trueman notes:

While Harris seems to be making a clean break with his past, the style of his apostasy announcement is oddly consistent with the evangelical Christianity he used to represent. He revealed he was leaving the faith with a social media post, which included a mood photograph of himself contemplating a beautiful lake. The earlier announcement of his divorce used the typical postmodern jargon of “journey” and “story.” And both posts were designed to play to the emotions rather than the mind. Life, it would seem, continues as performance art.

American evangelicalism is a running popularity contest, and Harris hasn’t stopped that part of it, just changed the product he’s selling.  And he’s also stuck his finger in the wind to see which way it’s blowing, which is probably behind his apology to the LGBT community.  Before that, however, his promotion of the “purity movement” reflected evangelical myopia on how to implement the demands of the Gospel.  My biggest problem with the purity movement wasn’t with the principle but with the implementation.  For someone who grew up in a part of the country where the Christian sexual ethic was unpopular to say the least, to make such a public show of it struck me as dangerous.  It’s hard enough to be a Christian without adding to the social pressure, especially in a society where the opinion leaders and elites live primarily to get laid, high or drunk.  Evangelicals think that they have to work at confronting the culture with the Gospel; these days, and earlier for some of us, live it and don’t worry, you’ll have confrontation.

It also doesn’t surprise me that he was Reformed.  Reformed theology is, IMHO, a highway to universalism, but some will blow their stack if they hear that.

What the 2019 Book of Common Prayer Really Needs

The discussion about this book continues.  I get the feeling I’m being shadowboxed in this discussion (and I’m sure others are too.)  For the moment I’ll pass along this blog’s take on Cranmer and Lutheran influenceThe Porcine is a relatively new Anglican blog and is very nice, I hope its writer keeps it up.

Taking a different tack on this, there are many things the ACNA’s new 2019 Book of Common Prayer needs but I’ll throw one more idea out there: pictures.  As a kid growing up in the Episcopal Church I had an illustrated version of part of the 1928 BCP, but there are illustrated versions of at least the 1662 BCP.  One of them is the Pictorial Edition of the Book of Common Prayer, and following are selected pages from that book.

pictorialedition00churrich_bw_Page_007

Does the 2019 BCP Need More Than One Rite?

The back and forth over the new ANCA 2019 Book of Common Prayer continues.  This post delves into a question that, in a sense, puts together the whole debate over the theology of the Holy Communion and how it should be represented in the liturgy: do we really need the two rites we have in the 2019 BCP?  And what’s this business about the “ancient texts?”

Let’s start with stating a proposition: the fact that the 1979 BCP has two doesn’t justify the 2019 BCP doing the same.  I’m sure the committee(s) that put together the 2019 BCP had that discussion.  Having more than one rite antedates the 1979 BCP.  I know some of my readers find my constant references to Roman Catholicism in these posts irritating at best and heretical at worst, but as an educator I think it’s at least instructive.

It’s worth noting that the Church of England, the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church had one anaphora (the technical term for the consecration of the elements of Communion) and one rite of the Communion/Eucharist/Mass going into the 1960’s.  It’s also worth noting that these liturgies were basically all of sixteenth century vintage.  The Anglican liturgy was first set forth in the 1549 BCP and, through the dizzying and deadly changes that the Church of England went through subsequent to that, ended up in a modified form in the 1662 BCP.  The Roman Catholic Church formulated (or better normalized) its liturgy around the time of the Council of Trent.  Before the term “Traditional Latin Mass” (#TLM) became common with trads, it was customary to refer to this liturgy as the Tridentine Mass.

On both sides of the English Channel there was a great deal of intellectual ferment in the years leading up to the 1960’s.  A greater awareness of Patristic and Roman Empire Christianity practice came into being.  Anglo-Catholics such as Luckock and Jalland were aware of different liturgical practices in this era, different both from Rome and what was current in the Church of England.  Roman Catholics such as Jean Daniélou took a similar scholarly interest.

It’s worth noting that in 2009 this blog featured a series (about the same time the ACNA came into existence) of several of these “ancient text” anaphorae.  The complete list with explanation as to their origin is as follows:

Also included were a couple of Roman Catholic “experimental” liturgies (Canon “B” and Canon “C”.)   It would be interesting to know if any of these were a resource for the 2019 BCP.

The 1970’s saw the revision of both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal liturgies, the former with the Novus Ordo Missae and the latter with the 1979 BCP.  These types of liturgies have been used for around a half century.  It is obvious that those who put the 2019 BCP have bowed, in part, to that long usage.  They evidently felt that a return to a modernized version of the 1928 or even 1662 BCP with one anaphora (to say nothing of the general structure of the Communion liturgy) was not a real possibility at this point.

So how does the 2019’s “ancient text” stack up?  It combines the brevity of the Anaphora of Hippolytus (the oldest of the texts above) with a “history of salvation” that is seen in some of the Eastern liturgies.  Overall it’s not really bad.  The biggest criticism may be that it’s too brief!  I’m sure, however, that a “history of salvation” type of liturgy will go over with some about as well as the first such presentation, that of Stephen (Acts 7:2-60.)

I really think that the revival of these “ancient texts,” when too much violence isn’t done to their own theology, is one of the best things that has happened in liturgical development this half century past.   That sentiment is not shared amongst Reformed Anglican or Catholic trad alike.  However, the main thing that Anglican and Catholic have in common with the negative response is the vehemence of the opposition.

The impact on Roman Catholicism has been a realization that a great deal of what passed for Catholic “essentials” before Vatican II (and with the trade today) was more like an accumulation of stuff by people who have lived in a house for many years: the house is the same, but the large volume of the stuff has changed the mode of living.  Attempts to do some “housecleaning” have been lost with those of a more modern or post-modern style of mind (like that of James Martin SJ or the current Occupant of St. Peter’s.)  The trads’ answer is that we should keep all the stuff the way it was, but I don’t think that’s a real solution.

With the Reformed Anglicans (the Anglo-Catholics are another story altogether) the question is more basic: is the Roman Empire Church, which immediately followed Our Lord’s time on earth, closer to his idea than that of the Reformers, who lived 1500 years later?  From a historical view, the latter implies this type of concept:

Most evangelicals look at church history in a very specific way; there were first New Testament times, then there was the Reformation, and now there’s us. This results in a gap of about a millennium and a half between significant events; surely something happened in that length of time!

The danger to Reformed types of the inclusion of such a liturgy is that it undercuts their own claim to “pride of place” as the closest to the Scriptures.

Since the Anglicans have gone to the trouble to retain an episcopate (and the episcopate is often a major source of trouble) and a liturgy, it makes sense that the Patristic witness is relevant.  That’s a hard sell to many Reformed types, but if they want to be consistent, they should ditch the liturgy and the episcopate and do it Calvin’s way.

The Problem of God, Evil, Cancer and My Nurse — The Evangelical Calvinist

It is just over nine years ago now that I was laid up in my hospital bed at OHSU in Portland, OR; I was being treated for an incurable, rare, and highly aggressive cancer known as Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor sarcoma (DSRCT). The prognosis of this particular cancer is almost always imminent death (within […]

I’ve discussed the theodicy issue–which I think may be the most urgent issue American Christianity faces–in pieces such as If I Started the way @BartCampolo Did, I Wouldn’t Believe in God Either and Painting Ourselves into a Corner at “The Shack”.  But to use his own dire adversity as an opportunity to share his faith is very moving.

via The Problem of God, Evil, Cancer and My Nurse — The Evangelical Calvinist

Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites — Chet Aero Marine

Today, of course, is the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon–“one giant leap for mankind,” to be sure. It was a great accomplishment and deserves to be remembered. It’s easy to forget, however, that at the time there were many–especially on the left–who believed that the whole enterprise was a mistake, […]

via Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites — Chet Aero Marine

Otto Klink: From Atheism and Socialism to Assemblies of God Evangelist — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

This Week in AG History — July 18, 1931 By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg Originally published on AG News, 18 July 2019 Otto J. Klink (1888-1955) was a German-born American Pentecostal evangelist who traveled the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ and warning his listeners about the dangers of socialism, […]

via Otto Klink: From Atheism and Socialism to Assemblies of God Evangelist — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Why I Prefer Ad Orientem

Since the release of the ANCA 2019 Book of Common Prayer has open the floodgates for consideration of all kinds of controversial topics, it’s time to consider one more: that of ad orientem, i.e., facing the altar during the Sacred Mysteries rather than the people.  That’s been the subject of a blog-to-blog volley between one Rev. Ben Jeffries, vicar at The Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Opelika, Alabama,  and Robin Jordan of Anglicans Ablaze fame.

Personal note: I’ve sparred with Robin before on the nature of Anglicanism and many other topics.  I noted that he opted to expand his own case on his own blog and not in the comments section of Jeffries’.  Evidently his encounter with me was educational; I wish he had done this when we went at it, we would have both been better off.

In any case, the topic is of interest because I’ve seen it both ways.  First, the altar of my home church, against the wall (and certainly facing east, which was easy to figure out in Palm Beach):

altar

As a Roman Catholic, however, the priest always faced the people with the altar from the wall, for reasons that both Jeffries and Jordan explain in detail.

With Latta Griswold’s rule of “The minister should face the altar when he addresses Almighty God, the congregation when he addresses or reads to them, and the opposite stall during other parts of the service” in mind, the reasons why I think ad orientem is better are threefold:

  1. It is a strong statement against Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology and its variations.  While I am aware that Anglicanism, in common with Lutheranism, does not strictly adhere to this, the Scriptures are clear on this subject.
  2. It is the best justification for women ministering at the altar.  Now that you’ve picked yourself off of the floor, hear me out: true Catholics will tell you that the priest is in the place of Christ and represents him to the people, which is why we can never have women priests.  But that kind of priesthood has no real justification in the New Testament, as any true Anglican knows.  At the altar the minister represents the congregation to God, and when he or she celebrates the sacred mysteries facing God with the congregation at his or her back, that’s a powerful statement of the reality of the role of the minister.  Facing the people implies that the priest, in the place of Christ, is representing God to the people.
  3. It helps to restore the God-centred nature of our worship, and we need all of that we can get these days.

Now we know that trads and #straightouttairondale types inflexibly associate (or try to) ad orientem with the ornate High Mass.  But that wasn’t always the case, and a couple of examples from the days of wine and the Tridentine Mass will suffice.

Austrian-Field-Mass
The “field Mass,” a tradition in the Austrian military, being simply celebrated during World War I, in good ad orientem style.  It’s interesting to note that Eduard Habsburg, a descendant of the monarch these troops served, is the current Ambassador to the Vatican from Hungary.
mass_tyrolean_alps
On the Allies side, a priest celebrates Mass ad orientem (or whatever direction he can manage) to Italian Alpine troops during World War I. The Alpine troops were the best on both sides of the conflict; evidently they had the crack priests to go with them.

One common criticism of the ad orientem style is that its celebrants “mumble” their prayers.  That was certainly the case during pre-Vatican II times, but it doesn’t have to be now.  One good wireless microphone (which a celebrant should wear anyway, given all the movement during the Liturgy) should fix that.  For parishes with a larger budget, it wouldn’t hurt to set up a camera to the side of the altar and see what it looks like when the celebrant actually faces God.

While I’m at it, I’d like to address one more of Robin’s assertions:

Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI introduced a series of so-called reforms of the Roman Rite, which represent a retrograde movement in the Roman Catholic Church—a retreat from the reforms of Vatican II. Ratzinger, the writers on the New Liturgical Movement website, and Lang are a part of a movement in the Roman Catholic Church, which seeks to undo the reforms of Vatican II and to revive the Latin Mass and other pre-Vatican II practices. It blames the reforms of Vatican II for the decline in attendance at Mass in the West. Like the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic movement in the Anglican Church it presents itself as a movement for the renewal of the church.

I was involved in a church plant that had lapsed Roman Catholics as one of ministry target groups. Our work with this ministry target group did not support the contentions of this movement. Among the reasons that the lapsed Roman Catholics with whom we worked gave for having stopped attending Mass was that they had undergone a divorce. They had been physically abused by the Roman Catholic nuns in parochial school as a child. They were concerned about the growing reports of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, the failure of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to protect these children, and the safety of their own children. The Roman Catholic Church had not met their pastoral and spiritual needs. They had been baptized, catechized, and confirmed, but had never heard the gospel or had been invited to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. How the Mass was celebrated was a non-issue.

I’ve discussed the impact of those retrograde innovations here and here.  Robin is right up to a point, but the main impact of the whole “trad” movement in Roman Catholicism is to create a core of committed people, something that the Church–with its gradualistic “box checker” mentality and weak pastoral system–has failed to do.  That isn’t enough to renew the church but without it Roman Catholicism will experience continual decline.  And, in a culture where Christianity is unpopular and its legal status rides from one election cycle to another, having that core is essential to its survival.

But that brings us to Anglicanism in North America and what it’s here to do.  As I see it Anglicanism has always been a “niche marketing” project, especially since American Christianity tends to be class stratified.  If you want many people, you’ll start a non-denominational or Pentecostal church (especially if you’re not targeting white people.)  If you want the “right” people, i.e., those with more education and resources, you’ll start an Anglican church.  Paul could claim the following:

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so as at all costs to save some. And I do everything for the sake of the Good News, that with them I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 TCNT)

Most of our ministers these days can’t.  They should find out, among other things, whom God is calling them to be an apostle to and do it.