Leavened Bread and the Blessed Sacrament

Patricius has written Elevations… which is interesting when you get to know its author a little. He loves making conservative readers bristle by his rhetoric! I have always used standard unleavened wafers that you buy ready made and keep in an airtight container. They are practical and break cleanly, if you do the Fraction carefully and along the scored line on the back of the host. The western Church has used unleavened bread for a long time unlike the πρόσφορα of the Byzantine and other oriental Churches.

I see no reason why a πρόσφορον could not be used in the Latin rite. The usual type used in the Byzantine Liturgy is quite large and thick. A piece is ceremonially cut out of the centre to be consecrated during the Liturgy, and the remainder is given to the faithful at the end as the Ἀντίδωρον. I could imagine the same kind of leavened bread being pressed flatter and baked to resemble a disk of about half an inch thick. The bread can be quite similar to Turkish pita bread used for making döner kebabs. It can be handled in the same way as an unleavened wafer and broken at the Fraction, care being taken to avoid crumbs getting everywhere. But, a point I will make is that I don’t, both for practical reasons and some measure of conformity to the ways of the Diocese to which I belong as a priest. I use unleavened hosts.

I am not sure what kind of host would have been used in fifteenth-century England in an average country church, but they would not have been very different from the wafers you buy in church supplier’s shops nowadays. Leavened bread in the Latin Church goes back a very long way. Host pressing irons in convents and museums are the usual evidence of this method of making them, and some of these irons go back a long time. I order my hosts from our own church shop which is presently moving from Canterbury to Lydd in Kent where it will be open for mail and internet orders.

As for devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, there is also a long history. Essentially it is an extension of devotion at the Easter Sepulcre from the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday until Easter Sunday morning – the way it is in the Use of Sarum. In the Roman rite, things shifted to the altar of repose on Maundy Thursday to the Mass of the Presanctified. Thursday began to be the day associated with Corpus Christi as for the Ascension. The proper we have of the Maundy Thursday Mass with a few bits and pieces for the Roman Maundy Thursday procession were written by St Thomas Aquinas. From that time, Corpus Christi spread from Orvieto to the north of Rome to the entire Latin Church. The Sarum missals of the early sixteenth century contain the Mass of Corpus Christi with the same proper. Eucharistic processions and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament were as characteristic of pre-Reformation England as nineteenth-century France.

Corpus Christi certainly marks a spirit of joy and the quote from Hilaire Belloc:

Where’er the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s music and laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

Things have changed a lot in Italy and France now, but I have personally seen some lovely displays of popular piety in Catholic Germany and Switzerland. I am inclined not to sneeze at popular piety, because sometimes we discover how little spirituality we have ourselves. I have been to Lourdes and Fatima, and have been able to observe the faith and hope of those who are hopelessly ill or dying, but yet pray for a miracle. Who would I be to smash those shrines and tell those people to get back to work and that they are worth their money? In all the tackiness and sentimentalism, there is faith and hope, a real love for God and the whole supernatural order. Personally, I prefer quiet days in monasteries to noisy pilgrimages and busloads of vulgar Italians and Spaniards – but they have also come to seek God.

Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is important, but it is important to catechise the faithful. The primary purpose of the Blessed Sacrament is Holy Communion at Mass, but the Sacrament can convey grace in other ways too. There is the concept of the Spiritual Communion from the days when most lay folk rarely communicated.

I have little experience of the more “purist” forms of Western Orthodoxy or Old Catholicism, but I see the link with the Jansenist movement and some of the movements in seventeenth-century Anglicanism. Everything can be made so dry and sterile that ordinary folk can no longer relate. Swiss and German Old Catholicism was never a popular movement as Soloviev acidly criticised them. Any kind of Western Orthodoxy that has had any pastoral success has tended to imitate post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism like the Anglo-Catholic movement in England. This is the big difference between Patricius and myself. I am a priest with long experience of seminaries, parishes and community life. We are bodies and souls and need both ἔρως and ἀγάπη in our relationship with the sacred. My concern is as pastoral as it is academic. My experience is not his.

My experience of the Use of Sarum and doing it as authentically as possible has shown that there is less “bobbing” (genuflecting) that in the classical Roman rite. There are profound bows at certain moments, but fewer of them. I do things as at the eve of the Reformation. It wasn’t perfect. Nothing ever is, but it is well documented and relies very little on “reconstruction” or conjecture. It is rather similar to the Dominican rite and many of the monastic usages, characterised by sobriety and “noble simplicity”.

From there to destroying lock, stock and barrel… There is a lot of Patrician rhetoric and many pinches of salt to be taken. I do appreciate sobriety in the liturgy. This is perhaps to some extent my reaction from the baroque extravagance of Gricigliano! Popular piety needs to be fostered but the faithful also need to learn about the liturgy. In France, the most positive influence come from the newly restored Benedictine monasteries following the Revolution and Romanticism. One of the most well-known examples of this movement was Père Emmanuel and his parish at Mesnil-Saint-Loup. It all constituted the early Liturgical Movement.

Patricius’ suggestions remind me of the Synod of Pistoia and the Jansenists, Father Jacques Jubé of Asnières and what actually inspired the movement towards the Novus Ordo of Archbishop Annabile Bugnini accepted by Pope Paul VI. The inspiration is the idea of pristine purity from the Church of something like the third century (if such was not an illusion) and a highly cerebral notion of the liturgy and theology. It is a thicker iconostasis of elitism than the jubé or the rood screen ever was! Perhaps I took on some influence from Dom Guéranger as I read the Institutions Liturgiques written in the 1840’s. In medio stat virtus, and right or wrong is not on one side only. Jansenist purism is a tendency, as had Pharisaism been in Judaism in the time of Christ since the return from the Second Exile. In the end, it is the fine balance between our northern paganism, Greek philosophy and Jewish monotheism. Christianity became something extremely complex, and it has become lost in time over the centuries. Tradition has bequeathed us a few remnants, so not everything is entirely gone.

The Elevation is an established custom at Mass in the various western rites. In my Sarum Mass, I elevate the Host as in the Roman rite and elevate the chalice to a height of about my face. I rarely celebrate Benediction, as I rarely have lay faithful at Mass. I reserve the Sacrament in the hanging pyx and I keep an oil lamp lit (it consumes a lot of olive oil). I have never celebrated Mass coram Sanctissimo, and have never seen it done, not even at Gricigliano! The Holy Week usages of Sarum have been quite an eye-opener. The Easter Selpulcre isn’t merely an “altar of repose a day late”, but the emphasis is different. It remains throughout the Paschal Vigil ceremonies, and until a short ceremony of removing the cross and putting the third host of Maundy Thursday into the pyx just before the Mass of Easter Sunday.

I am an Anglican and distribute Holy Communion under both kinds. I usually do so by intinction, a great way to avoid people wanting Communion in the hand (at least the way it usually happens in Roman Catholic parishes). We do need to be careful where we keep the Blessed Sacrament. My hanging pyx isn’t very “secure” but I live in the countryside. In cities, the usual way is (or used to be) to open the tabernacle on the altar each evening and transfer the Blessed Sacrament to a safe behind the high altar. Satanists still find ways to steal the Blessed Sacrament and use it for evil rites. Profanations still happen and for reasons of hatred of Christianity.

What would I do if I were the Pope? It is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Patricius will never be the Pope and nor will I. I would never want that degree of authority or influence over such large numbers of innocent people. The Protestants tried stamping out “superstition” (the remnants of northern paganism tolerated to make monotheism assimilable) and they failed. People either returned to Catholic ways or gave up religion altogether. The neo-Jansenists of the 1960’s and 70’s tried it and emptied their churches. Those who left will never return. That is the terrifying responsibility of authority!

What would be the solution? It isn’t changing the world or remaking the Church. It is looking at ourselves and seeing what we can bring the world in terms of prophecy, spirituality, love and beauty. I have been edified by simple pilgrims walking on their knees to the shrine of Fatima. I have seen very sick people dragging their hands round the grotto of Lourdes. The hope is there, however primary their faith or knowledge may be. There is a spark that we have no right to quench. We are not the Pope, but even a lowly priest has responsibility, and this is why I have written this article.

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47 Responses to Leavened Bread and the Blessed Sacrament

  1. Patricius says:

    I notice that your readers run for the hills whenever you link to my blog, father!

    My old parish priest accused me of Jansenism. Weren’t they crypto-Calvinists, though? I fail to see the connexion between their theology and subsequent liturgical tampering (I own an 18th century Jansenist missal by the way) and my own views. One reader said that it sounded like Byzantising Western praxis for reasons neither grounded in sound theology or tradition. That is a misconception too. I have already expressed my rejection of transubstantiation. What, do you think, all of the nine points have in common then, vis-a-vis that doctrine approaching its 800th anniversary?

    As an Anglican, father, I thought you’d have taken the Thirty-Nine Articles more seriously in using the Sarum use. “The Sacrament of the LORD’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.”

    • William Tighe says:

      I’ve always thought that labelling the Jansenists as “crypto-Calvinists” was something of a canard: they were strict Augustinians in their soteriology, particularly as regards predestination and election, but they were not more-Augustinian-than-Augustine in the way that both Calvin and Luther were. In every other respect (that I know of) they had no more in common with any sort of Protestantism than all schools of Catholicism did.

      • Stephen K says:

        would agree, William. (Not from extensive study of the history, mind you!) Of course, I have read works about the ‘heresy’ but my best source was the French father of a family in the traditionalist Catholic movement whom I knew personally. His wife showed me his desk-side crucifix – a stark affair with Jesus with his arms stretched upwards. He was from the Toulouse region; he was a Catholic influenced by Jansenism. I recall his way of speaking, his rigidity.

        And this, I think, sums it up: if he was “Jansenistic” he was still more “catholic” than “reformed”. I think what is often forgotten is that the Augustinian Luther and Augustinian Catholics had – and have – a lot in common.

        My reaction, upon seeing the crucifix, upon reflecting on the man, on reflecting on the family, on the sensibilities involved, was that he was an ‘extreme Catholic” not an “extreme Protestant”.

        A personal take on the subject.

    • My statistics are fairly constant: about 200 different persons per day and nearly 600 hits per day. Numbers understandably lulled over Christmas as readers were going to church or spending time with their families. My December 2014 peak was on the 15th with 256 single visitors and 821 hits.

      What I see about Jansenism is not only the questions of Augustinian theology about predestination and grace in common with Calvin and Luther. There is the intuition of returning to a perceived “pristine pure” era of the Church’s history to seek inspiration for a “restoration” of the liturgy. The general assumption is the suppression of popular religion and the emphasis of strict monotheism shorn of the influence of Greek philosophy and the paganism of our ancestors still in our collective consciousness. It is an idea one sometimes finds in Western Rite Orthodoxy, though the Russians and Antiochians have either imitated post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism or at least sought to restore a late medieval status quo.

      We in the Anglican Catholic Church consider the Thirty-Nine Articles as a document of historical interest, but we go more by the Affirmation of Saint Louis. We don’t explicitly teach transsubstantiation, but define the Eucharist as “the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood“. We neither affirm nor condemn the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament. Most of our churches have Benediction, Corpus Christi and some method of reservation (tabernacle, hanging pyx, aumbry, etc.).

      One question I will ask you publicly. Would you be happy in a Protestant form of Christianity such as you might find in a couple of City churches with 1662 and North-End celebration? There are also the United Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, etc. denominations. There are also the Quakers for whom I have a lot of respect.

      In the end, are you really expressing your sincere beliefs or being provocative?

      • ed pacht says:

        I hope I’m not out of place in inserting my musings here. I’m pretty much an unreconstructed American Anglo-Catholic with a preference for our 1928 BCP Mass as enriched by the Missal (pretty much Tridentine). I love smells and bells and all the trappings, but it is not a specific form that I insist upon, but an attitude, specifically the view of the liturgy as the church’s work, not as something centered upon the celebrant. The priest serves the liturgy, not the other way around, and an attitude of reverence requires a great dose of humility and near anonymity. It is not Father’s Mass, but a Mass which Father is privileged to lead. To wear the vestments, read the service as it is given, and to follow the rubrics is to minimize the individuality of the celebrant and to celebrate in union with a church that transcends space and time. There certainly is room for differences in the manner of worship, but it remains that liturgy is not a pick and choose exercise or something to be molded to the celebrants preference or, God forbid, to put the celebrant center stage.

        Why am I writing all this? Well, my parish is currently saddled with an Interim priest who wears the vestments, uses traditionalish gestures and a lot of the “High-Church” trappings, but does as he pleases, and in such a way as to put himself in center stage, thus making real worship quite difficult. Father, I’m pretty spikey, but your mention of northend 1662 celebration had the surprising effect of making me jealous. Such a celebration (though it would not be to my liking) would be so very much more liturgical than the mess we are now putting up with. I’d accept it in a heartbeat if it would replace what we now have.

      • It is this consideration that largely motivated me to adopt Sarum whilst I was still in the TAC Patrimony of the Primate. I don’t judge anyone else, but for me, it is a truly Anglican liturgy (even though derived from the Roman rite and the old French traditions). It doesn’t need any “repairs” done to it and it is not my idiosyncrasy – I just “say the black and do the red”, or more precisely say the normal type and do the italics. No reconstruction is needed.

        I was a Roman Catholic for too long, and before that I was “middle-of-the-road-to-high” when I began to have anything to do with the Church as an Anglican boy. Low-church practice is foreign to me, and is not a part of our diocesan usage. Sarum is, by custom and tolerance, though the Anglican Missal is our “ordinary use”.

        We priests have to be humble and behave modestly as well as reverently at the altar. I am not shy in front of a bunch of people, but I hate showing off! The point of vestments and behaving in a set way is to cease to be our person but to put on the person of Christ – whether it is chasuble, stole, etc. or surplice and tippet.

      • Patricius says:

        In answer to your question, father I say nothing on my blog that I do not believe deep down. You might say that it is the raison-d’etre of my blog. I stopped writing Singulare Ingenium because my mother insisted that my university work was suffering because of my devotion to it. At the time, knowing that my days at university were numbered anyway, I started a new blog at Whitsun 2010 because I was sick and tired of the hypocrisy I was constantly exposed to in Traddieland. Nobody was writing about what I sincerely believed so I set about doing so myself. But not all of my beliefs are worked out yet. I don’t know what makes you suggest a non-conformist kind of Christianity. When have I ever advocated the abolition of bishops?

        I would be happier in the Church of England if I didn’t know that the Church of England is finished. I will not be a part of any church that has women in authority over men.

      • I haven’t doubted your sincerity, nor your freedom of speech. I only suspected that you were going a little further than your thought in your speech. My idea of Non-conformist denominations was just an idea I threw up in the air – à prendre ou à laisser… I agree with you about the Church of England, at least at an institutional level. I’m not advising you to do anything. However, there is one little tip: not everything we are thinking is good to be said or written in public. We all understand things in different ways because we are different persons. There is a stream of Catholic life that is much less dependant on popular religion and devotions, the monastic life. Maybe the Carthusians at Parkminster have something of what you seek, just in terms of spending a quiet day or two. There are few monasteries still with a traditional rite. The French Benedictines use 1965. I can’t advise you any more than that.

        I’ll just ask you to cut me a little slack, as I care about you and your well-being.

  2. ed pacht says:

    As to the bread in use before the Reformation, the 1549 BCP has an interesting rubric proposing changes which gives a pretty good idea of what one was to change from:

    For aduoyding of all matters and occasion of dyscencyon, it is mete that the breade prepared for the Communion, bee made, through all thys realme, after one sort and fashion: that is to say, unleauened, and rounde, as it was afore, but without all manner of printe, and something more larger and thicker than it was, so that it may be aptly deuided in diuers pieces: …

    • Thank you for the quote. The tendency in France (in the Roman Catholic Church) is to make much bigger hosts about 1/8 inch thick and to be broken into more than 3 pieces. To be honest, this kind of matter is hard to chew on with a dry mouth from saying Mass up to the point of Communion. I use Charles Farris hosts (AB16S at £4.60 for a box of 50). They have a range of other types of hosts too. It would be reasonable to believe that their ranges of “traditional” altar breads are no different than what was made in the pre-Reformation era.

  3. Patricius says:

    I also associate non-Conformist Christianity with Whiggery…

  4. Dale says:

    The Armenian Orthodox use unleavened Hosts, and in the Byzantine rite an elevation, with both chalice and pre-consecrated bread is done together after the words of institution and before the epiclesis, so theologically in the same position as in the Roman rite. The Byzantines also do a Benediction of the Consecrated elements over the congregation after the reception of communion and the consecrated elements are then taken to the offertory table to be consumed by the deacon. The pre-sanctified rite of the Byzantine Orthodox has several forms of the Benediction of the Sacrament as well as a procession of the pre-Consecrated elements as well.

    • Indeed, for all the pomposity of some Byzantine Orthodox and the grouping of all non-Roman Rites as the mysterious “East” by most Catholics, the Byzantine and Armenian Rites have more in common with the Roman than they do most Oriental Rites!

      For context, I am familiar with both the Greek and Roman Rites but have regretfully never attended an Armenian liturgy live. The last one does seem to be a combination of the Roman and Byzantine traditions for the most part.

    • Dale says:

      Noticed in my entry that I mistakenly stated “procession of the pre-Consecrated elements”: that should be “post-Consecrated elements”!

  5. Stephen Kellett says:

    I think the way this thread has evolved epitomises the problem of how to balance theology with praxis. Patricius thinks certain practices ought to be abolished because of problems with the doctrine of transubstantiation; Father has pointed to problems of the practicalities of real bread but salutarily reminds us that religious faith is not an intellectual category but a personal experience, evidence by actions as diverse as his own priestly ministries and the knee-crawling of penitent pilgrims.

    Personally, I don’t mind whether people have Corpus Christi processions or Expositions or not. If it works for them, and makes them more loving, they are good things. If they don’t they aren’t. Once I lapped them up; now I find them abhorrent, theologically, philosophically and psychologically. Everyone is entitled to the same change possibility or act of will. Faith does not treat of verifiable facts but of spiritual values.

    I like traditional forms of worship but I dislike attitudes that reject the idea of a female priesthood. I have considered, but reject, the arguments against it. But those who think women cannot or should not be Christian priests are still, in my eyes, my brothers and sisters. This seems to me to be the most important thing about “being Christian”. Thus, the very possibility of arguments over different forms of worship – liturgy – seems to me quite to miss the point. Liturgy – in my eyes – is much less important or central than love-and-justice, in emotional, psychological and material terms. Liturgy – from start to finish – is a man-made thing, and can be made or unmade ‘in infinite variety’.

    I only venture this post because, ultimately, I care for the people who regularly post here. I do not propose it as a truth I insist, but as a truth – for me. You either will agree or not, I can do no other. God bless each and every one of you.

    • I too see this thing as a matter of tolerance for other people, failing which the only way to go is totalitarianism (a pet theme of mine – yes, I know) which may be completely anti-Christian like Communism under Stalin. I personally am between English medieval and Arts & Crafts in my aesthetic tastes. I have largely gone off baroque, and I find 19th century sentimentalism as bad as some of the “modern stuff”. That’s me. I’m lucky to be a priest and be able to do what I want within the confines of being a priest of the ACC and its Diocese of the United Kingdom.

      It isn’t all about me.

      So I either want to be a little Hitler or let other people get on with their lives. The issue I most had with Patricius was that of intolerance. He, in a position of power, would abolish those things and make everyone follow a narrow “orthodoxy”. At the same time, he would find it hard to follow someone else’s. We all fail to tolerate each other, and the only way forward is warfare, might is right – Die Philosophie der Macht. The stupid can be mighty, and history bears witness of the result.

      We can either come to some kind of understanding with others and worship together in a way that does not alienate each of us. Or we can be one-man “true churches” with one foot in and one foot out of sanity. I have seen it with others, notably the “home-alone” sedevacantists. We can either die alone or find some kind of modus vivendi which means some degree of compromise.

      • Dale says:

        I really love both the Baroque as well as the more medieval liturgical traditions. Also, I find both Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (the last time I attended this service was in an Orthodox church) and the processions of Corpus Christi quite moving. I have no problem with services in Latin or in vernaculars as well. Also, no real problem with beautiful Dearmer style Gothic chasubles or stiff-as-a-board Roman ones will bright and gaudy flowers spread all over either. I find it very tiresome when people make such secondary issues the pinnacle of correctness.

        Having said the above, I do have theological issues with committee invented liturgies that only reflect the personal opinions of the compilers; and priestesses simply seem to be contrary to Catholic received scriptural and theological principals; but within Protestantism, I really do not care one way or the other. They may do as they wish since they are not bound by tradition as we are.

        I also reject the the post-Vatican I principal that the Pope himself is tradition.

      • Patricius says:

        With regard to intolerance, is that not beside the point? You wouldn’t tolerate falsehood being preached in churches so why would customs bethought of bad theology and ill-informed pieties be exempt? It doesn’t matter if people like them!

      • Then I suggest you do a putsch or coup d’état, take the power of a country, take over the Church by making it depend on you for money. Then you can send in the police and the troops. Until you have that sort of power, this kind of talk is sterile. What else do you propose to not “tolerate falsehood”? Until then, “they” don’t want you in their churches and you’re all alone.

      • ed pacht says:

        The question is not one of tolerating falsehood, but of whether I am qualified to declare “infallibly” that the way I see it is absolutely true and everything that I prefer not to agree with is falsehood. Is a custom I dislike necessarily “bethought of bad theology and ill-informed pieties” or might there be something involved that I am simply not wise enough to perceive? I can (and do) have strong opinions on many matters, but there is only so far I can go in judging others or in enforcing my own notions. Can the opinion of a majority of Christians over time be errant? Well, yes, that is possible — but how far can I go in asserting with certainty that I am wiser than all of them? I think we need to walk very carefully indeed when we are tempted to issue condemnations.

      • I agree with you. Setting oneself up as an absolute authority seems to be madness. It certainly does seem to be the flipping-over point. Three possibilities: go with the majority, go with a significant minority, forsake Christianity and do away with the cognitive dissonance. I use an archaic liturgy, and very few others do. I can’t say it is the only true way to do things and I do so with the tolerance of my Bishop. That’s enough for me. If I wanted some measure of credibility, it would be good to see if there is at least some minority with which I have something in common.

      • Dale says:

        But Patricius, I do not find either unleavened hosts, such bread was used for the first Mass, or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, found in the Byzantine tradition as well, but using a chalice instead of a monstrance (I have actually seen in very poor churches in the Philippines Benediction done with a ciborium), or Processions of the Blessed Sacrament, once again done in the Byzantine rite during Lenten liturgies, to be bad theology…quite the opposite really. I fail to see why a Gothic chasuble should bee good theology whilst a Baroque style one is bad theology.

        You seem to be confusing taste with theology.

      • ed pacht says:

        Now, let’s be fair. Patrick has expressed theological reasons for his objection to Benediction &c. The fact that you and I do not agree with him in the theology (and thus style it, as he does ours, as ‘bad theology’) does not relegate his objection to mere taste. It is indeed a theological problem

        As for the form of vestments, well, that is a matter of taste, and my strong preference for the Gothic does not force me to think of the Baroque as somehow wrong.

        As to the bread — our thin little hosts are probably just as dissimilar to the bread of the Last Supper as are the leavened loaves of the Byzantines. The Passover bread of the time was probably much thicker, cracker-like, and baked in good-sized pieces, not quite like the Mazzoth used by today’s Jews, but closer to that than to any of the present-day Christian Eucharistic breads.

      • Dale says:

        Actually Ed, if one reads his posting he only makes a list of things he wishes to have abolished, giving absolutely no theological reasoning for his opinions.

      • ed pacht says:

        Fr. Chadwick linked to Patrick’s blog entry, thus making that part of this discussion. In it he expresses a Lutheran-influenced view of Real Presence that is not compatible with the practices he wishes to disallow. You and I may disagree with him, but we are not answering him if we do not recognize his theological claims.

      • I can tell you where Patricius is coming from. He is from a Roman Catholic family. I agree with many of his observations on the liturgy, viz: keeping the rites of before that liturgical movement that was influenced by “pastoralism” – altering the liturgy for perceived pastoral benefits rather than educating the faithful in the historical / traditional liturgy. The RC traditionalists remain too influenced by the “pastoralist” liturgical movement.

        This may seem cranky to some, but I do see that letting the liturgical tradition trickle away will be tantamount to losing it all forever. Okay, the liturgy has never been perfect at any historic era, but it was once formed by the life of the local Church, by custom. It existed and influenced the life of the community, and was at that time (before 1568 and 1570) free from the manipulating hand of authorities and “experts”. At least that is the theory. The devotional life of parishes, the RC Church up to the 1960’s like the pre-Reformation situation, is blamed for the loss of the “liturgical spirit”, this popular religion including devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

        Patricius’ vision of liturgical life is something like the college of canons or a monastic community celebrating the liturgy behind a stone pulpitum or a rood screen. Liturgy is essentially clerical, at least in the western Church, accessible to laity who take the trouble to learn something about it. The fact is faced. The “pastoralist” liturgical movement sought to destroy that “accretion” as did the Protestants and the Jansenists. Among these clerics are young lay men interested in the liturgy, musicians and other devout men. I have sympathy with that vision of things if the common faithful have some kind of spiritual, liturgical and religious life. To what extent has the liturgy to be open to the laity looking through the squints of the rood screen?

        As anyone who has spent time in a Benedictine monastery, the complete liturgical life, the Office more than the Mass, takes a lot of self-discipline and asceticism. Not many of us have it. The full liturgy is an austere way of life. Monks are not interested in popular religion other than the Rosary in private and mental prayer outside the liturgical Hours. The sobriety of it is very edifying, but too hard for most of the ordinary laity. What do we do?

        I would advocate allowing clerics and monks to form communities where “hangers-on” and unattached young men can associate with them. The Church has need for people with special vocations to be allowed to live them. On the other hand, many people need popular religion and devotions, and are very little or not interested in the liturgy. They need to be catered for too. That is pastoral good sense. I am as influenced by the more positive aspects of “pastoralism” as by the “pure” and clerical liturgical life.

        I’m not sure what Patricius’ theological base is. Perhaps 18th century Jansenism, though I doubt it. Perhaps “classical Anglicanism” based on the Prayer Book, Arminianism and the Caroline Divines, but he has never done more than attend occasional services in Church of England parishes still holding to those principles. I challenged him with the possibility of Non-Conformist Protestantism, but he rejects that possibility. It is more like the idea that popular religion has destroyed the integrity of the liturgy, therefore it is necessary to destroy popular religion to restore the liturgy. I find the idea too dialectical and extreme, having all of one and none of the other. There needs to be diversity of emphasis.

        I see no likelihood of communities of secular clerics adopting this radical position. I once belonged to the Institute of Christ the King in Italy, the closest to this idea in contemporary Roman Catholicism. The Institute takes its inspiration from secular canonial life, as opposed to the Augustinians, Norbertines, etc. who are under religious vows. There is a compromise with pastoralism and popular religion. All the traditionalist Benedictine monasteries I know use the 1965 Roman rite for the Mass. Where could Patricius find an expression for his aspiration? I fear there is nothing. We all have to compromise to one extent or another – or be on our own.

        I don’t dismiss him as cranky, because I understand the underlying ideas and sympathise with them. He is a young man who doesn’t have the cynicism and pragmatism of those of us who are middle-aged or getting on in years. We have lost our innocence through negotiation, and he remains innocent and child-like, except that he has nowhere to go. This is the tragedy for many sensitive young men who seek their spiritual way. The Church has failed them. There it is…

  6. When I was a Confessional Lutheran, Corpus Christi and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament were things that would make other Confessional Lutherans spastic with rage. They saw these ceremonies as medieval accretions that defeated the purpose of the Eucharist. To quote Wikipedia: “For Lutherans the Eucharist is not considered to be a valid sacrament unless the elements are used according to Christ’s mandate and institution (consecration, distribution, and reception).This was first formulated in the Wittenberg Concord of 1536 in the formula: Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum (“Nothing has the character of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ”)” The Eucharist is a holy meal that we are ordered by Jesus to eat and drink the elements thereof. We are not told to take them for a stroll around the parish or stick them in a monstrance and stare at them. Corpus Christi and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament are seen as serious acts of disobedience and man-made ceremonies. I would normally quote Rev. Paul T. McCain’s Cyberbrethren to show these arguments in all their glory but it has unfortunately dissolved into the Aether..Even now as an Anglican, one of the reasons that I’m not a full blown Anglo-Catholic is that I tend to agree with them.

    • It’s the same thing again. We can continue the intolerance and watch Christianity spiral down the plughole until it is gone. Alternatively we can do what we believe to be right and let others get on with their lives. We have always had low church and high church Anglicanism. Since the 1960’s low church and high church Roman Catholicism. There’s something for everyone. The trouble is the tolerance is against truth for some people. If that is the way it is, then there is truly no room for love in the world…

      There are plenty of blogs and websites run by those who identify with Calvinists or Arminians. There are plenty who think they have “restored pristine purity” – I don’t think it ever existed. The early Church was a mess! We could go on. The choice is liberalism or totalitarianism, or something else…

    • William Tighe says:

      I reproduce here, slightly altered, a comment I placed on a thread of this blog in May 2013:

      See: “Domesticating an Untamed Sacramental Rule,” by Keith Killinger, *Lutheran Quarterly* VII:4 (Winter 1993), pp. 401-424. This article is a precis of part of Killinger’s 1991 Th.D dissertation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, entitled *Hoc Facite: The Role of the Words of Institution in the Lutheran Understanding and Celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the Sixteenth Century.*

      More important still is the two-volume 1968 Th.D dissertation (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri) of E. F. Peters, *Origin and Meaning of the Axiom, Nothing Has The Character Of A Sacrament Outside Of The Use, in Sixteenth-Century and Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Theology:*


      I have read recently that this work was published just a few years ago, but I have not been able to find it. It is very important in many ways; among them, that it demonstrates that this supposedly Lutheran axiom was originated by Zwingli himself and came into Lutheranism via Bucer.

      These very long articles by the late Dr. Tom G. Hardt, whose wonderful book, *Adorabilis et Venerabilis Eucharistia: Eine Studie ueber die lutherische Abendmahlslehre in 16 Jahrhundert* (Goettingen, 1988) is available only in German and Swedish, may be of interest:



    • Dale says:

      I always wondered where the fanatically anti western rite Orthodox Byzantines (usually Protestant converts) dragged up their interesting hatred towards Benediction and the Corpus Christi procession fixations (although both exist in the Byzantine rite itself); even the language is exactly the same! The have simply borrowed it wholesale from the Lutherans!

  7. Blessed bread. When did the Catholic custom die out in France of distributing blessed bread at the end of the mass, as the Orthodox continue to do? It cannot have been very long ago.

  8. Patricius says:

    I can’t understand why the issue of the bread has caused so much controversy. It has nothing whatever to do with taste, which is subjective, but is deeply theological and therefore NOT subjective. My point about unleavened bread was that the bag of cardboard wafers tipped into the ciborium has no ontological connexion to the consecrated host itself (a larger piece of cardboard), which consequently breaks down the entire symbolism of the Eucharist itself as the ONE communion of the Church, ONE Lord, ONE Body, ONE Faith, ONE Baptism in which we all share as Christians of the Church, which is itself the Body of Christ. How is the placement of the ciborium onto a corporal expressive of this doctrine? Or perhaps when the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth hosts in the ciborium are transubstantiated (by their placement onto the corporal) they become part of the One Body, etc, by some other process…osmosis, perhaps???

    • Your comment is ambiguous: the question of bread for the Eucharist being controversial on this blog or generally in the history of the Church. As far as I am concerned, I would have no problem celebrating Mass with leavened bread provided it is made of a fine kind of bread like for the Byzantine prosphora and round and flat in shape, and not very different in size from manufactured unleavened hosts. However, the bread has to be made and kept at home, and that demands a certain discipline of life if one wants to say Mass every day. I always give Communion from the priest’s host (in both kinds by intinction), since I have so few coming to Mass – and it is preferable.

      The issue I have brought up is one of tolerance. That might seem to be a dirty word suggesting liberalism, modernism and all sorts – but we are playing on an even field. Others who have their convictions can very well be intolerant in regard to us. It happens. We are told we have to convert to this or that Church and accept what it offers without picking and choosing like at the cafeteria. It is a fundamental tenet of Christianity – do unto other as we would have done unto ourselves. That was my point. We don’t have to say that the “tolerated ones” are right, or that we don’t have the right to discuss these things in a way that would bring them to think about it rather than dismiss us as cranks.

      • Dale says:

        Much of what Patricius uses for his analogies (i.e. ONE communion of the Church, ONE Lord, ONE Body, ONE Faith, ONE Baptism) come directly from Byzantine convert sources; but it does not reflect the reality of even the Byzantine ritual sources other than some convert ones. In the Byzantine church there are those who say only the agnetz (the main piece cut out of one the prosfora) becomes the Body of Christ, but in the Russian tradition five prosfora are used and a whole pile of small pieces from all five of the prosfora are placed upon the diskos, and many Russians consider that ALL of these pieces, taken from the five different loafs, are consecrated and are placed in the chalice for the communion of the people. Only recently, are those who would say that they are not consecrated at all. But even in Byzantine Orthodoxy such questions are still debated.

        I have already outlined where in the Byzantine tradition there is indeed an elevation that takes place after the words of institution and before the epiclesis (the same position theologically as in the Roman rite); a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament over the people after communion, and in the Pre-Sanctified Liturgies of Lent both a procession of the Consecrated elements as well as a form of Benediction as well.

    • Dale says:

      And as far as Transubstantiation is concerned, this is also believed and the word used by many Byzantine Orthodox. It is used by S Peter Mohila and in the officially approved Holy Week Office published in both Greek and English of the Greek Orthodox Archdioces of North America, the rubric concerning what “happens” during the epiclesis is as follows:

      “The Priest prays inaudibly and invokes the Holy Spirit to descend and transubstantiate the offered Gifts” (Greek Orthodox Holy Week & Easter Services, 1979 p.474).

  9. Patricius says:

    In answer to some points above about my post, I deliberately left blank any reasons, whether theological or liturgical, for the nine points I submitted for sound enough reasons. I am not a sacramental theologian and leave the “machinations” of Grace to God. I hope you would agree that were the nine points put into any kind of practise they would successfully lift any vestiges of belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation clean out of the liturgy. That is the sole ultimate objective.

    I do not come from a Roman Catholic family. Half my family are Anglicans. My upbringing was quite strange in the sense that my mother, whose mother is Anglican and father a lapsed Catholic, took my siblings and me to a Roman Catholic church on Sundays (never on holydays) and while she insisted that we all (with the strange exception of my sister) “made our sacraments,” that is penance, first communion and confirmation, she became increasingly annoyed as the years went by that I took it “too seriously” and not as this sort of cultural rite of passage that she undoubtedly thought it all was. We never prayed at home. My mother made no effort to instruct any of us in the faith herself. In fact, she stopped attending church more than fifteen years ago at around about the time that my brother was confirmed. My father is an agnostic/atheist of lapsed Anglican parentage. My brother “believes in something,” but is largely apathetic about religion. My sister is an outspoken atheist. So, in terms of my immediate family, I really am the exception. I still remember the horror with which my mother greeted the news that I was going to university to study Divinity!

    Perhaps the misconception that Dale makes about my “Lutheran-influenced” doctrine of the Eucharist comes from what I said about the Hypostatic Union. I reject the Lutheran confessions as lukewarm. Luther was a great man but a tortured one I think and in later years found the maelstrom of the Reformation too much out of his direct control. My own view of the Eucharist is that it is a divine mystery, largely cheapened by historic and contemporary Roman Catholic praxis. For clarity’s sake, I will say the following: I am not a Jansenist. That was an heresy within Roman Catholicism. I publicly left the Roman church four years ago after a series of abortive attempts to reconcile my waning faith in that system with a bunch of damned hypocrites in Blackfen. If I have expressed Jansenist tendencies then I can say in all honesty it is not intentionally Jansenististic; at least no less than saying that a Jansenist is a Chrsitian because he professes belief in Jesus Christ. I am not a Lutheran either; I have no experience of Lutheranism besides a one off visit to a Lutheran church when I was in Cologne in 2005. Fr Chadwick is correct to say that I am influenced by the classical Anglican Divines, particularly Parker, Hooker, Andrewes and, of course, Laud. I greatly admire the writings of Dr John Wickham-Legg and, while I do not share his political views, I am also a great admirer of Percy Dearmer. I don’t have the text handy so this is not verbatim but I rather agree with Andrewes when he said that the Scriptures and the first four General Councils determine the boundary of our faith.

    • I completely sympathise with your summary: “My own view of the Eucharist is that it is a divine mystery, largely cheapened by historic and contemporary Roman Catholic praxis.” One thing I appreciate in some of the Orthodox theologians I have read is the notion of apophatic or “negative” theology. We are faced with mysteries about which we can understand nothing unless God reveals it. Having taken my own distance from Thomism and post-Tridentine “manual” scholasticism, I tend to have a more Gnostic outlook on things, not the heretical Gnosticism of Valentinus and the Cathars – but the Alexandrian school and some of the Russian theologians and philosophers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It leads to a different interpretation of written and traditional knowledge than the “fundamentalist” approach. I would concur that trans-substantiation is something that limits the mystery of the Eucharist to materialist metaphysics, and especially at a time when quantum physics discovers that matter and “substance” are an illusion. There is only energy. With such a viewpoint, our spirituality takes on a different dimension from the worship of matter. Christ is worshipped because he is divine, not because of the Incarnation. Such reflections can go a very long way, if we do the thinking with a humble attitude faced with the mystery.

      Another intuition of Patrick is the notion of “cheap” grace. Here he coincides with the thought of Dietrich Bonhöffer, the Lutheran theologian who opposed Hitler’s Nazi “church” and ended up at the end of a rope in a concentration camp. Bonhöffer’s work is difficult to understand and is often used to deny the divine in a secular world view. It merits study.

      • ed pacht says:

        It was I, rather than Dale, who mentioned a “Lutheran-influenced” view of the Real Presence. I did not mean to imply that Patrick had taken his views from Lutheranism, but that his views (like those of Classical High Church Anglicans) on the subject strongly resemble those of classic Lutheranism. I was brought up Lutheran and am struck by the resemblance. My problem with this view is (surprisingly) similar to my problem with Transubstantiation — that it is too consistently logical in attempting to deal with a matter that transcends human logic. It has been said that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. I believe there is plenty of room for those who have little concern in their devotion for a sacramental presence and those who are strongly concerned with His Presence in the reserved elements — if both are intent upon worshiping the one true God, it seems moot whether their human understanding has correctly identified the manner in which He manifests Himself.

        I’m cheerfully nonconsistent. I value the elevation at the Verba and feel slightly vheated if it does not occur, do reverence the reserved Sacrament, but am decidedly unenthusiastic about Corpus Christi processions and Benediction. A lot of popular piety leaves me cold, but I am quite content that others do such things. Ah well, I’m just not wise enough (nor is anyone else, really) to sort all these things out. We go on the best we can.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Ed, Wonderfully said. You’re not alone in many of your thoughts. I think the key for the Eucharist is…to commune. It is a mystery. But God’s gift to us.

  10. Timothy Graham says:

    I find the above discussion frustrating. Nobody has bothered to define transubstantiation. I am not so sure that it has much to do with matter.

    I have always found the definition treacherous and that sweeping statements look a bit silly when one gets into detail. A zealously orthodox Dominican once plausibly argued with me that a proper understanding of Thomas’s idea of substance would allow one to say that it is true to call the consecrated elements bread & wine but truest to call them the Body & Blood of Christ.

    The most influential contemporary reading of Thomas says that he wasn’t an Aristotelian; he was a Christian Platonist who read & appropriated Aristotle.

    Surely devotion to the Body of Christ is contextualised by the fact that the people who pray before the Sacrament receive communion; they are not substituting adoration for communion, but (e.g. Benediction after Vespers) giving thanks for the theosis of the stuff of this world, that they will shortly partake in again.

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