Joining In The Banquet

…giving Communion from the tabernacle is like inviting guests to a banquet, then preparing and eating the meal by oneself, while serving one’s guests from the refrigerator with the leftovers from a previous meal. Everybody gets fed, nobody goes hungry, but the symbolism of the common partaking of the common meal is completely destroyed. Eucharistic Communion is not just the sacrament of the communion of the individual with God in the Body and Blood of his Incarnate Son, which Communion from the consecrated species reserved in the tabernacle provides. Eucharistic Communion is the ecclesial communion of the faithful with one another in Christ by sharing together his sacrificial and heavenly banquet. Communion from the tabernacle can hardly claim to signify this except, of course, in the case of Communion brought to those unable to attend the banquet. (pp 17-18; emphasis in the original)

Robert F. Taft, “”Communion” from the Tabernacle – A Liturgico-Theological Oxymoron”, Worship Vol 88, No 1 (Jan 2014): 2-22.

Listen To The Prayers

As with anything else in Christian liturgy, if you want to know what a liturgical ritual means, listen to what its prayers say. That’s what they are for: to tell us, not God, what it is all about. God knows it already and does not need to hear it from us. (p 3; emphasis in the original)

Robert F. Taft, “”Communion” from the Tabernacle – A Liturgico-Theological Oxymoron”, Worship Vol 88, No 1 (Jan 2014): 2-22.

Review: Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology

Introducing Eastern Orthodox TheologyIntroducing Eastern Orthodox Theology by Andrew Louth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So many Christians in the West forget that there is another ‘stream’ of Christianity in the world, one less focussed on the rationality that so infects Western Christianity (without being any less rigorous in its commitment to lucid thought and theology). In his book, Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology, Andrew Louth takes the reader on a very gentle journey into the Eastern way of understanding Christian belief and thought, delving into the ‘other lung’ of Christianity (as Pope St John Paul II once described Eastern Christianity).

And it is a journey well worth taking! Eastern Christianity provides the sense of mystery often lacking in Western Christianity, relies on a more ‘mysterious’ approach to the reality of the Divine (you’ll have to read Louth’s book to fully appreciate what he means by mystery), and takes a broader view of the relationship between God and humankind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this little journey, so much so that now I want to read more about the ‘other way’ of being Christian that is oft overlooked by the more well-known Western approach so common within much of Protestant approaches to Christian belief and thought (in particular but not exclusively). It will be a journey of discovery certainly, but in the end I might just be a better rounded Christian for having embarked thereon.

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Glorify and Rejoice

From the Office of Readings for the 22nd of December:

‘Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.’

The Lord, she said, has exalted me with a great and unheard of gift, which cannot be explained in any words and can scarcely be understood by the deepest feelings of the heart. And so I offer up all the strength of my soul in thanksgiving and praise. In my joy I pour all my life, all my feeling, all my understanding in contemplating the greatness of him who is without end. My spirit rejoices in the eternal divinity of Jesus, my Saviour, whom I have conceived in time and hear in my body.

From the Commentary of St Bede on St Luke’s Gospel.

What’s In A Name

With apologies to William Shakespeare…

One can only hope that the newly-announced Minister for Social Services lays down some of his less than edifying tactics and demeanour along with his title of Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

One can hope…but then one might be disappointed…

Presence Not Re-Enactment

[The] sense of the eternal present, not so much the re-enacting of the saving events celebrated, but rather our finding ourselves in the presence of these events, is realized throughout the divine liturgy, especially at the reading of the Gospel, when the deacon reads from the Gospel Book, symbolizing Christ himself, and here and now as we stand in church we listen to the words of the Saviour. This reaches its culmination in the eucharistic prayer, or the anaphora, in which, at the invocation of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves present with the Risen Christ, and in the holy gifts receive his sacred body and precious blood. Here we find ourselves restored to the source of life, receiving the heavenly and awesome mysteries . . . with a pure conscience, for forgiveness of sins and pardon of offences, for communion of the Holy Spirit, for inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, and for boldness before you, not for judgment or condemnation’. (p 139)

Andrew Louth, Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology (London: SPCK Publishing, 2013). ISBN: 978-0-281-06965-1. The quote at the end of the paragraph above is taken from The Divine Liturgy of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 38-9.

Annoucing and Visiting

From the Office of Readings for the 21st of December:

When the angel was announcing the mysteries to the Virgin Mary, he also told her as a precedent, to help her to believe, that an old and barren woman had conceived. This was to show that God can do everything that pleases him.

When Mary heard this she hurried off to the hill country. This was not because she disbelieved the oracle, or was uncertain about the messenger, or doubted the precedent offered, but because she was overjoyed with desire, eager to fulfil a duty of piety, and impelled by gladness.

From the commentary of St Ambrose on St Luke’s Gospel.

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