Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Anglicans and Catholics recently gathered to discuss their differing beliefs about the Eucharist, the atmosphere was notably friction-free.

"It's awkward to talk about our differences because we can't do anything about them in terms of resolving them," said Christophe Potworowski, Redeemer Pacific College theology professor. "It's not really in our hands. The point is really how to live with those differences."

He and the Rev. Richard Leggett of St. Faith's Anglican Church shared their ideas about communion with about 100 hundred people March 23. Much of what they discussed covered areas of mutual agreement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Longley, wanting to sound positive, says that he could “imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing between our churches … which perhaps would lead to a reconsideration of some of the circumstances.” That’s all very well-meaning: but since the chances of prelate-speak of this kind being misunderstood by the secular press are about 100 per cent, it really would have been better not to have said it....Archbishop Longley’s fantastical notion that there has been a “deeper theological understanding of one another’s Churches”, presumably because of the work of ARCIC, requires a little more attention. What theological understanding would that be? The trouble with ARCIC always was (as a former Catholic member of it once explained to me) that on the Catholic side of the table you have a body of men who represent a more or less coherent view, being members of a Church which has established means of knowing and declaring what it believes. On the Anglican side of the table you have a body of men the divisions between whom are just fundamental as, and sometimes a lot more fundamental than, those between any one of them and the Catholic representatives they face: they all represent only themselves.

Read it all from William Oddie in the Catholic Herald (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVIPope Francis * TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

15 Comments
Posted October 18, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new text for the Catholic Mass which integrates centuries old Anglican prayers into the Roman Rite was officially introduced in a London church on Thursday.

The new liturgy, known as the Ordinariate Use, has been devised for the personal ordinariates – the structures set up by Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Pope, while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican liturgical and pastoral traditions.

The Mass, at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, was celebrated by the leader – or Ordinary – of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Monsignor Keith Newton. It was offered in honour of the patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Newman, whose feast was on October 9.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted October 12, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Roman Catholic Co-Chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican's rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible.

Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers' Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland's Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, the Most Revd Bernard Longley - Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III Co-Chair -referred to the changes in "specified circumstances" set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.

He commented, "Given that that represents a change, and a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility, then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing, a deeper communion between our Churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances."

Read it all and please note the audio link at the bottom for those interested.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Something extraordinary is happening in English churches. Imagine you arrived at an unfamiliar church just as the service was starting and you heard: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…” Right, you’d think, CofE, Book of Common Prayer.

But this is the beginning of a Catholic Mass, a Roman Catholic Mass. It is a liturgy approved by the Pope, and it takes lumps of the Holy Communion service from the 1662 Prayer Book. I find the general effect pleasing but distinctly unsettling.

Two questions arise, depending on the direction from which one is coming. A member of the Church of England might wonder why Catholics should want to use the Book of Common Prayer compiled by Archbishop Cranmer (pictured here in 1546). A Catholic might ask: but is it the Mass?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

World Communion Sunday is one of the best ideas Presbyterians ever had. The idea originated in the 1930s, a time of economic turmoil and fear and the rise of militaristic fascism abroad. Hugh Thomson Kerr, a beloved pastor in the Presbyterian Church, persuaded the denomination to designate one Sunday when American Christians would join brothers and sisters around the world at the Lord’s Table.

The idea caught on. Other denominations followed suit and the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) endorsed World Communion Sunday in 1940. But though the day is still noted in some denominational calendars and program materials, it doesn’t seem to be considered as important as it once was.

Of course, every Sunday is in a sense World Communion Sunday insofar as many churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. But we do not welcome one another at the Lord’s Table....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

3 Comments
Posted September 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

12 Comments
Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” With this question, in the face of many who misunderstood Jesus, who wanted selfishly to profit from him, St. Peter is the spokesman of his faithful followers. The disciples do not seek the worldly payoff of those who were satiated (cf. John 6:26) and who, nevertheless, worked for bread that does not last (cf. John 6:27). Of course, Peter too knows hunger; for a long time he was unable to find the bread that filled him. Then he met the man from Nazareth. He followed him. Now he knows his Master not only from hearsay. Being with him every day Peter has developed a trust without reservations. This is faith in Jesus; it is not without reason that Peter expects the longed for “life in abundance” from the Lord (cf. John 10:10).

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” We too, who belong to the Church today, pose this question. Even if it is more hesitant on our lips than on Peter’s, our answer, like that of the Apostle, can only be the person of Jesus. Yes, he lived 2000 years ago. But we can encounter him in our own time when we listen to his Word and are near to him in a special way in the Eucharist.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2013 at 7:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[My friend] Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock's house.

I was dumbfounded, but of course said yes. On that Saturday, when we found Hitchcock asleep in the living room, Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom's hand, thanking him.

Tom said, "Hitch, this is Mark Henninger, a young priest from Cleveland."

"Cleveland?" Hitchcock said. "Disgraceful!"

After we chatted for a while, we all crossed from the living room through a breezeway to his study, and there, with his wife, Alma, we celebrated a quiet Mass....

Weighing one's life with its share of wounds suffered and inflicted in such a perspective, and seeking reconciliation with an experienced and forgiving God, strikes me as profoundly human. Hitchcock's extraordinary reaction to receiving communion was the face of real humanity and religion, far away from headlines . . . or today's filmmakers and biographers.

One of Hitchcock's biographers, Donald Spoto, has written that Hitchcock let it be known that he "rejected suggestions that he allow a priest . . . to come for a visit, or celebrate a quiet, informal ritual at the house for his comfort." That in the movie director's final days he deliberately and successfully led outsiders to believe precisely the opposite of what happened is pure Hitchcock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2012 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has told the nation's only blended Catholic and Episcopal parish it must change its worship services so Catholics and non-Catholics meet in separate rooms for Holy Communion.

The parish, Church of the Holy Apostles, is led by Catholic and Episcopal co-pastors and has worshipped together for more than 30 years.

It's an arrangement, parishioners say, that over the years has allowed families in mixed marriages to worship side by side and has helped build bonds that transcend denominational boundaries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

8 Comments
Posted November 23, 2012 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"This is the Lord’s Table. It is not Grace Church’s table. All are welcome to receive communion.”

It is not unusual to hear or read these or similar words—with the local parish or its denomination named—at a service of worship in which the Eucharist will be celebrated. Such an announcement reflects the practice commonly called “open communion.” To say that a church has an open communion policy has generally meant that persons who are not formally members of that church are nevertheless allowed or encouraged to share in the eucharistic meal.

Open communion in that sense is not universal, of course, and never has been. Some denominations as a matter of principle allow only their own members to commune and in practice take pains to ensure that the restriction is observed. But among churches of the Reformation, open communion has long been a custom widely accepted and fairly uncontroversial. Hence the invitation.

Lately, however, what is or might be meant by open communion has shifted....

It is imperative that we keep our terms clear and I have noted before it is curcial that we NOT call the increasingly common practice of TEC of inviting anyone no matter what their situation to communion open communion but instead communion of the unbaptized. With that said, read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Eucharist is central to the identity, doctrines, and practices of the Catholic Church. As canon 897 of the Code of Canon Law puts it, “The most august sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice . . . is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ.”

Canon 898 adds: “The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration....”

Participation in Holy Communion is achieved by two related but distinct acts: the action of a member of the faithful in seeking Communion (reception) and the action of the minister in giving Communion (administration). These two actions are not only performed by different persons, they are governed by different canon laws. Virtually all confusion over Communion can be traced to the failure to keep these two actions distinct.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

10 Comments
Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The level of support for C029 when it was presented to the House of Bishops on 12 July 2012 was markedly different. The Rt. Rev. William Gregg, Assistant Bishop of North Carolina, was the first to rise and offered a strong statement of rejection of the resolution.

It was “not up to one denomination” to change the universal church’s teaching on baptism, Bishop Gregg said.

The Bishop of Southern Ohio, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, agreed the issue needed further study and urged defeat of the resolution....

The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, urged his colleagues not to refer the matter to committee but to vote for adoption. There were large numbers of non-baptized people in Europe, he noted, and by recognizing the need for pastoral sensitivity this permitted bishops to address local needs. Without this recognition the hands of bishops were tied, he said....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

7 Comments
Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and
baptize all peoples. We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Bishops* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

37 Comments
Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(It is very important that you read the previous thread on this as well as the comments there first). Here again is the full text--
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention direct the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to appoint a special commission charged with conducting a study of the theology underlying access to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in this Church and to recommend for consideration by the 78th General Convention any amendment to Title I, Canon 17, Section 7, of the Canons of General Convention that it deems appropriate; and be it further Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $30,000 for the implementation of this Resolution.
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples. We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.
You can find a copy of it here. Please note that in the House of Deputies debate today there was an attempt at an amendment that failed. The vote totals as announced were--Lay Order 85 yes, No 16, divided 9; Clergy 70 Yes, No 24, Divided 16.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Polity & Canons* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

21 Comments
Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is the latest from the committee--amended C029--
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention direct the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to appoint a special commission charged with conducting a study of the theology underlying access to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in this Church and to recommend for consideration by the 78th General Convention any amendment to Title I, Canon 17, Section 7, of the Canons of General Convention that it deems appropriate; and be it further Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $30,000 for the implementation of this Resolution.
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples. We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.
You can find a copy of it here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

20 Comments
Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am reminded of what I was taught by the Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett: "never break a rubric unintentionally". I think most priest have given communion to an unbaptized person. Hospitality and compassion may require it. But the doctrine of Baptism remains.

A personal example may be helpful. When I was ordained a priest, my father, an ordained Baptist minister, preached at my ordination. When the time came for the ordination, the Episcopal clergy gathered around to lay hands on my head along with the Bishop. My father remained in his seat, because there is no agreement between the Episcopal and Baptist churches on ordination. Just before the Bishop said the words of ordination he stopped, removed his hands from my head, and motioned for my father to come over and lay his hands on my head as well. This was contrary to the teaching of both the Episcopal and Baptist churches. This was poor doctrinal theology, but it was perfect pastoral theology. Bishop Patterson was a good bishop, and my dad was a good Baptist pastor. And yet, the doctrine remains.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

1 Comments
Posted July 8, 2012 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I consider this a moment of sanity and light--KSH.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

23 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (and there are over 50 comments as well).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note the headline is ENS' not mine, I intensely dislike the Open Table language and use Communion of the Unbaptized [or Communion without Baptism] instead--KSH).

Emma Grandhauser, from Minnesota, a member of convention’s official youth presence, testified that she didn’t attend church until she was six, and she was baptized at 13.
“I still remember my first Sunday in church at St. John the Evangelist in St. Paul,” she said. “It’s a church with their own open table policy.
“I was blown away by how welcoming the community was,” she said. “They didn’t just tell me about God’s love, they showed me that God’s love is for everyone....

But the Rev. Jason Wells, a deputy alternate from the Diocese of New Hampshire, said that to the unbaptized he offers a blessing at the altar rail “and prepares them for baptism, to make their first communion immediately after that. I don’t do that because there’s a canon on the books. I do it for the theological and biblical rationale. To remove this one line from our canons does not change what my practice would be in the church.”
He called the resolution’s language “confusing and somewhat self-defeating.”

Read it all.

Update: An Anglican Ink article on this may also be found there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

6 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Word is there are a large number of speakers trying to address this matter. The hearing began at 7:30 est.

Make sure to be aware of the text of the resolution and go back also to reread this earlier blog thread on the subject.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The president of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress Archbishop Diarmuid Martin paid warm tribute to other Church leaders in Ireland today for the support they had shown him in his role as Archbishop of Dublin....

"Relations between the churches are extremely good here in Ireland," Dr Martin said, "and the amount of personal support I have received from Archbishop John Neill (retired Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin), Archbishop Jackson (the current Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin) and the other church leaders has been astounding."

He said: "We are doing things together. We are, literally, walking together."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is important to stress here that the ecclesiology of communion promoted by the Council takes its inspiration from the Eucharistic ecclesiology of the Orthodox, especially Afanassief, who is cited in the texts. The Council’s ecclesiology is thus of great ecumenical import. The intervention of John Zizioulas, the Metropolitan of Pergamon, at the 2005 Roman Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, testifies to this: “The ecclesiology of communion promoted by Vatican II and deepened further by eminent Roman Catholic theologians can make sense only if it derives from the eucharistic life of the Church. The Eucharist belongs not simply to the beneesse but to theesseof the Church. The whole life, word and structure of the Church iseucharistic in its very essence.” Walter Kasper agrees wholeheartedly and holds that “eucharistic ecclesiology has become one of the most important foundations of the ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

1 Comments
Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bookmark it and then follow the links and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistSoteriology

1 Comments
Posted June 5, 2012 at 11:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The weeklong 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which gets under way in Dublin June 10, will be Ireland's largest religious event since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

The celebration of faith offers a lively mixture of prayer, reflection and liturgy with participation from some of the leading voices in the Catholic world.

Organizers promise an estimated 12,000 overseas visitors the traditional Irish "cead mile failte" --"a hundred thousand welcomes." Many Dubliners have opened their homes to pilgrims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.
--Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAscension* TheologyChristologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted May 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This article, a theologically thick description of opening the eucharistic table to all, is rooted in Aidan Kavanaugh’s conviction that liturgical theology is primarily that “knowledge” of God generated by the encounter of Christian congregations with God in the liturgy. Thus, this work began with a working group of four Open Table Episcopal parishes reflecting together on what they have found of God, Christ, church, and grace within their practice. The vision that emerged from this reflection was centered in a complex theology of grace and response inherent in Christ’s parable of the Prodigal Son. This central commitment was, moreover, structured around intuitions concerning the universal status of all persons as God’s children, the relational character of grace, the communal character of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, a Christocentric ecclesiology defining the church by the commitments at its center, and a missional understanding of baptism.

Read it all carefully.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

19 Comments
Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Christendom was waning, the Episcopal Church ratified a new identity in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This new identity brought us to practice baptismal ministry and made the Eucharist the central part of our Sunday worship. Now, after living this theology for over 30 years, we are faced with the growing practice of Open Table in the Episcopal Church. The two are not unrelated. Perhaps we did not anticipate that we would arrive at the place where we are considering the reversal of the traditional order of Sacraments. Yet, as more and more congregations practice Open Table, we are called to confront the incongruity between practice and traditional theological thinking.

Read it all carefully (Word document). [Please note if you have any trouble go there, then go down to resolution C040 and you will see the document link on the far right (you can get it as a pdf if you prefer)].

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

9 Comments
Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young woman who called St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hood River, Oregon, was upset and asked if the church offered communion.

“I really need some support right now and I feel like it starts there,” she told the Rev. Anna Carmichael, the parish’s rector.

The wrinkle was that while the woman had attended various churches she had “never formally been baptized and yet somehow this needing to be in community and needing to be supported, in her mind, had something to do with communion as well,” Carmichael recalled.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

18 Comments
Posted May 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the Anglican Covenant is dead in the water, those who seek to revise what it means to be the Church have no need to worry about the process set out in the fourth section of that document (assuming that they would have needed to worry if the Covenant was adopted anyway). Regardless, the drive for CWOB is a manifestation of commitment to an "autonomous ecclesiology" rather than "communion ecclesiology."

Read it all and yes, follow all the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC ParishesTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharistSoteriologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC Polity & Canons* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

17 Comments
Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the New Year, I've been stopping at the Chicago Temple on Wednesday mornings for communion. For at least 40 years, this downtown United Methodist church has offered communion to city dwellers and commuters during the morning rush. At 7:30, Phil Blackwell--who inherited the tradition--consecrates the elements with whomever happens to be in the room at the moment. For the next 90 minutes, communion and a simple prayer are offered for anyone who walks in.

The communion, offered without a traditional liturgy, could very well have an "express lane" feel. When I first heard about this communal rite, I wondered: theologically, what is communion absent community? Culturally, why do I and others imagine we don't have time for liturgy? Ecclesiastically, what is communion that is all take (on my part) and no give?

But Blackwell and associate pastors Claude King and Wendy Witt all say the early-morning communion is a personal highlight of their ministries....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

4 Comments
Posted February 6, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Pope has recently issued an invitation to Anglicans to move into full communion with the See of Rome in the Ordinariate where it is possible to enjoy the “Anglican patrimony” as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Three priests in the Diocese have taken this step. They have followed their consciences.

For those who remain there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the Eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.

At the same time rather than building on the hard won convergence of liturgical texts, the new Roman rite varies considerably from its predecessor and thus from Common Worship as well. The rationale for the changes is that the revised texts represent a more faithful translation of the Latin originals and are a return to more traditional language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

10 Comments
Posted November 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The outcry over the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory’s support for an Irish dean’s gay civil union has forced the bishop to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry.

Church leaders in Northern Ireland told The Church of England Newspaper that the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows had been advised to stay away from the Sept 8 consecration of Bishop Patrick Rooke at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. The bishop had been told his support for clergy gay civil unions had broken the collegiality of the church and his presence would cause some participants in the ceremony to refrain from receiving the Eucharist with him.

Bishop Burrow’s office did not respond to questions from CEN, but the Church of Ireland’s press officer did confirm that the bishop “did not attend and that this was his own decision. I have no knowledge of any advice from anyone about staying away or concern with regard to receiving communion.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of IrelandSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Diocese of Central Florida searches for its fourth bishop, seven nominees reflect its primarily evangelical identity. Both Anglo-Catholic and broad-church piety also are evident, but the nominees’ answers to questions posed by the diocese’s standing committee leave few doubts on what they believe about blessing same-sex couples or offering the elements of Communion to the unbaptized.

The standing committee asked all nominees to answer five questions [PDF] (including those on sexuality, Eucharistic practice, and how the diocese relates to the Episcopal Church). It also asked nominees to choose three of seven questions that dig deeper on theology and pastoral skills. Most nominees chose to answer this optional question: “How might you respond if a friend who was not a practicing Christian approached you and said, ‘What would I have to do to be a Christian, and why would I want to do it?’” Most of the nominees cite specific and tangible moments of becoming Christian or deepening their relationship with God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistSoteriology

2 Comments
Posted September 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let greasy spikes be caught in halos
thrown from chapel windows
and the lazy shuffle of saints
trace the body of Christ down the chapel alley.

Let this one,
paper late,
eyes avoiding mine
like two blackbirds in sudden flight,
receive.

And let this one,
absent a week
only to resurface
as the sinking vessel rises
one last time from ocean's deep midnight,
also receive.

Let greasy spikes be caught in halos
thrown from chapel windows
and the lazy shuffle of saints
trace the body of Christ down the chapel alley.

Let this one,
paper late,
eyes avoiding mine
like two blackbirds in sudden flight,
receive.

And let this one,
absent a week
only to resurface
as the sinking vessel rises
one last time from ocean's deep midnight,
also receive.

--Benjamin Myers, Elegy for Trains (Bellingham: Village Books Press, 2010) [You may find further information about the book here if you are interested--KSH]

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureYoung Adults* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

1 Comments
Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
June 30, 2011

Dear Colleagues in Ministry:

We are writing to remind you as sisters and brothers in ordained ministry that the new Title IV disciplinary canons go into effect this coming Friday, July 1. For the past year we as a diocese have been preparing for the new Title IV. At our diocesan convention last year we voted in members of the new committees needed to support the Title IV process. Robin Hammeal-Urban has been leading educational offerings throughout the Diocese and in Province One, helping all of us to understand the new process and intent of the canon.

Further information on the new Title IV can be found on the Diocese of Connecticut website at:
http://www.ctepiscopal.org/Content/Clergy_Disciplinary_Process_Title_IV_.asp

The goal of the new Title IV is to embrace a form of clergy discipline based on restorative justice rather than retributive justice. We have moved away from a model of discipline based on the code of military justice (on which the outgoing Title IV was based) hoping to embrace more a process of collegiality and accountability amongst peers.

The new Title IV both broadens the guidelines of what needs to be "reported" with respect to actions that contravene the doctrine and discipline of The Episcopal Church and also includes more participants in disciplinary process. It thus requires that offenses to the doctrine and discipline of The Episcopal Church be reported by clergy to the Diocesan Intake Officer when they arise. Lay people may also report offenses, but since they are not "in orders" they are not required to do so. Robin Hammeal-Urban will be serving as our Intake Officer as an extension of her role as the Diocesan Pastoral Response Coordinator for the next year as we live into this new model.

One topic which has come up at almost all of the trainings and educational offerings that Robin has lead is the question of Open Communion. Canon 1.17.7. restricts eligibility to receive Holy Communion to persons who are baptized. The new Title IV presents us with the circumstance to consider what we believe about "open communion" in light of what the doctrine and discipline of The Episcopal Church is at this time. Some deaneries and delegates in the Diocese of Connecticut are thus looking at offering a resolution to our Diocesan Convention that will ask us to engage in a diocesan-wide conversation around "Open Communion". In the meantime, your bishops are called to uphold the canons of the church as outlined in the Constitution and Canons voted at General Convention 2009.

The implementation of the new Title IV might cause some anxiety as we learn to live with the new canons. Still, if we can stay centered, open, and as well informed as possible, we trust that in time the new Title IV will serve all of us well as we seek always to be faithful to our ordination vows.

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyEucharistSoteriology

10 Comments
Posted July 14, 2011 at 6:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that parts one and two were posted earlier on the blog--KSH).

There can be little doubt that the Order of Holy Communion in the English Prayer Book tradition – starting with 1549, and moving through 1552 to 1559 where some slight recovery of Catholic ground was modestly extended in 1662 – is hostile to ideas of Eucharistic Sacrifice and even Eucharistic Presence. At the high point of radical Protestant influence, under Edward VI, it appears to have been because Bishop Stephen Gardiner of Winchester, a conservative on the Edwardine bench of bishops, argued that the First Prayer Book was susceptible of a Catholic interpretation that Cranmer determined to embark on making a more thorough job of it in 1552. The great Anglo-Catholic liturgiologist Dom Gregory Dix describes in the final chapter of his The Shape of the Liturgy his own dismay on looking into the context of the two Edwardine Prayer Books in Cranmer’s other theological writings. ‘[I]t is only painfully and with reluctance that have brought myself to face candidly some of the facts here set out, and I cannot but fear that they will bring equal distress to others’.[1] The benign view of Cranmer’s liturgical revision taken by most High Churchmen (though isolated critical voices had never been completely lacking), and, after the Oxford Movement, by ‘Prayer Book Catholics’, was, so Dix concluded, historically unsustainable. For Cranmer the Eucharist was instituted by Christ not so that his death might be offered to the Father but with the simple aim of its being remembered by us. The Second Prayer Book is the Eucharistic counterpart of the magisterial Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone: in Dix’s words ‘the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to [that] doctrine’.[2] Or as the then bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, writes in his highly appealing study of the Liturgy, Heaven and Earth in Little Space, Cranmer was concerned to ‘consecrate the congregation and not the eucharistic elements’.[3]

All this explains the rise of the Anglo-Catholic demand for the supplementation of the English Prayer Book and indeed its quasi-replacement by some version of the Western Missal. As to its content, the demand was doctrinally motivated, though it often took the form of a legal argument – namely, that the proper authorities of the two provinces of the mediaeval Church which formed the Ecclesia anglicana, the Convocations of Canterbury and York, had neither initiated the Prayer Books nor even authorized them except in the sense that they advised the clergy to make use of what was sometimes referred to as ‘the Parliamentary book’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

16 Comments
Posted July 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the church that knows Christ risen and ascended and takes up the challenge of confessing Christ coming to judge and to reign will not only be renewed in its sense of mission, but will also (of this I am confident) find there open before it new possibilities for an ecumenical understanding of its own sacraments and order, and for resolving differences related to its privileged participation in the present and future of Jesus. Moreover, it will not falsify or evade its special eucharistic participation in the past of Jesus, it will gladly exchange the heavy yoke of heroism for the lighter yoke of martyrdom. There is no better articulation of its faith in the Coming One than that.

--Douglas Farrow, "Confessing Christ Coming" in Nicene Christianity, ed. Christopher Seitz (Brazos Press, 2001), p. 148

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAscensionMissions* TheologyChristologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church’s national office has given a backhanded blessing to the practice of allowing those not baptized to receive Holy Communion—a practice forbidden by canon law.

Supporters of Communion without Baptism (CWOB) have argued that relaxing the church’s Eucharistic discipline will serve as a recruiting tool for those outside the faith. However, traditionalists have rejected the practice as uncanonical and contrary to church teaching.

Last month the Episcopal Church Office of Congregational Vitality posted a video to the national church’s website highlighting the ministry of parish of St Paul & the Redeemer in Chicago. The congregation “exemplifies transformative work,” the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, the Episcopal Church’s officer for congregational vitality, said, adding that the parish “sees its primary point of contact with the wider community through its Sunday morning experience. The worship becomes its witness to the world.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

25 Comments
Posted May 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada has rejected calls to permit those not baptized to be allowed to receive the “sacrament of the holy Eucharist.”

At the close of their April 11-15 meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario the bishops reaffirmed the church’s canons and traditional practice stating only those baptized would be permitted to receive. “We do not see this as changing for the foreseeable future,” the bishops said.

The bishops’ debate follows a March 7 “Guest Reflection” published in Canada’s Anglican Journal by Dr. Gary Nicolosi who argued for a relaxation in the church’s Eucharistic discipline as a way of attracting more people to church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

11 Comments
Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 500 people gathered at Central Moravian Feb. 10 to celebrate the full communion of the Episcopal Church and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. The Episcopal Church approved the full-communion agreement at General Convention in 2009, and the two Moravian provinces approved it in 2010. The churches had practiced interim eucharistic sharing since 2003.

This historic occasion featured a prelude with music by the Central Moravian Brass Ensemble, and opened with a procession of nearly a dozen Episcopal and Moravian bishops. For this event, the Central Moravian choir merged with those of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity and Trinity Church, Bethlehem.

Yet for all its importance, the service was less than two hours long, including the singing of 11 hymns. The service honored both churches’ traditions on the elements of Communion, offering worshipers a choice between wine or grape juice. Recitations were short but heartfelt, stressing fellowship and unity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

27 Comments
Posted February 16, 2011 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The author also claims (incorrectly) that the Anglican Reformers were Zwinglian in their eucharistic theology. Once in awhile, one comes across these attempts to interpret the Anglican Reformers as Zwinglian in their eucharistic theology, whether by those of catholic leanings (who are attempting to do demolition work) or by low-church Evangelicals, hoping to score points against Rome.

It does not work. Neither Cranmer nor Jewel (and certainly not Hooker) were Zwinglians, and they repeatedly go out of their way to make this clear. What they rejected was transubstantiation, particularly the notion that the substance of bread and wine ceased to exist as bread and wine after consecration. It is not terribly clear what they meant by “spiritual presence,” whether a presence through the Holy Spirit (as in Calvin and Eastern Orthodoxy), or rather “something else.” Most commentators interpret them as “virtualists” or “receptionists,” who believed that Christ communicated himself really and truly in his full humanity and deity, in the very act of eating and drinking, when the communicant received the consecrated bread and wine, with faith.

What they clearly believed was: the risen Christ is really present, in his full humanity and deity, when the elements are received with faith, and, in participating in the Lord’s Supper, Christians genuinely participate in Christ’s risen life through the process of eating and drinking. Both Cranmer (against Gardiner) and Jewel (against Harding) were emphatic that they disagreed about the manner of Christ’s presence, not the reality of Christ’s presence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

31 Comments
Posted January 29, 2011 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision of the Appellate Tri­bunal rejecting lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist is the latest setback for the diocese of Sydney in its quest to find a means of allowing lay people and deacons to fulfil this function.

Since the 1990s, numerous at­tempts have failed, but this decision is the most serious, because the dio­cese’s current ordination policy is based on the premise that deacons can (in Sydney’s preferred termin­ology) administer the Lord’s Supper.

Under the policy that has been introduced in recent years, ordination as priests (or presbyters, as Sydney calls them) is restricted only to rec­tors of parishes. At least one newly appointed rector has been ordained priest in the same service in which he was inducted into his first parish.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted August 20, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our Lady’s body is not John Brown’s body: it had a higher vocation; there is no tradition, as there is with other saints, of relics: what happened? Historians have little to go on.....

Since Vatican II, it has proved a lesser obstacle than expected. True, Barthians do not like it. But John Macquarrie’s Mary for All Christians (1991) gave a positive C of E critique; and the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, in 2005, affirmed “the teaching that God has taken the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of her person into his glory as consonant with Scripture, and only to be understood in the light of Scripture”. When Anglicans speak of unwarranted developments these days, they are more likely to be talking about disputes among themselves. Indeed, the charge of setting the bar too high for communion, levelled against Rome in 1950, has a topical ring to it....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted August 13, 2010 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican church in Canada has caused an outcry after a dog was given holy communion. The Revd Marguerite Rea gave a consecrated wafer to an Alsatian-cross breed named Trapper, at St Peter’s, Toronto, last month.

It was the first time the dog and his owner, Donald Keith, had attended a service there. The Bishop of York Scarborough, the Rt Revd Patrick Yu, who oversees St Peter’s, emphasised that it was against the policy of the Anglican Church of Canada. “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before.”

He said he believed Ms Rea was overcome by “a misguided gesture of welcoming”. He has received assurances from her that it will never happen again. The matter was now closed, he said, as “we are, after all, in the forgiveness-and-repair business.”

On Sunday, Ms Rea apologised for her action, which had been a “simple act of reaching out”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

15 Comments
Posted July 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I cite here the exhortation:
Dear friends, and you especially on whose souls I have cure and charge, on --- - next I do intend, by God's grace, to offer all such as shall be godly disposed the most comfortable sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be taken of them in remembrance of his most fruitful and glorious passion: by the which passion we have obtained remission of our sins, and be made partakers of the kingdom of heaven; whereof we be assured and ascertained, if we come to the said sacrament with hearty repentance for our offences, stedfast faith in God's mercy, and earnest mind to obey God's will, and to offend no more. Wherefore our duty is to come to these holy mysteries with most hearty thanks to be given to Almighty God for his infinite mercy and benefits given and bestowed upon his unworthy servants, for whom he hath not only given his Body to death, and shed his Blood, but also doth vouchsafe, in a sacrament and mystery, to give us his said Body and Blood to feed upon spiritually. The which sacrament being so divine and holy a thing, and so comfortable to them which receive it worthily, and so dangerous to them that will presume to take the same unworthily: my duty is to exhort you, in the mean season, to consider the greatness of the thing, and to search and examine your own consciences, and that not lightly, nor after the manner of dissimulers with God, but as they which should come to a most godly and heavenly banquet; not to come but in the marriage garment required of God in the Scripture; that you may (so much as lieth in you) be found worthy to come to such a table. The ways and means thereto is, first, that you be truly repentant of your former evil life; and that you confess with an unfeigned heart to Almighty God, your sins and unkindness towards his Majesty committed, either by will, word, or deed, infirmity or ignorance; and that with inward sorrow and tears you bewail your offences, and require of Almighty God mercy and pardon, promising to him (from the bottom of your hearts) the amendment of your former life. And amongst all others, I am commanded of God especially to move and exhort you to reconcile yourselves to your neighbours, whom you have offended, or who hath offended you, putting out of your hearts all hatred and malice against them, and to be in love and charity with all the world, and to forgive others as you would that God should forgive you. And if any man hath done wrong to any other, let him make satisfaction and due restitution of all lands and goods wrongfully taken away or witholden, before he come to God's board; or at the least be in full mind and purpose so to do, as soon as he is able; or else let him not come to this holy table, thinking to deceive God, who seeth all men's hearts. For neither the absolution of the priest can any thing avail them, nor the receiving of this holy sacrament doth any thing but increase their damnation. And if there be any of you whose conscience is troubled and grieved in any thing, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned priest, taught in the law of God, and confess and open his sin and grief secretly, that he may receive such ghostly counsel, advice, and comfort, that his conscience may be relieved, and that of us (as the ministers of God and of the Church) he may receive comfort and absolution, to the satisfaction of his mind, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness; requiring such as shall be satisfied with a general confession not to be offended with them that do use, to their further satisfying, the auricular and secret confession to the priest; nor those also which think needful or convenient, for the quietness of their own consciences, particularly to open their sins to the priest, to be offended with them that are satisfied with their humble confession to God, and the general confession to the Church: but in all things to follow and keep the rule of charity; and every man to be satisfied with his own conscience, not judging other men's minds or consciences; whereas he hath no warrant of God's Word to the same.
Do please consider looking at it all (Another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

6 Comments
Posted May 29, 2010 at 8:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reacting to questions raised recently in the media, the bishops said the Church loved such couples in the same way as it loved all its members. It would continue to offer them spiritual help and it encouraged them to go to Mass and participate in the life of the Church.

"However, the Catholic Church insists that couples who live together without being married should not receive Holy Communion.

"The Church does not impose this as a punishment, but because the way of life of such people goes against the sacrament of marriage," the bishops said.

Furthermore, the bishops said, such behaviour went against Church teaching that those who received the Eucharist had to be one in unity with Christ and the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

43 Comments
Posted May 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury who wrote and compiled the first two editions of The Book of Common Prayer, wanted laity — not just priests — to participate in the Holy Eucharist regularly, as was done in Jesus’ time.

“The 1979 prayer book has gotten us back to our Reformation roots and to our ancient roots,” [the Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, professor of liturgics at the General Theological Seminary in New York]... said.

Returning to early Christian roots is beneficial and can help parishioners know that they, as well as priests, can draw near to the holy, Malloy said. He cautioned, however, that with more frequent celebration of the Eucharist some reverence and humility, the “balanced Eucharistic piety” that should attend the sacred, may have been lost.

“I cannot read your souls, so I don’t know if the fact that the Eucharist is now the normative Sunday pattern has changed people,” Malloy said. “Cranmer did not take Communion lightly. Today, I fear that sometimes … many of us do approach the sacrament very lightly.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

15 Comments
Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many Roman Catholic churches across the country, lay people no longer receive wine at Communion, and some Catholic clergy have advised congregants not to shake hands or hug at the moment of the liturgy known as "the passing of the peace," when parishioners typically greet someone in, and offer embodied signs of, the peace of Christ. In my own Episcopal parish, I was greeted by a neighbor last Sunday with an elbow bump. At a United Church of Christ congregation in the suburbs of Chicago, Communion servers now slice up bread into bite-sized bits before distributing Communion; they no longer offer congregants a loaf from which to tear a hunk of bread. In the interest of keeping fingers away from communion wine, communicants at All Saints' Chapel in Sewanee, Tenn., are now instructed not to dip their Eucharistic bread into the cup but rather to sip the cup directly, since hands are often more infectious than mouths.

At Cornell University, the Episcopal chaplain, Clark West, has reminded worshippers that they will receive the fullness of the Eucharist if they receive only "one kind"—that is, the wafer and not the wine. "We have alcoholics among us for whom this has been the practice for years without any noticeably adverse effects," quips Mr. West. To emphasize this, he has, on occasion, used a longer liturgical formula, which names the host as itself both "the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." Less reverently, Mr. West has taken to calling the bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, which now sits prominently on the credence table, the post-modern lavabo. (A lavabo is the bowl a priest uses to wash his or her hands in the Eucharist.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

17 Comments
Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

* FINAL VERSION - Not Completed
Resolution: D089
Title: Invitation to Receive Holy Communion
Topic: Doctrine
Committee: 13 - Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music
House of Initial Action: Bishops
Proposer: The Very Rev. Ernesto R. Medina

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons to review and provide a recommendation to resolve the conflict between Article X of the Constitution, specifically, the invitation offered in the Book of Common Prayer "The Gifts of God for the People of God" and Canon I.17.7, restricting communion to only the baptized; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons consult with other appropriate Standing Commissions, as needed; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission report back to the 77th General Convention.


EXPLANATION

There appears to be a conflict between the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and the Canons of the Episcopal Church with respect to who is able to receive Holy Communion.

Constitution - Article X
The Book of Common Prayer, as now established or hereafter amended by the authority of this Church, shall be in use in all the Dioceses of this Church. BCP clearly states in the invitation to receive Communion "The Gifts of God for the People of God." The question we ask is "who is the People of God?"

Canon 17 - Section 7

No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

We are asking the Standing Commission on Constitutions and Canons to help resolve this conflict.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

33 Comments
Posted August 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sense of the Committee is that our work is not yet complete and that we have not had sufficient time to discuss all of these matters as fully as we would like. We offer this document to the House of Bishops and the larger General Convention as an initial reflection. In this document we try to reflect some of the issues around which our discussions have coalesced, though often without resolution. We also raise several issues and questions regarding the practice of “open communion.” These are issues that have either come up in our face to face discussions or from our examination of essays written on this topic or from conversations at various levels in our own dioceses. There may be need in the future to produce a more substantial document after further discussion and consultation with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and after receiving responses to this paper.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

46 Comments
Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was good to hear the keynote speaker — Dr. Louis Weil — at this year’s “Epiphany West” conference come out strongly against so-called “open communion” (communion of the un-baptized). That was especially courageous here in California where the practice is becoming widespread....

I am in absolute agreement with Louis Weil here. I am familiar with the “open table” of Jesus argument — that he ate with outcasts and sinners and never turned anyone away, etc. However, I am unpersuaded that this is the same thing as the Eucharist and would encourage congregations really to invite the poor into their homes and parish halls for meals rather than believe that they have actually exercized hospitality by inviting the unbaptized to communion.

Certainly, it is an ecumenical nightmare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

13 Comments
Posted February 23, 2009 at 5:33 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is only one example of what people do not want to lose in the life of the Communion. And it is a good Pauline principle, if you read II Corinthians, that we should be glad of the honour of being able to support other churches in their need. Who knows whether some other structure than the Communion as we know it might make this possible? But the bare fact is that what now, specifically, makes it possible is the Communion we have, and that is not something to let go of lightly. Hence the difficult but unavoidable search for the forms of agreed self-restraint that will allow us to keep conversation alive – the moratoria advised by Lambeth, very imperfectly observed yet still urged by the Primates as a token of our willingness not to behave as if debates had been settled that are still in their early stages at best.

The Communion we have: it is indeed a very imperfect thing at the moment. It is still true that not every Primate feels able to communicate at the Lord's Table alongside every other, and this is indeed a tragedy. Yet last week, all the Primates who had attended GAFCON were present, every one of them took part in daily prayer and Bible study alongside the Primates of North America and every one of them spoke in discussion. In a way that I have come to recognise as very typical of these meetings, when talk of replacing Communion with federation of some kind was heard, nearly everyone reacted by saying that this was not something they could think about choosing. We may have imperfect communion, but we unmistakably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and 'intensifying' it – to use the language I used last summer about the proposed Anglican Covenant. Somehow, the biblical call to be involved with one another at a level deeper than that of mere affinity and good will is still heard loud and clear. No-one wants to rest content with the breach in sacramental fellowship, and everyone acknowledges that this breach means we are less than we are called to be. But the fact that we recognise this and that we still gather around the Word is no small thing; without this, we should not even be able to hope for the full restoration of fellowship at the Eucharist.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican IdentityAnglican PrimatesPrimates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Lambeth 2008* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

2 Comments
Posted February 11, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Question 81. For whom is the Lord's supper instituted?

Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves. (a)

(a) 1 Cor.10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 1 Cor.10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 1 Cor.10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 1 Cor.10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 1 Cor.11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 1 Cor.11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Question 82. Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?

Answer: No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; (a) therefore it is the duty of the christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.

(a) 1 Cor.11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. 1 Cor.11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come. Isa.1:11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. Isa.1:12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Isa.1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Isa.1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. Isa.1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Isa.66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. Jer.7:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. Jer.7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: Jer.7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. Ps.50:16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?

--The Heidelberg Catechism

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesReformed* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted December 31, 2008 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wonder if, for many Episcopalians, this could be an accurate summary of what we understand about Holy Communion.

Consider how many priests now announce, week after week, that because the Holy Table belongs to God and not to anyone else, all people -- regardless of whether they are baptized -- are welcome to partake. I note only in passing the chutzpah of presuming that God's will for the Holy Table was thwarted, rather than honored, as far back as the Didache.

Perhaps it fulfills the saying that misery loves company for me to feel relief that another portion of the Anglican Communion must contend with innovations at the Holy Table. That this innovation comes from Australia's most vigorously Reformed diocese only makes the humor richer.

I am no advocate of lay presidency. I believe that both it and the policy of communing the unbaptized reflect an incomplete theology of what occurs during Holy Communion. Both innovations make us the center of attention: In the United States, we say, "Come one, come all to receive, even if you don't understand or care about what you're receiving." In Sydney, should lay presidency ever gain the approval of Archbishop Peter Jensen, Australians will say, "Come one, come all (Anglicans)" to the role of presider.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

30 Comments
Posted December 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They are discussing the Boston Globe article to which we linked earlier. I chose to make a comment. Check it out.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

28 Comments
Posted November 3, 2008 at 7:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent decision of the Diocesan Synod of Sydney, in the Anglican Church of Australia, to allow the administration of Holy Communion—i.e., the celebration of the Eucharist—by deacons and eventually laity seems outlandish to many overseas Anglicans. It makes considerably more sense within the context of Australian Anglicanism, which has a very different history than The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its various offshoots (I will get to that later). Australian Anglicanism is exceptionally diverse as a result of that history, and its diversity has led the Anglican Church of Australia to adopt a unique pattern of organization.

Just as some Episcopalians are frustrated when other Anglicans cannot understand TEC’s particular form of synodical governance, so I expect Australians feel when outsiders try to apply their own context to matters Down Under. I write the following as an American outsider, but one who has long been fascinated enough by the local variations on the common Anglican theme to make a study of them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharist

6 Comments
Posted November 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sydney Synod has overwhelmingly restated its principled support for lay and diaconal administration of the Lord's Supper.

More significantly - in what supporters said is 'a great outcome' for women deacons - the motion also 'accepts' the argument that there is no longer any legal impediment to deacons officiating at Holy Communion given the wording of The Ordination Service for Deacons Canon 1985 and the repeal of the 1662 Act of Uniformity by a recent General Synod Canon.

However the motion itself does nothing to change the legal situation.

"We don't make law or change law in a motion," said the Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, in moving the motion "we merely express our view."

Read it carefully and read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

45 Comments
Posted October 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Roman Catholics in North America and Britain are calling for a series of YouTube videos showing a Canadian teenager destroying Communion hosts to be removed from the Internet.

The Quebec teenager named Dominique, who tags himself "fsmdude," has posted more than 40 videos featuring him desecrating the host, the small circular wafer that Catholics ingest during Eucharist service.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

8 Comments
Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Communion, the central ritual of most Christian worship services and long a members-only sacrament, is increasingly being opened to any willing participant, including the nonbaptized, the nonbeliever, and the non-Christian.

The change is most dramatic in the Episcopal Church, particularly in liberal dioceses like Massachusetts. The denomination's rules are clear: "No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church." Yet, a recent survey by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts found that nearly three-quarters of local parishes are practicing "open Communion," inviting anyone to partake....

Strikingly, the transformation is taking place with little public controversy, as parish by parish, Episcopal priests are making their own decisions about whom to invite to the Communion rail. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has taken a hands-off approach.

"Episcopal Church leadership recognizes that Episcopalians have varied interpretations from Scripture and early Church practices," said the diocesan spokeswoman, Maria Plati. "At this time the decision to invite unbaptized persons to Communion is understood and accepted as a local option."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

46 Comments
Posted October 20, 2008 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For 46,000 Catholics, it was a Mass like no other, with the altar standing on centerfield at a ballpark and the presiding clergyman arriving in a bulletproof vehicle.

But Pope Benedict XVI's Mass in the nation's capital Thursday was also different from a typical service in another way: Lay people were not asked to distribute Communion, which was administered exclusively by 300 priests and deacons.

Organizers of the Mass at Nationals Park were only following the letter of church law. But to some Roman Catholics, the ceremony was symbolic of what they see as Benedict's desire to erect clear boundaries between clergy and lay people.

"What he wants to do really is to reinforce the old categories and classifications — different roles for different people," said David Gibson, author of books on Benedict and the future of the U.S. church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

16 Comments
Posted April 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Orthodox we believe that the church is a place for healing. That in fact the church is the hospital for our souls. I think the church should be an open and inclusive community regardless of race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation! Love the sinner and hate the sin! Jesus hung around with some of the most despicable people because they needed him. But the church tells people unless they are this, and have done this, then you just stay in your seat because Jesus is not for you.

I guess I am advocating open communion. I don't mean that anyone should come up they should at a minimum be baptized in some Christian denomination. After all when I come out of the Holy Place with the chalice in my hands I say approach in the fear of God with faith and with love. If we believe that we gain some grace from the reception of the sacraments then why would we tell people who are struggling with some sin that they cannot come and receive that grace. Jesus never told anyone who came to Him for healing to go away! He died on the cross with His holy arms open wide to welcome ALL of His children not just a select few.

Now I know that some of you that read this will have some strong points in the other direction and you are certainly welcome to that opinion. I also know that this puts me outside of the mainstream of the Orthodox Church. But I feel that we need to STOP using communion as a weapon to separate and we should begin to use it a tool for healing, welcoming, and dare I say pastoring!

Please note, for the purposes of clarity I much prefer the term communion of the unbaptized since the phrase open communion in many parts of the church means something else.
In any event, read it all.



Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

20 Comments
Posted April 5, 2008 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Calvin's view that Christ's body is objectively presented rather than objectively present--—as he would say, "truly presented to us" but not "enclosed in the bread" or "chewed with the teeth"—gives his teaching a distinctive place on the spectrum of Eucharistic doctrine. This is distinct not only from the Lutheran and Calvinist views but also from the low Protestant view usually attributed (I do not know how fairly) to Zwingli. In this low Protestant view the supper is merely a memorial, which means that the only link to Christ's body is our state of mind, our faith. On the contrary, when Calvin insists that Christ's body is truly presented, offered, and given to us, he is talking not about our state of mind but about the action of God, and perhaps the most important thing to pay attention to is the adverb truly, for what is at stake here is the truth of God's word. Does God do as he says when he offers us Christ's body? Calvin's answer is an emphatic yes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

4 Comments
Posted March 3, 2008 at 8:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much has been said and written in recent months about “open communion” for all Christians, and even for unbaptized persons. Of course, those who advocate this idea of hospitality do so in all good conscience. However, such actions are really spiritually dangerous, and not permitted in the Episcopal Church.

First, as to unbaptized persons, Canon I. 17. 7 states, “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.” This simply continues the declared teaching of the Church Catholic at least since the second century, as set forth in the Didache: “Do not let anyone eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord.”

The basis for this principle is found in Chapter 11 of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: “Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (vs. 27-29).

Reference to St. Paul’s admonition is found in the Exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer:

But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup.

For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord’s Body.

Finally, the 1979 General Convention adopted specific guidelines for non-Anglicans receiving communion in the Episcopal Church (Resolution No. A43). That resolution gives five conditions for the reception of Communion by non-Anglicans:

• They shall have been baptized … and shall have previously been admitted to the Holy Communion within the Church to which they belong.
• They shall examine their lives, repent of their sins, and be in love and charity with all people …
• They shall approach the Holy Communion as an expression of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ …
• They shall find in this communion the means to strengthen their life within the Christian family …
• Their own consciences must always be respected as must the right of their own church membership to determine the sacramental discipline of those who … make that their spiritual home.

Further, the resolution commended the Commentary on Eucharistic Sharing by the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations as the pastoral context for the interpretation of these standards.

That commentary warns against any idea of “open communion”: “If local circumstances present a pastoral need for a public invitation, it should not in any way be coercive, nor should it be in terms of an ‘open communion’ applied indiscriminately to anyone desiring to receive communion.”

In the words of an editorial [TLC, Sept. 19], “To welcome nonbelievers and those who are not baptized to receive communion is not an act of hospitality but of disrespect both for them and for the Blessed Sacrament itself.” It is also a repudiation of scripture, ancient tradition, canons and General Convention action.

–The Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland is the Bishop of Eau Claire, retired. He lives in Seminole, Okla. The preceding Reader’s Viewpoint originally appeared on page of the December 26, 2004 issue of THE LIVING CHURCH magazine, an independent weekly serving Episcopalians. The Reader’s Viewpoint article does not necessarily represent the editorial opinion of THE LIVING CHURCH or its board of directors.

(This originally appeared in an older version of the blog here).





Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

19 Comments
Posted February 17, 2008 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hope that the Covenant would assume a significant place in the general life of the Church has been abundantly fulfilled. The Covenant is now often used in preaching and teaching, and has sent down its roots deeply into the awareness of many in our Church. And it has become very common for the Covenant to be renewed not only at a Baptism and at the Easter Vigil, but also at other major events in the life of the Church, and increasingly at Ordinations so that those who are to be ordained renew their baptismal commitment with the whole assembly before they go on to make their ordination vows. This is theologically significant in that Ordination is thus seen as the fruit of the discernment of particular gifts for the ministry of Word and Sacrament for the People of God rather than as an elevation to a higher status. The ordained person lives out his or her baptismal identity within the larger context of the common baptismal vocation.

Sorry Mr. Toon, but I have seen nothing but good fruit springing from recovery of a baptismal ecclesiology. At the same time, we cannot be naive nor unrealistic in our expectations. No liturgical text can of itself renew the life of the Church. And so I come to my final point: it is an absolute imperative that much more energy be devoted on the part of all of us to the ministry of Christian formation. Now as I am nearing the time for retirement, I often find myself saying to my students, "Teach? in season and out of season, teach. Our people are hungry to deepen their understanding of the faith. I have had this confirmed for me time and time again. Whether it be the catechumenate, or adult education during the coffee hour, or an open forum where questions can be asked and engaged respectfully: all such occasions should be seen as opportunities to nourish God's people, to strengthen faith. It is imperative for the Church to claim such opportunities at every level of our corporate life.

I am convinced that much of the conflict in our Communion today has resulted from not making basic education and continuing education a higher priority for laity and clergy alike: education in Scripture, education in basic theology, the exploring of moral issues, mining the riches of our extraordinary liturgical tradition. Throughout my ministry as a teacher of liturgy in seminaries, now for over four decades, I have regularly been involved in lay education in parishes. And this has not meant asking people to read big, fat books. My goal has always been to enable people to reflect on the meaning of their faith and to connect faith in Jesus Christ with the realities of their daily lives. The fruit of this has been to enter more deeply into the symbols of our redemption which form the central meaning of the sacramental life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

10 Comments
Posted December 16, 2007 at 1:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Donatism was not a difference over morality—no one in Christian antiquity, Catholic or Donatist, thought that cooperating with persecuting authorities was without moral significance—but an error about validity, an error that dissenters within and without the Episcopal Church have not made. No one has argued that the episcopal orders of the consecrators of Gene Robinson were subsequently rendered null and void by Gene Robinson’s sexual habits, but that these bishops have, by their doctrine, broken communion with the rest of us. We, on the other hand, are not simply asserting that homosex is wrong—we are insisting that the claim that homosex is morally neutral is itself a falsehood, an untruth, and we will not have communion with a lie. We are not breaking fellowship with sinners (we’d all be in a lot of trouble if we did), nor are we declaring anyone’s sacraments invalid. Rather, we are refusing communion with heretics, something which St Augustine, even in his most rabid anti-donatist diatribes, never confused, never lost sight of, and would never have condemned.

If this comment by the Bishop of Arkansas is connected with the the controversy ripping apart the Anglican Communion—and I find it hard to believe that it is not—then it is of a piece with other recent utterances by North American Anglican Officialdom. The Presiding “Bishop” of the Episcopal Church is fond of citing “ancient principles,” , while Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, refers to “ancient canons” and Michael Ingham, the Bishop of New Westminster, pleads “ancient traditions.”

Read it all and say it again after me, it is NOT about sacramental efficacy, it is about eucharistic fellowship and discpline.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

30 Comments
Posted December 4, 2007 at 5:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement on communion, "grave matters" that should cause a person to refrain from communion include missing Mass on Sundays "without serious reason" and dishonoring one's parents "by neglecting them in their need and infirmity." Add being pro-choice, using birth control and engaging in premarital sex, says Father Robert Bussen of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Park City, and "if you really take the checklist seriously, nobody could receive communion."

The canons of the Episcopal Church say that all "baptized Christians" are invited to communion. But more and more Episcopal churches aren't following those rules, says the Rev. Canon Mary June Nestler, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. "Instead, they're extending the invitation of communion to any person who feels led to receive it."

That said, the Episcopal Church does recommend denying communion in some cases — described in the church's Prayer Book as people who are "living a notoriously evil life" or "are a scandal to the other members of the congregation."

In her 28 years of ordination, she says, she has never had to deny communion and has only witnessed two denials — a person involved in a serious financial misconduct of parish funds and the case of a triangle of adulterers. Even then, says the Rev. Nestler, the priest did not refuse communion on the spot. Instead, as advised in the Prayer Book, the priest spoke privately to them, advising them not to come to the communion table until they had given "clear proof of repentance and amendment of life."

But faced with an uncertain situation, says the Rev. Nestler, "I would say it's best to err on the side of generosity, because Christ's table is a generous table. Second-guessing at the communion rail is always a difficult call."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

9 Comments
Posted October 27, 2007 at 5:43 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, 'Give not that which is holy to the dogs.'"

--Didache ix.5, trans. Kirsopp Lake.


"This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake, except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Saviour being incarnate by God's word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, thus handed down what was commanded them: that Jesus, taking bread and having given thanks, said, 'Do this for my memorial, this is my body'; and likewise taking the cup and giving thanks he said, 'This is my blood'; and gave it to them alone.'"

--Justin Martyr, First apology 66, trans. Edward Rochie Hardy.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

23 Comments
Posted October 18, 2007 at 6:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all in case you had not earlier.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Primary Source-- Statements & Letters: BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologyChristologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

1 Comments
Posted September 18, 2007 at 7:13 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

THE Sydney Anglican Church has revived its radical push to let church elders preside over Holy Communion despite strident opposition from Australian Anglicans and the worldwide church and at the risk of antagonising international churches it has courted to stop the consecration of gay bishops.

A committee of church officials has urged the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to amend the licenses of senior lay people and deacons to enable them to preside over Holy Communion, a right at present restricted to ordained priests and bishops.

The principal of Moore Theological College, John Woodhouse, a leading advocate of lay presidency - an issue of contention in the Australian and the worldwide church - has suggested the diocese could make use of existing church laws.

This would avoid the diocese having to apply for special legal authority of the national church which would likely be voted down by opposing dioceses.

This is poor timing for a bad idea in my view. Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

36 Comments
Posted September 16, 2007 at 5:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Paul] Zahl however does concede that “the presence of Christ’s absence is found within the works of love” (Zahl, 2000: 37). He describes this as:

“an unseen presence within the historic absence that is in fact more tangible and more universal than of the symbolic or objective substitutes we have criticized as being insufficient, unworthy, and autonomous in relation to God’s will. There is only one ‘form’ of the unseen presence of his absence that persists in every age and time. The form of his absent presence is the form of love” (Zahl, 2000: 37).


It seems that this ‘form of his absent presence’ as love is not seen as objectifying human activity since its source is God rather than the actions of people. Love, as Zahl portrays it, comes from God as grace which forms the human person to resemble Christ’s love. For Zahl this is a work of grace and not works. He says that: “the works of love derive from prior grace. The works of love since A.D. 29 are pressed and stamped with the image of Christ’s life from 4 B.C. to A.D 29.” (Zahl, 2000: 39). It is these works of love that Zahl sees as the presence of Christ in the world.

Zahl’s work is useful that it helps to establish that there is both a Protestant and a Catholic face of Anglicanism. It is less useful though in the way Zahl seeks to analyse these faces. His dependence on party position and overly simplistic treatments of persons and the philosophical underpinnings of their work limits the usefulness of his contribution. Zahl’s work however, does serve to illustrate a trend among some Anglican Evangelicals, that is, to dismiss any notion of realism, through the sacramental principle or sacramental mediation of grace, and to type-cast and exclude any moderate realist notions in connection with the Eucharist as by definition immoderate in nature.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist


Posted August 28, 2007 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fr. Montgomery also objects to the non-canonical open invitation to communion printed in our service leaflet. As ordinary of the chapel, I have articulated this policy in full awareness that it does not comply with the canonical provision about communion and baptism. One reason seminary chapels are traditionally “ecclesiastical peculiars” is so that they will have the freedom to push the edges of liturgical practice in the direction of the church’s emerging theology. There is a serious theological argument abroad these days about the relationship of baptism and Eucharist. To characterize the open invitation as “liturgical universalism” misconstrues the state of the argument. Those of us who favor open communion do so knowing that the church has historically seen one sacrament as a precondition for the other. We simply question, in the present pastoral situation, the propriety of following that practice.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistSeminary / Theological Education

46 Comments
Posted July 23, 2007 at 12:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The Blogger known as "I'd Rather Not Say" (IRNS), aka "Professor Say" has weighed in on the topic of Communion Without Baptism, on which we posted two entries last week (here and here).

Here's an excerpt:

Why is this matter so crucial? I will leave aside Tradition for now. I am still away from home and my library, so I am not in a position to lard this post with patristic quotations. No, I will only point out the illogic, amounting to a kind of suicidal insanity, of CWOB, or ‘communion without baptism.’

***

What must one know to be a Christian? What must one believe? What, in the centurion’s famous question in Acts, must one do to be saved? Does it really matter if someone has an intimate understanding of the homoousion, or is familiar with, say the historical vicissitudes of iconoclasm?

In my experience, this minimalist, personal approach to Christian knowledge—“What must I know to be saved?”—is what usually lies at the bottom of discussions about requirements for acceptance into the Christian community, and for some time it has struck me as exactly the wrong question to ask, that the question itself is based on a false premise and a (dare I say it?) very protestant approach to Christian faith. For as people keep asking what the minimum is, (often accompanied with scornful references to ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’, a question the Scholastics never actually asked), then it is hardly surprising that, over time, that minimum will shrink. Indeed, it will eventually shrink to nothing at all, particularly under the pressure of the modern gospel of inclusion.

But instead of “What must I know,” surely the proper question for any society to function practically should be “What must we know?” In a modern society, it is not necessary that I, a historian, know how to do open-heart surgery—but I should know that smoking and overeating are bad for my heart, and if I have a heart attack, my thoracic surgeon sure better know what to do, or I’m in trouble. I have no very clear idea exactly how my television or personal computer or cell phone work—but I do know that it has something to do with electricity and wave transmissions, and when they go on the fritz, there had bloody well better be somebody I can call to fix them.

We none of us have to know everything about everything; but all of us have to know something about a lot of things, a lot of us have to know quite a bit about a few things, and each of us has to a lot about one or two things, in order for a complex society to survive and prosper. This really isn’t rocket science, yet it seems to be an obvious paradigm that some are strangely reluctant to apply to the church.

In fact, such a model is even more appropriate for the church than it is for secular society, since the church claims to be organic—the body of Christ—in a way that modern society does not, and in our individualist culture often seems to avoid or even scorn. No, a Christian, considered thus individually, does not need to be able to read the Nicene creed in Greek—but he should know it in some form, and someone needs to be able to explain it based on its original language, or that portion of Christian experience is in danger of being lost. No, an individual Christian will not lose his soul if he doesn’t know that the fourth ecumenical council was held in 451—but when the question of how Christ can be both divine and human is considered, he ought to be able to find someone who does.

The creeds thus do not exist as a minimum requirement the individual must know in order to be saved; rather, they are the corporate commitments made upon entry into a divine community whose collective knowledge far exceeds that of the creeds. In baptism, the new believer, in dying and rising with Christ and joining His Body, puts on the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and submits himself to it, not as an individual, but as a member of a community, a collective mind, the Church, the body of Christ. If this sounds a little scary—say, a bit like the Borg of Star Trek—well, too bad. Individualism is all very well and good, and we can all have our own unique relationship to God, but go too far in that direction and pretty soon you wind up with a thousand sects, or even with no Church at all, but a church of one, “the flight of the alone to the alone.” This is why the soon-to-be-Christian always recites the Apostle’s Creed before baptism, when he is about to be incorporated into the Body of Christ. This is why we (usually, anyway) recite the Nicene Creed in the eucharist, when we are sustained by the very flesh and blood of the Body of Christ, the Church. These are not individual intellectual commitments, but corporate acts, and it is their very coporate-ness that gives them their meaning. Take that away, and you dissolve the very cellular structure of the Body of Christ.

I wrote above that we recite the creeds as part of baptism and eucharist as part of a coporate experience, a collective life. This is why the soon-to-be-Christian always recites the Apostle’s Creed before baptism, when he is about to be incorporated into the Body of Christ. This is why we (usually, anyway) recite the Nicene Creed in the eucharist, when we are sustained by the very flesh and blood of the Body of Christ, the Church. And this is why, when one part of that Body no longer commits itself to that corporate enterprise, either through active denial or passive neglect, it simply ceases to be.

The full entry is here.

(Note: should it prove difficult to access IRNS' blog due to server problems on CaNNet, leave a note in the comments, and we can post the full text here. We have it saved, just in case of need.)

======
July 12 Update:
Since the CaNNet servers have been down for a few hours now, we're posting the full text of IRNS' entry below.

======

CWOB = RIP, or “to softly and suddenly vanish away.”

(Again I apologize for the comments problem. I’m hoping it gets cleared up soon!)

The Anglican news is full of the General Synod of the Church of England and its commitment to the creation of an Anglican covenant, of who is or is not invited to, or going to, or boycotting, the Lambeth Conference next year, et cetera. Yet the elves at Titusonenine have pointed out something interesting that has been, not exactly below radar, but slipping by largely unnoticed, a movement in the Episcopal Church that probably most had thought (if they thought about it all) was a fringe phenomenon, but which statistics show is in fact by now quite widespread and increasingly common. This is the practice of giving communion to those who have not yet been baptized—not as a kind of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, but as a deliberate invitation to the literally uninitiated to partake of the Church’s most sacred mystery, no questions asked. By their reading of the numbers, at least as a third, and perhaps as many as two thirds, of dioceses in TEC permit parishes to give communion to those who have not made the commitment of baptism. Apparently, when it comes to disobeying the new directives of the Episcopal Church’s sexual agenda, the authorities are canonical fundamentalists, but when you disobey the canons on the central and most sacred rite of Christian living, it’s no biggie.

Mind you, it is not as though the Episcopal Church asked a lot of questions in the past. However, somewhere, some decades ago, I recall reading a booklet (I think it was by Fr. J. Robert Wright, but can’t swear to it) outlining what the actual requirements in the Episcopal Church were, at least technically, for receiving communion, and I was surprised to discover that it was not quite the “anything goes” attitude that I was used to observing. Nor is this an issue limited to the Episcopal Church, or even the Anglican Communion. I recently visited one of the oldest churches in Florence, San Miniato, a very beautiful basilica which is set on a bluff across the Arno, high above the city and with a spectacular view of Florence below. The church is under the administration of the Benedictines, and my wife and I were lucky enough to arrive in the early evening just as the monks were chanting vespers (in an interesting, if somewhat confusing, combination of Latin and Italian), which was immediately followed by mass. Over the course of the liturgy, a small group of visitors gathered, and I was surprised to see that a substantial number went forward to take communion, including undoubtedly a considerable number who not only had not confessed or prepared in any way, but many who were almost certainly not Roman Catholics at all. I have no doubt that had I gotten in line, I could have received communion as well.

But at least in this case, it was a question of trusting the conscience of the believer as to whether he or she was prepared to partake of the body and blood of Christ. An argument can be made that, when in doubt, give communion and perhaps inquire later. (Whether that is a good argument or not I set aside for now.) But apparently there are a growing number of parishes and dioceses in the Episcopal Church that are not simply allowing communion without inquiring, but encouraging communion without even baptism.

Now at this stage in my life’s journey, I care less and less what TEC does, officially or unofficially. But I do still care about the Anglican Communion, and perhaps +++Rowan Williams, or ++Peter Akinola, or Ruth Gledhill, in considering the question of who should be invited to Lambeth, are focusing a bit too much on all of the kerfuffle over Gene Robinson. Perhaps, in their arguments over whether or not such-and-such a church is Anglican, they should consider whether a church the deliberately flouts its own canons and passes out sacraments to non-Christians is in fact any sort of church at all.

Why is this matter so crucial? I will leave aside Tradition for now. I am still away from home and my library, so I am not in a position to lard this post with patristic quotations. No, I will only point out the illogic, amounting to a kind of suicidal insanity, of CWOB, or ‘communion without baptism.’
# *******************************

What must one know to be a Christian? What must one believe? What, in the centurion’s famous question in Acts, must one do to be saved? Does it really matter if someone has an intimate understanding of the homoousion, or is familiar with, say the historical vicissitudes of iconoclasm?

In my experience, this minimalist, personal approach to Christian knowledge—“What must I know to be saved?”—is what usually lies at the bottom of discussions about requirements for acceptance into the Christian community, and for some time it has struck me as exactly the wrong question to ask, that the question itself is based on a false premise and a (dare I say it?) very protestant approach to Christian faith. For as people keep asking what the minimum is, (often accompanied with scornful references to ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’, a question the Scholastics never actually asked), then it is hardly surprising that, over time, that minimum will shrink. Indeed, it will eventually shrink to nothing at all, particularly under the pressure of the modern gospel of inclusion.

But instead of “What must I know,” surely the proper question for any society to function practically should be “What must we know?” In a modern society, it is not necessary that I, a historian, know how to do open-heart surgery—but I should know that smoking and overeating are bad for my heart, and if I have a heart attack, my thoracic surgeon sure better know what to do, or I’m in trouble. I have no very clear idea exactly how my television or personal computer or cell phone work—but I do know that it has something to do with electricity and wave transmissions, and when they go on the fritz, there had bloody well better be somebody I can call to fix them.

We none of us have to know everything about everything; but all of us have to know something about a lot of things, a lot of us have to know quite a bit about a few things, and each of us has to a know lot about one or two things, in order for a complex society to survive and prosper. This really isn’t rocket science, yet it seems to be an obvious paradigm that some are strangely reluctant to apply to the church.

In fact, such a model is even more appropriate for the church than it is for secular society, since the church claims to be organic—the body of Christ—in a way that modern society does not, and in our individualist culture often seems to avoid or even scorn. No, a Christian, considered thus individually, does not need to be able to read the Nicene creed in Greek—but he should know it in some form, and someone needs to be able to explain it based on its original language, or that portion of Christian experience is in danger of being lost. No, an individual Christian will not lose his soul if he doesn’t know that the fourth ecumenical council was held in 451—but when the question of how Christ can be both divine and human is considered, he ought to be able to find someone who does.

The creeds thus do not exist as a minimum requirement the individual must know in order to be saved; rather, they are the corporate commitments made upon entry into a divine community whose collective knowledge far exceeds that of the creeds. In baptism, the new believer, in dying and rising with Christ and joining His Body, puts on the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and submits himself to it, not as an individual, but as a member of a community, a collective mind, the Church, the body of Christ. If this sounds a little scary—say, a bit like the Borg of Star Trek—well, too bad. Individualism is all very well and good, and we can all have our own unique relationship to God, but go too far in that direction and pretty soon you wind up with a thousand sects, or even with no Church at all, but a church of one, “the flight of the alone to the alone.” This is why the soon-to-be-Christian always recites the Apostle’s Creed before baptism, when he is about to be incorporated into the Body of Christ. This is why we (usually, anyway) recite the Nicene Creed in the eucharist, when we are sustained by the very flesh and blood of the Body of Christ, the Church. These are not individual intellectual commitments, but corporate acts, and it is their very coporate-ness that gives them their meaning. Take that away, and you dissolve the very cellular structure of the Body of Christ.

I wrote above that we recite the creeds as part of baptism and eucharist as part of a coporate experience, a collective life. This is why the soon-to-be-Christian always recites the Apostle’s Creed before baptism, when he is about to be incorporated into the Body of Christ. This is why we (usually, anyway) recite the Nicene Creed in the eucharist, when we are sustained by the very flesh and blood of the Body of Christ, the Church. And this is why, when one part of that Body no longer commits itself to that corporate enterprise, either through active denial or passive neglect, it simply ceases to be.

Given the organic nature of church, the usual approach has been to declare that such a portion, whether individual or group, must be cut off, like a diseased limb, or else its necrosis will spread. But while such language might be appropriate for condemning, say, those in favor of same-sex “unions,” I do not think it needs to, or even can, be applied in the case of CWOB. For how can you be declared a heretic when there is, in fact, nothing left for you to believe? How can you condemn someone or something that simply isn’t there? For to give communion without baptism is not simply to declare that so-and-so need not make the necessary minimum personal intellectual or spiritual commitment to a set of metaphysical propositions. Minimum requirements in order to pass a test can, and in fact are, always open to negotiation (as anyone who works in education will tell you). Rather, it is to declare that there is, in effect, no Body to which to commit. It is to declare that the Church itself does not exist, whether that Church is visible, invisible, or somewhere in the Twilight Zone. It is to commit spiritual hara-kiri, or (to put it more kindly) to go snark hunting and find a Boojum.
# ***********************************

The Episcopal Church has an illness which is terminal; in fact, it may have already died. The rising tide of CWOB actually demonstrates this better than the debates over same-sex blessings. For all of his admirable (in my eyes, at least) emphasis on finding truth through communion, what the Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to recognize is that, by inviting the Episcopal Church to Lambeth, even minus Gene Robinson, he may be inviting a corpse to the party, vainly trying to prop up a dead body at the dinner table with all of the other guests and insisting that everyone else treat it as if it were alive, a ghastly charade in which many in the Anglican Communion are understandably reluctant to participate.

Or if “corpse” is too extreme, how about “imaginary friend”? Anyone who has seen Harvey knows how normal people react when someone insists on introducing you to an invisible six-foot rabbit. In which case, inviting TEC to Lambeth is not an act of poor taste, but of delusion—unless +++Rowan Williams believes that TEC is some sort of Anglican pooka. If it is, then Williams is an even greater mystic (whether of the druid or Christian variety) than any of us suspected; but if not (any bets?), then efforts to get TEC to participate in the ‘covenant process’ will be pointless, for how can you have a covenant with a church that simply isn’t there? If failure to require baptism for communion does not make this clear, then I fear that nothing ever will.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Commentary* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

4 Comments
Posted July 11, 2007 at 7:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

A kind reader e-mailed us the link to a new entry on the diocese of Saskatchewan website. It is a letter to the Canadian House of Bishops concerning its statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples in response to the Canadian General Synod's call for further theological reflection on these matters.

Here's how the diocese of Saskatchewan website introduces the letter:

In a letter that is likely to lead to calls for review within the House of Bishops of its April Statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples, theologian John Hodgins argues that celebrating Holy Communion for civilly married same-sex couples, while withholding a nuptial blessing, severs and undermines the unity of the Eucharist. Fr. Hodgins' courteous letter is exceptional both for the force of its argument and its impartiality regarding the same-sex issue. His concern is with the nature of the Church.

Here's an excerpt from the letter:

In time, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and over centuries, the official role of solemnization and recording of vows was assumed by the Church in many places. The Celebration of Marriage was instituted as “a public service of the Church” (BAS p. 526). For the first half of Christian history, however, many contend that the only blessing of Christian marriage and other relationships of professing Christians (holy orders, religious life, etc) was in the context of the Mass.

For good reason, only those committed to Christ in faith would celebrate their professions or states of life at the Eucharist with the clear understanding that only that which was inherently blessed by God and in conformity with sacred Scripture and tradition was to be celebrated in the Sacrament of Unity. Christ is the Sacrament of God. In the Holy Eucharist we share communion in Christ’s life and blessing. This is the single and unified source of liturgical blessing in the Christian community. No blessing may be added which is not inherently present within the dominical Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The suggestion that a further blessing may be added or withheld from those in a civil union or other relationship, apart from the blessing that is inherent in the Holy Eucharist, is to confuse the issue and to detract from Christ’s unique blessing. To presume that a bishop or priest might somehow add to the Sacrament or withhold pronouncing God’s blessing upon any person, state or relationship beyond what is celebrated in the Eucharist is to suggest a development of doctrine which is not within the jurisdiction of any single body of Christians.

As John W.B. Hill has pointed out in his essay, A Theology of Blessing and Liturgies of Blessing, “The mere pronouncement of a blessing can be seriously misunderstood if we forget that we are a eucharistic people. Blessing is not a power we wield but a gift we celebrate.” To be theologically consistent, then, the blessing of God celebrated in the context of the Holy Eucharist is complete. No other blessing may be added or withheld.

In summary: Provision for a celebration of relationships which presumes or indicates that the Holy Eucharist is lacking in some way and so may allow for or require a further blessing by a priest or bishop is fundamentally contrary to the received teaching of the Church. Such a provision inherently undermines the doctrine of the Church with regard to Sacrament. The concept of ‘blessing’ as set apart from or in addition to the expression of God’s love and friendship in the Holy Eucharist contradicts the nature of the Sacrament.

The notion of an additional blessing pronounced or withheld apart from the Eucharist celebrating a relationship is not in conformity with the formularies of the Church. For example, the BCP and BAS both allow for the celebration and blessing of a marriage outside of the Eucharist but the BAS rubric clearly states that “Where both bride and bridegroom are entitled to receive communion, it is desirable that the form of service in which the marriage rite is incorporated in the celebration of the eucharist be used.” (BAS p. 527). There is no provision, however, for the celebration of the Marriage Eucharist which precludes the blessing of the relationship because blessing is inherent within the Eucharist. To sever or undermine the unity of Eucharist and blessing contradicts the very nature of the Eucharist which is the fullest expression of God’s blessing.

In fact, Eucharistic celebrations of the sort proposed in the Statement would easily be misunderstood as attempting to do indirectly what has not been approved. At the same time, withholding a blessing, would indicate that such an extraordinary blessing (outside of the Eucharistic celebration) is in some way superior to, or in addition to the singular blessing of God in Christ which is celebrated most completely in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

For these reasons I respectfully request that the instructions for the celebration of the Eucharist for civil unions or other relationships in the Statement to General Synod (2007) be withdrawn.

John L. Hodgins
Chatham , Ontario


You can read the full letter here.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaCanadian General Synod 2007Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

5 Comments
Posted July 5, 2007 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The question of whether Communion without Baptism (CWOB, sometimes also called "Open Communion") is actually widespread within ECUSA has come up in the discussion of Derek Olsen's essay on CWOB which we posted this morning. Thanks to the work of a task force in the diocese of Northern California under Bp. Jerry Lamb in 2004 - 2005, we actually have some specific data to discuss on this question.

Survey data about the prevalence of Communion without Baptism
among domestic ECUSA dioceses, by Province



Here's is an Excel version of the table above: CWOB_data_NCal_Survey2.xls which you can view onscreen or save to disk. (There are HTML links in this spreadsheet to the full survey report which provides important background). The original PDF version of this table is here. In the Excel version, we have slightly modified the PDF original to include a TOTAL column, and we have added separate "bottom line" totals separating out the YES responses from the "YES + Probable" responses, which we believe makes the data clearer. Otherwise the data is as reported.

Note that the first set of bottom-line percentages (tan color) represent the % practicing CWOB among responding dioceses in each Province. They cannot be assumed to be representative of other dioceses that did not respond. The final line of data (green) do give an idea of at least the MINIMUM number of dioceses per province practicing CWOB.

Summary of results:
-- 48 dioceses (47%) responded.
-- 24 (50%) reported that they have parishes in their dioceses who practice CWOB
-- another 7 dioceses were considered to "probably allow CWOB," bringing the total of "YES + Probable" responses 31 dioceses, or 65% (i.e. just about 2/3rds of all the dioceses which responded)

Even if the other 55 dioceses which did not respond did not allow CWOB (not likely!) that would mean a minimum of 23 - 30% of ECUSA dioceses allowed CWOB back in 2004 - 2005. If on the other hand the dioceses which responded are representative of ECUSA dioceses, than we can report that half to two-thirds of ECUSA dioceses allow CWOB.

As we wrote to one commenter in the discussion thread below: We're really NOT talking about just a few extremists who advocate this practice!

This elf encourages all T19 readers to browse through the Northern California task force report and its appendices (click on individuals' names) to better understand this survey and its results.

======
Important Update, October 2008:

In trying to access the Northern California Task Force materials linked here, we discovered that the original links are no longer working. However, all the documents can be found at the Internet Archive site:

Here’s the Task Force Report

Here is the link to the Appendices and other supplemental material

Here is the table from the original report, which we used to prepare our Excel spreadsheet and table.

Don't hesitate to contact us should you need help finding and accessing this material. -- The t19elves. (T19elves@yahoo.com)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Data* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

63 Comments
Posted July 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

We were quite astounded the other day to come across Derek Olsen's reflection on Communion without Baptism posted on the Daily Episcopalian blog, which is one of the blogs on the reappraising side of the Anglican/Episcopal spectrum. To our mind, Olsen makes one of the most eloquent and passionate defenses of requiring baptism before communion that we've yet seen. It is particularly interesting because Olsen obviously knows that many of his audience at Daily Episcopalian will strongly support Communion without baptism on the grounds of hospitality and inclusion. So he approaches his argument from that perspective. This elf really considers this blog entry MUST reading. Let us know if you agree.

Here's an excerpt:

Coming from this perspective, Communion without Baptism misreads the logic of the liturgy. It demands intimacy without commitment, relationship without responsibility. To apply this same logic to another sphere of human relationship, this is the logic of the one night stand—the logic of the "meaningless" fling. Is this the relationship that we wish to have with the God who knows us each by name and who calls that name in the night, yearning for our return to the Triune embrace? But then again—who is this "we"? Exactly whose relationship are we talking about? Is this "we" the clergy, the members of the vestry, those who populate our pews day in and day out? Are those the ones invited to receive communion without baptism? No. The seekers, the strangers, the wanderers in our midst—they are the ones in view here. And here is my question; this is what we must answer to the satisfaction of our own consciences: Do we have the right to choose for the stranger and the seeker a relationship contradicting the logic of intimacy without offering them a yet more excellent way? Do we who make decisions for the church uphold our own baptismal commitment and covenant by offering the strangers and seekers less than what has been offered to and received by us?

The call of God is to all. God's radical hospitality is for all. Truly Christ stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace. Truly the Spirit moves over the waters of renewal and new life, beckoning and inviting. To the stranger, to the seeker, through our mouths we offer and issue God's words of invitation: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden…" inviting them through the waters of Baptism into the household of God. And in doing so we fulfill Christ's commission to baptize those of all nations and teaching them his words and ways, the depths of his love, the depths of a life hid with Christ in God.


The full entry, including more information about the author and a link to his personal blog, is here.

Note, this entry is part of a series by Daily Episcopalian on the topic of Communion without Baptism. An opposing perspective was posted here. Also, yesterday, Daily Episcopalian published an interview with leaders of St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, one of the Episcopal churches often considered to be in the forefront of the "Open Communion" or Communion without Baptism movement.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

47 Comments
Posted July 3, 2007 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them," Jesus told his disciples. But should that include taking Communion?

A lot of people in the Christian Reformed Church think so, but a lot don't. So now a committee will help the church decide at what age young people should be able to partake of the Lord's Supper.

The Faith Formation Committee has five years to come up with a statement on when youths should take Communion. At issue: whether children first must make a profession of faith, as now required, or whether being baptized is sufficient.

Those who feel any baptized child should have a place at the table got no support from the CRC's recent Synod meeting here. Delegates soundly rejected a proposal to allow congregations that freedom while the study is under way.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

39 Comments
Posted June 21, 2007 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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