Tag Archives: Roman Catholic

Eucharistic Love

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

John 6:54-56 ESV

The Apostle Paul describes the Eucharistic meal as a koinonia (1 Cor. 10:16).The Greek word, koinonia, has a great depth of meaning: sharing, partaking, fellowship, communing, and unifying participation in the life of God. When we drink the Blood and eat the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ: we commune with Christ, we share in his resurrection, we partake of his grace, we fellowship with God and his saints, and we are brought into union with his heart and will. In short, we become partakers—people who share in the very life and love of God. Whenever we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we experience Christ’s Eucharistic love.

This God adored by multitudes of angels comes to me as love, the redeeming One, the eucharistic One to give me everything, to fulfill me abundantly. To delight me with himself so that even I, so much immersed in this world, do not want anything else, but only His eucharistic love.

Tadeusz Dajczer, The Mystery of Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009), 10.

The Error of Eucharistic Adoration (Updated)

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.

Exodus 20:4–5 ESV

Definition

Eucharistic adoration is a sign of devotion to and worship of Jesus Christ, who is believed to be present in the consecrated host. The consecrated host is the physical presence of Christ in the sanctified bread and wine which Roman Catholics, and Anglo-Catholics, believe to be the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Transubstantiation

The consecrated host is placed in a monstrance and stationed on the altar for viewing at regular times during the week. The devotional and worship practice of adoring and praying to the consecrated host is practiced in local parishes, shrines, and monasteries. The belief that Christ is physically the wafer as displayed in the monstrance and is present in the midst of the congregation is a theological extension of the doctrine of transubstantiation. With some exceptions, those Roman Catholic, and Anglo-Catholic, churches who endorse Eucharistic adoration accept as true the doctrine of transubstantiation.

The doctrine of transubstantiation is the belief of the Roman Catholic Church that the outward (accidents) appearance of the bread stays the same after consecration, but the host’s inner nature (substance) is changed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. These categories of accidents and substance are the thought of Aristotle not the theological workings of the ancient fathers of the Church or the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ and Paul the Apostle.

Medieval Development

Eucharistic adoration is not an ancient practice; it began in Avignon, France on September 11, 1226. Public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began as a thanksgiving celebration for the victory of France and the Roman Catholic Church over the Albigensians in the later battles of the Albigensian Crusade. King Louis VII desired that the sacrament be placed on display at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The multitude of adorers brought the local diocesan bishop, Pierre de Corbie, to suggest that the display continue indefinitely. With the permission of Pope Honorius III, the idea was approved and adoration continued mostly uninterrupted until the French Revolution.

Genuine Catholicity?

Eucharistic adoration is not encouraged in the Orthodox churches of the East neither has this form of worship been practiced everywhere for all the time by all churches. For a practice or doctrine to be considered orthodox: it must have been received by the undivided Church (East and West), stood the test of time, and agreed upon by the consensus of the early fathers. This triple test of ecumenicity, antiquity, and consent is called the Vincentian canon and it is the overarching test for genuine Catholicity. In my view, the practice of Eucharistic devotion, that is displaying a monstrance containing a consecrated host for worship and prayer, does not pass the test of the Vincentian canon. Therefore, Eucharistic devotion does not meet the criterion as an acceptable practice within the Great Tradition and is not to be considered a theological conviction of the ancient faith.

Russian Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann, states that Eastern Orthodoxy does not practice the elevation of the bread and wine for special adoration.

The Purpose of the Eucharist lies not in the change of the bread and wine, but in the partaking of Christ, who has become our food, our life, the manifestation of the Church as the body of Christ. This is why the gifts themselves never became in the Orthodox East an object of special reverence, contemplation, and adoration, and likewise an object of special theological “problematics”: how, when, in what manner their change is accomplished.

[Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1998), 226.]

Eastern Orthodoxy’s Eucharistic focus is not on the change in the elements, but on the presence of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the mystery of faith encountered in the ancient liturgy. Eastern Christians do not adore the consecrated bread outside the sacred liturgy.

The Reformation

As would be expected, the Evangelical Reformers of the sixteenth century had grave doubts about the practice of Eucharistic adoration. They decried its use, discouraged participation, and condemned its practice within Roman Catholic Church. John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli and their colleagues in Geneva and Zurich, respectively, issued a statement as to their common agreement concerning the nature of the Lord’s Supper. The document, Heads of Agreement on the Lord’s Supper, was written after the failure of the Marburg Colloquy.

The Marburg Colloquy was an attempt to achieve a concord between Martin Luther and Zwingli over the nature of the Eucharist. Luther believed in real presence of Christ and Zwingli declared the elements of bread and wine to be merely symbolic. Luther and Zwingli’s disagreement was volatile and very public. Their discord was rending  the Protestant movement at its very heart.

John Calvin felt that Protestantism needed at the very least to declare its unity on some matters regarding the Lord’s Supper. Article Twenty-Six states Geneva and Zurich’s condemnation of Eucharistic adoration:

If it is not lawful to affix Christ in our imagination to the bread and the wine, much less is it lawful to worship him in the bread. For although the bread is held forth to us as a symbol and pledge of the communion which we have with Christ, yet as it is a sign and not the thing itself, and has not the thing either included in it or fixed to it, those who turn their minds towards it, with the view of worshipping Christ, make an idol of it.

The English Reformers agreed with Calvin and Zwingli writing in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith, “The sacraments were not instituted by Christ to be gazed at or carried about, but to be used properly” (Article XXV, updated language). With a few exceptions, Evangelicals continue to reject the use of a monstrance, they feel that confining God to an object is a form of idolatry.

Idolatry

Many Roman Catholic, and Anglo-Catholics, are sincere in their desire to dwell in Christ’s presence, but it takes very little effort on the part of the Enemy to turn a sincere devotional activity into idolatry. Roman Catholics describe the consecrated host as “the physical body of Jesus,” thus the presence of the host in the monstrance is said to increase the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the sanctuary. It is said, if the monstrance is removed, God’s presence is removed. If “the host and precious blood” are returned to the sanctuary, Christ’s presence has returned.

To state that God’s presence is contained or limited within a physical object is a form of idolatry (Exodus 20:4-6). Idolatry reduces God the Creator to a material object of creation thereby limiting his attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. The Lord is no longer Spirit, but an object which can be controlled by human beings (Isa. 40:18-23). It grieves me as a believer, pastor, and theologian, that God’s precious gift to us of Holy Communion has been twisted and made into an object. I have no doubt that that the adorers are sincere in their desire to be in the presence of Christ. However, it will not take long for the flesh, or the Enemy, to bring misunderstanding about the nature of salvation causing much personal sorrow and emotional pain to all involved. Arguments that Eucharistic adoration is a blessing to parishioners by increasing the presence of God in the church building is experiential and subjective without basis in scripture or tradition.

The Ancient Liturgy

Instead of the Table of the Lord being a place of participation in Christ, it becomes a night stand for observing God from a distance. Adoration confuses the physical object with its Author, and the location of God with a material entity, and limits God’s attributes to a place and time. Alexander Schmemann’s main criticism of Eucharistic adoration is that the practice isolates the Eucharist from its purpose: communion with God (pg. 227). The Eucharist is removed from its context in the liturgy as the communion of the Church with Christ and places Christ at a distance, objectifying the Eucharist in a manner not consistent with the whole meaning of the Lord’s Supper.

Holy Eucharist is intended to be place of an encounter with the living resurrected Christ. In Scripture, seven theological images or truths of the Eucharist are revealed: remembrance, communion, forgiveness, covenant, nourishment, anticipation, and thanksgiving. These truths cannot be experienced if we are watching instead of participating.

Summary

Eucharistic adoration as a belief and practice is erroneous: it does not reflect the teaching of the Bible or life of worship found in the Ancient Church. The practice is not promoted in the Orthodox East and is not consistent with full and complete participation in the Holy Eucharist.

Caveat: The views expressed in this blog post are entirely my own and are not necessarily the views of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, Southeast Archdiocese, or the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.).

“We Lepers . . .”

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15 ESV

God did not stay aloft in heaven, look down on our pain, and say, “All the best to all of you. Work life out the best way you can.” No, the Lord sent his Son, who took upon himself our weaknesses, temptations, battles, and pain. Jesus did something about our suffering world and our embattled lives; he entered our world. Jesus became fully human to God’s glory and for our salvation.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.

He moved to Kalawao – a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.

For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think

HT: Darryl Dash

Daily Drudgery

Abiding in God in the Monotony

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

Hebrews 12:7 NLT

Drudgery is our ordinary, mundane, prosaic, day-to-day existence. Learning to live a supernatural life of abiding in Christ in the midst of the daily grind is a mark of spiritual maturity. The daily grind is an enemy to our spiritual lives only when we allow it to prevent us from experiencing God’s presence in the mundane routines and activities of life. We must understand that the ordinary, sometimes boring, activities of everyday living are a form of spiritual training used by our Heavenly Father to draw us into the presence of Christ.

As we look in faith, God can be found and experienced in the dishwashing, the lawn mowing, the vacuuming, and the driving commute. We must not forget that God’s presence is available to us in the boring, mundane, ordinary, routine tasks of life (John 15:1-5). As Brother Lawrence advised, God’s presence can be practiced, cultivated, and enjoyed in the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, shopping, and work. “The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess GOD in as great tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament” [Practicing the Presence of God].

We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1989), October 21.

We cannot escape from our daily routine, because it will go with us wherever we go . . . . God must be sought and found in the things of our world. By regarding our daily duties as something performed for the honour and glory of God, we can convert what was hitherto soul-killing monotony, to a living worship of God in all our actions. Everyday life must become itself our prayer.

Karl Rahner, “God of My Daily Routine,” in Encounters with Silence (Chicago, IL: St. Augustines Press, 1999).

Heavenly Worship (Part Two)

Every Creature in Heaven and Earth is Worshipping Now

And every creature which is in the heaven and upon the earth and under the earth, and those that are upon the sea, and all things in them, heard I saying, To him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, blessing, and honour, and glory, and might, to the ages of ages.

Rev. 5:13

Often when we think of the Book of Revelation, we think future: second coming, final judgment, and the new heavens and new earth. However, the events in the Book of Revelation have happened, are happening, and will happen (Rev. 1: 8). These unusual and spectacular events happened in the first century to the original recipients of this book, prophecy, letter of John. Revelation speaks today to churches oppressed and persecuted by mighty governments who claim absolute, almost religious, authority over every citizen in their realm. Of course, the Book of Revelation contains insights into eternity which speak of Christ’s visible return in glory and the experience of eternal life in God’s presence.

Revelation chapters four and five reveal to us the the great throne of God. The throne is a symbol of the sovereign majesty of the King. The world may be in turmoil, but God reigns: he is defeating his foes, expanding his kingdom, and overcoming Satan’s wiles. Around the throne, all manner of heavenly creatures, elders, angels, and humans worship and declare their praises of the Holy One and the Lamb.

The door to heavenly worship (Rev. 4:1) is open as we “join our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven” (1979 Book of Common Prayer, 362) to praise and worship the Holy One and the Lamb for their holiness (5:8), for creation (4:11), for New Covenant blessing (5:9-10), for Calvary’s victory (5:12), and for their Unity (5:13). Around the Table of the Lord, the church is given a grand invitation to be lifted up into the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3) and experience now the joy of eternal worship.

In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory.

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 8, The Council of Vatican II.