Friday, July 24, 2009

More discussion on the consecrated elements

by Larry Beane

Here is an interesting "diablog" between Deacon Latif Gaba and Dan at Necessary Roughness regarding the Holy Eucharist - more specifically, the practical issue of how the reliquiae (the unconsumed consecrated elements) should be treated.

It's nice to see spirited discussion carried on respectfully by both sides.

As a comment to his own blog post (and as such, might be missed even by subscribers), Deacon Gaba has an eloquent and helpful little excursus that I think summarizes much of the controversy:

Beside the comment I posted at Dan's blog, I'd like to comment also on the following from his blog post:

"The Roman Catholic Church treasures the unconsumed hosts and wine because they teach that the elements have been transubstantiated, or transformed. The elements are parts of God and should themselves be adored, worshiped, etc."

A couple things.

1. There is virtually never such thing as unconsumed wine in the Roman Rite, at least when priests' practices are consistent with the rubrics of that rite.

2. The consecrated bread or wine that is unconsumed, whether in the Roman or Lutheran Churches, is not treasured because of transubstantiation, but because of the orthodox doctrine of the real and true presence of our Lord in the Sacrament. The way the RC Church conceives of the Real Presence is via transubstantiation. I see that as a flawed concept. Nonetheless, it is beside the point.

3. It is quite false to claim that either the Lutheran or the Roman Catholic Church believes or teaches that in the elements in the Sacrament we have "parts of God." God is never partitioned, or parted, from Himself, neither in the three Persons, nor in the self giving of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Christ in His Sacrament is beyond all mathematics (as Luther put it at Marburg). For He is the font of endless mercy (as Ambrose puts it in one of his prayers). His sacramental body, like His ecclesial body, cannot be hacked into parts, but is an organic whole. Where you find one particle, you have the whole.

As Thomas Aquinas writes:

And whoe'er of Him partakes,

severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:

all entire, their Lord receive.

Whether one or thousand eat,

all receive the selfsame meat,

nor do less for others leave.

(A sumente non concisus,

non confractus, non divisus:

integer accipitur.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:

quantum isti, tantum ille:

nec sumptus consumitur.)

And as Johann Franck writes:

Human reason, though it ponder,

Cannot fathom this great wonder

That Christ's body e'er remaineth

Though it countless souls sustaineth,

And that He His blood is giving

With the wine we are receiving.

These great mysteries unsounded

Are by God alone expounded.

The Deacon's words make me ponder the Eucharist and the Words of our Lord - (a common consequence of much of Brother Latif's writing and conversation).

This made me think about how I often hear from well-intentioned (but wrong) Reformed folks that we Lutherans believe in "consubstantiation." This would be the case if we believed the substances of bread, body, wine, and blood were intermingled as particles of one another and were somehow glued together, or if we believed the bread to be a conduit for the body of Christ and the wine were merely a vessel containing the Lord's blood. None of this is the essence (from Latin: "esse" meaning "to be) of the word "is." We Lutherans reject consubstantiation as much as we reject transubstantiation.

This is why Luther, in his debate with Zwingli, kept returning to the words of institution, the verb of which is "is." Jesus uses the verb "to be" without qualification and without sophistry. To put it the way many Roman Catholics (rightly) confess: "The Mass is a miracle." It should also be said that the word "sacrament" is based on a Latin way of saying the Greek word "mysterion." The Eucharist is a miracle and a mystery.

The "is" doesn't imply that it "is" for only a short duration of time (like the half-life of a radioactive isotope), nor that it is for the time that it is in the mouth of the communicant. There is an eschatological nature of the word "is" - concerning Him whose incarnate flesh "was, is, and is to come." The Words of Institution are the stuff of eternity. Just as the crucified, dead, and buried body of Jesus did not lose its divinity on the cross and in the tomb (to later return to the body of Jesus at the resurrection) - so is the reality that the bread "is" and the wine "is." The bread and wine have changed (while yet remaining bread and wine) - they do not merely "contain." Any attempt to impose rationality, compartmentality, or temporality onto the Lord's simple verb "is" is nothing less than intellectually manhandling the Holy Things. Even as the Lord told Moses, "I am who I am," which in no way is limited to the present tense (for God is eternal). Similarly, His body and blood are what they are.

And this is precisely why we Lutherans are so fastidious about consuming the elements.

For consumption of the elements is the only way that the Presence in the elements ceases. Not because God ceases to exist, but rather because the elements themselves do! When the host and the wine are consumed (through eating and drinking), they chemically disappear. Bread and wine are broken down by the body, converted into caloric energy (heat), and are, in essence, burned.

It is interesting that burning is the way that holy things that must be discarded are typically "consumed." Rather than have a holy thing desecrated (such as a woman's blouse that had the Lord's blood spilled on it as a result of Luther's shaky hand), the object is consumed through burning (as Luther ordered the blouse to be). Burning with fire is essentially the same thing as eating. Both result in the consumption of the elements - which prevent desecration.

We are indeed commanded to consume the body and blood of Christ ("Take... eat..."). The argument about tabernacling the elements - at least among Lutherans - has nothing to do with monstrances and superstition - as no Lutheran advocates such a use. Any attempt to raise that specter in this day and age among Lutherans is to make a classic straw man argument. Rather, the discussion has to do with the best way to consume the elements. Some consume them through immediate eating and drinking so as to avoid desecration, while others reserve the elements against the next communion (to be eaten and drunk) or in order to bring to the sick and shut in (to be eaten and drunk).

In the latter case, some pastors simply believe it is not fitting to use a hospital tray as a temporary altar. They also believe the sick should participate in the parochial Mass in so far as they are able. Consuming the elements consecrated at the parish altar is a way to do this. There simply are no Lutheran pastors seeking to use the host as a talisman. So any arguments concerning such abuses are not germane to the discussion. These pastors are, rather, seeking the most reverent way to consume the Lord's body and blood. And it follows that if one is going to reserve the elements (whether for the sick or to use in the next communion), a fitting box ought to be used - not a Jif peanut butter jar with a sticker on it that says "consecrated wafers" to be put in the cabinet next to the can of WD40 and a pack of Post-It notes - while the elements await consumption.

If we believe the elements "are" what the Lord says they are, we are going to be reverent, even worshipful, in their presence. Some Protestants, and even some Lutherans, have made the charge that those who adore the consecrated elements (whether at the elevation or when in the presence of tabernacled elements) are committing idolatry.

This line of reasoning led me to ponder the Magi.

For these men of the East made an arduous journey of hundreds of miles along the bandit-ridden highways of the fertile crescent so that they could worship God. But isn't God everywhere? Might they not have just stayed home? Instead, they traveled in order to worship God in His flesh, kneeling down before the Baby Jesus. They did not worship Him piecemeal, a thumb, an eye-socket, and a spleen. No indeed. They worshiped Him in His whole and holy body, in a catholic and wholesome sense. But neither did they worship Him from afar, apart from His bodily presence. Rather they went to where God was found physically. And they bowed down before His body, adoring His flesh. And it was in no way idolatry to genuflect and worship His flesh - for the flesh of Jesus is the True Body of Christ, God incarnate. His body simply is.

In fact, it would have been sinful not to worship the fleshly body of this little Nazarene Child.

This is said in so many words by St. Augustine:
"'Worship His footstool.' His footstool is the earth, and Christ took upon Him earth of earth, because flesh is of earth; and He received flesh of the flesh of Mary. And because He walked here in this very flesh, he also gave this very flesh to be eaten by us for salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless He has first worshiped it. Therefore the way has been found how such footstool of the Lord may be worshiped, so that we not only do not sin by worshiping, but sin by not worshiping." (emphasis added)
A similar confession was made by St. Athanasius:
"If any one says that the flesh of our Lord as that of a man is inadorable, and is not to be worshiped as the flesh of the Lord and God, him the Holy Catholic Church anathematizes."
Both of these quotes are endorsed by the Lutheran confessions, as they appear in the Catalog of Testimonies of the Book of Concord.

If we are indeed to worship the Lord's flesh, especially before eating it (as St. Augustine implores us to do), that has ramifications on how we ought to treat the elements which our Lord, in His miraculous and creative Word, has declared: "This is..."

Thank you, Latif and Dan, for leading me to ponder the sacred mystery of our Lord in His incarnate flesh and blood!


  1. Father Hollywood, thank you. It is a rare thing to have a spirited debate not descend into simple name calling, and I don't say this to pat myself on the back. I've noted instances on NR where Lutherans who argue certain points may be right on their theology but totally alienate their intende audience.

    We should be very careful to recognize that neither of us hates the Lord's Supper, but we engage this debate because both of us love it.

    Thank you, again.

  2. And I should prefer to continue the dialog at NR, when I can fix my comments misspellings! :)


  3. I guess I'm more than a little amused by Lutherans calling for the use of tabernacles so they can reserve the body of Christ. And more than a tad puzzled at the inconsistency in such positions.

    If you are really going to shut Jesus up in a box and leave him there, couldn't you at least stay with Him?

    Why not perpetual adoration? 24/7/365

    Sad to see Lutherans so blithely spurning the evangelical counsel of the chief teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession: consume what remains and be done with all foolish speculations and controversies.

  4. Rev. McCain,

    A practical question:

    It seems to me that as narrated by Fr. Beane, the reservation comes before the tabernacling. That is, since some parishes reserve the Reliquae to distribute to shutins, a fitting container for those Reliquae is needed.

    Now, you and I happen to agree that following Luther's exhortation to consume all this is consecrated during the Mass at which it is consecrated is the best practice.

    But we live in a world where not everyone is going to agree with that proposition. Some parishes have a long history of this sort of communing of the sick and shutin. It's not going anywhere - the practice will remain in the LCMS for decades to come, should the Lord delay his coming.

    Given that fact - what would be your advice for how to store the Reliquae for distribution to the sick and shut-in at these parishes?


  5. Paul the Predictable wrote: "I guess I'm more than a little amused by Lutherans calling for the use of tabernacles so they can reserve the body of Christ. And more than a tad puzzled at the inconsistency in such positions."

    Yeah, 'cause when I just read through Larry's excellent and very thoughtful words here, all I got out of it was that he was calling for the use of tabernacles. That's all he said, really. Nothing more, nothing less - just, "Hey, we all need to be using Tabernacles."

    Really, Paul, do you have anything at all substantive to add to the discussion? Will you even entertain the notion of answering Heath's question? I mean, we're all well aware of the fact that you think we're "liturgical pietists" for discussing these things. God knows how you feel about "the Gottesdienst crowd," and so do we. You've made that loud and clear here, there, and everywhere. And, we all know that you are the grand protector of myriads of laypeople who are so scandalized by our little musings over such unimportant things as to how to handle our Lord's Body and Blood. We're jerks. We get it. We love the liturgy and the medieval, un-Lutheran rubrics more than the people we serve. That's all we care about, really. Message received - loud and clear (time and time and time again). Do you have anything else to add (ever!)? Just wondering.

  6. Brother HRC:

    I'm looking for some consistency from those who keep pushing Tabernacles and Romish what-not on these issues. I suspect I'll have to keep waiting.

    You guys tell me why you are not practicing perpetual adoration and then I'd be willing to take seriously your grand claims about Tabernacles and Reservation in general.

    I know that consistency is the hobgoblin of simple minds, but...indulge my simple mind.

    Tell me why you are not practicing perpetual adoration of Jesus in the host.

  7. Though I am glad HRC and I agree on the wisdom actually of paying attention to the chief teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession.

    By the way, the parishes making such a fuss over reservation have such low communicant attendance at any given Divine Service, it is painfully obviously that reservation is the lazy way out for them, or that they are reserving, for reservations's sake.

    Check the average Sunday attendance of Gottesdient-crowd parishes and tell me with a straight face that they have *so* many left overs they are forced to reserve.

    The "baloney" factor continues to grow higher on this stuff, gents.

  8. Oh, yes, one more thing. Heath, your point about Beaney not talking about tabernacles kind of falls flat given the image he chose to post with his post. I'm just sayin'

    : )

  9. All sarcasm and tomfooleries aside, Paul, this is you at your absolute worst. What a slam against your brothers in Christ! How utterly low can you go? And, how far have you fallen from the Word when you even entertain the notion of bringing attendance into the discussion, let alone actually bringing it in? Wow - just wow!

    I guess this is your way of saying that you don't have anything at all substantive to add. But, man, what an un-Christian way to say it!

  10. Dear Friends:

    I'm obviously not being clear here, so let me try to do a better job.

    There is no one-size fits all approach to how the reliquiae are to be handled - only that they ought not be desecrated, as they are the body and blood of Christ - even if they are spilled on a lady's blouse or fall to the ground - as the Chief Teacher of the Augsburg Confession made clear by his words and deeds.

    The practice in my congregation, which I suppose is actually fairly average in attendance - is rather typical in the LCMS (though I don't understand how attendance numbers really matter - as the Body and Blood are the Body and Blood where two or three gather, or where ten thousand gather).

    We have a chalice and jiggers. We do not throw the reliquiae in the garbage (though this was done in my parish in the past, to our shame and to the horror of our current altar guild), but carefully and reverently cleanse the communion vessels.

    I consume all of the remaining body and blood after the Divine Service.

    We do not have a tabernacle (though there is an old glass bottle labeled "consecrated wine" that I put an end to using - so I suppose it is fair to say that I abolished reservation and a tabernacle of sorts in my parish), and I do say Mass at the hospital. We do not have a sanctuary lamp (I believe it was Dr. Scott Murray that removed it).

    Having said all that, I completely understand that this is not the practice everywhere. I understand the evangelical use of reservation, and I would prefer the body and blood of the Lord be reserved (if it is to be done) in a respectful and reverential setting. My vicarage parish had an old "tabernacle" that was a Jif jar with a label that said "consecrated" on it. The pastor had put an end to the peanut butter jar's use for reservation, and had a reverent (though simple) box made by a member of the parish that was placed to the side of the altar.

    Nobody paraded consecrated hosts in monstrances or pocketed them for some later superstitious use. My vicarage pastor had a large number of shut-ins, and he did have elders bring consecrated elements to them when he was unable.

    This is not my personal or parochial practice, but his motivation was a genuine pastoral concern that the sheep receive the Holy Sacrament as often as possible. I did not see eye to eye with my vicarage pastor on everything, but his motivation was genuinely for the shut-ins to have frequent reception.

    But whether the elements are reserved or not, the Lord is to be adored in His flesh - not merely in a Gnostic or Reformed way as some metaphysical abstraction, but in His real and present flesh and blood. It is a fitting Lutheran custom (as it is completely biblical) to pray St. Thomas's prayer when the Lord's Body and Blood are held up before your eyes: "My Lord and my God!"

    I hope this clarifies what I am saying and what I am not saying. Thanks!

  11. Rev. McCain,

    I'll be happy to answer your question about perpetual adoration, and then I hope you'll answer my question. But first, to clear up a misconception you seem to be laboring under.

    You wrote, "By the way, the parishes making such a fuss over reservation have such low communicant attendance at any given Divine Service, it is painfully obviously that reservation is the lazy way out for them, or that they are reserving, for reservations's sake."

    You seem to have missed Fr. Beane's comments and mine about the reason some parishes reserve the Reliquae. It is not a matter of numbers - of having so much Reliquae that consuming it during the Mass at which it was consecrated would be burdensome. That is not the case at all. Rather, as I tried to make clear above (and I think Fr. Beane made it clear as well): these parishes and pastors reserve the Reliquae in order to commune shut-ins and the sick.

    To belabor the point further with an example. The first parish I served - a middle of the road MO Synod parish with blended worship on Saturday night, TLH at 8 and LW at 10:30, a large suburban Chicago parish for whom Gottesdienst was and is nothing but a German word - reserved the Reliquae for such distribution.

    I thought, and continue to think, that this is not the best practice. But it wasn't (and isn't) my call. I was the assistant pastor, the practice is not heretical, and this is how this pastor and altar guild had done it for years. Unfortunately, the Reliquae thus reserved were indeed stored in a ziplock bag with masking tape saying "Consecrated" aross the bag. So, in thanksgiving for the birth and baptism of my first son, I got them a simple "fit receptacle" as the rubrics for TLH have it - but you can call it a box or tabernacle if you like. I got a wonderful handwritten note from the head of the altar guild just a month or so ago and she mentioned that they still use it and that she remembers us fondly whenever she is on duty and places the Reliquae inside.

    So there's a real world example for you. This is not a "Gottesdienst-crowd" pastor or parish. They reserve for a reason completely other than those you assume, or rather accuse: laziness and theological vanity. If you want to call this pastor and speak with him about his practice, email me privately and I will give you his name and phone number - but I would humbly suggest that it is not wise to assume you know the motives folks' have for a given action and then broadcast your theories on a public forum.

    Now, to your question: why no perpetual adoration as in the Roman Church's piety of Eucharistic adoration? Because that is not what the Sacrament is for - it is for giving to the faithful that they may "eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins." As was well noted in the original post by Fr. Beane, adoration for the Lutheran Confessions and the Catalogue is always associated with the distribution. The defective Roman piety on this point was slow to develop - and to be charitable, I suspect that a great many parish priests would sympathize with our concerns in this regard, just as they would about burying statues of St. Joseph upside down in the yard to sell the house, etc.

    In any Lutheran parish that I have known that has reserved - including a parish I served at, and the parish (while the practice was followed there) of my friend and yours in Hamel, and several others - the Reliquae for distribution to sick and shut-ins, there has never been a whiff of this sort of defective Romanist piety.

    I hope that is a satisfactory answer to your question.

    So - back to the question I posed you. Given that not everyone is going to take our advice about consuming everything at the Mass in which it was consecrated: do you have advice for these parishes about how the Reliquae should be fitly reserved for distribution to sick and shut-in?


  12. Another reason for reservation involves vicars. In some cases, these guys are serving in what amounts to an unsupervised setting. One of my colleagues was placed into a vicarage in which he was expected to simply function as an unordained pastor. He talked his offsite supervisor into consecrating the elements for him, so that he would not be placed into what would have been (at very least) a moral dilemma and violation of conscience.

    So, the vicarage supervisor consecrated bread and wine in the presence of the vicar who would then reserve the holy elements until they were distributed by him on Sunday.

    In no way do I advocate such a practice, but it beats the alternative - which seems to be increasingly common in our synod.

    Now, given that this is a case where reservation is actually preferable to the alternative, where should these consecrated elements be stored? It seems obvious to me that they should be placed in a "fitting receptacle" and not shoved next to the TV Guide and the half-eaten bag of chips in the vicar's apartment.

    What constitutes a "fitting receptacle" is not spelled out by our rubrics. But I think most of us could probably agree overall what would be fitting vs. unfitting.

  13. Paul McCain's words are often very edifying; the problem is that they pertain too often to the edification of mere straw men. The eucharistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church, even given its emphasis on the value of eucharistic adoration, does not in any way imply or necessitate perpetual adoration, as if the Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance perpetually in every RC church. One could learn this by studying the matter, or one could even discern it by visiting an average RC parish church, where you will hardly ever find the Sacrament actually exposed in a monstrance. In practical terms, many RC parishes reserve the Sacrament for just the same reason Lutherans do so, for the sake of the communion of the sick, or homebound, etc. The Roman Catholic Church doesn't need me to defend her, and this is hardly the first time the Rev. McCain has misrepresented a position. But for the sake of a rational discussion, it is good to set the record straight.

    I note, parenthetically, that the use of a monstrance cannot be considered wrong per se, however. Ordinarily it would be both unnecessary and out of place. However, there have arisen in the past circumstances that made it apropos, such as when BML himself advised its use in 1522, and then again in later life, as Jurgen Diestelmann's study, Usus und Actio, will show.

    More importantly, Father Beane is to be thanked for seizing the occasion of my meager exchange with Dan to expound beautifully on the worship of Christ, our Immanuel. And one thought I would pick up on from your words, Fr. Beane, is that the bread does not merely contain the Body of Christ. This is an important warning against not only consubstantiationism, but also formulations that are dangerously quasiconsubstantiationist, such as when Dan (at necessary roughness) is repelled by the idea that the elements "should themselves be adored, worshipped, etc." or indeed, when Paul McCain consistently mocks and condemns the notion of the consecrated and unconsumed bread to be anything but that which was "host" to Christ's Body (an interesting twist on the term 'host'). In June of 2008, as one example among many, he wrote in his blog, "We should consume what is consecrated in the Divine Service out of reverence for their purpose and use as the host of Christ's body and blood." What is that but teaching that the bread "contains" the body. It has not been difficult to notice the time limit McCain would place on the presence of our Lord in the Sacrament, but this is another important element to his doctrine.

    In light of McCain's fierce condemnation of the reservation of the Sacrament in a tabernacle, it is noteworthy that in the sentence following the one I quote above from his blog, he writes, "If this is not done, then they should be reverently set aside for use at another consecration, but not because they are, or remain, the body and blood of Christ." In so many words, he is recommending the reservation of the consecrated and unconsumed bread and or wine, which I suppose begs HRC's question as to just how he would have this take place.

    If McCain, and those who think as he does, are right, then I am guilty, with millions of others, Luther included, of Melanchthon's charge of artolatreia, bread worship, or of the modern liberal Catholic mockery of "cookie worship." I cannot do otherwise than worship my Lord with my whole self, when I am in His presence. This, McCain has claimed, is against the scriptures and Confessions. It is a 'heresy' I openly and unabashedly embrace, however. For I do not know how to do otherwise.

  14. Larry,

    First of all, I thought you were vividly clear in your original post. In fact, what you wrote was well ordered and dripping with clarity.

    What I find amusingly ironic about Paul's continuous outbursts whenever this subject is brought up is the fact that MOST of the congregations in the LCMS practice reservation, to one degree or another. In fact, every one of the LCMS congregations I've belonged to or served in during my lifetime has practiced reservation (none of them to distribute to the sick, but rather to be used against the next Communion, whether next Sunday or the Sunday after next). And, every single one of them did so in a fashion that was less than desirable (plastic bag, glass jar, mingling consecrated with un-consecrated, etc.). Of the eleven (I think?) congregations in our circuit, only two of us actually consume the remaining elements, while all others reserve.

    Thus, Paul's repeated accusations that this is a practice being touted about by the "liturgical pietists" who belong to "the Gottesdienst crowd" (which I would gladly join if you would send me an application) is, as I said, amusingly ironic.

    What I also find amusingly ironic is the fact that Paul doesn't seem to understand that the majority of the "liturgical pietists" in "the Gottesdienst crowd" actually agree with him that the preferred practice is to consume the remaining elements. However, where it does seem that we disagree with him is in how to properly practice reservation, if you're going to practice it. He doesn't seem to mind how the majority does so (in ziplock bags, used peanut butter jars, and so forth), while we think our Lord deserves a tad bit more reverence and respect and desire that a fitting receptacle be employed (which, again, ironically, is exactly what our Lutheran rubrics call for).

    It also seems, judging from Paul's numerous remarks whenever this subject comes up, that he has no problem shutting Jesus up in the cabinet of the sacristy, but simply can't abide shutting Him up in a beautifully adorned "fit receptacle." This is simply mind-boggling to me. It's okey-dokey to shut Jesus up in the used peanut butter jar in the cabinet, but don't put Him in a beautiful Tabernacle. Huh?

    But, oh wait, what really is the issue here, seems to me, is that Paul simply doesn't believe Jesus is present in the reliquae. Ah, I see! Instead of "Is" means "Is," he believes "Is" means "Is until (the Distribution is ended? the Benediction is delivered? the Closing hymn is sung?)."

    The confusion mounts when we consider that, as he has stated in the past, he believes that the "used-to-be-Jesus" elements should still be treated with reverence and respect because they, well, used to be Jesus. But, this just leads to more head scratching, for wouldn't reverence and respect still call for a "fit receptacle"?

    At any rate, since the fact remains that the majority among us practice some form of reservation, and since we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that the very Body and Blood of Christ are delivered in the Eucharist, it seems to me that this is a subject worthy of our attention, regardless of Paul's unintelligible objections. This is especially so since we live in a day and age when our Lord is treated so nonchalantly and shamefully in many places. I've given up trying to figure out why Paul can't see that truth and wrongly pulls the "red herring" card out whenever it is brought to the table. Just as I've given up trying to figure out why he feels the need to denigrate his brothers in Christ at every opportunity, instead of actually listening to what they're saying.

    All of this is to say that I greatly appreciate your thoughtful words on this subject, for I firmly believe it is a subject we need to be discussing. And, I also appreciate very much my brothers who practice reservation in a reverent and respectable manner. And, if I am blessed to pay a visit to their congregations, I will join the good Deacon in the "heresy" of worshipping and adoring my Lord.

    In Christ,

  15. Dear Br. Latif:

    Your "cookie worship" comment reminds me of an incident from long before I went to the seminary. I went to lunch with a group of people, and a friend of a friend had an M.Div. from a Presbyterian seminary - but was not serving in the ministry. He was holding forth about Roman Catholics: "They think God is a cookie." Lots of haw-haws all 'round.

    Of course, as is often the case, when Protestants attack Catholics, we Lutherans catch a load of buckshot in the crossfire. His mockery of Rome was also a mockery of Augsburg - not to mention of the Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ. But I was too intimidated to respond.

    If I could have the moment back, I would chime in in agreement that it is absurd to believe in such things as bread that literally becomes the body of Christ, and wine that literally "is" His blood. To (mis)quote Tertullian: "Credo quia absurdum" ("I believe because it is absurd").

    It is equally absurd that God is a little incontinent helpless and mute baby, or that God is a preacher in sandals, or that God is a convicted criminal on a cross, or that God is a dead body lying on a slab.

    And it is also absurd to believe in talking bushes and donkeys, a virgin giving birth, water becoming wine, and people walking out of their tombs.

    What one confesses about Holy Communion is often a touchstone of their christology as well as their view of the Word of God.

    This fellow's mockery of the Eucharist is logically no different than the Atheist's mockery of the Christian faith: both place reason over belief.

    And, at no extra charge, here is what I learned about Holy Communion as a Baptist kid.

  16. My.

    I'm away on vacation for two weeks, and paying virtually no attention to what goes on in the real, or cyber, world while away; and I return to find--what?--the same thing going on as if I had been gone for two months. A discussion of the reliquae, and, to boot, virtually the same discussion as we had back then.

    I fear that lurkers are growing tired of the discussion, since it seems to be going nowhere. One of us Gottesdiensters makes a comment, against which a familiar interloper makes a snide remark, and the discussion ensues.

    The fact that this discussion keeps going round and round seems at least to demonstrate one thing to me: this is an extremely important issue, notwithstanding any rejoinders to the contrary.

    It has us by the jugular, as Luther might quip.

  17. The question is whether the consecrated elements are retained so that they may be venerated later outside of the divine service. I, as others have stated here, prefer consumption as Christ commands, "eat and drink." I also do not understand why a pastor would purposely retain the consecrated bread/body and wine/blood in a tabernacle on the altar for days or weeks. It is either reservation for adoration or retention for later use. Certainly, Christians did practice the viaticum for centuries. However, if a pastor visits someone, why cannot he recite the Mass in their presence and consecrate the bread and wine there? Ironically, receptionists often retain unused bread/body and wine/blood because they believe it doesn't matter. Apparently, this has been a common practice in the LCMS for years. I attribute that to receptionist beliefs. Might this also explain the rubrics instructions on how to retain the unconsumed elements?


  18. Matt,

    I think I answered your first question above: I've known and know several Lutheran parishes that reserve the Reliquae for future distribution, none that reserve it for Romanesque adoration.

    Second, yes, Receptionists often stored the Reliquae - wouldn't want to "waste" all that expensive altar bread and wine by having the pastor eat it all during the Nunc Dimittis. Not very frugal.

    But the Receptionists didn't really care about how it was stored - almost every Lutheran pastor has a horror story about this.

    Thus, among those who are not Receptionists or Cessationists (the best term, I think, for those who contend that the Reliquae cease to be the Body and Blood of Christ after the service if they are not consumed) and who reserve the Reliquae for future distribution, something more reverent than a ziplock back or peanut butter jar seems appropriate. Hence, the tabernacle.

    So that's why a Lutheran parish might have a tabernacle and have the Lord's Body and Blood in it for days at a time: because it is there specifically to distribute during the week to the shut ins and because the Lord's Body and Blood should always be confessed to be what it is.


  19. One correction is in order.

    I know of no Lutheran pastor who reserves the reliquae "for weeks."

  20. I still think it is sad to think that you would be willing to shut Jesus up, even in a pretty box, but not make sure somebody is constantly there staying with Him.

    Couldest not thou watch one hour?. . . neither whist they what to answer Him.

  21. Look, folks, he's trying (albeit clumsily, misspelling "wist") to use the King James here. Now that's progress.

  22. How can anyone think our Blessed Lord is alone? There are myriads with Him!

    "Angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven..."

    In this fallen world of toil and labor, we cannot offer the kind of perpetual adoration of which our Lord is worthy - not even if we were to become monks and nuns - for our sinful minds wander, we must sleep, and we must also work for our food - the curse of the fall.

    But we know from Scripture that the company of heaven does indeed offer perpetual adoration, singing "Dignus est Agnus!" In eternity, we will have this privilege, without the distractions caused by sin and its consequences.

    Our risen and victorious Lord is no more "shut up in a pretty box" than he is "shut up in a wafer" or held prisoner against His will in the tomb. Rather, our Lord deigns to come to us in humble elements, breaking into our world of space and time to join with us in Holy Communion.

    However, not everyone takes our Lord at His Word.

    Our Reformed brethren often offer mocking critiques of the Real Presence, pleading that the finite (sacramental elements) cannot contain the infinite ("Finitum non capax infiniti") - which begs the question as to why the Magi went to all the trouble to kneel before the flesh of a Baby.

    Once again, with the Chief Teacher, we must simply repeat "Hoc est corpus meum!" to any and all mockers of the Holy Sacrament.

  23. BFE:

    I was, of course, referring to the card game. Isn't that what Jesus meant?

    ; )

  24. One of us Gottesdiensters makes a comment, against which a familiar interloper makes a snide remark, and the discussion ensues.

    I find it amusing that the familiar interloper in question can write a detailed account of the dangers of "liturgical pietism" on his blog, but, when a subject comes up where those supposed dangers are in play, resorts to snide comments, refuses to answer questions, makes fun of the ministry of his brothers, and reduces himself to the "Na na na na boo boo" technique (a.k.a the "I can't believe you guys shut Jesus up in a box, even though I don't believe Jesus is there" technique). If one didn't already know that this familiar pattern would play itself out, one might be shocked to witness it. But, I digress. :)

  25. One correction is in order. I know of no Lutheran pastor who reserves the reliquae "for weeks."

    Fr. Eckardt,

    What of the plethora of pastors who celebrate the Sacrament bi-weekly (or, 1st-3rd-5th Sundays), and reserve the reliquae in the sacristy cabinet? Do they not reserve "for weeks" (at least, two weeks, that is)?

    This is what I was getting at in an earlier post, namely that the argument against reserving the reliquae in a Tabernacle is rather silly, given the fact that most Lutheran pastors today practice reservation, but in a far less reverent fashion.

    Editor McCain says things like this:

    Sad to see Lutherans so blithely spurning the evangelical counsel of the chief teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession: consume what remains and be done with all foolish speculations and controversies.

    What is amazing to me about these kinds of comments is that they're meant to be a slam against Lutherans, like you, who reverently reserve the reliquae to be distributed to the sick and shut-in, while those Lutherans who don't make a fuss over the reliquae and just conveniently store Jesus in a Jif jar or plastic bag get a pass.

    I mean, really, at the end of the day, what Editor McCain doesn't seem to get is that this perpetual debate, in our current context, should not center around "to reserve or not to reserve," but rather how reservation should be practiced.

    I think consuming what remains is a fine practice (if I didn't think so, I wouldn't do it), but I also am fairly confident that it's a rather rare practice in our midst.

    So, too, does the perpetual "why don't you fellas practice perpetual adoration" quip ring with silliness to the nth degree, given the fact that, in most of our congregations, Jesus is "shut-up" in the cabinet. Why doesn't Editor McCain ask this silly question of them?

    I would address these comments/questions to him, but he has proven on countless occasions that he has no desire to respond/answer them. Fr. Curtis' question(s) going unanswered above is a case in point. But, again, I digress.

  26. Rev. Messer,

    I understand it is difficult to teach away bad practices like retention of the consecrated elements for reuse or disposal in some irreverent manner. However, that does not change our Lord's command: "eat and drink." I am not Rev. McCain (never met him personally) however, I have discussed with others why retention of our Lord's body and blood is a bad idea. I saw individuals pour unconsumed consecrated wine/blood from individual cups into a jug of wine for later reuse and it horrified me. I do appreciate the desire to rightly and reverently handle the Lord's body and blood. However, I simply do not understand how having a tabernacle where we purposely retain the consecrated elements for days, weeks, or any amount of time outside of the divine service is a good idea. Despite the obvious acrimony between Rev. McCain and many here I have not read on this site or on Rev Dr Eckhardt's site a reasonable explanation of how the purposeful retention of the consecrated elements (no matter how reverently or irreverently they are treated) fits with Formula, SD VII, 85-87. If only given the choice between a plastic bowl or a tabernacle I'd probably choose the tabernacle. Consuming the consecrated elements is not one among many good is what our Lord has commanded.

    Matt P.

  27. Dear Matt:

    I think the only reason a Lutheran would reserve the elements (as was probably the only reason it was originally reserved by the early church) was for later distribution to those who could not attend the Divine Service (i.e. the sick and the shut-in).

    Dr. Eckardt made a strong case for not consecrating elements apart from the parochial celebration, for instance, using a hospital tray (normally used for green jello and urine samples) as a sort-of temporary Christian altar.

    If one accepts that premise, then it follows that either the sick and shut-in will simply have to go without, or, their share in the Lord's Supper will be consecrated along with everyone else's and taken to them later, preferably by a pastor.

    Although this is not my practice, I find the argument quite compelling.

    Such a practice allows the sick and shut-in to participate in the parochial Mass, albeit a little removed in space and time, and does not result in a sort-of "temporary holiness" that a urine-sample table/Christian altar implies.

    So, if a pastor does not want to use ordinary, secular items for sacred use - then he has little choice but to reserve the elements for later consumption. And, as our LCMS rubrics indicate, such reservation should be in a "fitting receptacle."

    Incidentally, this is the practice in the Eastern Churches - which never developed the superstitious Roman practices of using the consecrated elements for something other than eating and drinking sacramentally.

    The practice has a certain appeal in this day and age of catering to every individual, of four different services on the weekend of different times and styles to accomodate everyone's schedule and taste. The use of reserved elements for the shut-ins and the sick to eat and drink does confess a sense of Christian unity - a "vine and branches" paradigm as opposed to the "Burger King - Have It Your Way" model.

    FC SD 7:85-87 has nothing to do with this. It condemns the practice of consecrating elements in order *not* to eat and drink them. I know of no Lutheran who is doing this, and I would be denouncing such a practice, as would anyone who subscribes to our symbols.

  28. Oh, the horror to think that our Lord's body and blood would be subjected to some base and common earthly thing, like a hospital table! Goodness knows he certainly never experienced such a thing in his earthly ministry, like a rude feed trough, or a rough instrument of torture and execution, not to mention sullying Himself and His blessed body and blood by associating with stinking, putrid, festering open wounds, or dead corpses, or smelly people and fishermen.

    The silliness knows no bounds, apparently.

  29. ...or that seminary professors would criticize Vatican II rubrics because they allow consecrated particles to fall to the floor. What silliness, indeed!

    Parish pastors have to make the call as to what kinds of vessels they will serve the Lord's body and blood in, and what they will use for an altar.

    Personally, I do consecrate the elements in the hospital. But of all the garbage that goes on in the LCMS, I would never criticize a man for being reverent, with the motivation to show affection and respect to the body and blood of the Lord by protecting the holiness of the way those elements are treated.

    If only more of our pastors were reverent.

    Pr. Petersen had a great piece in the last print Gottesdienst about a Divine Service for a convention that was held in a hotel ballroom in which a pastor spilled the Lord's blood on the carpet, and then proceeded to step on the stain. He thought nothing of it. I wonder if he would have treated his own child's lifeblood so flippantly.

    The fact that the Lord Jesus was laid in a food trough, was spat upon, and was crucified on a wood cross is no excuse to desecrate His body, be flip about how He is treated, or malign men for the honorable motivation of separating the holy from the common (see Dr. Kleinig's excellent CPH commentary on Leviticus for illumination on this topic).

    Some people think they do a service by showing contempt for the reliquiae. The only service it does is cause sincere scandal and offense.

  30. Beane writes:

    "Personally, I do consecrate the elements in the hospital"

    Very nice of him to accommodate the ignorance of the poor laity. I'm sure they appreciate his stooping down to their ignorance and permitting them to hear the Word of the Lord as promise and declaration, not merely as, "As I said several days ago..."

    Very thoughtful, indeed.

    With all the garbage going in the Synod, there is even more reason not to allow more garbage to be served up under the guise of whatever particular chancel-prancing nonsense you and others are trying shove down the throats of the unsuspecting laity.

    This constant justification for bad practice, on the "high church" side of the equation by appealing to the bad practice on the other end of the spectrum is profoundly wrong.

    It betrays a fundamental weakness in thought, analysis and application that does not serve the church, and is also a cause of scandal and offense.

    Beane is a master of the strawman, but the poor fellow seems incapable of recognizing the myriad logical fallacies that plague his rhetoric. More's the pity.

  31. "Very nice of him to accommodate the ignorance of the poor laity. I'm sure they appreciate his stooping down to their ignorance..."

    This is certainly a perversion of my view of the laity, a damnable lie - and it was offered by a man who has never met me in his life, and as far as I know, has never met a single one of my parishioners. Talk about a "straw man!"

    Just a few days ago, I was with a parishioner at 2:30 am as he drew his final breath, next to his widow and son. I had given him the Holy Sacrament, the Word of God, and pastoral care for the last six months of his life on this side of the grave, after receiving him back into the Church that he had left thirty years before. This was one sheep that the Lord wrenched from the devil by the miracle of grace! The angels rejoiced! Such things make the critics look very small indeed.

    I was able to also give some degree of pastoral care to his Roman Catholic wife and family, as the RC Church has a very different culture of pastoral care than we do. This, of course, is in addition to the usual demands of parochial life: teaching, preaching, visiting, etc. that real pastors do day in and day out.

    And I don't say this to pat myself on the back, as I know I am not worthy of this profound honor to serve the Lord and His bride in the Holy Office. And I don't do anything different than every other parish pastor does without fanfare - even while being mocked by men who are not in the parish ministry, by well-paid bureaucrats who don't get calls at 2 am to dying parishioners' bedsides - because they don't have parishioners.

    Sadly, as hard as we try, it seems that honest disagreement and gentlemanly discourse are just not possible with some folks - especially those who savage anyone who disagrees with them as a "hobbyist."

    Well, just who are the "hobbyists" anyway?

    I can tell you who *aren't* hobbyists: the men on the front lines actually serving parishes and giving pastoral care to real people instead of only reading about it in books and trying to assault the reputations of the men actually doing the heavy lifting.

    More's the pity indeed.

  32. This is certainly a perversion of my view of the laity, a damnable lie - and it was offered by a man who has never met me in his life, and as far as I know, has never met a single one of my parishioners. Talk about a "straw man!"


    Whatever do you mean? Don't you know that Paul is the Grand Protector of Unsuspecting Laity? Surely there are several of your parishioners who have gone to him for counsel. Just ask him; he'll tell you.

    In all seriousness, if ever there were a "master of the strawman," it is most definitely Editor McCain. What's worse is that he creates his little strawmen all over the place, blathers on like an immature 15-year old girl, throws a temper tantrum getting his little childish digs in, and then goes to his room and slams the door. Actually, I shouldn't say that, since I have three teenage girls of my own (19, 17, 15) and all of them are far more capable of participating in a serious conversation than Paul has shown himself to be.

    And, notice that he, once again, posits that it is nothing more than a "red herring" to bring the bad practices on the other end of the spectrum into this discussion, which is a real indication of a fundamental weakness in thought, analysis, and application. For when in the history of the Church were extant practices NOT taken into consideration when discussing how best to practice this, that, or the other thing?

    And, notice, too, that he continues to live in some dream world where he thinks reservation is a novelty we "chancel prancers" wish to "shove down the throats of unsuspecting laity." Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Fry . . . Fry . . .

    As I've stated here a number of times the fact that reservation is practiced by the majority of Lutheran pastors today makes the "You Gottesdiensters are introducing a bad practice" argument all the more uninformed and ignorant.

    But, you are right, Larry, honest disagreement and gentlemanly discourse are not possible with the likes of Paul. He's quite obviously made his mind up about many brothers he's never met and, having already pronounced judgment upon them, refuses to dialogue. You may as well be talking to a brick wall.

    More's the pity double indeed!

  33. Mccain says, "whatever particular chancel-prancing nonsense you and others are trying shove down the throats of the unsuspecting laity . . ."

    Eckardt rolls his eyes, and gestures over to the bartender for another beer.

  34. Pr Beane,

    I do not necessarily agree with you that FC, SD, VII 85-87 does not apply to this situation. I understand that those particular statements focused on papist abuse of the bread/body in Corpus Christi festivals and veneration of our Lord outside the use in the divine service. However, if we believe (as I do) that the Lord's presence doesn't just disappear in retained elements, how could I not be compelled to adore his very real presence in a tabernacle sitting on an altar for days after the divine service.

    To go to a shut-in and simply tell them this bread/body and wine/blood was consecrated on an altar 4 days ago is not the same as having the divine service. As an historian, I would be interested in how Lutherans reacted to the use of the viaticum in the 16th century.

    This is why I continue to assert that the consumption of the elements during the divine service where adoration of our Lord's body and blood rightly takes place is the best practice.

    I wish to say thank you to everyone for engaging in this debate. Honestly, can we all drop the name calling, ad hominem attacks, and
    hasty generalizations?

    Finally, I have never had to deal with these issues as a pastor (I'm a layman), so I understand that compromise is needed sometimes to teach away bad practices over time (ie, irreverent disposal or handling of the reliquae). I want to thank all pastors for their work.

  35. Dear Matthias:

    You make a couple of claims which are worth challenging. One is that there is something wrong with adoring Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass has ended, as for example when you state,

    "I continue to assert that the consumption of the elements during the Divine Service where adoration of our Lord's body and blood rightly takes place is the best practice."

    You put it well when you describe this as merely an assertion. It seems to me you are placing an unnecessary burden on your conscience so that you deem it somehow wrong or inappropriate or blameworthy to adore and worship our Lord present in the Sacrament outside of the Mass.

    The other claim I would challenge is that irreverent disposal and irreverent handling of the sacred species sometimes need to be taught away over time. I don't know what that means or why that would be.

  36. Dcn Gaba,

    Firstly, I do not believe we are to adore the Lord's physical presence in the consecrated bread/body and wine/blood outside of the divine service. It seems to me that is exactly what Lutherans condemned in the papist practice of Corpus Christi festivals, reservation of the host, etc. So yes, I have a problem with it.

    Secondly, Rev Messer above stated that many if not most LCMS pastors and congregations have practiced retention of the consecrated elements. Unfortunately, it seems many did so in what appears to be an irreverent manner. I contend that many did it in ignorance or because of receptionist beliefs. Additionally, many congregations have practiced irreverent disposal of consecrated elements over the years. I also believe this was done because of receptionist beliefs. Pastors must sometimes "teach away" bad practice over time. They can't just change things immediately always even when the practice is wrong. For example, Luther did not do away with communion in one kind for the laity immediately but taught the truth of proper reception in both kinds, then instituted the proper practice.

    As I stated above, I believe our Lord's words are clear..."eat and drink"...not reserve for later use or adore it. This is the practice prescribed in the Formula, SD VII.

    I hope that clarifies my assertion.

  37. Matthias,

    Just to be clear, I am not saying that many or most LCMS pastors and congregations have practiced, but rather are practicing, reservation in one form or another. From my experience, the most common practice currently employed is to reserve the reliquae for future distribution.

    Thus, the continuous admonition from McCain to follow Luther's advice to consume what remains rings a bit hollow given our current context. The irony is that most of the brothers he labels as "lazy hobbyists," "liturgical pietists," and other such nonsense, are actually Consumptionists (is that a word?). To put forth the idea that the practice of reserving the reliquae is some kind of recent innovation developed by members of "the Gottesdienst crowd" is to a) be completely out of touch with what is actually going on in most LCMS congregations, and b) ignore the fact that most of that "crowd" actually consumes the reliquae at the conclusion of the Distribution.

    That's why I stated above that, given our current circumstances, this debate should focus not on whether or not reservation should be practiced, but rather on how reservation should be practiced. If most congregations are practicing reservation, and they are, then we should probably discuss how best to practice reservation in a way that jives with what we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess about the Holy Sacrament.

    It should also be noted that we Lutherans have already decided that reserving the reliquae is not wrong. We even have rubrics within our own hymnals and agendas that direct us on how proper reservation should be done. Thus, the historic interpretation among Lutherans with regard to FC.SD.VII.85-87 is not that reservation, in and of itself, is prohibited, but rather that consecrating the elements for the sole purpose of adoration, etc. is prohibited.

    Furthermore, the interpretation held by some that the same section of the Formula confesses that once the Sacrament has been Distributed, whatever remains is no longer Christ's Body and Blood, not only holds no water Scripturally, confessionally, or historically, but is an error associated with Receptionists. This error, more than anything else, is the reason we see so many abuses among us regarding the Sacrament.

    Why is it that many pastors and congregations have no problem reserving the reliquae in a peanut butter jar, plastic bag, etc. in the sacristy cabinet? How can some I know just throw the consecrated hosts on the ground, next to where they pour our Lord's Blood, to feed the birds? It can only be because they do not believe that what remains is our Lord's Body and Blood. I mean, I cannot believe that they would knowingly and willingly treat our Lord in this manner. It's the same with using plastic, throw-away individual cups for convenience's sake, so that they can just pitch them in the garbage after the Service. Would they do this if they believed that what remains in those cups was the Lord's Blood? (Incidentally, I find it odd that CPH sells plastic, individual cups alongside of Altar Guild manuals, and many other books, which state, rather emphatically, that Lutherans should never use them - things that make you go, "Hmmm . . .").

    So, we live in a day and age when the Sacrament is treated flippantly and irreverently in many places. Then comes along a brother, like Fr. Eckardt, who practices reservation in a reverent and faithful manner, reserving the reliquae not for adoration's sake, but to be distributed to the faithful who cannot attend the Divine Service. He follows our own rubrics by employing a "fitting receptacle." Not only can I find no fault in his practice, but I see it as a refreshing alternative to the scandals we see all around us today. And, one thing I know for sure is that he believes our Lord's Word.

    concluded in next post

  38. I don't know how many threads have been devoted to this topic, but what I do know is that I have never understood, and still do not understand, the need some apparently have to mock and ridicule Fr. Eckardt for his practice when it is consistent with what we Lutherans believe.

    What often gets set aside in debates like this is what we Lutherans believe about ceremonies, namely that they do not have to be the same everywhere. What has to be the same is the theology. And, I am convinced that the theology of the Sacrament is consistent among those who consume the reliquae and those who reserve reverently for future consumption. Both practices can happily live side by side in our confession of the faith. What I am not convinced of is that the theology of those who reserve in a flippant or irreverent fashion is consistent with either those who consume or reserve reverently.

    It's reminiscent of the ongoing "worship wars" among us. It matters not whether we chant or speak, elevate or bow, and so on, but what matters is that our theology of worship is consistent. What I see happening is that an unnecessary division is being created between those who share the same theology of worship by those who hurl false accusations of "liturgical pietism" and what not at brothers who make the same good confession they do. It's the same here. What, really, is the difference, theologically, between the Sacramental practice of Fr. Eckardt (or any like him) and those of us who consume the reliquae? I can see no difference. Same theology, different practice. That's perfectly acceptable among Lutherans.

    What's not acceptable is when Lutherans endorse and promote practices that are inconsistent with our theology, such as when they treat our Lord's Body and Blood in scandalous ways, or when they worship like methabapticostals, etc. It seems that we should be united in our stance against such things. But, instead, some choose to exhaust all their energy on belittling faithful brothers who share their theology, even if their practice is a little different.

    But, enough. I'm rambling now and have no idea, at this point, whether or not anything I've written above is intelligible, given the fact that I've taken three phone calls in the midst of composing this message and now have to run out the door without going back over what I've written. Hopefully I've made myself clear where I stand in all this. :)

    Pr. Messer

  39. Rev Messer et al.

    Just for the record...I have never ridiculed or attacked anyone. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rev. Dr. Eckhardt even if I don't agree that this is the best practice.

    An historical examination of Lutheran practices of retention of reliquae or the viaticum in the 16th and 17th centuries would be instructive. It sounds like a good Ph.D dissertation topic for someone.


  40. Matt:

    More genuine scholarship will always be welcome and helpful, but there have been fine studies that deal, at least partially, with this matter, such as E.F. Peters' dissertation, "The Origin and Meaning of the Axiom: Nothing Has the Character of a Sacrament Outside of Its Use, etc." Also, look out for Jurgen Diestelmann's Usus und Actio, a review of which by Father John Stephenson, please read here:

  41. Dear Matt:

    That would indeed be an interesting study. My hypothesis (and that's all it is) is that our confusion today is not a result of the practice of the age of Lutheran orthodoxy (reflecting our Catholic and patristic heritage), but has rather become mangled by the historical intervention of Pietism (reflecting an indifference to, or even an embarrassment toward, the Holy Sacrament).

    Weedon cites Luther Reed:

    "Reed gives a synopsis of the Brandenburg Church Order of 1540: 'A sick person, unable to be present at the Mass, may be communicated in church at another hour if notice has been previously given; or if he be quite ill, the minister, wearing a surplice, and preceded by a sacristan with lantern and bell, shall take the sacrament to him directly from the altar at the conclusion of the congregational service and communicate him at home, after receiving his confession.' Reed, p. 101"

  42. Dear Matt,

    I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that I thought you were ridiculing or attacking anyone. On the contrary, I appreciate greatly your desire to participate in honest and respectful dialogue here.

    I was referring to the mocking, ridicule, and attacks that have come from others in the course of this endless conversation which spans several posts on several blogs.

    It is one thing to disagree; it's quite another to lambaste brothers with derogatory and attacking words, accusing them of things for which they are not guilty, etc. As I said above, I have never, and still do not, understand that behavior.

    As for further study, I tend to agree with Fr. Hollywood that what we are witnessing now has much to do with the intervention of Pietism. I would just add that I also think that our flirtation with generic Protestantism in America has had a huge impact on how we Lutherans view the Sacrament. Fr. Eckardt wrote what I thought was a masterful piece in a recent edition of Gottesdienst, in which he used C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" to comment on how low we have fallen in our view of the Most Holy Sacrament. I think he was spot on there.

    Pr. Messer


Comments are moderated. Neither spam, vulgarity, comments that are insulting, slanderous or otherwise unbefitting of Christian dignity nor anonymous posts will be published.