Saturday, February 03, 2007


Some scattered blurbs on a Saturday night, perhaps vaguely connected:

From the email signature of a friend of mine, definitely worthy of repeating: "The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught." (the recently late) Aidan Kavanagh, OSB in Elements of Rite.

The vestry of St John's was blessed to be led in a Quiet Day today by Bishop Schofield. He addressed us on the theme of forgiveness. Rich stuff, and timelessly appropriate.

On the HoB/D listserv, I managed to open up two veins late this afternoon just before the Vigil Mass. One had to do with whether the Primates' Meeting actually possesses anything that can be recognized as "authority"--anywhere, actually, but particularly of a sort that Episcopalians are obliged to pay attention to. This is timely, in view of the Primates' Meeting that is barely more than a week away from opening. As you might imagine, the considered opinion of that listserv, taken collectively, is "Hell no!" And as you might also imagine, I dissent from that.

The other itch that I scratched had to do with the lamentably widespread (in TEC) practice of publicly and formally offering Holy Communion to any and all, regardless of whether they have even been baptized, let alone "in love and charity with [their] neighbors, and intend[ing] to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in his holy ways" (BCP). The rationale given for this usually has something to do with the "radical hospitality" of Jesus, and that it's his table, not ours, so what business do we have turning anybody away? This is, of course, fuzzy thinking ("sloppy agape") of the highest order. Here is what I wrote:

At the very least, explicitly offering Holy Communion to the unbaptized is an unambiguous and serious violation of canon law. It is not a mere pecadillo; it is a major breach of ecclesiastical discipline.

But it is much more than that. It is a profound theological and pastoral error--veritably, a sin. In the parlance of the 39 Articles, it "overturneth the nature of a sacrament." Baptism culminates in Eucharist, and Eucharist is grounded nowhere but it Baptism. To use a computer metaphor, Baptism is the "operating system" for the Eucharist, which is an "application." Ever try to launch Word without first opening Windows or Mac OS? It doesn't work. Together, the two sacraments manifest the heart of the Paschal Mystery. Apart, the theological significance of both--their "sign value"--is eviscerated. The theme of hospitality is not central to the Eucharist, it is ancillary. Offering Communion to the unbaptized is letting the ancillary tail wag the substantive dog. It is motivated by good intentions, but is, in fact, allowing sloppy sentimentality to trump sound theology.

The very fact that we are having this discussion--not that it is actually being practiced but that it is even being talked about--is emblematic of why TEC is dribbling off the court of worldwide Anglicanism and the Catholic tradition and turning itself into a boutique liberal protestant sect.

So far, this one hasn't generated any heat, aside from a couple of appreciative notes off-list.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check Titus 1:9 for comments: