Project Canterbury

RESERVATION

ADDRESSES BY

THE BISHOP OF OXFORD

THE RIGHT REV.
CHARLES GORE, D.D.

AND

THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE

THE RIGHT REV.
J. E. WATTS-DITCHFIELD, D.D.

TO THE

CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF
CHELMSFORD

TOGETHER WITH

A SERIES OF QUESTIONS AND
ANSWERS

LONDON: ROBERT SCOTT
ROXBURGHE HOUSE
PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
MCMXVII

A11 rights reserved

Transcribed by John D Lewis
Murdoch University, Western Australia
14 April 2001

At some time about 1917 it appears that the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury set forth regulations governing the Reservation of the Sacrament. Perhaps because of the exigencies of the War, and a perceived need for emergency communion as a result of air raids, the Sacrament could be reserved only for the purpose of extended communion, not for Benediction or other extra-liturgical needs. Nevertheless, this was the first official permission for Reservation in England since the Reformation. Against opposition from both the ‘Advanced’ Catholics and the Evangelicals, Bp Gore of Oxford defends the decision of the Bishops.

It would appear that this decision is the origin of the English predilection for the aumbry rather than tabernacle or pyx. However, there were a number of churches with pyx or tabernacle long before 1917, and others with Blessed Sacrament Chapels of varying obviousness, where the Sacrament could be displayed for devotion.

The Diocese of Chelmsford, Northeast of London, was semi-rural in 1917, with a number of large garrison towns. Today it is part of the commuter belt for the City. Oxford, as always, is still a rural/academic diocese, but is also part of the commuter belt. Note that Oxford had more than 1000 clergy in 1917! No wonder Bp Gore puts forward the idea of smaller dioceses.

Note: Page numbers in the original small book are enclosed in square brackets in the text.

J.D.L.

THE BISHOP OF OXFORD

    MY brethren, I will do my best. The subject ramifies as you are very well aware, and also has manifold roots; and to-day I propose to treat the subject of Reservation on a rather broad basis because I think that only on that basis does its real significance emerge. I propose to treat it not only as a practical expedient to meet a practical necessity, but on the basis of the whole doctrine and practice of the Eucharist. Of course, like other people, I am profoundly sorry that the question of Reservation has arisen as it has arisen at this moment, because I am quite convinced that the form in which the [16] question and controversy have arisen is calculated, particularly at this moment, to alienate what you may call the average good Englishman of almost every class and creed, whereas on the other hand I have always felt, and feel increasingly, that if we could get back to the conception of the Eucharist in its bearings and its issues which prevailed over the whole Church for a thousand years and which still prevails, though much more brokenly and obscuredly, we should have got to something which ought to commend itself at this moment most particularly to just those thoughts about human brotherhood and fellowship and membership under the One Father, in Christ, by His Spirit which give us the very best and quickest access to the minds of just those English men and English women whom we should wish most to touch, those who, though they are largely alienated from us, have [17] got in them so much of the mind and spirit of our Lord. So I am going back to the beginning, and I would ask you to do what I am sure it is extremely profitable to do—to try first of all, disembarrassing our minds from all preconceptions, to think of the first institution of the Eucharist and of the significance which that very simple and striking ceremony must have had for the minds of those who first witnessed it.

    When our Lord at that solemn hour, in the midst of His disciples, took the bread off the supper-table and gave thanks and blessed it and broke and distributed it, and took the cup of mixed wine and water and blessed it and gave all to drink of the one cup, and said, "Do this in My memorial," it meant that He was laying a quite unique stress and significance upon this ceremony. He was making it, as the Church understood from the first, the sacrament of [18] membership for those who belonged to Him, and the ceremony had a quite unmistakable meaning. It meant a sharing together—that is, I believe, the precise and exact meaning of koinônia—"communion." That in which they were to share together was our Lord Himself in His humanity. "Take eat, this is My body. Drink ye all of it—This is My blood of the Covenant." The bread broken symbolized His body broken on the Cross. The red wine symbolized His blood shed for them. But they were much more than symbols. Under those humble forms He thus gives Himself in respect of His sacrificed humanity to be the bond of fellowship among men, as well as the sanctification of their individual souls and lives. "The cup which we bless, is it not a sharing together in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a sharing together in the Body of Christ? For [19] we, the many, are one bread, one body, for we are all partakers from the one bread." I am quite sure that the more we meditate upon the central and primary significance of the Sacrament as it was plainly understood at the beginning, that conception of fellowship in Christ’s humanity communicated to us, detaches itself as of supreme importance.

    I think there is nothing more full of satisfaction than to read the early accounts of the Eucharist, and no literature more inspiring in all the literature of the early Church than the Liturgies. I will only give one example, and that from the Liturgy of the Church of Rome. I do not know whether many of you have read that quite delightful tract by a Roman layman, Edmund Bishop, which you will find in one of those red volumes of Essays on Ceremonial which are published by the Delamore Press. That tract is called The Genius of the [20] Roman Rite. It is extraordinarily frank and fearless and well worth your study; but I am not going to do more than mention it now. I am going to base what I say upon the First Order, the Ordo Primus, which you will also find published in one of those red volumes, which is the earliest of the accounts of the Roman Mass in detail. It can be dated at about A.D. 770 by very sure evidence, but it goes back in substance, with a few details which would require to be altered, very much earlier, behind Gregory the Great, and back into the fifth century, and it also remained substantially true for some centuries later. It represents the worship of the Roman Church, you may say, broadly and substantially, over the first thousand years.

    I would ask you to put yourself as if you were a stranger in one of the great Roman basilicas on Sunday morning when the Mass was to be celebrated. [21] You would have seen the great congregation assemble: you would have heard the sounds of the arrival of the Pontiff in solemn procession at the Church. You would have seen the introduction of the Book of the Gospels and the whole congregation rising as the Gospel Book passed them and was placed upon the altar. Then you would have seen the opening procession as the Pope, with the Choir, came in, preceded by the seven lights and the incense, the incense being used at this introductory procession and in the procession going out, and otherwise during the service, only (substantially as it is used now) at the reading of the Gospel. And then you would have seen the Bishop making his prayers at a fald-stool before the altar, and then going to his throne and turning eastward for the prayer and the Collect, and sitting down for the Epistle, and then standing for the reading of the [22] Gospel. That is the introductory part. After about the sixth century you would have heard also, at the beginning of the service, the singing of the Kyrie: and of the Gloria in Excelsis which introduced the first addresses to our Lord which occurred in the Mass in Rome. After the Gospel there might have been a sermon, but that was a very rare thing in the Roman Church. It would have been a common thing in most parts of the world. That constituted the introductory portion and, of course, in earlier days would have completed the Mass of the Catechumens and would have been followed by the dismissal of those who were not privileged to attend the Mysteries. But that had ceased before the time of this Order. All the introductory portion of the service would have been very much what we should be familiar with to-day. But something would have followed, quite [23] different from anything you are accustomed to, and that in connexion with the offertory. You would have seen the Pope and his attendant ministers going down among the congregation and making a very elaborate collection of loaves and wine, in bags and immense flagons, from the whole congregation.. That was their corporate oblation, and it was elaborately carried out, the Pope himself offering his loaf, the clergy their loaves, the chief officers of the city their loaves, and the men and women of the congregation their loaves and offerings of wine. While that was being done there occurred what Edmund Bishop calls the spreading of the tablecloth, one deacon taking the end of the long, white cloth and throwing the other end to the deacon at the other end of the altar. Then followed the laying of the loaves in order, with the great chalice, upon the altar till the altar [24] was furnished with this great corporate oblation of the whole people. Then there was the singing of the Sursum Corda and the Sanctus (the Benedictus not yet having been added) and then the recitation by the Pope, apparently facing the people, of the canon up to the end of the Lord’s Prayer. During all the recitation of the canon there was no moment of consecration to which special attention was called or emphasis was given. There was the offering of the oblation; there were intercessions; there was the recitation of the institution and the commemoration of the passion and resurrection of the Lord and the prayer for the acceptance of the oblation upon the heavenly altar, which apparently takes the place in the Roman rite of any direct invocation of God upon the elements, and then the commemoration of the dead, and the Lord’s Prayer. Then again you would [25] have seen something which would have arrested you as unlike anything to which you had been accustomed. The oblation of the people, offered, accepted, consecrated, is now again, by a process which is very elaborately described, prepared for the great corporate communion,1 the bread broken and put into bags held by the acolytes, and the wine in the chalice which had been consecrated poured into the bowls or flagons of still unconsecrated wine which were thereby apparently held to be consecrated, and then the great communion of the people; first the Pope, not communicating himself, but communicated by the Archdeacon, then himself communicating the chief of the clergy, and then the communion by the Pope and others of the whole body of people, the [26] people being communicated in the species of wine through a reed; and when that was done there was a post-communion prayer and the Ite, Missa est.

    If you now think of the order of a modem High Mass you will see the striking differences which the ancient ceremony must have presented to an observer; you will see, I mean, that the prominent idea was that of the great corporate oblation offered, accepted, consecrated, and returned as now Christ’s Body and His Blood to be the spiritual food for the sanctification of the souls and bodies of His people and to bind them all into a corporate whole. And the ceremony is unperplexed by any other element or feature. It speaks for itself; it maintains itself with remarkable fidelity to the fundamental idea of the institution. Whatever ceremonial decoration or adornment there is in no way detracts from [27] the simplicity of the original governing idea.

    Now I would ask you to let your minds go on a thousand years to the High Mass of the Western Church at the present day. (I say a thousand years because I do not want to delay over the question of the moment when particular alterations or changes of idea took place.) I would ask you to let your minds pass to a modern High Mass and to note the main and characteristic difference, and that is the total obscuration of the whole corporate idea of sacrifice and communion. In every way, and some ways rather subtle, the corporate idea was maintained in the original service. I say in some subtle ways—for example, a fragment of the consecrated element of bread reserved from the Mass of the previous Sunday was put into the chalice after the Lord’s Prayer. That was the ceremony of the Sancta designed to connect [28] one celebration with the other that there might be continuity. Again there was what was called the ceremony of the "fermentum," which was the sending of a portion of the consecrated element of bread from the Pope’s Mass to all the chief churches of Rome in order to connect the Masses said in all the other churches with the Pope’s Mass. There was the rule of celebrating only one Mass in each church on one day. All these details maintained the idea of corporate unity. But above all of course the act itself, in which all the clergy joined, and on certain occasions all concelebrated; and the whole ceremony, both of oblation and of distribution, kept prominent and clear before the mind the corporate idea. Take the jump of a thousand years and you find that that has been obscured to a vanishing point in three ways. Partly because the share of the people in the [29] action has been immensely reduced: partly because the priest has himself become isolated from the whole corporation and body of the Church, each priest saying his own Mass, and Masses being indefinitely multiplied in order that this may be so: partly because the whole idea of corporate character has been lost both from the oblation and from the administration, the chief service having for centuries become a service in which the people do not communicate; finally because communion has become, to a degree that it would be hardly possible to exaggerate, an individual act. The individual Christian makes, whether outside the service or at low Mass, his own private communion, but the corporate idea has gone, and the solemn service which is intended to be the great corporate act of worship,2 on which all the elaboration [30] of ceremony and music is concentrated, has ceased to be a service of communion at all except in the person of the celebrant himself.

    Now, if the appeal to antiquity has real and rational ground, as for my own part I profoundly believe it has, our Prayer Book was quite right in demanding the return to the corporate character of communion. The actual development of our worship after the Reformation in England was no doubt disastrous and resulted in the totally unjustifiable dethronement of the Lord’s own Service from its proper position as the unmistakably central service of the Sunday; and communion with us too became an individual act; so I do not think that we can say that any abuse to which the Eucharist has been subject in the Roman Church is greater than the abuse to which it has been subject amongst ourselves; but I am [31] quite sure that we shall never touch the bottom of our difficulties until we recognize that there is no way of being true to the original intention of the service except by the restoration of the corporate character of communion which is fundamental and essential. In spite of all difficulties in our path we must deliberately set our faces in the direction of making the chief service of the Sunday the act of corporate communion.

    Then, if, again, I ask you to contemplate the Holy Communion at the beginning and the end of that thousand years, in the Roman Church, the second great change which you would find had taken place would be a doctrinal change; that is, to put it in one word, the formulation of the doctrine—I solemnly believe you must call it the error—of transubstantiation. I believe that the three great faults of the doctrine of [32] transubstantiation are these: first that it violates the principle of the Incarnation, the principle which in the fifth century was insisted on both as regards our Lord’s person and as regards the Eucharist; the principle, that is to say, that the higher and divine nature does not obliterate or destroy the lower nature which it uses—that in our Lord’s person the divine nature does not obscure or destroy the human, and that in the Eucharist the divine presence does not destroy or obliterate the material substances of bread and wine. But I am not at present proposing to say anything about that. Then, secondly, a great flaw in the doctrine of transubstantiation is, as it appears to me cannot be denied, that it fastens upon the Church a philosophical theory which in lapse of time has entirely passed from the minds of men; that is the distinction of substance and accident [33] in material things, but about that, again, I do not propose to say anything.

    But the most serious flaw in the doctrine of transubstantiation (not as it is somewhat loosely held in the Eastern Church, but as it was defined in the Western Church), is one which, the more you think about it, the more disastrous I believe you will find it to be; that is that its logical consequences will be found to defeat the object for which the real Presence was vouchsafed to us. The purpose of the Presence, as expressed in all the liturgies, was conceived to be the communion of the faithful in the Body and Blood of Christ: that is in our Lord’s sacred and glorified humanity. The sacred humanity, and thereby Christ Himself in His whole person, was believed by communion to be imparted for the permanent nourishment of the communicant’s whole nature and for [34] the binding together ever more closely of the whole Church in Him, the second Adam. This is the effect of eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood that we may abide in Him and He, as He is both God and Man, in us. On this the Fathers insist with great unanimity.

    But that great and deep purpose of the real Presence has had its very roots cut in the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation. According to this doctrine the Divine Presence, the presence of our Lord’s Body and Blood, is so attached to, and I should say subjected to, the material accidents, that it is a necessary consequence of the doctrine that, as soon as the accidents begin to change, that is to say after a few minutes, as soon as digestion begins in the communicant—(it is an extremely disagreeable subject, but it is absolutely necessary to face it)—there is a reconversion of the material [35] elements into their original nature of bread and wine, now in process of digestion, and the Divine Presence wholly ceases.. I have endeavoured elsewhere to prove that this is in fact the authoritative Roman teaching, and I am sure that if you ask any sufficiently instructed Roman Catholic theologian, he will admit it. In an article that I recently wrote in The English Church Review I quoted answers which I had received from Father Rickaby, who is an admirable authority, and who is quite emphatic and quite clear, and in the April number of The English Church Review there is a quotation from the Roman Catholic journal The Month which, again, is quite unhesitating. This is the quotation: "Of course to have Him in our hearts in Holy Communion is more in itself than to have Him near to us in the tabernacle. But we have Him in Holy Communion only for a few minutes at [36] a time,3 and in proportion as we believe this and take it to heart is our desire to seek His presence in the tabernacle again and again." Now I do very much want the whole Church of England, so far as they are interested in this subject, to face this. There is hardly anything in the whole circle of Catholic theology more important or more emphasized by Fathers, Greek and Latin, than the purpose of Communion; that is the imparting to us of our Lord’s manhood in order that in that manhood, communicated to us and passing to the nourishment of soul and body, we may live in Him and He in us. In an article which Dr. Stone wrote also in The English Church Review he gave instances of language implying, as it seemed to him, that the older view had not been repudiated in the Roman Church; but, [37] in fact, though there is a certain amount of clinging to the old language, it always has to be explained away, and that, for a reason that is absolutely conclusive, that is, that according to the Roman doctrine there is actually nothing, sacred or spiritual, which remains after the reconversion which is identified with the moment of the first beginning of digestion: there is nothing spiritual or sacramental which remains, nothing whatever. Thus, if you look into later mediaeval and modem Roman books about the effect of the Sacrament, you will see that the doctrine is profoundly embarrassed for that very reason, and that though there is sometimes language used which looks like a reflection of the old language, it always has to be explained away; and again I quote Father Rickaby, who is quite explicit about the subject. "When I was young," he writes to me, "I found much consolation in a little [38] French work Jesus vivant en nous founded on the text Colossians i. 26 (‘Christ in you’), and explaining it, as I think you are inclined to explain it, but afterwards I found the book was put upon the Index." The fact is that the ancient Catholic doctrine of the permanent strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine, had had its roots cut and destroyed by the Roman doctrine. The Body and Blood of Christ are so identified with, I should say subjected to, material conditions that when, after a few minutes, these cease to exist, the sacramental gift is wholly gone. There is nothing left to nourish the soul unless Christ be supposed to infuse into us, as some Roman theologians hold, some special gift of His Holy Spirit during this temporary visit, but for this idea there is literally no scriptural or ancient authority.

[39]    Again I would ask you to consider this interval of a thousand years between the moment, 770, from which I gave you the account of the First Order, down to the modern Roman use and doctrine. The third great difference which you would note would be the concentration of attention in the Mass upon a certain moment—the moment of consecration and elevation and upon the specific object, the Host. You must distinguish that later elevation immediately following consecration from the primitive elevation. You would find an excellent account of the whole subject in Adrian Fortescue’s book on the Mass. You must distinguish it from the primitive elevation which existed in most of the liturgies, in which immediately before Communion the holy gifts were elevated with the words "Holy things for the holy people." Of course the new elevation was introduced distinctly and [40] confessedly as the result of the new emphasis which was laid upon the subject by the doctrine of transubstantiation. That resulted first of all in an emphasis upon the moment of consecration which was quite absent from the ancient liturgies, and then in a quite new devotion to the Host as an isolated object. It became the great and passionate desire of the faithful to see the Host. That, you know, forms a very conspicuous feature in mediaeval devotion. I daresay you will remember the famous phrase in which Thomas Becon, Cranmer’s chaplain, in an extremely disagreeable work, tells us how this desire to see the Host had been characteristic of Englishmen, and how if the priest did not elevate the Host sufficiently high there would be heard cries from all parts of the church, "Heave it higher, Sir John; heave it higher." Adrian Fortescue quotes that passage again and gives a great number of [41] instances of the intense insistence upon the seeing of the Host. The consequence of that was very marked; it was a concentration of attention upon a moment and upon an object, as distinct from a process and an action. The original idea of the Eucharist was that of a continuous action upward to Heaven and downward to earth; but there was no concentration upon a moment and an object. It was the lifting up of the oblation of the Church before the Father, and the return of that oblation glorified and transmuted to be the food for the souls of men. The adoration was the adoration in preparation for the moment of communion. It made an immense change in the whole balance of Eucharistic devotion when there emerged that concentration on the moment and the object.

    Thus, fourthly, you reach the last change to which I must call your [42] attention4; that was the development of the extra-liturgical use of the Blessed Sacrament. It is obvious, that if the Host, in itself, was the great object of devotion, there was no reason in the world why the Object of devotion should not be perpetuated and made constant, so that a desire arose, as is very easily intelligible, which took effect in the extra-liturgical adoration of the Sacrament—in the tabernacle, in the monstrance and in processions and, finally, in Benediction. You know the famous statement of the Roman theologian, Father Thurston, which you have very often seen quoted, I dare say, that there was not for a thousand years any clear instance of any Christian seeking the reserved Sacrament in order to pray before it.5

[43]    Dr. Stone quotes Father Thurston’s statement and is disposed to think that there is one instance. Well, there is one instance of almost everything in the world, so that I should not be very much surprised if there were one instance of it; but I am bound to say I do not believe that the one instance which he quotes, which is a passage of famous difficulty about St. Gregory Nazienzen’s sister Gorgonia, can carry the meaning which he seeks to attribute to it. I believe that Father Thurston is indisputably right in rejecting the idea that Gorgonia is described as seeking for purposes of adoration the sacrament reserved in church. She is described as going to the church and to the altar and "anointing [44] her whole body with the medicine which proceeded from herself," which I have no doubt means her tears, as is afterwards described, and also as applying to her body "whatever of the antitypes of the precious body or blood her hand treasured," mingling this with her tears and so obtaining healing. Father Thurston, oddly enough, thinks that this means that they were so careless in those days in the administration of the Sacrament that the woman could go and find crumbs and fragments of the Blessed Sacrament left there, and that this is what is referred to as the treasure which she had succeeded in collecting into her hand; but I do not myself think that there is really much doubt that what is meant is that she brought with her to Church the Sacrament which at that time, as you very well know, it was the custom for Christians to reserve for communicating themselves in their own [45] houses. I do not think there is really much doubt about that. Any way, I think you have to choose between Father Thurston’s interpretation and that interpretation. I do not think that Dr. Stone has in any way shaken Father Thurston’s statement about the absence of any clear indication of the extra-liturgical use of the Blessed Sacrament for devotion for a thousand years. There were a good many abuses—ways of using the Blessed Sacrament as a charm, which you can only call abuses—as when people carried it about with them for safety, or when they buried it with the dead, or when they put it into altars for consecration, and so on, which abuses were at various dates abolished, but the particular use of it for purposes of extra-liturgical adoration was totally absent.

    Now I have laid before you the basis on which I stand and I have four or five points remaining which I would seek to [46] make. Having laid my basis I can make them rapidly, though I dare say they will provide the main subject of the questions which will be asked of me, if there are questions.

    1.  The true aim of Anglicanism is the restoration of what is both catholic and primitive. I have tried to put before you what were the ideas with regard to the Holy Sacrament dominant for the first thousand years of the Church’s life. I have tried to emphasize the intensely and essentially corporate character of the Eucharistic service. I have tried to show that what is at stake is not the doctrine of the real Presence or the real objective Presence, but the use to which it is to be put. I have tried to emphasize the intense insistence upon the purpose for which it was given which prevailed for a thousand years and which still prevails in the unchanged tradition of the Eastern Church. I know that Dr. Stone, among [47] other people, has said that there is no reason to associate the extension of the extra-liturgical use of the Blessed Sacrament with that change of doctrine which has occurred in the Roman Church. But I think it is impossible to maintain this. The last words of Fr. Freestone’s book are these—"The original purpose of official Reservation [i.e. Reservation in Church] was purely practical [for Communion]. The development of any cultus of the Reserved Eucharist was the direct outcome of the acceptance of the doctrine of transubstantiation as the orthodox belief.." I cannot doubt that that was the case. Also I have no doubt the craving for the permanent external shrine of presence is associated with the weakening, even the abolition, of that sense of the permanent presence of Christ in respect of His manhood in us of which I have spoken. I speak as a person who did passionately love the Roman devotion, [48] but in my own experience I did find that from the time when I read Wilberforce’s books and began to understand what I am sure is the really catholic doctrine of the presence of Christ in us, in respect of His humanity, I began to feel that the sense of the interior presence of Christ in us weakened the desire for the exterior visit.. I would again refer to those words which I quoted just now from The Month: "Of course to have Him in our hearts in Holy Communion is more in itself than to have Him near to us in the tabernacle. But we have Him in Holy Communion only for a few minutes at a time, and in proportion as we believe this and take it to heart is our desire to seek His presence in the tabernacle again and again." I am quite sure that those words of the Roman Catholic journal express the truth with regard to that desire on the whole. Now, I do not think it is possible to deny that the [49] putting of the Holy Eucharist to a new use totally different from any use recognized in the Church for a thousand years, different from any use recognized in the Eastern Church up to the present day, different from any use which is directly or indirectly suggested in the New Testament,6 is something which has about it a great venturesomeness, a great presumption. Men had exhibited a similar presumption in early days. They tried to use the Blessed Sacrament in various ways as a charm, but the Church stood firm and said, "No, it must not be used [50] in this way." This later use, however, the Roman Church has authorized, but the more you look at the grounds of that authorization the more, I believe, you will find that it is bound up with a false materialistic theology of the Blessed Sacrament and with a disastrous denial of what is fundamental in the ancient and catholic idea of the purpose of the Blessed Sacrament.

  2.  Then, next, I should like to emphasize that the elements of the later Roman cultus are inseparable. You cannot take a bit and leave the rest. Elevation to see the Host led on to the permanent external shrine and the seeking of the external Presence in the tabernacle, and that then led on, for obvious reasons, to the monstrance, to processions of the Blessed Sacrament and to Benediction. The plea now is that we should be content with public Reservation in the tabernacle which admits of "visits to the Blessed [51] Sacrament" and that we should abandon the desire for the monstrance or for Benediction. I do not deny that this arrested development might last for a year, but I am certain that the whole impulse of logic and devotion renders these various uses so closely inter-connected that, if we feel bound to make a stand against the development as a whole, we must make it at the beginning and not at any later point. Indeed, Mr. Hanbury Tracy and others make no concealment of the goal at which they would desire to arrive, though they would be prepared to accept limitations by the way. But I ask you to consider what happens if you have the Blessed Sacrament reserved upon the side altar of a church. The side altar becomes the centre of interest in the church. You know that the meetings of the C.B.S. would be in front of that altar. You know that it would become the practice [52] of the devout that they should pay their daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. You know that any parochial guild would meet in front of the Blessed Sacrament. You know that it would be necessary to make genuflexions towards the Blessed Sacrament; that altar would become the centre of devotion. Then also there would be a passionate desire to get the tabernacle open; and there would be no particular reason why it should not be so: and after a very little time the full Roman use of the Blessed Sacrament would almost inevitably be developed. I am quite sure that, if there is to be a stand anywhere, the stand must be at the first step.

  3.  I have not talked about the desirability of admitting Reservation for the purpose for which it has always been admitted in the Church—the communion of the sick—because, possibly, it is not here called in question. I, at any rate, [53] do not see that there is anything to be said against it. I deeply deplore that it ever was abandoned, and I have always, ever since I thought about the subject, greatly desired its restoration. If anybody had told me, however, when I was made a bishop that within fifteen years I should see it restored by universal agreement among the bishops of our own province, I should have thought that that was too good to be true; but it is the fact now. It is agreed to admit Reservation for the communion of the sick, but not under such conditions as admit of free access to it by the faithful for the purpose of devotion. That is implied in the words of our proposed rubric on which we are agreed to act—"For no other purpose whatsoever" except the communion of the sick. About that proposal I should like to say that I think there is no question of real difficulty, if only there is the will to accept the [54] limitation. What is asked is that we should return to the ancient method of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the aumbry: a use earlier than the use which characterized our own country of reserving it over the high altar in the hanging pyx. This aumbry was a cupboard either in the sacristy or in one of the side walls of the chancel. If you have an aumbry with double doors and covered by a curtain you will have the Blessed Sacrament reserved under conditions which by the modern Roman rules put it outside the conditions of adoration: because you only pay notice to the Blessed Sacrament if, as another Roman Catholic friend of mine has told me, it is "in the same room with you." There is really no difficulty about the matter, I believe, if there is simply the will to accept the limitation.

  4.  Next, I cannot admit the reasonableness of the suggestion that under the [55] Prayer Book it is competent for any priest to reserve the Blessed Sacrament at all, still less to reserve it publicly in the church, at his own discretion. It is a very interesting question whether the abolition of Reservation was an over-violent dealing with a catholic custom.. I think that it was a needless abandonment of a catholic custom, just as, no doubt, with regard to the marriage of the clergy, we did, rightly or wrongly, abandon a very old-standing catholic custom; but it is too late to talk about that now. What I mean is that, if in my conscience I reach the conclusion that the action of the Reformers involved an intolerable violation of catholic custom, then I have no right at all to submit myself to the Prayer Book. And if I do submit myself to the Prayer Book I am quite sure that I put myself in a position in which I cannot possibly claim to have liberty to restore Reservation at my own discretion. [56] You know that there has been a discussion as to whether canonical laws lapse by mere desuetude. Well, I have no doubt myself that they do lose authority by mere desuetude, but this is not a question of lapsing by mere desuetude. There is no question at all that desuetude coupled with independent legislation in another sense abolishes old canons; and what we have here is desuetude coupled with legislation in another sense. The Church of England made other legislation, other provision, for communicating the sick, rightly or wrongly. It made other provision; and you will find that it is impossible to examine the practice of the Church in canonical legislation and still to maintain that you can revive an ancient canon over the head of independent legislation in another sense, merely because the older legislation has not been explicitly repealed. I am sure of that. Thus if we are to have Reservation [57] at all, we are then thrown back on the authority of the Episcopate, which I think is covered by the phrase "except so far as shall be ordered by lawful authority." There has been a great deal of discussion as to what those words mean. They are vague words. But they are at least such as cover the action of the Episcopate. Under our sad condition of bondage we must make the most of the power of the Episcopate to deal with the circumstances of the time. The circumstances of the time require something more than the method of communicating the sick contemplated by the Prayer Book. The method of the Prayer Book is not abandoned, but it is supplemented by the revival of Reservation under the authority of individual bishops or (as now) by the united action of the Episcopate of our. Province. For the bishops have been so impressed with the necessities of the times that they are prepared, [58] unanimously, as far as I know, to authorize in this Province Reservation for the purpose of communion. Our recent Resolution was passed indeed not unanimously, but nemine contradicente. But, as far as I know, the bishops who did not vote for it, abstained from voting not because they were not prepared to allow Reservation at all, but because they were not prepared to observe the restriction "for no other purpose whatsoever."

    Now, I have had a little controversy with Lord Halifax. Lord Halifax has complained of me for saying what I did not say at all—that he agreed with me in the view that it is not competent for any priest to claim Reservation at all except under Episcopal licence. That I do myself firmly hold, but I did not say that he agreed with me in that. What I did say was that he agreed with me or that his words used to the Royal Commission [59] implied that he agreed with me—that it is absolutely within the competence of the Episcopate to regulate the use of Reservation. I can indeed hardly conceive any one denying that. And the Episcopate of this Province has chosen to regulate it strictly and severely in a certain sense.. I do not think you can say that this restriction involves any violent dealing with a catholic practice, and I think we are bound to accept the restriction—every one of us who has agreed to make the declaration in virtue of which alone we can accept any kind of clerical office in the Church of England. I believe that at this crisis we have been impressed with the necessity of not allowing the principle of "conscientious objection" too great a latitude. We know that it requires severe interpretation if it is to be justified in any emergency of nation or Church. Again I believe that we have become deeply impressed with [60] the hatefulness of the "scrap of paper" doctrine as a means of getting rid of an inconvenient obligation. But I am quite persuaded that we are in great danger ourselves in this respect. We need to think about it very seriously. I do from my heart repudiate and hate the form of argument from laxity to laxity, which allows me to say that, because I see somebody who is lax in one direction—shall I say somebody who is holding some high benefice in the Church and who disbelieves the Creed—therefore I shall allow myself similar laxity in another direction. That argument opens the flood-gates of immorality, and we must repudiate it from our very hearts. For my own part I try to be impartial. What I mean is this: I have always thought that there were restrictions which it is necessary to observe in all directions.

    There is a limit both of teaching and ceremonial for the officer of the Church, [61] however large and comprehensive the liberty allowed us, both in the direction called Liberal, in that called Protestant, and in that called Catholic; and I fear I have felt bound to make myself disagreeable at different times impartially in each direction. As St. Paul teaches us, the corporate liberty of the Church involves definite limits, because it involves positive principles. Thus I am sure that the argument that laxity tolerated in some place and at some point in one direction justifies our taking similar licence in another direction is an argument which is profoundly inconsistent with the spirit of corporate loyalty and honour.

    Then I do also very strongly urge that we should not suffer ourselves to use sophistical arguments. I think that our position is a position of very great difficulty. I have never been an optimist about the Church of England. I expect [62] we have bad times in front of us, such as will test the faith and patience of the best of us. But it is all the more necessary that we should keep our minds unsophisticated. We need to keep honest consciences and maintain only fair arguments. It is absurd to say I am only reserving the Blessed Sacrament for the communion of the sick if, in fact, I am reserving it with another purpose prominent in my mind—if in fact it is the desire to have the Blessed Sacrament as an object of worship which is the dominant motive in those desiring Reservation; as is sometimes the case not only in religious communities but in parish churches also. We must not juggle with words. If we want Reservation only for the purpose of communion of the sick we can have it. Or, again, consider frankly the argument that "the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past" means that everything [63] that was in the chancels in times past you can have in the chancels now, and therefore you can have the hanging pyx. That is a kind of argument which passes all the limits of legitimate reasoning.

    Now I have done. I have spoken with all possible frankness because I think it is the time to do so. I believe that we are set to guard the true doctrine of the real objective presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament as the ancient and undivided Church guarded it in old days, with the purpose always full in view for which our Lord vouchsafed it. I believe that the Roman development involves a great Presumption, and the more impressed you are by the bold departure from ancient principles involved in this development, the more you will see that at the least it demands authority. There is an authority behind the development in the Roman Church, but that authority we are not in a position [64] to accept. There is nothing in the world which is more impossible than to accept the Roman authority in bits. There is nothing in the world more united and concentrated than the Roman authority, and Romanism without the Pope is, of all futilities, one of the most futile.

    It is no doubt very distressing to be obliged to resist the establishment or maintenance amongst us of this specially Roman cultus of the Blessed Sacrament, when there is such a weight of emotion and desire pressing for its adoption and sanction. But there is a similar emotional pressure behind other claims doctrinal and practical which are made from other quarters. And in each case the Church must learn to discriminate: the authorities must learn carefully and wisely to bind as to loose: and the body of the Church must learn to submit sectional desires to the common good. For truly Catholicism means not any [65] particular set of doctrines so much as the real acceptance of the controlling mind both of the Catholic Church at large and of that part of the Catholic Church to which we belong.


1 After about 700 the Agnus Dei was introduced at this point, before the commixture and the kiss of peace.

2 In many parts of Europe it is this no longer.

3 And it must be added in our mouths not in our hearts.

4 I am saying nothing here of the withdrawal of the chalice from all but the celebrant.

5 We have had two books lately, one Dr. Stone’s book on The Reserved Sacrament, and the other Fr. Freestone’s book, the twenty-first issue of the Alcuin Club Collection, called The Sacrament Reserved (Mowbray). Now, I must frankly say that I think Fr. Freestone’s book is the completer and more trustworthy.

6 The New Testament constantly suggests that the union with the Heavenly Christ, by the Holy Spirit, of which the sacraments are the instruments, is the better substitute for the external relationship to Christ which the disciples had in the days of His flesh. Yet this external relationship involved much which has no counterpart in visits to the Blessed Sacrament—the hearing His Words, the seeing His Works, the looking up into His Eyes.

7 "The virtue of the gift and His quickening grace are permanent in it."—See Gore, The Body of Christ (John Murray), p. 300.