Project Canterbury

Reservation and Adoration:
A Historical and Devotional Inquiry

Shirley Carter Hughson
Superior of the Order of the Holy Cross

The Holy Cross Press
West Park, New York


transcribed by Dr Elizabeth G Mellilo
AD 2000

Chapter VII
Reservation in the Early Reformation

Reservation was, as we have seen, provided for in the Prayer Book of 1549, novel and unsatisfactory as the prescribed method was. The direction, along with other things about which no question has ever been raised, was dropped from the Prayer Book at the revision of 1552. This Book, however, never had any other sanction than that of the State.

The Latin Book of 1560, which was intended not only for the Universities, but was recommended for the use of all the clergy of the Church of England, revived it. This restoration of the rubric has been supposed by some to have happened as the result of carelessness on the part of the editors.

This suggestion is disposed of, however, by our knowledge of the fact that the Latin Book of 1560 was based upon an old translation of the Book of 1549 into Latin by Alexander Aless. Walter Haddon was editor of the later Book, and deliberately recast the Latin of several of Aless's sentences in this rubric, as can be seen by comparing the two Books. It is certain, therefore, that it was by no mere default that it was restored, for it was carefully revised beforehand in order to improve its Latinity.

It might be retorted that neither did this Book have any other sponsor at the time of its promulgation than the secular authority. But for a very good reason. At this time the Convocations were made up of those ecclesiastics who had conformed to the Roman Church in the reign of Mary. As the cautious Cardwell remarks: "To have referred the whole question to the Convocations of the two provinces would have been to put an end to the progress of the Reformation."(1)

But this Latin Book, it must not be forgotten, did eventually receive the fullest official approval of the Church; and it is the more significant that this approval was given at a time when the Puritan Parliament - the only civil authority that counted - was employing ever means it could devise to destroy the Church.

It was in the Convocation of 1640 that the sorely persecuted Church lifted up her voice for the last time before the tempest of Cromwellian hate brought the great disaster. At this meeting Archbishop Laud, "with the unanimous consent of the Bishops and clergy" decreed for the re-issuing of the Latin book. Before the year was ended, however, the great Primate was a prisoner in the Tower awaiting his martyrdom, and the project was brought to naught by the Puritan Rebellion which overwhelmed the Church of England for twenty years.

Some writers have intimated that this Latin Book fell still-born from the press, never being seriously used. The question then is, Did the clergy, as a matter of fact, reserve under the Latin rubric? So far as any narrative of actual event goes, history is silent on this point, but Mr. Kempe gives a judgement on the question which is hard to overthrow. He says:

"If we place ourselves in the position of the great body of the clergy of that period, who had been accustomed to the traditional usage of reserving the Eucharist for the sick, as enjoined in the Ecclesiastical Law, though not prescribed by the Sarum and York manuals, with an English Servicebook put into their hands, in which this same usage was likewise not prescribed, though it was nowhere forbidden, - but with a Lain Office-book of like authority, commended to their use, in which the traditional usage was enjoined, - is it possible to come to any other conclusion than this: - that the practice of Reservation would be continued as a matter of course, and in fact was so intended to be observed? How could the same priest, designated as 'Curate' in the English form, and as Parochus in the Latin Communio Infirmorum, possibly conclude, or be intended to conclude, that the traditional usage, authorised in the one case, was unlawful in the other?"(2)

1. History of Conferences, page 20
2.  Kempe, Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, page 170

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