Project Canterbury

God With Us:
The Meaning of the Tabernacle

by Frank Weston, D.D.
Bishop of Zanzibar

[London and Milwaukee: Mowbray and Morehouse, 1920. 135pp]
pp 130-131


WHAT does the proposed new rubric mean by saying the sacrament must not be used for any purpose except communion?

In its strict, normal meaning it says that a priest must not officiate at any service that requires the handling of the sacrament, except the service of Holy Communion. And so interpreted the new rubric would imply that all the bishops of the Canterbury Province have agreed together not to issue licences for Exposition or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Were this its meaning, no objection could be justly taken to their lordships' action. It would merely mean that they had tied their own hands for the sake of uniformity.

But we are bidden to read into their words a meaning that is not there. We are told that we use the sacrament when we kneel before a tabernacle. Do I use a friend if I raise my hat to him? All Catholics will freely admit that the uses of the Blessed Sacrament are in the control of the canonical authority. But no one who talks simple English will admit that he uses the sacrament when he genuflects at the tabernacle.

Most of the abusive epithets heaped upon the clergy are consequences of this unwarrantable perversion of our mother tongue. If I promise not to use the sacrament except for communion I will keep my promise; but it will not interfere with my worship of Jesus in the sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament is not used when I worship. It is inside a ciborium, or pyx, behind a locked door of an iron safe, with a curtain covering it. And to accuse me of using it, when I merely worship our Lord sacramentally present, is to give a meaning to the word "use" which does not really belong to it.

Project Canterbury