The Anglican Mind on the Church as the Eucharistic Community: A Catena of Its Understanding by the Reverend Canon Edward N. West, S.T.D., Litt.D., Sub-Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York
Unpublished typescript in the Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York
Digitized by Wayne Kempton and Richard Mammana, 2014
“Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood, but I as wine.” George Herbert (1593-1633)
Genuine mysticism, which is simply spiritual realism, is ever stretching towards the one Beloved Reality, who is self-given in all these ways; transcending yet embracing and harmonizing all these diverse experiences of the soul. For it, sacramental religion opens a door through which the Infinite comes with its gifts right down into the common life . . . The nearer the mystic in the prayer of union draws to the Living God, who despises nothing that he has made, so the nearer he draws to such an experience of the world as shall find everywhere his graded manifestations. St. Francis, is of course, the classic pattern of such a mysticism as this; able to recognize, welcome, and adore the coming of God to the soul along the most humble and most homely paths.
“My God and all!” said St. Francis. “What art thou? and what am I?” Perhaps the answer of the mystic to that stupendous question might be something like this: “Thou art the One Eternal and Transcendent Reality. I, a little fluctuating, half-animal creature, passing my short life upon a tiny planet, imprisoned in time and place--knowing only such fragments of thy great universe as are shown me along the channels of sense. Herein is the miracle of love; that here, on this narrow stage, and along those very paths of sense through which I know and maintain my place in the natural world, thou, the Infinite, hast sought me, the finite, and satisfied the deepest craving of my soul by the gift of thy Supernatural Life.” Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)
John Selden, in the 17th century, remarked: “To know what was generally believed in all ages, the way is to consult the Liturgies, not any private man’s writing. As if you would know how the Church of England serves God, go to the Common Prayer Book, consult not this or that man. Besides, Liturgies never compliment, nor use high expressions. The Fathers oft times speak oratoriously.” [John Selden (1584-1654) was author of a large number of books. His secretary, Richard Milward (1609-1680) recorded some of his thinking, and in 1689 it was published under the title “Table Talk, Being the Discourses of John Selden Esquire; Or his Sense of Various Matters of Weight and High Consequence, Relating Especially to Religion and State.” This quotation is from Section LXXI--Liturgy.]
In its factual way, the English Church has always been totally reliable on the subject of Liturgy since its basic instinct is to quote Scripture and let God work out the particulars. Thus, in the strictest sense, there is no agreed-upon theory as to how God accepts bread at our hands and we receive it back as his Body. The English Church has always disliked and distrusted too precise definition since it smacks of impertinence when explaining the mind and mode of God. There is no single theory which has not had Its friends nor its enemies,, but at this distance, even as over against forty years ago all theories and all arguments seem dated since nowadays no one would really press anything other than the fact that the Eucharist is a Mystery to be received as such because it is such.
That Eucharist, as a word, comes lately to the Western mind is understandable, in that gratias was the normal translation of Eucharistesas, and yet, by context was so different. It was only with the rediscovery of Greek that the full impact of the ancient word came again into being. The Western fondness for the word communion (and communication) certainly accounts for the punctuation in the Vulgate:
“Erant autem perseverantes in doctrina Apostolorum, et communicatione fractionis panis, et orationibus.”
The word Mass, has in our day, recovered its initial meaning and is no longer a subject for attack or misunderstanding, but its original meaning is ceremonial rather than doctrinal. The problem is not merely one of translation of words but rather of the translation of ideas.
The enormous richness of the word soma continues but few of its nuances in the word corpus and, as usual, the Latin genius leaves the word heavily weighted on the side of legal usage. The word artos which in Greek can mean either bread or a loaf, loses its tremendous symbolism when translated into panis, thus historically the very discipline which gave the Western Rite its austere brevity also deprived it of the fantastic richness of association inherent in the Rites of the Christian East.
Selden could have quoted the Liturgies as much as he pleased and still, because of the difficulties of translation, not really have given friend or foe an adequate understanding of the English Church’s mind in the matter. We must therefore, in spite of Selden, quote the Fathers even though they do “speak oratoriously,” and by the Fathers I mean, of course, the Fathers of the English Church, for it is from a consensus of their opinions that one may assess the Anglican position in any matter of great importance. No matter is of greater importance than the understanding, in modern terms, that the Church is a Eucharistic fellowship.
John Pearson first published An Exposition of the Creed in 1659, and it is to be noted that this book is still in print. He says:
“It will therefore be further necessary for the understanding of the nature of the Church, which is thus one, to consider in what that unity doth consist. And being it is an aggregation not only of many persons, but also of many congregations, the unity thereof must consist in some agreement of them all, and adhesion to something which is one. If then we reflect upon the first Church again, which we found constituted in the Acts, and to which all other since have been in a manner added and conjoined, we may collect from their union and agreement how all other Churches are united and agree. Now they were described to be believing and baptized persons, converted to the Faith by St. Peter, continuing stedfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. These then were all built upon the same Rock, all professed the same faith, all received the same Sacraments, all performed the same devotions, and thereby were all reputed members of the same Church. To this Church were added daily such as should be saved, who became members of the same Church by being built upon the same Foundation, by adhering to the same doctrine, by receiving the same Sacraments, by performing the same devotions.”
Arguing that the Church has firstly a unity of origin and secondly a unity of faith, he continues:
“Thirdly, many persons and Churches, howsoever distinguished by time or place, are considered as one Church because they acknowledge and receive the same Sacraments, the signs and badges of the people of God. When the Apostles were sent to found and build the Church, they received this commission, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now as there is but one Lord, and one faith, so also there is but one Baptism; and consequently they which are admitted to it, in receiving it are one. Again, at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Christ commanded, saying, Eat ye all of this, Drink ye all of this; and all, by communicating of one, become as to that communication one. For we being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread. As therefore the Israelites were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, and thereby appeared to be the one people of God; so all believing persons, and all Churches congregated in the Name of Christ, washed in the same layer of regeneration, eating of the same bread, and drinking of the same cup, are united in the same cognizance, and so known to be the same Church. And this is the unity of the Sacraments.” [John Pearson (1612-1686), brilliant professor, and, for the last thirteen years of his life Bishop of Chester, published his massive “Exposition of the Creed” in 1659, and there have been successive editions of it down to our own day. This quotation is from Article DC--The Holy Catholic Church.]
As a university student, Edward Reynolds had written a series of meditations on the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. His conclusion on the meaning and nature of the Sacrament is most penetrating.
“So humble is His mercy, that, since we cannot raise our understandings to the comprehension of Divine mysteries, He will bring down and submit those mysteries to the apprehension of our senses. Hereafter our bodies shall be over-clothed with a spiritual glory, by a real union unto Christ in His Kingdom. Meantime, that special glory which we groan after is here over-clothed with weak and visible elements, by a sacramental union at His Table. Then shall sense be exalted and made a fit subject of glory; here is glory humbled and made a fit object of sense. . .. So then, in general, the nature of a Sacrament is to be the representative of a substance, the sign of a covenant, the seal of a purchase, the figure of a body, the witness of our faith, the earnest of our hope, the presence of things distant, the sight of things absent, the taste of things unconceivable, and the knowledge of things that are past knowledge. [Edward Reynolds (1599-1676), one time Dean of Christ Church, and, from 1661 until his death, Bishop of Norwich. This quotation is from “Meditations on the Holy Sacrament of the Last Supper,” published in 1638.]
This same point of view is reflected in an enormously popular devotional book of the Restoration period known as The Whole Duty of Man.
“When thou art about to receive the Consecrated Bread and Wine, remember that God now offers to seal to thee that New Covenant made with mankind in His Son. For since He gives that His Son in the Sacrament, He gives with Him all the benefits of that Covenant, to wit, pardon of sins, sanctifying grace, and a title to an eternal inheritance. And here be astonished at the infinite goodness of God who reaches out to thee so precious a treasure.” [This is an excerpt from “The Whole Duty of Man,” one of the most popular devotional manuals of its period. It was published in 1659.]
Henry Hammond, in his book of fundamentals, wrote:
“As it is the Eucharistical Christian Sacrifice, so it is formally the practising of several acts of Christian virtue; 1. of prayer, of thanksgiving, of all kind of piety towards God; 2. of charity to our brethren, both that spiritual of interceding for all men, for Kings, etc., and corporal in the offertory, for the relief of those that want; and 3. the offering up and so consecrating ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a holy, lively, acceptable, sacrifice to God, the devoting ourselves to His service )nri t}iiz it a lamn comprehrensive act of piety, which contains all particular branches under it, and is again the repeating of the baptismal vow, and the yet closer binding of this engagement on us. Lastly, as this Supper of the Lord is a token and engagement of charity among the disciples of Christ, so it is the supplanting of all the most diabolic sins, the filthiness of the spirit, the hatred, variance, emulation, strife, revenge, faction, schism, that have been the tearing and rending of the Church of God,--oft times upon pretence of the greatest piety,--but were by Christ of all other things most passionately disclaimed, and cast out of His temple. And if by the admonitions which this emblem is ready to afford us, we can think ourselves obliged to return to that charity and peaceable-mindness which Christ so frequently and vehemently recommends to us, we have His own promise that the whole body shall be full of light, that all other Christian virtues will by way of concomitance or annexation accompany or attend them in our hearts.” [Henry Hammond (1605-1660), Canon of Christ Church and staunch Royalist, was imprisoned in 1647. In 1654 he produced “Of Fundamentals in a Notion referring to Practice,” from which this excerpt is quoted.]
The great Caroline Divines were all of a mind in this matter. It is due to the fact that historical situations forced on them the rethinking of the nature of the Church that the vast wealth of Patristic teaching and practise became an essential part of Anglican piety and conviction.
When the Anglican Communion in due time came to consider its worldwide responsibilities, it is interesting to note that from 1867 onwards, the first concern was the nature of the Church itself and what constituted communio in sacris. From 1878 on it started to be concerned with its relationship to the other ancient Churches of the world. From 1888 on deep interest showed itself in the Eastern Churches, the Reformed Churches, the Old Catholics, and in 1897 relations with the Latin Communion became a matter of permanent concern.
Towards the end of the century, the Archbishops of England replying to Pope Leo XIII’s letter Apostolicae curae, stated the same theory in grave and carefully thought out terms (it should be noted that this same statement was presented to the Eastern Orthodox by the Lambeth Conference of 1930).
“Further we truly teach the doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice. But we think it sufficient in the Liturgy which we use in celebrating the Holy Eucharist,--while lifting up our hearts to the Lord, and when now consecrating the gifts already offered that they may become to us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ--to signify the sacrifice which is offered at that point of the service in such terms as these. We continue a perpetual memory of the precious death of Christ who is our Advocate with the Father and the propitiation for our sins, according to His precept, until His coming again. For first we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; then next we plead and represent before the Father the Sacrifice of the Cross, and by it we confidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord’s Passion for all the whole Church; and lastly we offer the sacrifice of ourselves to the Creator of all things which we have already signified by the oblations of His creatures. This whole action, in which the people has necessarily to take its part with the Priest, we are accustomed to call the Eucharistic sacrifice.”
The Lambeth Conference of 1948, in speaking of the Anglican distrust of highly centralized authority, mentions the curious checks and balances in Anglican polity, and goes on to say:
“This authority possesses a suppleness and elasticity in that the emphasis of one element over the others may and does change with the changing conditions of the Church. The variety of the contributing factors gives to it a quality of richness which encourages and releases initiative, trains in a fellowship, and evokes a free and willing obedience.
“It may be said that authority of this kind is much harder to understand and obey than authority of a more imperious character. This is true and we glory in the appeal which it makes to faith. Translated into personal terms, it is simple and intelligible. God who is our ultimate personal authority demands of all His creatures entire and unconditional obedience. As in human families the father is the mediator of this divine authority, so in the family of the Church is the bishop, the Father-in-God, wielding his authority by virtue of his divine commission and in synodical association with his clergy and laity, and exercising it in humble submission, as himself under authority.
“The elements in authority are, moreover, in organic relation to each other. Just as the discipline of the scientific method proceeds from the collection of data to the ordering of these data in formulae, the publishing of results obtained, and their verification by experience, so Catholic Christianity presents us with an organic process of life and thought in which religious experience has been, and is, described, intellectually ordered, mediated, and verified.
“This experience is described in Scripture, which is authoritative because it is the unique and classical record of the revelation of God in His relation to and dealings with man. While Scripture therefore remains the ultimate standard of faith, it should be continually interpreted in the context of the Church’s life.
“It is defined in Creeds and in continuous theological study.
“It is mediated in the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, by persons who are called and commissioned by God through the Church to represent both the transcendent and immanent elements in Christ’s authority.
“It is verified in the witness of saints and in the consensus fidelium. The Christ-like life carries its own authority, and the authority of doctrinal formulations, by General Councils or otherwise, rests at least in part on their acceptance by the whole body of the faithful, though the weight of this consensus ‘does not depend on mere numbers or on the extension of a belief at any one time, but on continuance through the ages, and the extent to which the consensus is genuinely free.’
“This essentially Anglican authority is reflected in our adherence to episcopacy as the source and centre of our order, and the Book of Common Prayer as the standard of our worship. Liturgy, in the sense of the offering and ordering of the public worship of God, is the crucible in which these elements of authority are fused and unified in the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Living and Ascended Christ present in the worshipping congregation who is the meaning and unity of the whole Church. He presents it to the Father, and sends it out on its mission.”
The ground had been well covered. A.E. Taylor and Will Spens presenting the solid Anglo-Catholic point of view of the late 1920s had this to say:
“What we are bold to claim is that the sacramental gifts have this character. It is an essential part of the nature of man that he should be in relation to his fellows, influencing them and being influenced. He is a social animal. His nature involves of necessity ability for this; and, so long as man is in our order, his natural body affords the normal and necessary expression of this ability. In the case of our Lord, because he was a Divine Person, and in part because of his resurrection and ascension, this mutual relation involves something infinitely more than is involved between man and man. He Is the Vine, we are the branches; the source and stay of our regenerate life; the Bread from Heaven.
“It is, as we believe, an essential element in our Lord’s humanity that he should be not only the source, but the stay of the supernatural life of all the regenerates and, therefore, of those on earth as well as those in heaven. So far as we on earth are concerned, the actualization of this necessary clement is secured in and through the institution of the Eucharist, and, therefore, as we have seen, in and through certain visible objects which afford opportunities of spiritual as well as natural experience. The Divine Will determines that our Lord shall be the stay of our life and that he shall thus be so. It is not that there is any change in his nature. His incarnation determined once and for all, as an essential element in his human nature, that he should be the stay of our supernatural life. What was determined in and by the Divine institution of the Eucharist was merely the manner in which this is actualized in the regenerate order as it is on earth. Host and Chalice involve no change in our Lord’s nature. They involve no “impanation.” But each is an immediate expression of his being and nature, and a no less immediate expression than in his heavenly body, which also involves no new nature, but only the necessary actualization of elements in that nature which he took of Mary. We may speak of our Lord’s sacramental body and of his natural body as we speak of his heavenly body and his natural body. We may thus distinguish different expressions of his humanity. But it is essential to recognize that if we are thinking not of the mode of expression, if we mean by ‘body’ not a particular object, a particular complex of opportunitie of experience, but that which determines and necessitates the existence of this, then there is but one such reality--namely, that nature which our Lord assumed at his incarnation and which is ever his. That nature found a necessary expression in accordance with natural law in his natural body; it finds a necessary expression in accordance with laws which, as yet, we do not know in his heavenly body; it finds a necessary expression sacramentally in Host or Chalice, and that in a manner no less directly determined by the Divine Will. At consecration, bread and wine are not only changed, but they become objects which are what they are in virtue of, and because of, that same reality, that same sacred humanity, which lay no more directly behind our Lord’s natural body and which lies no more directly behind his heavenly body.” [Dr. A.E. Taylor, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and Will Spens, Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, combined to write one of the reports in “Report of the Anglo-Catholic Congress--Subject: The Holy Eucharist. London, July 1927. Their report, from which this excerpt is taken, is entitled “The Real Presence--Theologically and Philosophically Considered.”]
Dudley Symon wrote:
‘The Holy Communion--together with all the other sacraments--presupposes a social organization of which it is the ‘effectual sign’--that is, a witness to something which itself it helps to create. It witnesses, that is to say, to the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ. It is the gift of the Church, which, as we know, guarantees and guards its validity. Given first in the community and fellowship of the Upper Room, it ever after bears the stamp of its social origin and purpose. And the Church gives it to us, not simply for our edification and growth, but for her own. Every communion is an act of allegiance to the divine community, a witness to the claims of the whole body upon its members, a constructive act towards the extension of the Church’s realm, a ‘gesture’ of fellowship, a proclamation of belief in our need of and responsibility for one another in the Divine Family. This at once takes us further than a merely increased sense of duty to our ‘neighbour.’ For the Church is the fellowship of all the baptized, it is potentially, if not actually, the whole human race, it transcends time and place, its frontiers pass into eternity. Even where the effect of Holy Communion may seem to be most obviously private and personal, it is the Church that is the ultimate objective; even where, by virtue of my communion, I try to be more considerate, more patient, it is the Church, more clearly apprehended, that speaks through me and reveals to others something of the glory of that fellowship and the beauty and dignity of her moral laws.” [From the previously mentioned report, an article entitled “The Meaning of the Presence--Communion with Man,” by the Reverend Dudley Symon, Headmaster of Woodbridge School.]
Dr. E.G. Selwyn in his most learned paper concluded with this statement:
“This acceptance and union of the worshipper with the object of his worship are the end and purpose of all sacrifice; and they are realized in the Eucharist, not in symbol, but in reality in the two great acts or ‘moments’ of the rite, the Consecration and the Communion. They are realized in the Consecration, because then the Church in consecrating its gifts of bread and wine to be the perfect and accepted offering of Christ’s Body and Blood thereby consecrates his death to be our sacrifice. They are realized in the Communion, because therein there is effected a real union of ourselves with God, conditioned on our side, indeed, by our penitence and faith, and yet on his side absolutely sure. And finally, we have in the Communion of the faithful a feast of Christian fellowship which finds its whole nourishment in feeding by faith upon the once crucified and now glorified humanity of our Blessed Lord.” [In the same report, from an article entitled “The Christian Sacrifice--In the Eucharist,” by the Reverend E.G. Selwyn, D.D. Editor of “Theology.”]
Darwell Stone, in a brilliant paper on the Real Presence objects that the famous quotation from Richard Hooker does not go far enough. The quotation is this:
“May we not concentrate on what the faithful communicant receives, and shelve all discussion as to everything else?--an appeal made by Hooker with splendid force and culminating in the famous words: ‘What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not, it is enough that to me which take them they are the body and blood of Christ.... Why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this: O my God thou art true. O my soul thou art happy!’” [From the work just cited, an article entitled “The Real Presence--Historically Considered,” by the Reverend Canon Darwell Stone, D.D., Principal of Pusey House, Oxford.]
But if Darwell Stone was thinking this through from an avowedly and exclusively Anglo-Catholic point of view, the great William Temple, then Bishop of Manchester, was thinking it through from a totally different approach. Temple’s, superb brain manifests itself in this tremendous essay entitled Christ the Truth:
“‘This is my Body.’ ‘Do this.’ What had the words meant? First they must have meant, ‘As I treat this Bread, so I treat my Body; and you must do the same. The sacrificial language, especially as concerns the Blood, stamped the whole episode with a sacrificial character. And, plainly, it was preparatory for the morrow’s event. It would help the disciples to realize that the Death of Christ was a sacrifice, even the only true sacrifice. And what they should learn of that sacrifice would help to interpret the symbolic act by which He had prepared them to understand it. But the perfect sacrifice of Christ is not limited to his Death; It consists not in any momentary offering but in the perfection of His obedience, which was always complete. The Death is not other than the Life; it was its inevitable result and appropriate climax. It is Christ’s union of humanity with God in perfect obedience which is the essential sacrifice, of which the Cross is the uttermost expression and essential symbol.
“This union was accomplished by Christ in His own Person, but not for Himself alone. As we saw, by living amongst men the sinless life, the life of perfect obedience, He became the Head of a new society, the pivot of a new moral system, of which perfect obedience to God is the animating principle. This is the Church; and so far as men consent to be raised to the fulfillment of their own destiny, it will at last include all mankind in the unity of obedience to God through their participation in the Spirit of Christ. Consequently, in this service, which is pre-eminently the Christian’s means of access to the Eternal, and wherein he worships not as an individual but as a member of the Church of all times and places, the relevant conception of Christ is not that of the historic Figure but that of the Universal Man. The sacrifice of Christ is potentially but most really the sacrifice of Humanity. Our task is, by His Spirit, to take our place in that sacrifice. In the strict sense there is only one sacrifice--the obedience of the Son to the Father, and of Humanity to the Father in the Son. This was manifest in actual achievement on Calvary; it is represented in the breaking of the Bread; It is reproduced in our self-dedication and resultant service; it is consummated in the final coming of the Kingdom. ‘We do show forth the Lord’s death till He come.’ The Death and the Coming are the initial and crowning moments of the process which exhibits in time the Eternal sacrifice and the triumph which Divine Love wins by means of it.
“It is essential to the spiritual value of this sacrament that we do what the Lord did. It is all symbol, no doubt, but it is expressive, not arbitrary, symbol; that is to say, the spiritual reality signified is actually conveyed by the symbol. The symbol is emphatically not mere symbol; if it were that, we should only receive what our minds could grasp of the meaning symbolized. it is an instrument of the Lord’s purpose to give Himself to us, as well as the symbol of what He gives. What we receive is not limited by our capacity to understand the gift. When with the right intention I receive the Bread and the Wine, I actually receive Christ, whether I have any awareness of this at the moment or not, and always more fully than 1 am aware. We, by repeating and so identifying ourselves with His sacrificial act, become participants in His one sacrifice, which is the perfect dedication to the Father of the Humanity which God in Christ has taken to Himself.
“‘Do this.’ Do what? Do the sign, no doubt; but only as a means to doing the thing signified. The Eucharist is a sacrifice; but we do not offer it; Christ offers it; and we, responding to His act, take our parts or shares in His one sacrifice as members of His Body. The Bread which the Church, by the hands of the priests, breaks and gives is the Body of Christ, that is, it is the Church itself.”
(At this point, Temple quotes Bishop Gore quoting St. Augustine. The quotation is so important that I give it in full. It is from sermon 272.)
“The reason why these (the bread and wine) are called sacraments is that one thing is seen in them, but something else is understood. That which is seen has bodily appearance; that which is understood has spiritual fruit. If you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle’s words: ‘You are the body and the members of Christ.’ If you are the body and members of Christ, it is the symbol of yourselves which is placed on the Lord’s table; it is your mystery you receive. It is to that which you are that you answer ‘Amen’, and by that response you make your assent. You hear the words ‘the body of Christ’; you answer ‘Amen’. Be a member of Christ, so that the ‘Amen’ may is be true. Why then is he in bread? Let us not put forward any suggestions of our own, but listen to the repeated teaching of the Apostle; for he says, speaking of this sacrament: ‘We are many, but we are one loaf, one body’. Understand and rejoice, unity, truth, goodness, love. ‘One loaf’. What is that one loaf? ‘We many are one body.’ Remember that the bread is not made from one grain of wheat, but of many. When you were exorcized you were, in a manner, ground; when baptized you were, in a manner, moistened. When you received the fire of the Holy Spirit you were, in a manner, cooked... Many grapes hang in a cluster, but their juice is mixed in unity. So the Lord has set his mark on us, wished us to belong to him, has consecrated on his table the mystery of our peace and unity. If a man receives the sacrament of unity, but does not ‘keep the bond of peace’, he does not receive a sacrament for his benefit, but evidence for his condemnation.’
“Christ is Priest and Victim in the one eternal sacrifice; on earth His Body is the Church, and what He does, He does through the Church. But the Church is His people. Christ in us presents us with Himself to the Father; we in Him yield ourselves to be so presented; or to put it in other words, Redeeming Love so wins our hearts that we offer ourselves to be presented by the Love that redeems to the Love that created and sustains both us and all the universe.
“It is easy to see why the thought of the Eucharistic Bread as the Lord’s Body was, and is, more vivid than that of the Church as His Body. The Church of our experience mediates His Spirit very imperfectly because its ‘members’ are not wholly yielded to His control. In the Eucharist, the worshiper experiences an actual fellowship with his Lord such as he does not experience from Church-membership in general. In the Eucharist we find what we ought to find, but as yet do not find, in the Church that celebrates the Eucharist Here for the mystic moment, perfection is attained; one day, when the Church’s task is complete, that perfection will be actualized in the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile our contention is that when St. Paul called the Church the Body of Christ he used the words in just the same sense as when he called the Eucharistic Bread the Body of Christ. And inasmuch as apart from the Resurrection there would have been no perpetual commemoration of the Death (for there would have been no Church to commemorate it), and what we become partakers of is the Life Eternal, which has risen out of death, triumphing over it, we see how appropriate devotionally is the association of the Eucharistic Bread with the Glorified Body of the Lord. Perhaps the transposition of an adjective is all that is needed. That Bread is not itself the Glorified Body of the Lord, but it is the Body of the Glorified Lord--the Body of Christ who is known to us as crucified, risen, ascended, glorified.
“There are, then, certainly two distinct uses of the term ‘Body’ as regards our Lord. There is His fleshly Body, and there is the Church. Our suggestion is that there is a third use, as distinct from each of these as they are from one another; there is His fleshly Body, there is the Church, and there is the Eucharistic Bread.
“What after all, is ‘my body’? It is an organism which moves when I wish it to move. If I will my hand to move it, it moves without my thinking how to set it in motion; if I will anything else to move, it remains unmoved unless with my body I lift it. ‘My body’ is that part of the physical world which moves directly in response to my will, and is thus the vehicle and medium whereby I effect my purposes. In precisely this sense the Church is the Body of Christ; in precisely this sense (I suggest) the Eucharistic Bread is the Body of Christ. The identity which justifies the use of one name is an identity of relation to the Spirit of Christ and to His disciples. As through the physical organism which was His Body Christ spoke the words of eternal life, so through the Church which is His Body He speaks them still. As through the physical organism which was His Body He revealed in agony and death that utter obedience of Humanity in His person to the Father, which is the atoning sacrifice, so through the broken Bread He shows it still and enables us to become participants therein. Thus by means of Bread and Wine, blessed and given as by Himself at the climax of His sacrifice, He offers us His human nature given in sacrifice (Body broken and Blood outpoured) to be the sustenance of our souls.
“The objector will say, ‘This reduces everything to mere symbolism.’ To symbolism yes; the word ‘mere’ is question-begging and probably represents a misunderstanding. In the physical universe symbolism is the principle of existence. Each lower stratum of Reality exists to be the vehicle of the higher. The organism which was Christ’s Body in His earthly ministry derived the significance entitling it to that name from the fact that it was the instrument and vehicle--the effective symbol--of His Spirit. The Eucharistic Bread is His Body for the purpose for which it is consecrated, which is Communion, in exactly the same sense as that in which a physico-chemical organism was once His Body; it is the vehicle--the effective symbol--of His Personality. The identity which makes it appropriate to speak of our Lord’s fleshly organism, the Church, and the Eucharistic Bread by one name--the Body of the Lord--is an identity of relation to His Personality on the one hand and to His disciples on the other. The addition of the outpoured Blood makes it plain that it is the symbol of His Personality as offered in sacrifice. As we receive His sacrificial Personality, we become able to take our part in the one sacrifice, which is the self-offering of humanity to God.” [The Archbishop’s book was published by The Macmillan Company in 1924. It was a companion to his “Mens Creatix,” published in 1917.]
In 1875 there was discovered in Constantinople an early Church Order known as the Didache. Section IX reads:
“Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks in this way. First for the cup; ‘We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David thy servant, which thou madest known to us through thy servant Jesus. To thee be the glory for ever.’ And for the broken bread; ‘We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge, which thou madest known to us through thy servant Jesus. To thee be the glory forever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the hills, and was gathered together and made one, so let thy Church be gathered together into thy kingdom from the ends of the earth; for thine is the glory and the power through Christ Jesus for ever.’” [“The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” had sixteen chapters divided into three parts: a manual of conduct, a manual of Instruction on worship, and regulations about the ministry. This section is quoted from “Documents of the Christian Church,” selected and edited by Henry Bottenson. Oxford University Press, 1947.]
Dr. F. Bland Tucker had a superb translation of this for The Hymnal 1940. It reads:
“Father, we thank thee who has planted
Thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for thy pleasure,
Didst give man food for all his days,
Giving in Christ the Bread eternal;
Thine is the power, be thine the praise.
“Watch o’er thy Church, O Lord, in mercy,
Save it from evil, guard it still,
Perfect it in thy love, unite it,
Cleansed and conformed unto thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
Was in this broken bread made one,
So from all lands thy Church be gathered
Into thy kingdom by thy Son.
I will avoid quoting hymns drawn from the Orthodox Liturgies and the glorious Eucharistic hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas. I quote only hymns of exclusively Anglo-Saxon authorship. They do much more than long arguments to convey the temper of a people. A much loved hymn in Anglican Christendom was written by W. H. Turton in 1871. It reads:
Thou, who at thy first Eucharist didst pray
That all thy Church might be for ever one,
Grant us at every Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, ‘Thy will be done.’
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.
For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
Make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace;
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.
We pray thee too for wanderers from thy fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
Back to the faith which saints believed of old,
Back to the Church which still that faith doth keep:
Soon may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.
So, Lord at length when sacraments shall cease,
May we be one with all thy Church above,
One with thy saints in one unbroken peace,
One with thy saints in one unbounded love;
More blessed still, in peace and love to be
One with the Trinity in Unity.
Here are some other examples of Eucharistic devotion from the 1940 Hymnal:
We come, obedient to thy word,
To feast on heavenly food;
Our meat the Body of the Lord,
Our drink his precious Blood.
Thus may we all thy word obey,
For we, O God, are thine;
And go rejoicing on our way
Renewed with strength divine.
My God, thy table now is spread,
Thy cup with love doth overflow;
Be all thy children thither led,
And let them thy sweet mercies know.
O let thy table honored be,
And furnished well with joyful guests:
And may each soul salvation see,
That here its sacred pledges tastes.
Drawn by thy quickening grace, O Lord,
In countless numbers let them come
And gather from their Father’s board
The Bread that lives beyond the tomb.
Nor let thy spreading Gospel rest,
Till through the world thy truth has run;
Till with this Bread all men be blest,
Who see the light or feel the sun.
Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest;
Nay, let us be thy guests; the feast is thine;
Thyself at thine own board make manifest
In this our Sacrament of Bread and Wine.
We meet, as in that upper room they met;
Thou at the table, blessing, yet dost stand:
‘This is my Body’; so thou givest yet:
Faith still receives the cup as from thy hand.
One body we, one Body who partake,
One Church united in communion blest;
One name we bear, one Bread of life we break,
With all thy saints on earth and saints at rest.
One with each other, Lord, for one in thee,
Who art one Saviour and one living Head;
Then open thou our eyes, that we may see;
Be known to us in breaking of the Bread.
Come with us, O blessèd Jesus,
With us evermore to be;
And in leaving now thine altar,
Let us nevermore leave thee!
O let thine angel chorus
Cease not the heavenly strain,
But in us, thy loving children,
Bring peace, good will to men.
Bread of heaven, on thee we feed,
For thy Flesh is meat indeed;
Ever may our souls be fed
With this true and living Bread;
Day by day with strength supplied,
Through the life of him who died.
Vine of heaven, the Blood supplies
This blest cup of sacrifice;
Lord, thy wounds our healing give,
To thy cross we look and live:
Jesus, may we ever be
Grafted, rooted, built in thee.
Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
Thy chosen pilgrim flock
With manna in the wilderness
With water from the rock.
We would not live by bread alone,
But by thy word of grace,
In strength of which we travel on
To our abiding-place.
Be known to us in breaking bread,
But do not then depart;
Saviour, abide with us, and spread
Thy table in our heart.
Lord, sup with us in love divine;
Thy Body and thy Blood,
That living bread, that heavenly wine,
Be our immortal food.
The Lambeth Conference of 1968 in its 31st Resolution commended the study of the paragraphs on “Priesthood” in the report of Section II as an Anglican contribution towards an understanding of the nature of priesthood in the present ecumenical situation.
It is to be noted that the particular Sub-Committee responsible for this Section was most representative. Its Chairman was Edward Knapp-Fischer, Bishop of Pretoria, and among its members were George Reindorp, Bishop of Guildford; Thomas Fraser, Bishop of North Carolina; Dr. C.R.H. Wilkinson, sometime of Amritsar and then Assistant Bishop of Niagara; John Vander Horst, Bishop of Tennessee, and Dr. Hawkins, Bishop of Bunbury.
The Section itself states in part:
“The Priesthood of the Church
“All Christians are committed to sharing the sacrificial life and death of Christ in his ministry of revelation and reconciliation. (Rom 6.3.4.) All Christians share in the priesthood of their Lord. This is the primary order of ministry in the Church to which all Christians are consecrated by baptism, and which in union with Christ they fulfil by offering the diversity of their lives, abilities, and work to God.
“The Ordained Ministry
“In order that all the members of the Church may grow up into the fullness of this priesthood, Christ calls and empowers some to be priests of the priestly people. Although those called must be recognized by the Church as its representatives, it is by ordination that they are set apart by God for their special ministry. It is through a bishop, the representative of Christ and of the universal Church and a symbol of its unity, that a priest receives God’s commission and grace and a share in the apostolic ministry. The characteristic function delegated by the bishop to a priest is that of presiding at the Eucharist in which all Christians, intimately united with the crucified and risen Lord and with one another, are offered anew to God. In the Eucharist the whole life of the Church and the world is gathered and expressed. Here, above all, we worship, we give thanks, and we intercede; here God’s word is proclaimed and his reconciling love is imparted; here the Church is united, built up, and renewed for its mission to the world. In presiding at the Eucharist a priest is seen as an agent of Christ, of the Church, and of the Bishop; for a priest as well as a bishop is a focus and symbol of the unity in Christ of all his people. This unity of bishop, priest, and people is obscured unless the relationship between them is seen to be a continuing reality. “
All of the foregoing should prove conclusively that the Anglican Communion is completely committed to the belief that the Church is the Eucharistic Community. In a work entitled “This Holy Fellowship” written in memory of Professor Frank Gavin some 35 years ago, and edited by Dr. Edward R. Hardy, Jr., and Dr. Norman Pittenger, Dr. Hardy in a simply astonishingly modern-sounding article, notes that:
“The true character of Christian worship is the action by which the Church, as the Body of Christ, unites itself with the one true sacrifice, which is the life and death of Christ. The problem of the relation of worship and life, therefore, is not so much that we must establish a proper relation between two different activities, as that we must exhibit the harmony of the different aspects of one great activity. Christian worship is vital; the daily life of Christians is liturgical. The Divine Liturgy, the service of God, finds its center in what we do in church, but it includes our whole living as members of the Body of Christ, and is of cosmic significance.
“The Church’s program of worship brings this truth out in detail. At its heart stands the Holy Eucharist, the interpretative sacrifice, if we may venture so to call it, which not only declares but is the meaning of human life and of God’s plan. It has been said that if a priest once celebrates the Holy Mysteries worthily, with a full understanding, intellectual and spiritual, of what he is doing, he has attained the goal of his life. This may be said equally of every Christian, since we all, as members of the ‘royal priesthood’ of believers, share in the sacrificial action.
“Hence, in our devotional program the Eucharist occupies the place of visible importance and centrality; it, and it only, can be the Church’s principal service. It is offered and taken part in frequently, since we need its support for the sanctification of our life day by day. It is celebrated in a variety of ways: on Sundays and festivals with as much dignity as we can provide, so that the splendour of our offering may be some slight tribute to the infinite riches of Christ--and at other times with great simplicity and quiet, so that Christ may enter gently into our busy lives. By the Eucharist the great moments of personal and social life are consecrated. The foundations of the Catholic home are laid at the altar, and from that same altar the faithful departed are commended to God. For surely nothing can more avail to call down God’s richest blessings on the living and the dead than the ‘full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice’ of His only Son, offered on the Cross and by His command continued at the Christian altar.
“For it must always be remembered that the Eucharist is God’s service. Its celebration is an act of obedience; otherwise it would be the greatest presumption. Christ is the priest whom His servant represents, and the Victim who graciously manifests His presence in the Bread and Wine. It is by His Spirit that we have been gathered from among the nations; and it is as His mystical Body that we dare to approach to the Father. In the phrase of St. Augustine, the Church is what she offers and what she receives.
“The rest of Christian worship is gathered around the Eucharist, its purpose being to extend the spirit of the Holy Sacrifice into the whole of life . . .
“The parish itself and its true meaning and purpose can be understood best in connection with its eucharistic and liturgical purpose. God, who ‘setteth the solitary in families,’ has made it natural that the world-wide fellowship of the Church should be mediated to us, as it were sacramentally, by our own immediate Christian fellowship.
“While for some this is a religious or collegiate community, for most Christians it is the parish in which they live and the diocese of which it is a part. A church is, as it has been defined ‘an altar with a roof over it.’ It is a place where the universal life of worship appears in a visible local expression. All Christians belong, and all men are invited; yet there are for each church those who have special duties towards it and a special right to feel at home in it. And since liturgy and life are inseparable, the fellowship which is gathered to worship is also gathered to work for the cause of Christ in the community of which it is part.” [Dr. Hardy’s and Dr. Bigham’s articles appeared in a book entitled “This Holy Fellowship--The Ancient Faith in the Modern Parish,” edited by Edward Rochie Hardy, Jr., and W. Norman Pittenger. It was published by Morehouse-Gorham in 1939.]
Dr. Hardy raises a point which under no circumstances should be obscured if the totality of Anglican thinking in the matter is to be represented fairly, and that is the point urged so strongly by Father Hebert that the final dismissal in the “Mass of the Faithful” was not a dispensation from worship, but the extension of its impact to the whole world. Dr. Thomas Bigham, in that same book, went on to illustrate, and only too clearly, what could happen when the Church gradually lost her concern for the great and increasing great social problems which grew up with the industrial revolution and have increased evermore under totalitarian governments. Bigham advocated the announcement of principles in the pulpit but what was even more, he insisted that these principles must be applied to particular situations. He noted that Christian social thinking inevitably led to penitence since individual Christians are h1so members of society and are therefore equally involved in the moral disease of this society. After noting the various ways it could be confessed, he goes on to say that yet this penitence, like other penitence, while necessary, is a grave spiritual danger unless it is accompanied by amendment and reparation.
After noting that the Spanish Church had, in those difficult days, been perfectly aware of the social principles set forth by successive papers, in the time of crisis there was just no interest in trying to put these principles into practise.
“Principles without programs make unprincipled programs.”
The ending of his icy-fired observation is so enormously effective, I too shall conclude with it. It includes the poem Magnificat by the famous chaplain of the General Theological Seminary, Father F.C. Lauderburn. I make some point about this because without it there might have been the possibility of giving our distinguished Orthodox friends a less than complete picture of the profound and typically Anglican concern that worship should always result in action. To use the time-honoured simile of Anglican piety, Christ withdrew from the world in prayer only that he might return to the world and die for it. The conclusion of Dr. Bigham’s article is this:
“The task of the Church and parish is to offer its life to God--its social life and the individual lives within it--that it may be used by Him. This is the meaning of her work and worship, of the Eucharist, of the offices, of the proclamation of the Word: she offers creation to its Creator that it may be redeemed by Him. The Church is to prepare and make ready for the coming of the Kingdom.
“While the Church is not the initial cause of the coming of the Kingdom, she is the consenting cause. Her work is not, as it were, to bestir God to action but to prepare man for that action. Her place and work are foreshadowed and depicted in the saying of Blessed Mary: Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
White-flaming, fiercely pitiful she stands,
Star lilies in her desperate hands:
‘Come put me down the mighty from their seats,
Voice of the ages through my voice entreats.
Our Lady of Reparation,
Unleash thine indignation.
Under her feet the clean and crescent moon,
Sickle of harvest to be garnered soon:
‘The rich he sends all hungry to their bed,
For of his bounty but the poor are fed.’
Our Lady of Levelling,
Forgive our wanton revelling.
Stars shine above the tempest of her brow,
A coronet of spears beclouded now:
‘Scatter the proud before my driving ire,
Whirlwind of javelins tipped with pointed fire.’
Our Lady of Defiance,
Bind us in thy alliance.
Seven swords pierce her sacrificial breast,
Seven pities of the poor have found their rest:
‘Exalt the humble to their rightful throne,
Where the lonely Christ has climbed the cross alone.’
Our Lady of Redress,
Share us their humbleness.
A mist of guardian seraphim aflame,
Shouts, Holy, holy, holy is His Name:
‘Far on the windy hills of Galilee
He that is great hath magnified me.’
Our Lady of Power,
We hail thy coming hour.
Embosomed on a throne of purity
She holds a Baby for the world to see:
‘Lo, for your barter I present my Son
(Hold your two arms out cross-wise, little one).’
O Mother of the devastating Christ,
We own Him King Whom, slaves, as Slave we priced.
Clothed in spread beauty from her rainbow dome
She yields her Son to us to lead us home:
‘God hath not yet forgot his primal Word,
My soul, my soul doth magnify the Lord.”