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1. The Sacrament Reserved. By W. H. Freestone, M.A., Alcuin Club Collections, No. xxi, Milwaukee. The Young Churchman Co., 1917.
2. The Reserved Sacrament. By Darwell Stone, D.D. (Handbooks of Catholic Faith and Practice). Milwaukee. The Young Churchman Co., 1917.
3. The Theological Bearings of Certain Extra-liturgical Uses of the Blessed Sacrament. By C. Gore, D.D., Bishop of Oxford. London. Longmans, Green & Co., 1917.
4. Reservation. Address by the Bishop of Oxford and the Bishop of Chelmsford to the Clergy of the Diocese of Chelmsford, together with a series of Questions and Answers. London. R. Scott, 1917.
5. Considerations Concerning the Sacrament of Our Lord's Body and Blood. By the Bishop of Vermont. New York. Longmans, Green & Co., 1917.
6. Our Use of the Reserved Sacrament. By the Rt. Rev. H. M. Burge, D.D., Bishop of Southwark (Church Quarterly Review, Oct., 1917).
7. Eucharistic Doctrine and Reservation. By the Rev. Francis J. Hall, D.D. (American Church Monthly, November, 1917).
It is a great satisfaction to possess a book like Father Freestone's "The Sacrament Reserved." One feels that at last one is in possession of all the facts relating to the subject of reservation for the first 1200 years of the history of the Church in such form that they are easily accessible. One is henceforth relieved of the tedium of seeking through encyclopedias and indexes for the facts one needs.
Of course, we knew that reservation of the Blessed Sacrament was a primitive practice. Our earliest records of Christian services include allusions to that practice. And it appears that reservation was not practised with special reference to the needs of the sick, but that what was stressed was the need of Communion, whether one were well or ill. Reservation was not for the sick, but for the absent. The deacons, our first witness, St. Justin Martyr, says, carry the Sacrament" to those who are not present." Naturally, the sick would be the most prominent of those not at the services, and their need of the Sacrament would be specially emphasized. Still it is important to remember that the practice of reservation was founded in the sense of the unity of the Church in every place and the desirability of all members of the Body sharing in the Body's act of Communion. While Christian Communities in any place were small, the simplest way of providing for the communion of the absent was that indicated by St. Justin-distribution from the Liturgy. There grew up, however, a custom of private reservation by the laity,
whereby the Sacrament was taken to private houses and there reserved and received as seemed desirable. This practice was favored by the circumstances of persecution and grew to be common during those centuries in which the Church was passing through the fire. Such reservation was plainly subject to great abuses and as soon as the persecution was passed it began to be legislated against. It is to be noted that the Celebration of the Eucharist in private houses was always exceptional. As soon as the Church had its own buildings, Celebrations outside of them were restricted by law.
Under the circumstances of freedom when persecution had passed every care was taken to provide for the needs of the sick by official reservation, which superseded the private reservation of the earlier periods. While there are instances of reservation in both kinds, it is certain that the private reservation of the first centuries was usually in one kind, and "there is every reason to suppose that originally the Eucharist was reserved officially in the same form." During the Middle Ages there was" in some areas a pronounced tendency to insist upon the use of both species conjointly for such Communion," but the earlier practice of Communion under the form of bread prevailed. "There is no evidence for the existence of any regular practise of reserving the species of wine." Father Freestone does not follow the history of reservation beyond the twelfth century, as after that there are no new features in the practice.
In view of this history of the practice of reservation, it is rather difficult to understand why there should be any discussion of the legality or desirability of it. But here we have a considerable number of Episcopal pronouncements either deprecating the practice, or insisting that it shall be allowed only under very restricted circumstances. It is, of course, impossible to deny the sick the right to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist; but it appears to be the Episcopal point of view, that this can only be practiced if reservation can be so restricted that no worship shall be addressed to our Lord sacramentally present. But why should we not worship our Lord in the Eucharist? One can understand that if one does not believe in the Real Presence one does not worship. This would appear to be the case of the Bishop of Vermont :-"Where He works, there of course He is, in a sense, personally present; but this is different from the idea of His person descending either to our hearts or to our altars." And again:-"The Object of our worship is enthroned at God's right hand. He has not returned to earth to be personally present on the altar." This is very astonishing, but it would seem to be sufficiently clear. This is not the position of the Bishop of Oxford, who 1 Considerations, pp. 8, 9.
undoubtedly believes in the Real Presence, but he also has developed a most astonishing theory, to the effect, if I understand him, that because we are personally united to our Lord by His Sacramental action, our Lord is an object of worship within us rather than without:
If I believe that He in His manhood is within me, as near to me as I am to myself, and that I can within the tabernacle of my own heart hold closest intercourse with Him in His glorified manhood, I shall indeed entertain the deepest reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, which is the instrument of this indwelling, and adore Him who is there present, and I shall receive, as often as I may, by Holy Communion, the sacred presence within me; but it seems to me almost impossible that, when I hold Him within me and am permanently joined to Him in His manhood, I should passionately desire the opportunity of greeting Him in the tabernacle under conditions in which He is obviously further from me and external to me, while at the same time I cannot see Him or hear Him as the first disciples could, in the flesh.' The closer and more intimate union with Christ within me must surely throw into the shade the external and more remote access. 2
I do not understand the introduction of the notion of space into a discussion of sacramental Presence and action. It would seem to follow from Bishop Gore's use of it, that our Lord's session at the right hand of the Father would make Him still more of" remote access ", and therefore not an object of worship, at least in His humanity. On the basis of this doctrine there would seem to be no need of external worship at all while one remains in a state of grace. Now I believe as fully as the Bishop of Oxford in the spiritual union of the Christian with Christ, and as little as he in the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation; but I am unable to see why belief in union with our Lord should weaken my hold on external worship, or make me feel the fact of our Lord's Presence on the altar an uninteresting or negligible fact. Is it not true that back of all the theories of the Sacrament which deny or deprecate the direction of the acts of worship to our Lord there present, is a certain weakness of belief in the fact of the Presence itself?
Why is it that the Episcopate is so afraid of worship? Is it true that there is great and growing danger in the Anglican Communion of superstition? Even if we are mistaken in supposing that our Lord is present in the Sacrament of the altar, at least we are offering our worship to Him and not to the elements. It seems to be the function of the Anglican Episcopate to act as a heart-depressant. It would be difficult to find any attempt at a spiritual movement in the Church, during the 2 The Theological Bearings, p. 19.
last two centuries which has not at once aroused the opposition of the Episcopate. Where the membership of the Church is entitled to look for spiritual intelligence and leadership, it has rarely found it; it has found only suspicion, dislike, and charges of disloyalty. There have, of course, been exceptions, but they have been so rare as to be curiosities.
I think that there can be no doubt that the revived use of the reserved Sacrament has come to stay. It has come because it is part of our heritage as Catholics. The Catholic Church is more than the Anglican Communion, and the restrictions of the Reformation epoch, while they are intelligible, cannot be permitted to deprive us permanently of what belongs to us as members of the Catholic Church. The Prayer Book directs us what to do; it does not direct us what not to do: that is its directions are not exhaustive. Bishop Burge quotes Bishop Creighton to the effect that the Sacrament may be carried from the Celebration to the sick, but that this should be done "as rarely as possible"! and that:
"The sight of the consecration is therefore regarded as an integral part of the service for the recipient's good. Where this is not possible the recipient is referred to spiritual communion." That is to say, that in the opinion of a Bishop of the Church of God, every communicant who is so unfortunate as to live under conditions which make a bedside Celebration impossible, or if he chance to be dying through accident, or otherwise at a time when the Holy Communion is not being celebrated in the Church (presumedly on the first Sunday of the month at 11 a. m.) he "is referred to spiritual Communion"! Surely comment is unnecessary. It is undoubtedly well to tithe mint, anise, and cummin, but it is also well at times to attend to the weightier matters of the law!
It is not a question today whether reservation should be revived in the Anglican Communion:- it has been revived. If we had waited for the Episcopate to do it undoubtedly it would never have been done, but fortunately this is a matter in which there is no need to wait. From early times the priest has been recognized as the custodian of the Sacrament: "The circumstances that made the presbyter the celebrant at Mass in the bishop's stead made him the custodian and normal minister of the reserved Eucharist. These were, briefly, the subdivision of the city areas for disciplinary and administrative purposes; the spread of Christianity from the towns to the country-side; and, later, the development, from churches attached to isolated districts and estates, of the regular parochial system of the middle ages. All these causes conspired to produce and to conserve presbyteral autonomy in matters connected with the Sacraments. We may take note that, long before this development had come to its full growth, the control of viaticum had been placed
by some bishops in the hands of the presbyterate, even as early as the fourth century. At Alexandria at that date it appears to have been usual to apply to the priest for communion in sickness; and from the same area come the ancient canons that bear the name of Athanasius, in which administration of viaticum is assumed to be a duty of the presbyterate." 3 This is also the opinion of Dr. Stone:-"The act of reserving the Sacrament may well be regarded as part of the ordinary method by which the parish priest secures that he can give Communion to those who need it, so that reservation in a parish church, as distinct from a private chapel, for reservation in which leave certainly is required, does not require any direction or sanction from the bishop."*
What is in question today and what lies back of and determines the trend of discussion of reservation is the institution in some parishes of services in honor of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament-processions, benediction, etc. I suppose most of us will agree that such services require Episcopal authorization or at least are subject to Episcopal regulation. But the fact must be faced that there will be increased pressure for these services. What is the objection to them?
It is said that they are modern. But is that an objection? There must have been some time in the history of the Church when it was permissible to introduce new services. When did that time cease? At the Reformation? Services of benediction are admittedly modern; but then so is that service which in most parishes of the American Church has displaced the primitive Eucharist - morning prayer. If the appeal is to be made to antiquity for the purpose of vetoing the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament, it must be remembered that many other things will be discredited, the ante-communion service, for example!
A more intelligent objection is that the worship of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, was not practiced until the explicit statement of the doctrine of transubstantiation and is a result of that doctrine. It does not seem to me that this statement is accurate. Rather both the statement of the doctrine of transubstantiation and the worship of our Lord in the Sacrament are the outcome of the medieval disputes as to the Real Presence. When a doctrine which has been accepted is denied, the tendency of its supporters is to state it more strongly and to fortify it as much as possible. There is no doubt at all that the denial of the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation in the early centuries led to more detailed and explicit statement of that doctrine, and also to an increased emphasis on acts of worship directed to our Lord. This is exactly what 3 Freestone, p. 220.
4 Stone, p. 89.