Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Confessional Ingredient in Having a Tabernacle


A hundred and nine comments on one blog post is about enough. One of you owes me an evening with a fine single-malt.

But there are some matters which need further exploration, it seems to me, as opposed to mere hashing over old arguments.

A desire to know my real reasons for building a tabernacle is a fair enough inquiry.

Of course there is the chief reason, mentioned in the former post on this subject (required reading for anyone wanting seriously to contribute to this conversation), which, simply, is that it is the best way to give honor to the reserved elements.

This begs a second reason, which is that, in my view, reservation is preferable to celebrating mass in a hospital room.

There is a third reason, which has been lurking in the background of much of our conversation in the former post, and I was reminded of it by the antepenultimate comment, by a certain Anonymous:

"Which came first:

"- Your desire to take Holy Communion to the shut-ins from the same elements as were used in the Sunday mass, and so you retain it and thus adore it during its retention; or

"- Your desire to adore the elements from the Sunday mass, and so you retain it under the good intention of taking it to the shut-in?

"Trusting that no one here would side with the second half of the question, there is nothing sinful or evil with this practice."

The truth is that what came first was a simple reservation of elements, many years ago, in a fit receptacle in the sacristy. I began to feel uncomfortable with that, and to think that for fitness I could really do better. The members of my parish agreed, and the rest is history.

And yet what happened as a result, almost instantly, I realized how this had become an opportunity to confess the Real Presence against receptionism.

Today, nobody in my parish is afflicted with that ghastly disease, I can tell you. Nor does anyone believe in the Real Withdrawal either. And everyone, including some little children, knows that the church is the place for reverence, because of the Body of Christ on the altar.

I admit that I was a bit unsure, when we went to building the tabernacle, about whether it was worth the grief I knew I would catch for doing it, and whether it was worth the sideways glances even from some of my close friends. But these words were repeating themselves in my mind every time I wondered: This is my body. So I went ahead with the plans.

And I must tell you, it has paid off in spades. For my parish, first (and most importantly), in countless ways. It has taught them in a way worth a thousand words what the Sacrament is, and remains. It has also shown them how very serious I am, as their pastor, about the Holy Mass. And they have learned a sacramental piety for which I am truly grateful.

And secondly, for whomever in the world of people in Lutheranism happens to take notice, it has paid off. It has smoked the ugliness of receptionism out into the open for all to see. Now, before anyone starts fuming here, I am not accusing everyone who disagrees with me here of receptionism. Far from it.

Rather, I am interested in exposing the beast. It is a hideous monster. It forces otherwise pious Christians to think console themselves with regard to spilled elements, or shoddy practices that rot like skeletons in their closets; it acquits them of years of not having had to think the unthinkable: have I desecrated the body of Christ?

And in exchange for that service, the beast gets its pound of flesh: a puny, pitiable religion that doesn't bother to think past the idea that somehow, somewhere out in space the communicant is being united with the body of Christ as he eats this little "wafer." It's enough to make John Calvin proud.

And if someone wants to label me a quatenus subscriber to the Confessions over this, all it tells me, frankly, is that the beast is alive and well. And as long as the beast lives, I will gladly confess, at every opportunity, the body of Christ.

Did you know, that's kind of how the elevation of the host developed? I'm thinking it was the eleventh century, and in France, that the practice of elevating the host began to assert itself, against one Peter the Stammerer, who began teaching a strange new doctrine, probably at Paris. Peter insisted that the host did not become the body of Christ until after all the words of institution were spoken. Against this the faithful, up in arms, began to support a new means of confession against said Peter, namely, a silent pause in the midst of the Verba immediately after the consecration of the first species, in order to elevate it for all to adore.

Not only, therefore, will I defend my decision to erect a tabernacle here; I encourage you, as you are able, to try it as well. You might be as surprised as I was at the results you get.

I'll say one thing: it has made the beast unwelcome in my parish. And that is no small victory.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your confession. As one who has moved his altar guild (new parish) from mixing to the "white trash" tabernacle as my Dean put it, I commend you for your bold confession.

Once funds are available, we will move to a pyx and cruet (we just build a new sacristy).

Rev. Matthew J. Uttenreither, SSP

Venkman said...

Just a point of clarification. You write, "I'll say one thing: it has made the beast welcome in my parish." Don't you mean, "It has made the beast unwelcome in my parish." If so, simply correct the error and delete this post.

And by the way, don't exactly know when I'll get around to coming to Kewanee, but I hope in the near future. Seems to me that I owe you something.

Well done Gandalf!

-Venkman

P.S. I've wanted to say this the entire discussion and now I just can't help myself. "Nobody steps on a church in my town!" *heh, heh* I love that movie.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Right, unwelcome. Fixed.

And to think, the "beast" is actually the Sta-Puft Marshmellow Man!

Anonymous said...

"Rather, I am interested in exposing the beast. It is a hideous monster. It forces otherwise pious Christians to think console themselves with regard to spilled elements, or shoddy practices that rot like skeletons in their closets; it acquits them of years of not having had to think the unthinkable: have I desecrated the body of Christ?"

Could you further explain this statement? Maybe there's a grammatical issue that's confusing me in it? What is your implication if they have desecrated the body of Christ?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

I don't really know if I'm implying anything there. Presumably no Christian would want to be guilty of desecrating the body of Christ. That's what His enemies did, although, as He said, they knew not what they did. So perhaps the thought that they have actually though unwittingly treated His body as though it were common (putting it back where the unconsecrated hosts came from) or His blood (pouring it down the drain) is too much to bear.

Paul McCain said...

I've yet to see where Pr. Eckardt has explained that he is not intentionally making sure he has enough left over to reserve it in the Tabernacle and thereby to make sure there are elements left over for the purpose of worship and adoration outside their sacramental use, purpose and institution by our Lord.

All the concerns raised about improper treatment of what is left over, dissrespect toward our Lord's body and blood within the celebration of the Sacrament are valid and legitimate.

But they do not provide justification for instituting a practice that has no foundation in our Lutheran Confessions nor our Lutheran practice.

Pr. Eckardt why would you not consume what is left over after making certain you have not consecrated far more than you need in your congregation? Is that a practical impossibility?

It appears Pr. Eckart is using the Sacrament in such a manner to make sure you he has left overs for the sake of Reservation.

Perhaps if there could be a moment's pause in the stream of invectives, anathemas and other bombastic accusations being hurled, there might be the possibility of getting some clarifications on these points from Pr. Eckardt.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Does this expressed hope, coming as it does from one who has pretty much accused me of heterodoxy, amount to a promise that no more invectives, anathemas and other bombastic accusations will be hurled? Indeed we can only hope.

Meanwhile, I might add that there should always be reserved elements, since a faithful pastor never knows when he might be called to an emergency, even if it's a Saturday night. No doubt this is why the universal practice of the church used to be that there were always supposed to be some remaining reserved elements against the next communion.

Paul McCain said...

To my knowledge, Pr. Eckardt, I have not been the one to accuse others of being "desecrators" and "Arians" and "heretics" and being servants of the "beast" and ... whatever else you've chosen to say, rather than provide candid responses to clear questions.

With this last post however you have confirmed what I thought was the case. You are intentionally consecrating more than you need for the sake of placing them in a Tabernacle on your altar, to adore and reverence them outside of the instituted use of the Sacrament, and to reserve them.

Roland Ziegler's article on this subject very clearly refutes your contentions, assumptions and practices, based on sober-minded assessment of historical Lutheran practice.

And since we are in fact Lutherans, not Romanists, we might wish to pay some attention to the 500 year history of our Lutheran Church, rather than pine after isolated practices in the Early Church, or Medieval Mass rubrics.

You are not free to make up your own rules as you go along, Pr. Eckardt.

By so doing you have no reason to criticize those who do so on the "low/no" liturgy side of the Church.

Pr. Lehmann said...

I'm just curious. If you had run out of consecrated elements and were called to the bedside of a dying parishoner... what would you do?

Venkman said...

And accusing someone of being a Romanist isn't hurling insults?

Reverend McCain,
might I remind you that you still haven't answered the question as to Rome's abuse. What is the abuse? The fact that Rome takes the Sacrament and separates it from the intended use? Or the fact that Rome kneels before a piece of bread which they consider to be the Incarnate Lord Himself?

-Venkman

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

I will happily, if not bombastically, declare that anyone who refuses on principle to adore the body of Christ is an Arian heretic. Hmmm, isn't that written down somewhere?

A detailed response to Roland Ziegler's article was written by the editor of Gottesdienst shortly after it appeared. My recollection of that fine article was that it did some more extensive research into Chemnitz' point of view, which, as we all know, was to permit the reservation of the elements.

But someone will say that was merely as a concession. But why concede to something which is so unsavory?

Here's something to consider: I wonder what Chemnitz would say a person ought to do in an instance where there was such reservation as he permitted. Would he advise against genuflection?

Incidentally, I know what Luther would say. I know what he did say.
__

Pr. Lehmann, to answer your question, inasmuch as I prefer not to have to celebrate mass in a hospital room, I will take every precaution against having to do so.

Emergencies of many kinds sometimes present themselves in which we can only manage with what we have; but that ought not acquit us of preparation.

Jeff said...

My question is, why is it less salutary to have a mass in a hospital room? If that question seems loaded, I only mean by it: why do you (Fr. Eckardt) prefer prefer not to have to celebrate mass in a hospital room?

I've seen it done- it gave me a whole new appreciation for the incarnation to see bread and wine on a hospital table become Christ's Body and Blood. It's totally different (in how I perceive it) than when it's done in church. There are no vestments, no choirs, no organ- just Christ's words and the elements He uses to feed us.

In those words alone one's faith must cling. In that regard, I found it a helpful practice. In either case, the communicant is witnessing the miracle of Christ manifesting Himself on their behalf. The full mass would seem to provide 'more of' the miracle though (I speak in a human way here!).

I'm curious on why you think having the already consecrated elements there is the better approach.

Perhaps this came up in the other thread... I don't feel like reading through 100+ posts- so maybe someone could just point me to it.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Rev. McCain,

"Candid responses to clear questions" - What a concept! It'd be just swell if you'd practice what you preach. There are still clear questions begging your candid response lingering out there. Kinda puts a halt to further conversation and increased understanding about your position . . .

Michael Francis said...

"There should always be reserved elements."

It would be beneficial if you could answer some questions, for you are lacking some details. The bolded questions are the specific ones that I would like to see answered. The unbolded questions are the options that I see available as answers to these questions.

What do you do if you run out during the week? (This is the same question that Pr. Lehmann asked, yet you completely failed to answer.) Do you consecrate and reserve so much from the Sunday mass that you could not possibly run out? Do you hold a private mass and consecrate more so that you may reserve it? Do you hold a public mass and consecrate more so that you may reserve it? Do you hold a mass in the hospital or home, with the "paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc."? Do you hold a mass in the hospital or home without the "paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc."?

What do you do with the leftovers on the next Sunday? Do you set them out on the altar separate from the unconsecrated elements, but still within earshot of the words of institution, thus risking (even though this is not possible) re-consecrating or super-consecrating them? Do you keep them in the tabernacle until after the words of institution so as not to risk (even though this is not possible) re-consecrating or super-consecrating them?

If "paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc. [. . .] are all salutary [. . .] because, among other things, they are aids to faith. So without them, faith is without the aid they provide," then what do you do to incorporate these externals into your visits to the sick and the shut-in? Do you remind your sick and shut-in about all of these things from the mass that they were unable to attend along with your reminder of the words of institution so that their faith may be aided by them? Do you bring the "paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc." with you so that their faith is not lacking or doubting that these externals were actually present at the mass?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Jeff:

The notion that celebrating mass without its accoutrements is somehow better than with them, as I would hope you can agree, is certainly a flawed notion. Otherwise we should all become minimalists like so many of the Protestants have become, and do away with them all.

Mr. Francis:

How did i completely fail to answer the question of what happens if I run out?

In the first place, I responded to Pr. Lehman with these words: "inasmuch as I prefer not to have to celebrate mass in a hospital room, I will take every precaution against having to do so" leaving you the clear inference that an emergency would conceivably force me to celebrate mass in a hospital room.

Yet, in the second place, it is only an inference, because in fact such an emergency could hardly happen here. On a very rare occasion the number of hosts reserved is reduced to one. If I had had an emergency in such a case, I would break the host (also less than fully desirable, but permissible in an emergency) and leave half a host in reservation.
___

The myth being propagated here is that the Lutheran fathers were in principle opposed to the reservation of the elements. They were not. They were opposed to kind of abuse of the Sacrament as was rampant in their day.

And I am opposed, similarly, to the kind of abuse of the Sacrament as is rampant in our day.

In no case do I leave any of the elements unconsumed or treated as common, nor should it be permitted anywhere.

This entire discussion ought to be about, and stem from, what the Sacrament is (which was Luther's first concern) rather than sophistries over whether the Sacrament ceases to be what it is.

Why should I believe it ceases to be what it is, if Jesus said it was His body and blood?

Michael Francis said...

Rev. Eckardt, I mean no disrespect, but you are being highly evasive in how you are "answering" questions. People are confused because you have presented this practice to which many of us are unaccustomed, and yet you are providing as little detail as possible.

Pr. Lehmann asked, "I'm just curious. If you had run out of consecrated elements and were called to the bedside of a dying parishoner... what would you do?"

You answered, "Pr. Lehmann, to answer your question, inasmuch as I prefer not to have to celebrate mass in a hospital room, I will take every precaution against having to do so."

You wonder how I perceive that you failed to answer; yet I wonder where or what your answer is. You told us nothing with your answer. You only left us with more questions. What do you mean when you say, "I will take every precaution against having to do so"? That's why I asked my questions. Your answers are insufficient.

I beg you: speak clearly, plainly, openly about your practice. I (and presumably others) want to understand your practice, but I (and presumably others) cannot understand when you either give evasive answers or completely ignore the questions (for you outright failed to address my second and third questions).

So please, go back to the three questions that I asked you and provide clear, open answers to the two that you skipped over.

I can say, however, that you did provide an answer to my first question, and I do thank you for that. But yet it raised more questions.

What do you mean when you say, "Such an emergency could hardly happen here"? Going back to some of my previous follow-up questions, are you consecrating so much during the Sunday mass that you could not possibly run out? This is my perception of the inferrence that you are making. If that is the case, then how is it that you are reserving it for any purpose OTHER than adoring it?

Also, why must there always be something in reserve, even to the point that you would break a single host in half just so that there would still be something in reserve? If its intended use is to be eaten, then why won't you eat it? The same question applies here: if that is the case, then how is it that you are reserving it for any purpose OTHER than adoring it?

For the record, I am not confused as to what the Sacrament is. It is the body and blood of Jesus. It remains the body and blood of Jesus. (This is why I side with the set-out-only-what-you-will-need-and-consumer-whatever-might-be-left-over camp.) Rest assured that there are no "sophistries over whether the Sacrament ceases to be what it is" coming from my end. My questions are purely about the details of the practice.

Jeff said...

"The notion that celebrating mass without its accoutrements is somehow better than with them, as I would hope you can agree, is certainly a flawed notion. Otherwise we should all become minimalists like so many of the Protestants have become, and do away with them all."

Most certainly! The more ceremony (within reason) given to display the importance of the mass the better (generally). However, why is not preferable for the shut-in/hospital patient to see the mass occurring? Even if that is forced to be in a humble hospital room as Christ visits them? I don't think either practice is wrong, but I'm curious why you feel bringing the already consecrated elements is preferred?

The patient/shut-in is without the accoutrements either way.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Briefly:

If an emergency would arise necessitating the saying of mass in a hospital room, I would do so.

However, I take every precaution so as not to do so.

I know I have said that before. Are you listening? How is that answer insufficient?

As for the other questions you have brought up, the answers are:

The keeping of the remaining reliquae against the next communion means that they will be the first consumed during that distribution.

Secondly, I bring a stole with me to the hospital or sick person's home.

I don't know why those are such burning questions. But now that you have my answers, nobody can accuse me of being evasive. I suspect there's something going on behind them, but I'm not going to go there right now.

Instead, I have some questions of my own, whose answers are certainly being evaded in these threads, though frankly I can't remember by whom.

My questions are these:

Why would anyone reverence an empty altar, but refuse to reverence an altar where the elements are being reserved?

Why should my motives in reserving the elements be anyone's concern, as long as the elements are being consumed, and hence not subjected to abuse?

Do you think Chemnitz or Luther had the practice of adoring the elements in reservation, if they should have walked into a church where such was the case? Even Ziegler concedes that Chemnitz permitted this practice, albeit with the notion that it was only for an interim period; so during that interim period, would he have counseled genuflection before the elements?

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

Reverend Fathers and Brothers:

On January 4, 1970, I was ordained a Deacon in the LC-MS. This was done with the approval of the Bishop of the English District, with the approval of the congregation, and by the laying on of hands by an ordained Minister of the Church. At this time I also bound myself to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions because they ARE a true definition of our faith

Understanding, as I do, that the LC-MC does not make distinctions in ministry, I elected to serve as a Deacon.

In the 1980's, I served under Fr. Charles Evenson, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, IN. I was his Deacon at Mass every Sunday. I also assisted with the visitation of the sick and shut-ins. In so doing, I took the Sacrament to those who desired it. This was by means of reserved Elements.

Granted that the Parish did not make use of a tabernacle, there was no question that those whom I visited received the Very Body and Bold of Christ when I communed them.

Deacons, according to Canon Law, cannot consecrate the Sacrament. I was, however, instructed to remind the Communicants that I was bring them Elements that were consecrated at the Sunday Mass. So that they might hear the Verba, the words of Our Lord were rehearsed according to St. Paul: "We know nothing among you; but that Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, etc...."

Never, at any time, did these faithful people question that what they were receiving was anything but the Very Body and Blood of Christ. Nor did any think that this was something outside of the use of the Sacrament.

I am in agreement with Fr. Eckhardt,when he reserves the Sacrament to commune the shut-ins. He is following established custom. Even Fr. Martin did not oppose this practice.

I have followed this debate from the beginning. I have considered this question for close to 40 years. I have not discovered anything improper, un-Scriptural or un-Confessional with Fr. Eckhardt's practice.

He has answered your questions, yet you do not accept his answers. In spite of his responses, you continue to question him. Do you not understnd the principle that it is neither wise not salutary to go against your conscience?

If your own practices rest well with your consciences, so be it. If the practice of another, while following his own conscience, conflicts with your own understanding; insofar as it does not violate the practice of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, allow him to follow his own conscience. To do anything else is unacceptable.

Jeff said...

Fr. Eckardt,

I have no problem of any kind with your practice. It's more salutary than most of this synod. Heck, most of Christendom.

I am trying to wrap my mind around what your aversion is to performing the mass in a hospital room, such that only a case of emergency would cause you to do it.

Perhaps the issue is that I see benefit in the person being communed observing the elements being consecrated. A nebulous benefit compared to the physical eating and drinking for the forgiveness of sins- but a benefit nonetheless.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch's comment is well-received. The LCMS practice of the non-ordained celebrating the Lord's Supper is a travesty. And the practice of brining consecrated elements when the pastor is unable to make it may sometimes be a necessity.

I guess I'm trying to wrap my mind around the question: Why would a called and ordained servant of Christ bring the already consecrated elements? Why not allow the faithful to hear the verba and be able to witness the miracle as it occurs?

Neither practice is at all wrong- and both have much to commend them. I'm wondering if a discussion can take place on which is 'better' or at least the pros and cons of each.

Perhaps a discussion better done in person though...

Jeff said...

"Why would anyone reverence an empty altar, but refuse to reverence an altar where the elements are being reserved?"

Because the laity seem fine with one, but not the other... Tis odd ;) It's something that should be lovingly and patiently corrected. Communicants in most all LCMS congregations bow at the altar before Communion after all!

"Why should my motives in reserving the elements be anyone's concern, as long as the elements are being consumed, and hence not subjected to abuse?"

Because you blogged about it- and evidently our pastors have too much time on their hands. :p Seriously though, as a different (new? innovative?) practice in the LCMS, it should be critically analyzed and evaluated- though outright condemnations without discussion seems in poor form.

"Do you think Chemnitz or Luther had the practice of adoring the elements in reservation, if they should have walked into a church where such was the case? Even Ziegler concedes that Chemnitz permitted this practice, albeit with the notion that it was only for an interim period; so during that interim period, would he have counseled genuflection before the elements?"

I believe they probably did- but is this point just a red herring? Just because Luther did something doesn't make it right (or wrong). I'd be more curious to hear an exegetical discussion on the practice before we go to history... there's little the church hasn't done in its history. :) This is not to say a historical discussion is not profitable though!! Rather, it is a secondary point after seeing what Scripture has to say.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Jeff,

You said that a reason to pay reverence to the empty altar, while refusing to do so when it bears the Blessed Sacrament is "because the laity seem fine with one, but not the other."

Indeed for all I know you are being humorous, or just trying to guess the reasons others would give, etc. So I am responding to the concept, not to you personally. What this line of thinking makes me think of is the question of what one would do if he found himself suddenly before our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the King of the universe. He would naturally fall down in worship. According to above stated line of thought, however, if the man also knew that he were in the company of friends who were not accustomed to "overly reverent" behavior, then he would refrain. That makes no sense. Now I call upon the reader to bear in mind that such is, in fact, precisely what is going on. For it is Christ Himself Who is truly present in the Sacrament.

You say such an attitude on the part of Lutherans toward reverence to our Lord "should be lovingly and patiently corrected." Indeed it should be. Yet that in no way means that the reverence and worship that we want to patiently teach should be delayed until the people "get it." One of the ways, perhaps the chief way, in which the people are taught, is by your example.

You wonder if reference to the practice of Luther & Chemnitz is a logical fallacy, and suggest that the tradition of the Church is of secondary importance to Biblical exegesis. That is a very "Lutheran" position, but not a very Luther-like one. The question of the practice of Luther is valuable for any number of reasons. One of them, in fact, is that it sometimes shows us the inconsistency of modern Lutheran interpretations of the Reformer.

Pr. Lehmann said...

Actually, Latif. Luther fairly consistently subordinates the tradition of the church to exegesis. I remember one wonderful section in "These Words This Is My Body Still Stand Against the Fanatics" where Dr. Luther says something like, "I've established my case on the basis of the Scriptures. It doesn't matter what the Fathers say." Then he shows that the Fathers agree with him. But the introductory remark is far from a throw-away.

Michael Francis said...

Rev. Eckardt,

Let us not get sidetracked in a petty debate about whether or not you answered questions. There's enough sidetracking going on. Let's keep it to the issue at-hand.

Here are my answers to your questions:

"Why would anyone reverence an empty altar, but refuse to reverence an altar where the elements are being reserved?"

No one in this discussion (with the probable exception of Rev. McCain) has raised an issue with reverencing the body and blood of Christ. We reverence the princes of this world. So much more do we reverence God. Please do not change the subject.

"Why should my motives in reserving the elements be anyone's concern, as long as the elements are being consumed, and hence not subjected to abuse?"

Because you are a man worthy of respect and people listen to what you have to say. Also because you openly talk about it in a public forum. If you don't want people asking about your practice, then it would be best not to talk about it. This is foreign to many of us and we want to understand why you do what you do. Please do not change the subject.

"Do you think Chemnitz or Luther had the practice of adoring the elements in reservation, if they should have walked into a church where such was the case?"

I'm sure they did. But adoration of what is in reserve is not the topic of discussion here. Please do not change the subject.

"Even Ziegler concedes that Chemnitz permitted this practice, albeit with the notion that it was only for an interim period; so during that interim period, would he have counseled genuflection before the elements?"

I'm sure he would have. But again, that is not the topic of discussion. Please do not change the subject.

I think it is a fair assumption that everyone thus far participating in the discussion (again, with the probable exception of Rev. McCain) accepts what the Sacrament is, what it remains, and how it ought to be reverenced. Thank you for your comments on these points, but they are not necessary for us to discuss. They are not a part of this discussion.

In an attempt to get us back on track, here is a summary of the discussion. Questions that I would like to have answered (either pending questions or new follow-up questions) are bolded.

Q. What do you do if you run out during the week?
A. I will take every precaution against having to [celebrate a mass in a hospital room].
Q. What does this mean?
A. On a very rare occasion the number of hosts reserved is reduced to one. If I had had an emergency in such a case, I would break the host (also less than fully desirable, but permissible in an emergency) and leave half a host in reservation.
Q. Why must there always be something in reserve, even to the point that you would break a single host in half just so that there would still be something in reserve? If its intended use is to be eaten, then why don't you eat it? That is, why would you break it instead of eating it all?


Q. What do you do with the leftovers on the next Sunday?
A. The keeping of the remaining reliquae against the next communion means that they will be the first consumed during that distribution.
Q. How are they handled in relation to the unconsecrated bread and wine? Do you set them out on the altar separate from the unconsecrated elements, but still within earshot of the words of institution, thus giving the impression of (even though this is not possible) re-consecrating or super-consecrating them? Do you keep them in the tabernacle until after the words of institution so as not to give the impression of (even though this is not possible) re-consecrating or super-consecrating them?


Q. If "paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc. [. . .] are all salutary [. . .] because, among other things, they are aids to faith. So without them, faith is without the aid they provide," then what do you do to incorporate these externals into your visits to the sick and the shut-in?
A. I bring a stole with me to the hospital or sick person's home.
Q. But what about all of the other externals that you cite as being reasons why you don't want to celebrate a mass in the hospital or someone's home? You remind them of the words of institution. Do you not also remind them that an organ was played, that a choir was present, or that the arches flew over the nave? I only ask because your practice seems to be inconsistent, in that you will remind them of the words of insitution so that they might not doubt, but you will not remind them of the other aspects of the mass by which their faith might be strengthened.


I do hold a great deal of respect for you and your words. But I am not going to simply accept the bare minimum. I see flaws in this practice, and I am hoping that you can clarify what you do.

If you want people to understand this it requires you to fully participate in the discussion, to respond to the scrutiny that we are putting this practice through, and to allow this practice to be put under fire. Please, teach us. Perhaps we may never agree, but at least we may better understand each other.

For the record (and in attempt to prevent this tangential conversation from being pursued) your practice is far better than all of the pastors who use the toilet, trash can, peanut butter jars, or whatever else is entrely irreverent as acceptable means of handling the body and blood of Christ. Please, keep this discussion limited to your practice.

Jeff said...

Latif,

On reverencing the Lord's body- you are, of course, correct. I was being tongue-in-cheek. But (and perhaps I am underestimating the tolerance of the synod's laity)- this seems like the sort of practice that could land one in very hot water very early on. As 'too catholic' or 'against the confessions' or some such.

But as Pr. Eckardt's practice has shown (and as you rightly say) properly showing reverence to the elements has indeed affected his flock's piety in regards to the sacrament. This is no small thing- and perhaps that alone is what should make all the difference in this discussion.

But it requires a balance I think. No idea precisely what that balance is though.

You are also right on the importance of the position of Luther, and the early reformers, and indeed the practice of the entire Christian church throughout history (insofar as it has any consistency)- but I'd first like to hear a solid biblical defense of the practice before we look at it historically. Though perhaps that bit of exegesis could be as simple as a quick glance at Matthew 2:11 (etc. all). Although, I'll be honest, Exodus 12 (specifically vs. 10)and Exodus 16 (specifically vs. 20) do bother me.

And Fr. Eckardt- if you do find time to respond to Michael Francis' comments- it would be useful for those of us who might desire to emulate your practice. In that regard, your answer could be quite edifying and not just you having to defend yourself for a good, right, and salutary practice.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Michael Francis,

You say, "I do hold a great deal of respect for you and your words."

This is, I think, thinly disguised patronizing, in view of your continual stuttering and stammering "please do not change the subject." If that's respect, who needs contempt? Especially in view of the fact that the subject before us is the confessional ingredient in having a tabernacle.

Moreover, on the matter of my motives, attempts are being made here to establish a motive on my part to reserve the reliquae for the sole purpose of adoration, when in fact I have plainly stated that while this is not the reason for reserving, there is certainly a confessional ingredient in the restoration of this most catholic practice.

For the benefit of others who are 'listening' in, I'd like to respond to one matter in particular:

The reason the Verba should always be repeated when the reliquae are carried to the sick is not merely as a reminder, but because those words are the Gospel. Luther had much to say about the chief significance of those words.

I may be mistaken, but I think the practice of the Church of Rome is not to repeat the Verba when the Sacrament is given to the sick. This is a deficiency, I believe, for the reason stated above.

(Incidentally, the reason I referred to Luther and Chemnitz, for the benefit of anyone who might not know, is that these reformers were brought up in an attempt to show that I am not Lutheran in this regard. Whoever thinks reservation of the reliquae is not in keeping with the practice of the reformers simply does not know the record.)

Venkman said...

26 posts? 26 posts! Wow! Are you serious?!?!? Add this to the 109 posts of the previous thread and you have the equivalent of some lowly seminarian's master's thesis. Clearly Father Eckardt has struck a nerve, but why?

1. Some consider the introduction of a tabernacle an innovative, romanizing heresy that must be stopped.

2. Others are simply curious.

3. Some view the tabernacle as a commendable practice, perhaps even a practice that should be encouraged within our churches.

Everyone keeps saying "stick to the issue, stick to the issue", but after 100 posts it is sometimes hard to see what aspect of the "issue" is being explored here. Is the issue receptionism? Is the issue Arianism? Is the issue the proper use? What is it?

SO JUST TO CLARIFY: I believe the issue is no longer the tabernacle specifically, but why would one feel uncomfortable celebrating Mass at a nursing home or hospital. And since I have stated my own uncomfort with these practices (which I currently do on a weekly basis) I hope to respond very soon.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I just love those "actually" statements. They're really cute. The problem is that they make it sound as though what comes after the "actually" is going to really rebut one's interlocutor, and sometimes it just doesn't quite rebut anything, or at least not the actual position of the interlocutor.

Such is the case, Pr. Lehmann, when you say: "Actually, Latif. Luther fairly consistently subordinates the tradition of the church to exegesis. I remember one wonderful section in "These Words This Is My Body Still Stand Against the Fanatics" where Dr. Luther says something like, "I've established my case on the basis of the Scriptures."

First, I think it ironic that you would cite Luther when his doctrine and practice of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Masss is not your doctrine and practice.

Second, I'm glad for this opportunity to clarify, for I certainly don't think that Luther founded his doctrine on something other than the Word. We don't have the space here, or maybe we do but I don't have the time, to lay out all the biblical arguments of Luther's eucharistic theology, which is especially exhaustive in the mid to late 1520s, culminating most fully in the Great Confession of 1528. (And beyond Luther, indeed, Jeff commendably raises scripture like Matthew 2:11, which I think is very relevant. Was there ever a time when Jesus rebuked, corrected, or warned against those who physically adored Him?)

It is worth noting, though, that Luther was more than willing at times to merely cite the liturgy itself in defense of his doctrine. So that, for example, in the Brief Confession, against Schwenckfeldian fanaticism, he cites the liturgy of the Corpus Christi Mass.

Third, as I have said, one of the benefits of looking at Luther's actual practice is that it exposes the lie (intended as lie or not) of those who like to cite Luther (his thought and/or practice) against Fr. Eckardt's practice.

I don't believe that every theological question calls for an exegetical answer. Areas such as rubrics & ritual, liturgical theology, history, tradition, etc., are all relevant in the matters at hand. Nevertheless, the sacred scriptures indeed give us all the support we need, namely, they teach us the catholic doctrine of the real and personal presence of our Lord Jesus under the consecrated bread and wine.

From this ultimately comes Fr. Eckardt's position, and conversely, it begs the questions against Fr. Eckardt to be turned back on those asking them. That is, eg., why is adoration not practised by those who believe in the Real Presence?

Pr. Lehmann said...

Well, Latif...

Actually :-) I haven't seen anyone argue for the adoration of the elements outside of the Mass on the basis of Luther.

Maybe I missed it.

Michael Francis said...

Rev. Eckardt,

Truly, I do respect you. But please, stop changing the subject. Having my respect does not mean that you are exempt from being called out for poor conduct (i.e., evasion of questions, changing the subject) in the middle of a debate.

My questions have all been drawn from the discussion that has followed, even if we are not speaking to every detail as was presented in your original blog post. But if you notice, my very first post to you was a direct response to something that YOU wrote.

Yes, a lot of this has to do with your movtives. But these questions are asked because your proclaimed actions seem to betray your proclaimed motives. That is why I am asking for clarification. As I follow the logic, you are reserving for the sake of adoration. But yet you said that this is not your motivation. And so I ask clarifying questions, because your description of your practice does not line up with your description of your motives.

So please, answer the questions. If you are unwilling to answer the questions and respond to this scrutiny, then it might be best for you just to delete the entire post and stick to blogging about those topics which you are actually willing to defend.

Jeff said...

"We don't have the space here, or maybe we do but I don't have the time"

Latif, that line had me laughing for a few minutes ;)

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Michael Francis,

I'm not Fr. Eckardt. Don't even play him on TV. Nevertheless, I can't keep quiet, for I am utterly confused by your assertions that he has evaded questions and changed the subject during this dialogue.

It sounds more to me like you (and a couple others) simply don't believe him. He's said repeatedly that he DOES NOT reserve the Body and Blood of Christ FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ADORATION. He's even said that such would rightly fall under the abuses of the Sacrament our Confessions condemn. He's made it clear that he reserves FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISTRIBUTION, which is no abuse at all and does not conflict with Scripture or our Confessions in the least.

He's also made it clear with this follow-up post from the previous lengthy discussion that one of the benefits of reservation, as he practices it, is an increased Sacramental piety among the parishioners of the congregation he serves. He did not adopt this practice to produce this result, for he's stated time and time again what prompted him to adopt this practice. Nevertheless, he reports this result as further evidence of the salutary nature of his practice.

I really do not see how Fr. Eckardt could be any clearer. I definitely don't see any justification for claiming that he has evaded questions and changed the subject. There has been another person in these two threads who has done this, but Fr. Eckardt hasn't.

You state that, as you follow the logic, Fr. Eckardt is reserving for the sake of adoration. Which logic are you following? For arriving at this conclusion seems completely illogical to me. Unless, of course, as I stated above, you just don't believe Fr. Eckardt. Is that the case?

Michael Francis said...

Rev. Messer,

You have pointed out my flaw. I didn't expressly outline the logic. I thought my questions would have done that, but I took too much for granted that people would be able to connect the dots on their own. Here is the progression as I see it:

- He intentionally puts out too much on Sunday.
- He reserves the excess.
- He adores the reserve.
- He takes the reserve to his sick and shut-in.
- In the event that he drops down to one host in reserve, he will not take that one host, but rather he will fracture it so that he might still have something in reserve on the altar.

I have bolded and italicized this last point. This is where his actions betray his intentions. He would rather break the body of Christ than risk not having something on the altar. Why? That is the question that must be answered. Why must he reserve even half a host? Why is he not willing to use it according to its intended purpose?

Considering how much emphasis HE keeps wanting to make about adoration of the body (for we all, with the probable exception of Rev. McCain, rightly adore the body of Christ when it is in our midst), the only inference that I can make is that he wants to reserve it for the sake of adoration, for so long as he still has even half of a host on the altar he still has something to which he might genuflect.

But yet he claims this is not his intention. This is a glaring contradiction. "I don't reserve the elements so that I might adore them, but I won't dare let the reserve run out." How do those two thoughts blend? How can you reserve the Sacrament but NOT take it from the altar? Let him answer the questions and clear the air.

The body is for eating, not for reservation.

Reservation in and of itself is not a bad practice. It has historical precedence.

Adoration of that which is in reserve is not a bad practice. It has historical precedence.

Reservation for the sake of adoration IS a bad practice. And if he won't part with what he has in reserve, then why is he reserving it?

Which goes back to the question that he has now twice failed to answer: Why must there always be something in reserve?

But instead of answering this question, Rev. Eckardt would rather talk about adoration and what Luther and Chemnitz thought about it. That's how he changed the subject.

Please note that this question is not a sidetrack from the conversation, as I was accused of doing, for Rev. Eckardt himself is the one who said, "There should always be reserved elements."

Though I fear this might encourage further evasion from our esteemed host, I will say nothing more until my question is answered.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Michael Francis,

Thanks much for clarifying your logic. I now understand where you are having trouble with Fr. Eckardt's practice, although I'm confused about your assertion that the only inference you can make regarding Fr. Eckardt's desire to always keep something in reserve is that he does so for the sake of adoration (so that he might always have something to which he might genuflect).

The reason for my confusion here is because I thought he already gave answer to this above when he stated that he always keeps something in reserve in case an emergency arises and he needs to distribute the Sacrament. His answer was not, "I always keep something in reserve so that I might have something to adore and something to which I might offer my genuflection." Why, then, must the only inference at which you can arrive be that he always keeps something in reserve for adoration? It seems to me that another possible inference (indeed, even a solid conclusion) is that he always keeps something in reserve so that he might have the Body and Blood of Christ available for distribution. Thus, where you see a "glaring contradiction," I see a faithful consistency in his practice.

Nevertheless, I should probably bow out and allow Fr. Eckardt to speak for himself.

Thanks again for offering clarification.

Rev. Daniel Robert Skillman said...

Fr. Eckardt,

This and the last major post have constituted a great discussion. Would you agree?

The questioners are usually thoughtful, kind, and direct. The answerers (yourself included, of course) are thought provoking. I still have some confusion on this subject, but I have been edified by the discussion.

I trust no one here thinks that this is keeping them from their "real ministry." I believe that discussions such as these are part of the "real ministry."

Anyway, what a wonderful discussion. Thanks to you, our host, and the other participants.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

PS - I do wish Fr. McCain would answer the questions put to him. He seems to be the only one here unwilling to interact in this way. It is unfortunate, because I think he could add significantly more to this discussion if he would respond to the questions put to him.

Out